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String Instruments

Stringed instruments include any musical instrument that uses the vibration of strings to produce sound. The strings are either plucked or bowed to produce the vibration. The earliest stringed instruments have been found in archaeological sites in Mesopotamia dating back more than 3,000 years. Stringed instruments include violins, guitars, banjos, mandolins, lutes, and numerous other instruments.

The design of antique string instruments changed frequently until the Renaissance when instrument designs became more standardized. The introduction of metal-wrapped strings improved the volume and flexibility of most instruments. In the 1800s, mass production increased the availability and affordability of stringed instruments. Electric amplification changed the style and type of performances for many instruments.

Collectors usually focus on one category of vintage stringed instruments. Some collect guitars, others violins, and so on. Knowledge of the particular instrument is of much help to collectors, as many stringed instruments, particularly violins, have been reproduced or faked. Collectors should carefully inspect a stringed instrument in person prior to purchasing, as cracks in the wood can significantly reduce the value of a vintage stringed instrument.


Quick Facts

  • The National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion houses the world's largest collection of vintage musical instruments with more than 15,000 pieces. The collection includes large sections of bowed and plucked stringed instruments
  • The electrification of stringed instruments has changed the design of these instruments to adapt to electronics. Many electric guitars now have solid bodies and electric violins have several different shapes
  • In 2012, part of the bridge of a lyre believed to be 2,300 years old was found in a cave in Scotland, making it the oldest stringed instrument artifact in Europe

Recommended Items at Auction

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Traditionally Indian Portable Harmonium - from Bhatia Musicals.
Dec 01, 7:00 PM AEDT
Traditionally Indian Portable Harmonium - from Bhatia Musicals.
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD504 Bids
Kit fiddle and case
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Kit fiddle and case
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$702 Bids
Middle Eastern Style 44 String Instrument
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Middle Eastern Style 44 String Instrument
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Vintage 3-Stringed Ethnic Instrument
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage 3-Stringed Ethnic Instrument
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Three stringed instruments, 19th and 20th c.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Three stringed instruments, 19th and 20th c.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
Cello-Bogen. In der Art des Ludwig Bausch. 20th cent.
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Cello-Bogen. In der Art des Ludwig Bausch. 20th cent.
by Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG
Est: €750- €900
€6000 Bids
Antique zither with box
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Antique zither with box
by Auktionshaus Wersching
Est: €0- €0
€350 Bids
Painted hammer dulcimer, 19th c.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Painted hammer dulcimer, 19th c.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $140- $240
$700 Bids
Unusual folk art string instrument, 20th c.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Unusual folk art string instrument, 20th c.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $60- $80
$300 Bids
Folk art cigar box stringed instrument, ca. 1900
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Folk art cigar box stringed instrument, ca. 1900
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$400 Bids
Three miniature stringed instruments
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Three miniature stringed instruments
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $60- $80
$300 Bids
Four homemade folk art stringed instruments
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Four homemade folk art stringed instruments
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $160- $220
$800 Bids

Sellers Who Sell String Instruments


Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG

Schmidt Kunstauktionen Dresden OHG

Bargain Hunt Auctions

Bargain Hunt Auctions