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String Instruments

Parts of a String Instrument: Explained

By June 30, 2023July 3rd, 2023No Comments

What are the different parts of my string instrument, and what do they do?

Scroll, pegbox, tuning pegs, nut, neck, strings, fingerboard, f-holes, bridge, fine tuners, tailpiece, chin rest

Let’s take a look at the top of the instrument!

Scroll: A decorative piece of curved wood. This is an aesthetic feature of the instrument, rather than a functional one.

Pegbox: An open-top box with four holes for each tuning peg. The width of the pegbox hole is precisely calculated to ensure that the corresponding friction peg is held snug during tuning.

Tuning Pegs: Each string instrument has four wooden pegs housed in the pegbox. These can be either ‘friction pegs’ or ‘geared pegs.’ See our guide on How to Tune Your String Instrument for how these different pegs work! Each peg contains a small hole for the string to be threaded in. Turning these pegs adjusts the length, tension, and pitch of each string. Tightening a peg (or turning it ‘away’ from you) raises the pitch, whereas loosening (or turning ‘towards’) lowers it.

Nut: A small length of wood that sits directly beneath the pegbox. The nut has four small grooves for the strings to sit in. These grooves help with the spacing, support, and height of the four strings.

Neck: The neck is the length of unvarnished wood that runs from the top of the body of the instrument to the pegbox behind fingerboard. The neck supports the top portion of the fingerboard.

Scroll, pegbox, tuning pegs, nut, neck, strings, fingerboard, f-holes, bridge, fine tuners, tailpiece, chin rest

Now let’s look at the body and midsection of the instrument:

Fingerboard: A single piece of wood that starts below the nut and extends down and out towards the f-holes of the instrument. This is usually made out of ebony, a very dense, hard wood that prevents grooves being formed by the metal strings. This is where the player presses their fingers down to ‘make notes’ by altering the length and the pitch of the strings.

Strings: Each string instrument has four strings, arranged left-to-right from lowest to highest when the instrument is facing you. Violin strings are tuned in fifths, from G-D-A-E, and viola and cello strings are also tuned in fifths from C-G-D-A. Double bass strings are tuned in fourths from E-A-D-G. Strings are made of a variety of materials such as nylon, steel, and even gut.

F-Holes: The two resonance holes on either side of the bridge that resemble the letter ‘F.’ These holes allow the vibrations of the strings to reach the back of the instrument and to then resonate outside the wooden body. The length and width of the f-holes can greatly impact the sound of the instrument.

Bridge: This wooden arch supports the strings below the fingerboard. The bridge is very important in determining the height and spacing of each string. It is held in place by the tension of the strings, and this pressure can warp the bridge over time.

Waist/ C-Bouts: These ‘bouts’ are deep curves in the sides of the instrument which create space for bowing.

And finally, let’s check out the lower end:

Fine Tuners: These small screws are attached to the tailpiece and help adjust the tension of the strings in small increments. The fine tuners are effective at accurately adjusting the pitch of a string. Consequently, these miniscule adjustments are useful for tuning in conjunction with the larger adjustments of the pegs.

Tailpiece: A length of wood or plastic composite that holds the ends of the strings at the ‘ball end.’ The tailpiece also houses the fine tuners and is held in place by a ‘tail cord’ at the endpin.

Chin Rest: For violins and violas, a chin rest is a shaped piece of elevated wood or plastic on the bottom of the instrument. A chin rest is designed to assist in positioning of the player’s jaw or chin. As a result, the chin rest helps the player support the weight of the instrument so the left hand is free to press on the strings.

Endpin: The endpin of a string instrument holds the tailpiece in place with tension. This can be found on the bottom of the instrument.

Endpin Rod/Spike: The rod or spike of a cello helps adjust the height of the instrument. The rod extends from the bottom of the cello and the tip anchors the instrument to the ground. The height of the endpin rod is held in place by the end pin thumb screw.

What You Can’t See: Inside the Instrument

Sound Post: This small length of wood sits between the top plate and back plate. The sound post helps transfer vibrations between the two plates and provides structural integrity to the instrument. A fallen or missing soundpost will result in the instrument having a thin, less vibrant sound, and is usually detected by ‘rattling around’ the interior.

Bass Bar: This is a strip of wood inside the instrument glued to the underside of the sound board, or top plate. This bass bar runs parallel to the lowest string of the instrument and provides structural support to the increased tension and weight of the lower strings on the wood.

Got Any Questions?

If you have any questions about your string instrument and its various parts, let us know! You can visit us in store or contact us at (08) 9244 9559 or

WA Music Co
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