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Bowed string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by a bow rubbing the strings. The bow rubbing the string causes vibration which the instrument emits as sound.

The Arabic rabāb is the earliest known bowed instrument,[1] and the ancestor of all European bowed instruments, including the rebec, lyra and violin.[2]


List of bowed string instrumentsEdit

Violin familyEdit

Niccolò Paganini playing the violin, by Georg Friedrich Kersting (1785–1847)
Variants on the standard four members of the violin family include:

Viol family (Viola da Gamba family)Edit

Karl Friedrich Abel playing the bass Viola da Gamba, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788)
Variants on the standard four members of the viol family include:

Lyra and Rebec TypeEdit

Chinese Bowed InstrumentsEdit

Two performers playing the Erhu, sometimes known as the Chinese fiddle.

Rosined wheel instrumentsEdit

A performer playing the Morin Khuur, the Mongolian Horse Fiddle

The following instruments are sounded by means of a turning wheel that acts as the bow.

Other bowed instrumentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "rabab (musical instrument) - Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (2009), lira, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, retrieved 2009-02-20