Andrea Amati was a luthier, from Cremona, Italy. Amati is credited with making the first instruments of the violin family that are in the form we use today. According to the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota:
It was in the workshop of Andrea Amati (ca. 1505-1577) in Cremona, Italy, in the middle of the 16th century that the form of the instruments of the violin family as we know them today first crystallized.
Several of his instruments survive to the present day, and some of them can still be played. Many of the surviving instruments were among a consignment of 38 instruments delivered to Charles IX of France in 1564.
According to a biography by Roger Hargrave, Amati was one of the top candidates scholars have advanced for the "inventor of the violin." The two other candidates he named were Fussen born in a region now part of present-day Germany. The other candidate he named was Gasparo' da Salo from Brescia.
The violin-like instruments that existed when Amati began his career only had three strings. Amati is credited with creating the first four stringed violin-like instrument. Laurence Witten also lists Amati and Gasparo' da Salo, as well as Pellegrino de' Micheli, also from Brescia; as well and Ventura di Francesco de' Machetti Linarol, of Venice. Amati's first violins were smaller than modern violins, with high arches, wide purfling, and elegantly curved scrolls and bodies.
Andrea Amati's two sons, Antonio Amati and Girolamo Amati were also highly skilled violin makers, as was his grandson Nicolò Amati, who had over a dozen highly regarded apprentices, including Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri.