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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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Vintage Bowed 4- String Zither With Wood Case
Feb 23, 12:00 PM MST
Vintage Bowed 4- String Zither With Wood Case
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$605 Bids
Antike Drehleier von Pajot Jeune in Jenzat, Frankreich um 1880/90 und nepalesische Tungna des 19. Jhs.
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
Antike Drehleier von Pajot Jeune in Jenzat, Frankreich um 1880/90 und nepalesische Tungna des 19. Jhs.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €500- €600
€1501 Bid
Folk String Instrument
Feb 22, 9:00 AM PST
Folk String Instrument
by Abell Auction
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
String Instrument
Mar 02, 9:00 AM EST
String Instrument
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell String Instruments


Abell Auction

Abell Auction

Leonard Joel

Leonard Joel

K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg

K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal