What Wood Makes Your Violin Special?

Knowing about how the violin is constructed can give you a better understanding of where its beautiful sound and individual ‘voice’ comes from. Wood obviously makes up the most part of the violin, and seasoned wood from older trees is preferred by violin makers.

It is also important that the wood used in violins cut in a way that gives it extra strength e.g. the wood used is ‘quarter sawn’ / ‘on the quarter’

The Right Kind of Wood

The top surface of the violin also known as the ‘soundboard’, table or top plate is typically made of spruce. This wood is used because it flexible enough across the width violin and yet provides great strength along the length of the violin.

When combined with the varnish the wood colour and the dark grain of the growth rings in spruce provide character and richness to the appearance of the instrument. Even though the spruce soundboard is strong it could still begin to crack on the outer edges, especially with the movement caused by the handling of the player. For this reason sandwiched layers of wood made into a thin, strong inlay called ‘purfling’ is placed around the edge.

A variety of different woods were and are used by different makers for the purfling including maple, pearwood and poplar.

Maple is the wood that makes up the most part of the surface part of a violin as it is generally used to make the back, the ribs (the sides), and the neck. Along with spruce, maple my also used inside the violin in the end blocks and the lining.

The wave pattern of growth of maple fibres, coupled with a good tangential cut can ensure an incredible flame-look finish in the maple that seems to change with the direction of the light.

The wear and pressure on the fingerboard means that a very strong and resistant wood is requires such as ebony, or another stained hard wood.

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