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A Viola-related / General Sizing question
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HeadCheese
Plano, Texas
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September 24, 2011 - 10:19 am
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We really DO need a viola section so I don't spam you fiddlers with endless viola-related questions. Just sayin'...

 

Violas, like violins come in different sizes, of course. But unlike a violin, "full-size" can still mean different lengths to different people. I've seen anywhere from 15" to 21(!)" listed as "full-size," with 16" being the most common. (FYI - the 21" looked like a shoulder-fired Cello)

 

My question is this: Is it only the body of the instrument that varies in size, or does the neck also come in different lengths?

violin <--Pretend this is a viola. It's probably out of tune, anyway... 

 

I ask, because I was wondering if, when switching sizes, a player has to relearn all the positions relative to their location on the neck? (i.e. When my son moves up from a 14" viola to something larger) Will the neck be different in proportion to the body size?

If the neck is always the same size, however, I can see how it would be easier to swap/upgrade sizes. Watching Fiddlerman just grab all the various violins he's reviewed here and play away without any obvious searching for the correct position leads me to think that the necks are the same. Well, that and the fact that Fiddlerman can probably make a tennis racket sound good.

However, I imagine that even within the same size instrument, there are variations on exactly where one's finger has to be to find the proper intonation. Would these natural variations in manufacture have much effect?

violin-student<-- "F#? Where's my f#'n F#?"  (see what I did there?)

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Jauniba
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September 24, 2011 - 11:11 am
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I actually never thought about this before, but I got out my violas for you. One is an 18 inch and my very old 16 inch and the necks are exactly the same. I am very surprised. The 18 inch is much harder for me to play (it really does feel like a cello coming out of my neck LOL - especially after playing my violin) but I bought it because the tone was incredible.

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Jauniba
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September 24, 2011 - 11:14 am
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Having said that, it's still two inches longer and it does take some getting used to, even if the neck is the same between the scroll and the body of the instrument.

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HeadCheese
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September 25, 2011 - 10:20 pm
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Thanks for the reply, Jauniba! I appreciate you taking the time to check fingerboard sizes.

Do you still play viola, or have you made the switch to violin?

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 25, 2011 - 11:29 pm
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Jauniba said:

I actually never thought about this before, but I got out my violas for you. One is an 18 inch and my very old 16 inch and the necks are exactly the same. I am very surprised. The 18 inch is much harder for me to play (it really does feel like a cello coming out of my neck LOL - especially after playing my violin) but I bought it because the tone was incredible.

While you are at it can you measure the distance between the nut and the bridge. That string length is what would affect the intonation based upon finger placement. If the strings are longer from the bridge to the nut it would require wider finger spreads. Some people are so talented that they can play between violins and violas and play in-tune.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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myguitarnow
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September 25, 2011 - 11:45 pm
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Hey HC what's more important is hearing the right notes in your head then your fingers will follow along. Forget about measurements and think about A B C D E F G.

Just seven notes (tones) then play some of them sharp or flat for a chromatic scale and that's just 12 tones. Jam along to many songs to hear the right tones and it will be much easier for you to learn than worrying about the size of an instrument.

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Jauniba
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September 26, 2011 - 8:41 am
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Some people are so talented that they can play between violins and violas and play in-tune.

Yeah. That would not be me.  I also struggle for a few seconds between reading the music. "Is that a one or a three? which clef is that? what instrument am I playing again?" Oh, and, "where am I?" LOL. And then let's not forget that whenever the viola has to go up in a higher position what do they do? They write in treble clef. Why not just keep a violin at your side for those moments?

While you are at it can you measure the distance between the nut and the bridge.

I can't believe it, but they are exactly the same. The f-holes are LONGER on the larger one but the notches on the f holes that line up with the bridge are at the same spot on both instruments.

The only difference, and this probably doesn't affect anything anyway, is the fingerboard of the SMALLER viola is maybe half an inch LONGER than the one on the larger viola. 

Do you still play viola, or have you made the switch to violin?

I played the violin from elementary school to high school. In high school three things happened. 1) I joined the community youth orchestra. 2) I got tired of being at the end of the first violins and 3) the first chair violist was a boy who was really cute and also incredibly talented. I picked up a viola over the summer, learned it, auditioned, and became his stand partner for the rest of high school.

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HeadCheese
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September 26, 2011 - 8:57 am
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Ah , L'amor... makes us do funny things!doublekiss

 

Thanks for all the detailed information!

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HeadCheese
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September 28, 2011 - 9:04 am
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Finally having my own 16" viola in my hands, I was able to compare it with my son's 14" viola. The distance from nut to bridge was quite a bit different between the two, as was the length of the neck and fingerboard.

 

He's been told he needs a larger viola. I guess he's going to need to stretch...violin-student

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Robyn.fnq
Queensland, Australia
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October 13, 2011 - 1:16 am
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Hi HC, I found this little video that you might be interested in ..

 

http://www.violinlab.com/lesso.....php?id=357

 

Cheers

violin-student

If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

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