Do your instruments have names?

June 19, 2012 at 04:02 PM · My name is Mikel and I'm the new girl. I didn't want to mix subjects, so I'm tossing this out there by itself. Possibly I am more peculiar than even I knew, but I'm surprised that I've heard no mention of the names of your violins. Do people not name their violins and bows? Or is it a secret, possibly taboo? It was the first thing I did. People name their cars, pieces of land and I've heard of guitars and such being named. Violins seem far more personal than some of these other things. That is my screen tile. My violin is called "Eventide" for it is dark and dusky. And my bow's name is "Spark". As it kindles the evening combining both light and dark into a magical experience.

Replies (68)

June 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM · I must confess that I name instruments too. The violin I am using at the moment has been dubbed Mortimer for no particular reason. It just seemed appropriate. I don't care for my bow, which is probably why I didn't bother to name it.

June 19, 2012 at 04:26 PM · lol-I admit it i have named my violin Ruby. And I always refer to my violin as a female entity.

I haven't named my bow though.

June 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM · My viola is Lucille and my violin is Ricardo. Commonly known as Ricky and Lucy :D.

June 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM · There are actually lots of old topics on this subject if you use the "search" option on the right side of your screen. You are not odd at all. In fact, you are probably odder if you *don't* name your instruments.

Mine's Rose. I hate my bow with a fiery passion so I call it Bow of Crap (not to be confused with my backup bow, which is Bow of Even More Crap). My viola is a rental and is apparently genderless because I don't get any name from it at all. Rentals I've found don't have much personality, and I'm not sure if that's their relatively low quality or me not wanting to get attached because I know I'm never going to buy them anyway.

June 19, 2012 at 06:08 PM · Well I name my instruments and the reason is that sometimes it give me a laugh when I'm feeling down :)

My current violin is called Naruto and the bow is called Sakura.

Hopefully I'll get a new violin soon.

June 19, 2012 at 06:26 PM · Hey, this is great. I've never been very "normal". However I fit right in with you guys. (musicians with pets!) Thanks for responding so nicely to my first topic. You have made me smile. I hope to get to know you all better, and I hope you all find lovely bows worth naming. (or at least worthy of a name not including a term for excrement).

June 19, 2012 at 06:33 PM · My violin is named Eleven because I received him at 11.11.11 on 11 AM. Him because the size is larger than the average 4/4 size violin.

June 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM · I'm sorry to be long-winded (alas, I've always been annoyingly chatty) I digress.... Emily, I looked this topic up as you suggested. How neat it was, and your "Bow of Crap" had me crapping..I mean cracking up.I love the name Mortimer as well. James, I think it is incredibly normal (oxymoron?) to think of our instruments as the opposite gender. Passion for an instrument is comparable to a passionate relationship. I definitely prefer the violin though. Booth Eventide and Spark are male. I think the bows deserve names. There is little one can do with a violin without the bow.

June 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM · Violins -- Delbert (he's now retired -- he's a 4/4, and I find my 3/4s more comfortable to play), Angelina and Sebastian.

I haven't named any of my bows. Still waiting to hear what THEY think! ;)

June 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM · I really want a viola named Walter. I borrowed my teacher's viola named Warren once and kept accidentally calling it Walter. Unfortunately, my current viola doesn't seem like a Walter, so I'll have to wait until I get a new one...

June 20, 2012 at 02:03 AM · The Tiger... because very reddish with stripes in the wood and black accessoires...

and I just love these powerful yet velvet or "golden" tones like when a feline walks.

For this reason, I chose the violin who was the closest of this sound.

The look, it didn't matter (I wanted a honey color violin but that who had the voice I seeked was reddish. Well, red is the color of passion... and of our bloody battle in this crazy life to have some time together! : )

I love my Tiger so much! I call it "Tigre" since I speak french.

June 20, 2012 at 02:50 AM · I've probably responded in the past, but as I've updated my collection since then, I'll post again for fun.

I've named most of the instruments in my collection.

My 3 Vittorio Villa violins are named after 3 great Renaissance artists: "Raphael" (what can I say?) "Michelangelo", and "Leonardo".

My 3 Ed Maday violins: the 1st is named "Wilton" (it's based on the Lord Wilton del Gesu); the 2nd one is based on Paganini's del Gesu, which he called "Il Cannone", so I call mine "Il Cannone Secundo". My 3rd Maday is an original amalgam, including a lion's head in place of a scroll, so I call it "Lionheart".

My 19th century French violin by Desiré is named more in the tradition of great Strads, etc. It's a grand instrument, with carvings, etc., and in mock-pretension, I call it "The Versailles"

I won't go through every violin, but I renamed a very decent Chinese violin that I use for many outdoor gigs, and when I need to attach a mic, etc. It had a simple name of "F-3" just as inventory. But after it recently got rained on, I re-named it "Rain Man"!

I call my favorite bow, an Emile Ouchard, "Excalibur"

I call my beautiful antique Knabe grand piano "Michaela" and my antique reed organ "Harvey".

I have a number of other un-named instruments on display, including a sitar, a balalaika, a Zheng (Chinese mouth organ) an erhu (Chinese fiddle) a Tibetan trumpet and 2 mandolins - one in the shape of a lyre.

Too many instruments, Herr Klayman!

June 20, 2012 at 03:02 AM · Love it Raphael, somehow I suspect you have a name for the cooker and the sofa too :D :P

My violin is a John Newton - and just had to be called Gravitas. I also have my childhood violin and he is called Felix. Its derived from a can company in Sweden. Please don't ask...

June 20, 2012 at 03:03 AM · and BTW we have something in common since I started exactly the same topic when I first joined - which definitely puts you in weird company ...

June 20, 2012 at 06:31 AM · It's very interesting, this instrument naming topic. My violin, I call her Koshka. Russian word for cat. because the first time i played it, it reminds me of cat a lot. Few people in mo orchestra do a violin naming as well. There are Cecille, Christine, Rivaldo, Mia Cara, etc. So i think yeah it's not so odd. Naming my instrument make me feel closer to her.

June 20, 2012 at 07:20 AM · One of my violins is named 'Fat Tony' and the other is named 'Vito.'

June 20, 2012 at 09:21 AM · No, definitely not. Until I read this question, the thought had never occurred to me to name any of my violins or bows. Is that why I cannot get a decent sound out of them ? Do they feel left out and unloved ?

June 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Brian: I bet you don't tuck them up in their cases each night with a hug and 'sweet dreams' either do you?

How do you expect them to play for you??

June 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM · I named my violin Guido.

Perhaps he is acquainted with Nate's violins...

June 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM · My violin is Caroline and my bow is Gustavo.

June 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Nate and Anne - you and your fiddles should get on the sub list of a group that I perform with called the WISE GUYS - West Islip String Ensemble! As we say in Brooklyn, F'geddabout it!

June 20, 2012 at 01:08 PM · My fiddle is called JackieChan (all one word) because he's chinese and kicks a**.

I also talk to him a lot, "come on JackieChan you can do that C# better than that", "let's see what we can do with the Bach today JackieChan" etc.

So far he hasn't talked back.

June 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM · Raphael you mean your Villa fiddles weren't named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?!! ;C)


June 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM · I used to call mine "the beast" because it looked so beastly. It sounds quite beautiful and tame though. Now I just call it my "expensive violin."

July 8, 2012 at 07:09 PM · All my violins have had names, and become very well known. Friends, family and my teacher no longer refer to my violin as 'your violin' but with her name :D

Eg. "have you played Anastasia today?" "does Anastasia need any new strings" :P I see her as a person!

My bow is called Toast................... dont ask...

July 9, 2012 at 06:01 AM · I sometimes call my violins names when they do not stay in tune.

July 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM · Do anyone's violins come when they're called? ;-D

July 10, 2012 at 02:27 AM · I know a very young cellist whose bow is named "Snowman." I'm embarrassed to admit that the first thing I wondered, upon learning that, was whether her cello is named "Bandit." Fortunately not.

July 10, 2012 at 03:02 AM · My favorite instrument name on one of these threads (I forget if it was here or at the Internet Cello Society) was "Uncooperative B*tch."

I'm a flute player, by the way. I've never named any of my instruments, but they are always male for some reason.

July 10, 2012 at 03:47 PM · @Bruce "for some reason"? Is that really a mystery?

July 11, 2012 at 11:45 PM · My previous violin was named Eugenia. It had sort of a mellow, feminine sound to it. My new violin is named Julius Caesar. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was the word "Jewel," for the varnish is sort of multicolored and shiny. However when I played it (and fell in love:)) I began to think of the tone quality as male. So, modified the word!

Haven't named any of my bows, although with a friend I once called my favorite one Waterfall down Mossy Rocks. go figure...

I know people who have named their violins Princess, Firewood (lol), Flower, Orpheus, Eurydice, etc. The last two are particularly cute.

July 12, 2012 at 02:43 PM · My violin is Will Treaty, and the bow is Halt, coming from my all-time favorite book series Ranger's Apprentice. At first I thought the violin was somewhat female, but then I realized it was just a young man.

August 2, 2012 at 02:46 PM · I was wondering what kind of cracked violinist would name an instrument after a Monty Python character until I re-read your post more carefully and realized ... it's a violist.

August 4, 2012 at 03:34 PM · I could not resist chiming in on this one. The only instrument that I ever named was my trombone, which was entitled "Kobayashi Maru." For those of you that do not get the reference, the name is from Star Trek implying a battle than cannot be won.

Other than this, I had a student last year that insisted on calling my violin Vladimir.

August 4, 2012 at 04:06 PM · "Amadeus"

August 5, 2012 at 11:45 AM · My wife thought I was weird, I named my Martin guitar Marty, my Gibson I call Les (for obvious reasons) and my Ford Mustang...Sally...(yes I drive Mustang Sally). But my violin, well, she's named Screech! By the way, my daughter has 7 bass guitars and an upright, and they all have names. My wife, who thinks we're weird, has never named her 4 drum kits.

August 5, 2012 at 05:48 PM · Wow! Those are cool names! I like that they immediately illicit images of the type of sound and how the bow relates to the violin. Excellent choices. I have not named mine, but I am using a rental. So, I don't feel I have the right to attach a moniker to it.

August 5, 2012 at 07:29 PM · My viola is Fianna, and while I like my violin, it has no name as yet. :)

My bow is not worthy of a name, other than POC. ;)

As for naming could have a little fun. Name it, attach a tag to it so that when you return it, perhaps the next person could add to the name. Then it has a story, maybe making it more fun for the next person to play it.

There I go thinking again! LOL

August 6, 2012 at 10:23 AM · My violin is 'Gravitas' 'cause its made by John Newton (in 2010)- and came with the dear luthier thrown in as extra value!

August 6, 2012 at 06:25 PM · I call my violin: Gothica :P It really fits I have to say!

August 6, 2012 at 09:06 PM · My vion I grt in Action in e bay for the $ 125.00

I went to my luthier in NYC and told me about everything cost with an apraissal of from Hill and Son $ a quater million. Rebember the player makes your violin sing you are the player and you make the violin sound.

October 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM · I just got a new violin this week - it's an unusually dark but lovely instrument, and my dad described it as 'Delicate Sound of Thunder'. Since we're both big fans of Pink Floyd, that's what I'm gonna roll with. :DDDD I just call it Delicate Sound for short... and for some reason I find myself referring to it as a 'she', even though I told myself that it was genderless. Oh well, whatever, I love it!

My previous violin was called Tiger, just like another on this thread and for the same reasons, that it was reddish and rather stripy on the back. Violinny minds think alike?

October 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM · I named my violin "Vesuvio" :P no name for my bow, though...

October 26, 2012 at 08:12 PM · Although I've not named either violin or bow, my violin is definitely female. She's high-strung, with a long slender neck and shapely curves....sometimes defiant and sometimes totally surrendering to me. When I'm not making music with her, she lies in her case...asleep....unaware of her exquisite beauty....

November 24, 2012 at 06:10 PM · Actually I play viola, but it also has name. My little sister named my viola "Violetta".

November 27, 2012 at 03:45 AM · My names don't really have any meaning behind them, except for my backup bow.. My violin is George and my good bow is Camilla. Those just seemed like what they should be named. My backup, on the other hand, is named "Keras," which is short for Indonesian phrase for "Stubborn": "keras kepala."

November 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM · @Kailey: I don't know if you are indonesian, or speak Indonesian language, but actually, Keras means Hard, Kepala means Head.

Keras Kepala cannot be shortened as Keras because we would think you meant Keras=Hard.

You can say Kepala Batu also, is another word for Stubborn, Kepala Batu also cannot be shortened as Kepala or Batu, because Kepala means Head, Batu means Stone.

or more shorter: Keukeuh (this is sundanese language).

Indonesian is my mother language, I speak it fluently :)

November 27, 2012 at 05:49 PM · My first full-size violin's name was Tawny because it looked that color and I was really bad, so I didn't really have a connection to it and I just have a thing about naming everything in my life. THe bow that went along with that I called Leisel for no other reason than that it was made by some dude named Meisel. My second one I call Vesuvio because it's firey red and I love it and I like playing energetic minor keyed music. My new bow is now Vivace and there's a long story behind that, so yah. Long story short, though it won't make much sense: With Vesuvio and that new bow I finally started practicing a lot and loving violin. Also I rented a $5,800 for a few weeks and I called it Alfamera because it was a really pretty color and reminded me of elven woods. I took it back because I never really connected with it, though. I got a new bow I kept though, and I call it Elvndor. Anyways, me and my $2,000 Vesuvio, I'm pretty sure, won't be parting anytime soon! :D

December 8, 2012 at 05:45 PM · I have a 1985 unknown luthiery italian violin which i always named "Giorgio" ... :)

Since a few years i own two new crafted violins by italian luthier Bruno Barnes, and they are named "Margherita" (2009) and "Bruno" (also written inside) (2011).

It's strange that i never thought to give a name to my bows (i own 5 of them) ........ :)

I also own some electric basses ("Alfa", "Beta", "Max", "Lupin", "Erika") ......

December 9, 2012 at 07:06 PM · Yes, and it is named Titan by the maker, not myself. (nowadays makers have their own fancy system of naming instruments)

This is odd, because in my native language the noun violin is of a female gender, while Titan is not.

Well, there were Titan-esses, but this one is not named after one of them:

This is a link to Titan_(mythology)

For those interested in the gender of other members of the string family in my language:

Viola - female

Cello - neutral

Double bass - male

December 11, 2012 at 01:05 AM · I purchased my lovely Martin McLean instrument with a legacy left by my dad. He was a great music lover, and a very distinguished Scottish judge with the grand title of "Senator of the College of Justice". The violin has a very grand and impressive tone, so I've named it the "Senator" in memory of my father.

December 22, 2012 at 04:27 AM · Yesterday I decided to name my violin Audrey.

I was talking to my friend about violin strings (something he knows nothing about), and eventually I got down to the fact that my violin much prefers more expensive strings. We compared it to a high class girl, who one would buy expensive things for. And, as everyone knows, one of the most high class girls who ever lived, as well as being my favourite actress, is Audrey Hepburn. Ergo, my violin is now Audrey haha.

December 22, 2012 at 06:02 AM · My violinist daughter names her instruments. To her they are not inanimate objects, they have personalities. Her new, full sized violin is a female, but doesn't have a name yet. She started lessons at 2 1/2 because she was pretending to play the violin very accurately. The kid was happily sitting through concerts at 4 years old. Strange kid.

Her brother and sister, who are doing a great job on oboe and viola, don't have names for their instruments. They were ready for lessons at 8 and 9 years old. They enjoy music and playing; but they don't have the musical intensity as their older sister.

December 22, 2012 at 06:26 AM · I wish I were the type that named my instruments. My first violin I refer to as my Knilling. My new violin (last Austin 27) is a workshop violin made in China and imported by an almost unknown man in Sugar Land Texas.

I hate calling it the CA Music, Model 6. To me a totally meaningless reference. Its a wonderful instrument and I love it dearly. I thought about Ralph, over used in my world, plus I think the violin's a girl.

But if I did name her or should that be it, I'm thinking of Melinda.

My two newer bows I just call by their stamped names "the Raposo" and the "A Carvalho". I sometimes refer to the bow that came with the Knilling as the WIT WKW WTI (Wit Wickwee Witty) for "Who in the world knows what wood this is." But I didn't start calling it that until after I had it looked at by my luthier.

December 22, 2012 at 07:53 AM · My mother always called her violin 'George'. All her students also called it George, it was a term of endearment.

December 23, 2012 at 06:57 PM · I play Hammond Organ these days. My long-owned C-3 was dubbed "La Bombasta" and my newer B-3 instrument is called "Filthy McNasty." Filed under "uselss information."

No, you are not crazy. You have a good imagination and a sense of humor. Go with it.

December 25, 2012 at 08:14 PM · I have a friend who names everything, her instruments, her car, her plants.

I never do. I have a visual and aural relationship with my instruments. As soon as I put a name to something I somehow lose something else—a certain expansiveness disappears when my brain latches on to a name (I'm naturally good at crossword puzzles).

I remember the first twenty times I heard the Flower Duet, I didn't know the name of the piece. I only knew the sound of it (and immensely enjoyed it). As soon as I learned the name, that part of my mind "got in the way" of my direct relationship with the music. I have to tune out names as much as possible or the verbal part of my brain wreaks havoc with my other senses.

December 28, 2012 at 02:24 AM · My violin's name is Elizabeth. If I get another one, I'll have to name her Mrs. Jones just so I can sing "we got a tha-a-a-ang goin' on".

December 28, 2012 at 02:43 AM · I remember back about four years ago when we discussed this. The violin my mother flipped the bill for is the "Miss Dolly Strad" named after my mother Dolly. The one I bought last year I call, "The Hondge" after the maker. I refer to my three bows also by their makers. As time goes by... we'll see.

December 28, 2012 at 02:51 AM · I was just thinking... the Miss Dolly violin I mentioned is stained a rather dark colour and is cooler and darker in both sound and texture and the Hndge is a golden lighter honey and is warmer and lighter in both color and texture sound wise... after reading the posts I may call them Yin & Yang! }:oD

May 13, 2013 at 10:52 PM · I name mine after mythological figures

My acoustic is Athene. It took me awhile to settle on a name, but it fits her so well. :)

My electric violin is the Morrigan, after the Celtic goddess of battle/crows.

May 14, 2013 at 05:13 PM · The 2 I had before were nameless but then again I probably didnt play them well enough for them to tell me their names. My new one however is Emily. I dont have any particular reason why shes named that other than listening to the resonance, tone and overtones saying to me that her name is Emily.

My bow however I named myself. Its called Abigail. Not quite named after an old girlfriend, because her name is Abilene. The reason why? Me and that bow sometimes get along just fine and other times me and that bow just dont work well together at all. Right now that one is a back up since I use dark rosin on it and my primary bow right now uses light. the one with light has no name.

May 19, 2013 at 12:28 AM · When I was at a symphony rehearsal a couple weeks ago, my conductor did something I've never seen a conductor do before. He got out his metronome and hooked it up to the speakers in the room.

When we musicians saw him take it out, everyone started saying things like "Oh no...not THAT - I hate metronomes!" But then my stand partner spoke up. "Can we name the metronome Gary?"

I had never heard of naming an instrument (or metronome) before! But it actually makes some sense, since instruments sing, and metronomes, well, beep.

I don't have a name for my own violin yet, but I'll have to think of one. Hiefetz, maybe?...

May 20, 2013 at 04:28 PM · A metronome named Gary could be a reference to Spongebobs pet snail, Gary. In an episode, spongebob is getting attacked by jelly fish. Gary gets scared and his eyes (remember hes snail and the eyes stick out!) swing apart then clack when they meet in the middle like this -> \/ then clink when they meet ||. Gary does this over and over making a metronome rhythm and all the other underwater animals make a single sound that collectively makes a underwater symphony that calms the jelly fish and saves spongebob.

My guess is naming that darn thing something fun so you try not to hate it so much when you have to use it.

May 21, 2013 at 07:59 PM · Maybe that's where she got it. :-)

Yeah, I should name my own metronome - it would probably make me a little more excited to use it. I'm going to have to bring it out pretty often this summer, since I have to learn audition excerpts - not something I particularly want to learn with the wrong rhythm or tempo!

May 22, 2013 at 03:35 PM · I'm not sure if there's anything to make any using a metronome fun! I got one of those nice Wittner wooden pyramid metronomes and I still dread using it most of the time, although I should! I guess it mostly takes will power to let that thing criticize your rhythm at any chance it gets.

Good luck!

May 22, 2013 at 08:30 PM · Ha! I suppose you're right.

Although it might seem strange, I'm kind of looking forward to this audition. It's for a youth symphony I've been in for a couple years, and I'm friends with the conductor and many of the people who are likely to be the judges. I'm excited because there are several violinists at almost exactly my level who will be auditioning as well, so there will be a high competition level for the top 2 or 3 chairs. For some reason, I find that fun.

So instead of taking out my metronome and thinking, "Oh great, here goes again..." I'll be thinking, "Hey, let's get this rhythm down so that I play it right."

May 23, 2013 at 12:56 AM · That's cool, Ellie. :-)

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