(Words printed in Italic are explained in further detail within this  glossary.)  

the small screws on the tailpiece that are used for fine-    tuning a string instrument


a technique that involves the use of an open string for an accompaniment which separates itself from the melodic   progression on another string; (See also suite BVW 1007; Prélude; M.33 and following.);it is crucial that the           separate notes are played on the different, open string;     otherwise the melody cannot be properly recognized     

bass bar

a wooden beam glued roughly parallel to the strings onto the underside of the belly of a string instrument; its  main function is, like the sound post‘s function, to withstand      the pressure from the strings; with   the introduction of    longer necks, steel strings and higher pitches the bass bar gradually became taller and longer


the top or lid of a string instrument


one of the two places of a string instrument where the     strings‘ vibration is stopped down by touching a part of   the instrument (the other one being the nut); it is          positioned between the f-holes and transmits the            vibrations of the strings to the belly and through the        sound post to the bottom; see pictures 7, 11; there are     two basic types of bridges: Belgian and French; Belgian   bridges have long legs, a slight body and produce a         strong and bright sound color; French bridges have         shorter legs, a bigger body and produce a gentler and     warmer sound color


the side walls of a string instrument


the top part of the back of a string instrument; it is a      rather important part of the instrument: since the neck is glued on there a considerable amount of pressure has to be accounted for

                         Button of a cello. Click on picture to enlarge.

Button f h


the c-shaped and mirror c-shaped narrowing of the body in the middle of a string instrument; the c-bouts are        necessary to allow the bow access to the outer (C and a)   strings; a further reason for the necessity of the c-bouts   is the strong pressure on the belly in that area, the body has to be narrower there in order to deal with that         pressure

                                 A cello’s  c-bout.

A C-bout of a cello


a type of resin, mostly of fossil origin

dragon’s blood

a type of resin with a bright red color,; it is gained from   various tree-like plants and is used mainly for color effects


a type of resin, usually coming from India, Brazil or        Cameroon


the endpin is an extractable rod at the bottom of the       cello; without it the player would have to clamp the         instrument between the knees; endpins are manufactured in various types and  materials but tests have shown that a cello produces  the biggest sound when equipped with   the massive steel type

fingerboard a wooden (usually ebony) plate glued to the neck; on the fingerboard the player’s fingers stop the strings down in    order to produce various pitches
f-holes the f-holes are the two f-shaped openings on the belly of a string instrument;   the bridge transmits the strings’     vibrations to the belly and the sound post transmits them  to the bottom; the collected vibrations in the vessel are     then reflected through the f-holes to the outside and       reach the listener’s ear; the shape was chosen rather for   acoustic than decorative reasons
mastic a plant resin, also called Arabic gum; it is used for the      varnish of a string instrument
nut one of the two places of a string instrument where the    string’s vibration is stopped down by touching a part of    the instrument (the other being the bridge); the nut is     located just below the pegbox; the distance from bridge   to nut determines the string length; string length of a 4/4 cello is ideally between 680 and 690 mm
pegbox the upper part of a string instrument containing the  pegs that allow a rough tuning of   the cello’s strings, the           fine-tuning is  done with the adjusters on the tailpiece;    the  lowest  part  of the  pegbox  is just above the nut;     the highest part is the scroll


 The pegbox of a cello.

Sketch of a cello‘s peg box. The top part is called the scroll


plucks, usually made of wood, holding the strings on the opposite side of the tailpiece; they are put into the         pegbox and can be turned to change the pitch


Pegbox II f h cropped


an inlaid strip with black edges, placed on the outer brim of the belly and back of a string instrument; purfling        serves not only esthetical purposes but also is supposed to stop potential cracks proceeding along the graining lines of the wood

Purfling f h

resin a sticky substance, usually secreted from trees; it is used   for the varnish of a string instrument; in its hardened       form it is applied to the bow hairs in order to produce     the necessary friction with the string
ribs/bouts the side walls of a string instrument
scroll the upper part of the pegbox; its acoustical influence on   an instrument’s sound is disputet, the esthetical influence is not: the beauty of the scroll is another ‘calling-card’ of a violin maker
shellac a type of resin consisting of the secretions of the lac bug
sound post a round stick, positioned inside the instrument slightly in   front of the left foot of the bridge; it helps to withstand   the pressure from the bridge and also transports the       vibrations from strings and bridge to the bottom
sticklac a type of resin produced by an Asian shield louse
Stradivari Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737); Italian violin maker;      pupil of Niccolò Amati; Stradivari’s instruments are         supposed to have perfect proportions and sound             properties and therefore served as models for violin        makers until the present time
strings the strings of a cello were originally made of catgut;       nowadays most cellists use steel-wound strings with        a synthetic core; the two low strings arer often                tungsten-wound because tungsten is a very strong metal   that allows for making the strings quite thin; a thin string is more easily to be  handled with both left and right      hand
tailpiece a piece of wood, metal or plastic that is fixed between the endpin socket and the lower ends of the strings; usually it is equipped with adjusters
varnish the transparent  lacquer of a string instrument; it consists of various components such as resin, oil, glue and color
violin dealer a person who sells string instruments but is not               necessarily able to manufacture or to repair them
violin maker (also called a luthier) a person who can manufacture and repair any string instrument, not only violins; not to be   mistaken with a violin dealer a violin maker might sell       instruments and instrument-related items but his priority  is the conservation of existing instruments and the          creation of his own; repairing and building string            instruments requires a very high level of craftsmanship     and knowledge in many different disciplines
 wolf a disturbance of a string’s vibration on certain pitches,     caused by acoustical interferences between the                vibrations of strings’ and the instrument’s body,              producing the so-called wolf-tone; on a four-string cello   it is usually most strongly present within the G-string’s      forth position, affecting pitches from e to g; there are     several devices (‘wolf killers’) that can suppress a wolf      tone to some degree (The Ngeringa cello in picture 25     has a wolf killer attached to its G-string.)