Violin making and maintenance

Making an instrument of the violin family, also called lutherie, may be done in different ways, many of which have changed very little in nearly 500 years since the first violins were made. Some violins, called "bench-made" instruments, are made by a single individual, either a master maker or an advanced amateur, working alone. Several people may participate in the making of a "shop-made" instrument, working under the supervision of a master. This was the preferred method of old violin makers who always put their names on violins crafted by their apprentices. Various levels of "trade violin" exist, often mass-produced by workers who each focus on a small part of the overall job, with or without the aid of machinery.

A violin-maker's workshop

"Setting up" a violin is generally considered to be a separate activity, and may be done many times over the lengthy service life of the instrument. Setup includes fitting and trimming tuning pegs, surfacing the fingerboard, carving the soundpost and bridge, adjusting the string spacing and action height, and other tasks related to putting the finished instrument into playing condition and optimizing its "voice" (its sound, tone, and timbre) and responsiveness to playing.

Violin maintenance goes on as long as the instrument is to be kept in playing condition, and includes tasks such as replacing strings, positioning the soundpost and bridge, lubricating pegs and fine tuners, resurfacing the fingerboard, attending to the instrument's finish, and restoring, repairing, or replacing parts of the violin or its accessories which have suffered wear or damage.


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