The violin is a string instrument in the violin family. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use.The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings. Violins are important instruments a wide variety of musical genres. They are most prominent in the Western classical tradition and in many varieties of folk music (where the violin is often known as the “fiddle”). However, violins are also frequently used in jazz, a number of different forms of rock and roll and metal, and descendants of folk including country music and bluegrass music. Further, the violin has come to be played in many non-Western music cultures all over the world. The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it.

The violin was first known in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Europe it served as the basis for stringed instruments used in western classical music, the viola and the violin.Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it, though this belief is disputed. Great numbers of instruments have come from the hands of “lesser” makers, as well as still greater numbers of mass-produced commercial “trade violins” coming from cottage industries in places such as Saxony, Bohemia, and Mirecourt. Many of these trade instruments were formerly sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co. and other mass merchandisers.

A person who makes or repairs violins is called a luthier. The parts of a violin are usually made from different types of wood (although electric violins may not be made of wood at all, since their sound may not be dependent on specific acoustic characteristics of the instrument’s construction), and it is usually strung with gut, Perlon or other synthetic, or steel strings.