8 Questions Every New Violinist Has Asked At Least Once

Learning to play the violin is like learning a new language and culture — both exciting and foreign. You’ll hear different words, engage with a new instrument, and discover unknown melodies. You’ll also have lots of questions, especially as you advance. As part of CodaBow’s commitment to provide you best-in-class quality and service, here are answers to the most searched violin bow questions.

Q: How do I hold my violin bow?

Holding your bow is one of the first things you’ll learn as a violin student! Along with applying the right pressure, properly holding a bow is foundational to taking care of your instrument and producing the highest-quality sound. Your violin teacher will show you how to hold the bow properly, but if you’re looking for pointers, start here with this 4-step approach for developing a “more natural-feeling bow hold” from Strings Magazine.

  • Start by turning your right hand over, so your palm faces up. Let your thumb curl inward so that it gently touches the top third of your middle finger.
  • Now turn your hand back over, keeping your thumb curled inward. You’ve found your “natural hold.”
  • Time to touch the bow. Place your bent right thumb so that half of the tip sits on the lip of the frog* and half rests on the bow stick. (*The frog is the end part of the bow that encloses the pieces responsible for tightening and holding the bow hair.)
  • Allow the bendy, knuckle part of your thumb to rest against the hair. 

If you’re taking the DIY approach and don’t have access to a professional teacher, turn to YouTube to learn how to hold a violin bow. Violinist Daniel Kurganov and the Fiddlerman are two great options. Follow up those videos with this in-depth tutorial from Donald Zimmer of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Q: What are violin strings made of?

The first violin strings were made of sheep intestines that were stretched, dried, and twisted. Today, violin strings are made of a stranded, synthetic core that’s wound with metal (chrome, steel, or silver). 

Q: How much does a violin cost?

The most basic violin costs about $200 to $500. These violins are factory-made and will likely require professional adjustment to produce quality sound, but they’re adequate for an entry-level player. A violin that’s $600 to $1,000 will produce a noticeably higher quality sound. Violins in this price category are usually hand finished and crafted with better fittings. Jump into the $1,100 to $2,000 category, and you’ll enjoy a violin with fine detail and workmanship. Violins in the $2,000+ range are crafted by the best hands and from the best materials.

Fun fact: The Vieuxtemps Guarneri Violin is now the most expensive violin in the world. It sold for an estimated $16 million.

Q: What are violin bows made of?

The “strings” of a violin bow are actually made of horsehair. We use three different grades of Mongolian horsehair in CodaBow carbon fiber bows: student, performance, and master-level horsehair. A single bow includes 160-180 individual hairs.

The bow portion is made of either wood or carbon fiber. Carbon fiber bows provide more consistency, clarity, durability, and temperature resistance than wood bows.

Q: What size is my violin? 

There are eight violin sizes: 4/4, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and 1/32. 4/4 is considered a full-size violin and is used by most adults. 1/32 is the smallest size violin.The size of your violin corresponds with your physical proportions. To measure your violin size, extend your arm straight out and hold it perpendicular to your body. Measure (in inches) the distance from your neck to the middle of your palm. If you are in-between violin sizes, size down.

Violin Size Chart by Age & Arm Length

Size1/321/161/101/81/41/23/44/4
Age3-53-53-55-67-99-1010-1112+
Arms Length (Inches)
1414-1515-1616-1818-2020-2222-2323+

If you already have a violin and want to determine its size, measure the length of the violin body from button to button. The size of your violin does not include the neck and the scroll.

Violin Size Chart by Violin Length

Size1/321/161/101/81/41/23/44/4
Approx. Violin. Back Length (Inches)7.5
8
9
10
11
12.2
1314
Approx. Violin. Total Length (Inches)
13.5
14.5
16
17
1920.22123.5

Q: How long is a violin bow?

Like the size of the violin, the size of the violin bow is proportional to the player’s body. A young child will have a shorter bow than an adult. Bow lengths vary from maker to maker, but generally, a full-length bow (4/4) is 29 1/4 inches.The bow length directly impacts the bow’s stiffness. The longer the bow, the more flexible it is. The shorter the bow, the stiffer it is. This feature of shorter bows is beneficial for most beginner players as it can help them keep the bow in place.

Q: What is put on the bow to make it sticky?

Rosin is put on the bow hairs to create friction between the bow and strings. Rosin is a tree resin or pine sap that, once processed, can be applied to the bow to help the hairs grip the instrument’s strings and produce a clear, powerful sound. 

Q: Which violin bow is best for me?

There's no question you're choosing the right bow when you choose CodaBow. Our student bows are perfectly crafted to elevate your performance, inspire confidence, and encourage your success as a new violinist. Our performance bows help you advance to the stage and command your own sound. And when you’re ready, you’ll find that our master bows unleash you to explore the musical landscape as you see fit. Shop now or sign-up for an in-home trial of any CodaBow .