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I currently own an acoustic violin and viola. I am wanting to set up a 16 inch octave viola (i.e. has the same tuning as a cello) as my third toy. My goal is to have it sound just like an acoustic cello. Everything else is of lesser priority. Most of the time, I will be playing on it in my room.
I am aware that using octave viola strings requires modification of the viola itself, such as the bridge, pegs and fine tuners. Below are some of the options that I came across.
Acoustic / Acoustic-Electric
There is the Bellafina ChinCello Outfit. However, the standard viola theoretically isn't even big enough to make the best use of its pitch range (it would need to be around 21 inches big). I imagine that an octave lower would sound less impressive. However, reviews of the product appear to be positive overall. Attaching a pickup is said to produce even better sound. Are there any videos of people playing one of these toys?
The Yamaha SVV-200 Silent Viola looks quite appealing to me, especially the pearl white SVV-200K version. If I were to go ahead and buy and set up one of these as an octave viola, I would have to spend over $2700 AUD. That cost is almost my acoustic violin and viola combined! However, I have been told that I might have better luck achieving an acoustic cello sound with these, as the electric viola does not have the sound box size limitation problem. There are a couple of other brands of electric violas available, but I have yet to see a single electric viola for sale here in Australia. I know that the sound of electric instruments can be easily altered, but from what I have seen on online videos, the electric viola can sound just like an acoustic viola on the higher notes, but starts sounding very artificial/electric on the lower notes. If it can sound acoustic throughout, then it would be great.
Learn the real thing
Okay, I admit that I plucked a few acoustic cellos today... the idea seemed fun... but I don't think I should start a third instrument yet. I would rather further develop my viola technique instead. My room lacks room for a big cello.
What does everyone think?
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