By the early 18th century - the era of the master craftsmen of the violin such as Antonio Stradivari - the instrument already had a history stretching back 200 years. Though one or two refinements have since been added (such as the chin rest in 1820), its basic design has proved resistant to major improvements.

Foremost in the string family, the violin is the most versatile and has the widest acoustic scope. Its brother, the Viola, is similar in design but with a lower range.