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Should I trade in my viola for a smaller one?
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Elwin
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February 11, 2017 - 9:16 pm
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I have the fiddlerman artist viola, 16.5". After about a month of lessons, I'm starting to notice an issue in regards to 4th finger stretching. It requires a stretch to the point that it hurts, sort of. Well, it was that way for a while. Throughout the course of about a month, it has become an issue. I don't play 4th finger in tune unless I stretch it. Even then, it's extremely hard to play 4th finger if my 2nd finger is in a low position. (I play 4th finger with my other 3 down as well, occasionally, just 1, or 3 down with it due to strength). I don't mind the viola size, I can fit it, it's just the stretch of the 4th finger. One more thing before I forget. with the 4th finger, I can't apply pressure on the left side, it's got to be on the right side for me if I ever have a chance of playing in tune.

Just today, I had a practice issue, where my 4th finger seemed to almost "pop". Or, it basically hurt quite a bit. I've heard that for viola, the 4th finger shouldn't be used as much, compared to violin due to the 4th finger not being strong enough. I was a bit worried that I'd damage my nerves on the pinky if I continued practicing, so I stopped.

I'm wondering, should I go ahead and trade in mine for maybe a 15.5" viola, or do I stretch even more? Is it possible for my 4th finger to obtain strength to be as strong as the other three?

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damfino
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February 12, 2017 - 2:45 pm
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I have rather small hands and a short pinky, so I can feel your pain, even though I play violin. My teacher started out on viola, and while her hands are bigger than mine, she has a short pinky, so she was teaching me viola playing tricks to reach my 4th finger. The one that works best for me is to use a finger (2nd or 3rd) as a pivot point and slightly roll/rock the hand forward to help the 4th finger reach without having to stretch. I don't always feel a need to do this (normal 1st finger position to 4th I don't seem to have an issue reaching) and don't always use a pivot finger unless I'm coming off that current note. You then just roll/rock the hand back down where it belongs and you play back down the fingerboard. 

Have you spoke to your teacher about your thinking of going down a size? I would think they should be able to teach you some tricks for reaching without causing injury, my teacher implied the pinky reaching tricks are a common thing to learn with viola. 

That said, over the course of my year and half of playing, my pinky has gotten stronger and reaches easier. 

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Elwin
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February 12, 2017 - 3:55 pm
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What were some of the tricks your teacher taught you?

It's only hard on 1/2 position and 1st position, it becomes less wide the higher up you go. I intend to speak to my teacher sometime in the future.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 17, 2017 - 5:42 am
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It may help you to downsize. There is a good chance that your pinky "pops" because you need to have it too straight and flat. Having your pinky too flat will bring it too close to loosing it's strength from having it slightly bent.

That being said, a smaller instrument won't sound as deep and powerful.

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

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Elwin
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February 18, 2017 - 12:59 pm
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Fiddlerman said
It may help you to downsize. There is a good chance that your pinky "pops" because you need to have it too straight and flat. Having your pinky too flat will bring it too close to loosing it's strength from having it slightly bent.
That being said, a smaller instrument won't sound as deep and powerful.  

Well, my teacher does help in regards to using the 4th finger. She did instruct me in working on the angle that my pinky pushes down the string. I'm don't mind the size, though I'm thinking if I can find a 16.5" viola with a shorter string length, then that might help.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 8, 2017 - 8:42 pm
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The string length goest hand in hand with the size. The instrument is usually proportionally sized.

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

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Elwin
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March 8, 2017 - 10:10 pm
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Fiddlerman said
The string length goest hand in hand with the size. The instrument is usually proportionally sized.  

Are you aware of Maggini-style violas? Just wondering. Those are built a little differently. The f-holes are a little bit higher on the viola than usual. This violin maker on his blog does give the difference and explains them a bit more. http://www.williamcastle.co.uk.....0size.html. He also explains this in this video: In regards to this, I do have long arms, but rather short fingers (debatably).

I was thinking that his "Maggini" style viola would be the one I feel comfortable with, though since writing this, my fourth finger issues have diminished quite a bit (Though if I'm not supporting it with any finger, it still hurts a little bit after a while).

That's what I meant with 16.5" viola with a shorter string length.

BTW, are fiddlerman violas built with the same proportions to standard-size violins?

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 15, 2017 - 10:19 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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We don't have any Maggini style violas but we have 4 workshops that make instruments exclusively for Fiddlershop. If you are interested we can have one made. It takes 3 months to make and would cost the same as a workshop or Benchmade depending on what you order. If you call us you can speak with my son Michael who has direct contact with our workshops.

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

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Adaleona
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March 15, 2017 - 1:26 pm
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Okay, so this might help you with your issues; Do you have a violin shop near you? If so, maybe go there, try out different sized violas and styles. The shop near me has Maggini, Strad, Guarneri-style violas and violins, so if you do have a shop near you, I encourage you to try out the different styles and such to see which one fits you best. Then you could talk to Michael, as Pierre said, and then have an instrument custom made for your style.

I would probably rest the fourth finger for now so you don't cause severe injury that could become permanent. Then if you have the chance, try out other violas and then see what size/style fits you best in terms of fourth finger stretches.

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Elwin
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March 15, 2017 - 1:37 pm
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Fiddlerman said
We don't have any Maggini style violas but we have 4 workshops that make instruments exclusively for Fiddlershop. If you are interested we can have one made. It takes 3 months to make and would cost the same as a workshop or Benchmade depending on what you order. If you call us you can speak with my son Michael who has direct contact with our workshops.  

Thank, you, I'll keep that in mind once I decide to upgrade from the artist viola.

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Elwin
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March 15, 2017 - 1:42 pm
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Adaleona said
Okay, so this might help you with your issues; Do you have a violin shop near you? If so, maybe go there, try out different sized violas and styles. The shop near me has Maggini, Strad, Guarneri-style violas and violins, so if you do have a shop near you, I encourage you to try out the different styles and such to see which one fits you best. Then you could talk to Michael, as Pierre said, and then have an instrument custom made for your style.

I would probably rest the fourth finger for now so you don't cause severe injury that could become permanent. Then if you have the chance, try out other violas and then see what size/style fits you best in terms of fourth finger stretches.  

 Well, since making this thread, I've gotten "used" to using the fourth finger. My fourth finger is able to remain curved while pushing down the C-string. I usually make sure that either 1, 2, or 3 is supporting it before I use it, though. As for the higher positions, I usually avoid using my fourth finger to "Aim" for a note within a position I'm not comfortable in (think the first shift in Czardas). 

Anyway, thank you for letting me know about trying the different sizes. There is one violin shop near me, however, I'm not sure about their viola inventory, though.

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Adaleona
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March 15, 2017 - 1:57 pm
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I would still try out other sizes for experimentation, just to see if that would make anything better. I know using the fourth finger can be tiring - I have a 15.5" viola that I have to stretch my finger out for, but I have a method for that and I do know it can be tiring. Painful...I've never had to deal with pain in the fourth finger. You could also check that shop's website if they have one and see the instruments they have and/or call them about it.

 

By getting "used to it," do you mean that you no longer feel pain no matter what?

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 16, 2017 - 1:29 pm
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The Ole Bull is a great pattern for people who need smaller full size instruments. Also one of my favorite patterns. 🙂

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

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Elwin
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March 16, 2017 - 2:41 pm
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Fiddlerman said
The Ole Bull is a great pattern for people who need smaller full size instruments. Also one of my favorite patterns. 🙂  

I'm a violist, though. I don't think Ole Bull is available for the viola (with the exception of custom outfits).

One question, when I do decide that I want to have a customized Maggini viola to be made, is it possible to order various outfit items with it? Case, Bow, Rosin, set up with wittner fine-tuner pegs, Zyex strings etc.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 19, 2017 - 8:01 pm
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Well, the Maggini is a bigger pattern. If you need a smaller viola just go down to the size that you feel would be appropriate such as the 15.5 you mentioned. I bet that would feel way better to you considering your aforementioned pain.

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

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Elwin
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March 21, 2017 - 7:12 pm
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Fiddlerman said
Well, the Maggini is a bigger pattern. If you need a smaller viola just go down to the size that you feel would be appropriate such as the 15.5 you mentioned. I bet that would feel way better to you considering your aforementioned pain.  

Well, the thing is, I like the feel of a bigger viola in regards to size, string length is the issue since the wider finger spacing is what gets to me. I liked what the guy said and that a maggini is more for long arms (like me) and short fingers (close, my fingers are medium sized, but my pinky is crooked a little inward).

The guy also said that magginis have a different sound to them. I do think that (after listening to samples of maginni replica violas, I actually like that sound quite a bit.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 22, 2017 - 9:23 am
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Elwin
Houston
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March 22, 2017 - 8:10 pm
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Not exactly smaller, by now, though I'm good with a 16" or 16 1/4". My main concern is the string length. 

Also, the pictures require me to register, so I couldn't really view them.

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Fiddlerman
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March 23, 2017 - 10:59 am
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You can resister for free. There is a limit though.

Didn't think about that when I posted them.

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

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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March 23, 2017 - 4:08 pm
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Chiming in late.

I am lazy with my Pinky...(soon that will change).  But it used to pop and I struggled, for some reason.  I guess years now of playing, it doesn't pop anymore.  

That being said, I play violin and not viola.

Good luck and cheers.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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