The violin we usually hear today is not the violin that Vivaldi knew. Large concert halls became the fashion during the 19th century, and violins were modified to produce bigger sound. Baroque violins have gut strings, differently angled necks than their successors, and are played with lighter, shorter bows.

Baroque Violin

Viola da Gamba

The violas da gamba were among the most popular of all Renaissance and Baroque instruments. They were not at all related to the violin and cello family. The treble, tenor and bass viols were regular members of the viol consort. As a solo instrument they continued to flourish until the middle of the 18th century.


Another bowed instrument, the rebec, is pear-shaped with a round body and flat soundboard. The number of strings varied between one and five. The rebec has survived in various forms as a folk instrument, particularly in Balkan countries. It came to Europe from the Middle East at the time of the Crusades.

The vihuela is a 16th century Spanish ancestor of the guitar. Instead of metal frets, it has tied-on frets. The vihuela has twelve gut strings, which produce a tone nearer to that of a lute than the modern guitar.