Period of Adjustment: Baroque Instruments

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Although the basic violin set-up has changed little from Baroque times, many of its parts have altered radically. In the second of two articles, Roger Hargrave tracks the development of strings, fingerboards and the neck root

The most obvious changes occurred as a result of improvements in string quality. From the time of Andrea Amati to the present day, advances in string technology have always preceded improvements in playing, composition and instrument design. As with other technologies, advances in string technology moved swiftly, generally carried by musicians, who were often international travellers.

Although plain gut strings were reasonably successful in the upper registers, and continued to be used for the violin until the second half of the 20th century, problems occurred in the lower ranges. The only available bass strings were either excessively thick or extremely long. Several members of the lute family utilised the option of long, thin bass strings, but this was not a practical solution for instruments of the violin family….

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