Is there a distinguishing name for this stringed instrument that is, as best as I an find, otherwise referred to as a "five-string violin?"

"violin" with five strings

  • I don't think there is a special name. The five-string cello typically used fo Bach's solo suite #6 is also still called cello.
    – guidot
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:22
  • 5-string bass = 5-string bass. 6-string bass = 6 string bass. 7-string guitar = 7 string guitar, They're pretty accurate terms. Although tunings may vary. As in 5-string bass, low B. Maybe the tuning, if not ony one tuning, is an important factor in naming, as well.
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:57
  • 1
    Agreed with other comments. No special name seems to have emerged as yet, although the c-g-d'-a'-e'' violin/viola is a not uncommon instrument nowadays. My apprentice built one as her master instrument. Nov 26, 2019 at 12:34
  • 1
    A sacrilegious one. Nov 27, 2019 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


They are simply called "five-string violins" in the English language, and usually combine the viola and the violin's ranges.

Other stringed instruments that have 5 strings are generally of the viol family, e.g. the pardessus de viole which could have 5 or 6 strings, or the quinton which specifically has 5 strings.

  • So is it correct that quinton is a name specific to this instrument, but it has not been accepted into English (from French)?
    – feetwet
    Nov 26, 2019 at 18:04
  • @feetwet After reading a translated version of the french wikipedia page, it looks to me like rather different instrument. The tuning has thirds in it instead of straight fifths, and often has frets. Nov 26, 2019 at 21:40
  • 1
    @feetwet The quinton is traditionally considered a member of the viol family; it is not a violin. However, there is some debate about how many violin characteristics it absorbed. Nonetheless, it is not the five-string violin.
    – Michaelyus
    Nov 27, 2019 at 11:05
  • It might be mentioned that treble violas da gamba often had five strings (instead ot the more usual six nowadays). They sound better as a rule because there's less pressure on the belly. Nov 27, 2019 at 20:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.