Amati Violin? Who is Amati? What’s so special about it?

If these are the questions in your mind right now, you will find your answers here about Amati, the violins he made and any interesting facts about him!

Andrea Amati is one of the most famous figures in the history of violins. He didn’t make his name by being the first violin player. He was famous for being the person who made the first model of violin with four strings. And this is the model for many violin makers all over the world today.


Family Of Amati Violin Makers

Andrea Amati began his violin works in the 1500s and he had two sons, Antonio and Girolamo who succeeded him in to 1600s. Both of Andrea’s sons garnered interests in continuing the tradition of Amati violin making, and went on to create the first model of viola.

The brothers also refined the workmanship of their father’s, and improved the designs of the violins, notably the perfection of the f-holes.

amati violinAmati Violins on exhibition @ National Museum of American History, Washington D.C.
Credit: terencewei


Refining Amati Violin

Amati violin making carried on to the next generation. Girolamo’s son, Nicolo picked up the skills, and was the most outstanding violin maker in the Amati family. He further improved and refined his elders’ Amati violin models and designs to produce one which has a stronger tone, and a wider body. Nicolo’s violins are the one of the most famous violins in the world.

While making violins, Nicolo also trained disciples and passed on his Amati violin making skills. Some of his renowned disciples include Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri. Stradivari became the most famous violin maker in his era, and Andrea Guarneri went on to create the first generation of Guarneri violins.

Nicolo’s son, Girolamo, also known as Hieronymus II, continued his father’s Amati violin tradition to the 1700s. But he was the last maker his family’s long violins. He perfected his father’s instruments, but they were substandard compared to the then-famous Stradivarius violin and Guarneri violin.


The First Amati Violin

Amati violin making history dated all the way back to early 1500s in Cremona, a town in Italy. The first violin he made was in 1555. Then, news about his first violin spread across Cremona and reached the French King, Charles IX. In 1560, the King then ordered him to make 24 violins for him.

amati coat of arms

Coat of Arms on Amati Violins.
Credit: Marcoeusebio

Andrea Amati violins

As one of the first violins in the world, A. Amati’s violins have some unique features that are not present in today’s modern violins.

These features are indeed one-of-a-kind for Amati’s violin.

  • Amati’s violins are sized smaller than the ones we see and play today. They are also known as the violin piccolo.
  • His violins are tuned to a minor third higher than the standard ones today.
    (Bb, F, C, G compared to today’s G, D, A, E)
  • Voice is softer in his violins, and this inhibits its performance in modern days’ playing.
  • The violin’s fingerboard and bridge is larger.
  • The neck is longer than usual.
  • Amati’s string instruments are unique in the way that they are all gilded with the Coat of Arms of French Court, and King’s own motto ‘Pietate et Justita’ – Piety and Justince.

Amati made a set of 38 string instruments – 24 violins (12 large, 12 small), 6 violas, 8 bases – for Charles IX’s royal court at Versailles.


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