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Another viola here - accept me ?
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Gordon Shumway
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@AndrewH/@wtw said

The Walton concerto is the most frequently performed viola concerto, and considered one of the "big three" for viola! (All three are modern; the other two are the Bartok concerto and Hindemith's "Der Schwanendreher.")
Tamestit's viola actually isn't big. He plays the "Gustav Mahler" Stradivari, which according to Tarisio is 16-1/4", right in the middle of the size range.  

 

I know two violists. One plays a 15" viola made in the 18th century.

The other used to be a pro until she got a neck injury, so now she's an amateur. Hers is 16 3/4" (42.5 cm) and was made in the 20th century by a luthier in the North of England out of wood salvaged from some broken cellos!

If I ever wanted to buy a viola, which is very possible, I'd just go for a 15" (I'm only 5'5"). I see that Stentor, for example, lists that as a standard size. No, if you go for a basic Conservatoire model, they do it in 14"!

Andrew

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AndrewH
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Andrew Fryer said

 

I know two violists. One plays a 15" viola made in the 18th century.

The other used to be a pro until she got a neck injury, so now she's an amateur. Hers is 16 3/4" (42.5 cm) and was made in the 20th century by a luthier in the North of England out of wood salvaged from some broken cellos!

If I ever wanted to buy a viola, which is very possible, I'd just go for a 15" (I'm only 5'5"). I see that Stentor, for example, lists that as a standard size. No, if you go for a basic Conservatoire model, they do it in 14"!  

I know a whole bunch of violists from the various ensembles I've played in recently, with viola sizes ranging from 14-1/2" to 17". At one point, maybe 8-9 years ago, I played in a community orchestra with someone who stood 6'7" and played a monster 19" viola! In my current semi-pro orchestra, there are two violists who play a 14-1/2" and a 15" respectively, and the other seven are all between 15-1/2" and 16-3/4".

14" is exactly the same size as a full-size violin, of course.

My own instrument is a 15-3/4" Tertis pattern viola, made in Phoenix, Arizona in 1979 by a German luthier who moved to the US in the early 1970s. I'm 5'7", and my arms are long enough to handle a slightly larger viola, but I have short fingers so I can't play an octave double-stop on anything larger than what I have.

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Gordon Shumway
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@AndrewH 

Actually, in what way would a 14" viola differ from a violin, apart from the strings?

Maybe the lower bout could be bigger for more bass?

Can I ask the same question about the 5-string fiddle, @Fiddlerman ?

Andrew

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Irv
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Hi Andrew.  I have a couple of 14” violas.  Their ribs are quite a bit higher than a violin. All other dimensions are the same.  If I had younger children and needed a fractional sized violin, I would strongly consider getting the similar in a viola and string it as a violin, for fractional violins are notoriously bad sounding.

If you want to play a longer viola, check out the violin metrics thread on this forum and see what the Fiddlerman Shop did for bocaholly (lengthened nut to convert 4/4 violin to 7/8 violin).  I saw real potential in that modification.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Gordon Shumway
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Irv said
If you want to play a longer viola, check out the violin metrics thread on this forum and see what the Fiddlerman Shop did for bocaholly (lengthened nut to convert 4/4 violin to 7/8 violin).  I saw real potential in that modification.  

Very interesting!

Andrew

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wtw
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From what I understood, the ribs are higher indeed, + the thickness of the wood isn't the same here and there… I think there's something about the bass bar inside that's different too (don't ask me if it's the placement or the thickness also). It all contributes to the 'viola sound', that melancholy tone that attracted me 😉 …

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Irv
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I remembered another difference.  The bass string on a viola causes a lot more displacement than the similar g string on a violin.  So the bridge height needs to be higher on a viola so that the string does not buzz on the fingerboard when bowed.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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Gordon Shumway
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Irv said
I remembered another difference.  The bass string on a viola causes a lot more displacement than the similar g string on a violin.  So the bridge height needs to be higher on a viola so that the string does not buzz on the fingerboard when bowed.  

I wonder if there is more risk of that on shorter-scale violas where the string tension is less?

Andrew

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Irv
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It is typical to purchase a string set dedicated to the viola length.  The manufacturer compensates materials to achieve proper tension requirements.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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AndrewH
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Irv said
Hi Andrew.  I have a couple of 14” violas.  Their ribs are quite a bit higher than a violin. All other dimensions are the same.  If I had younger children and needed a fractional sized violin, I would strongly consider getting the similar in a viola and string it as a violin, for fractional violins are notoriously bad sounding.

If you want to play a longer viola, check out the violin metrics thread on this forum and see what the Fiddlerman Shop did for bocaholly (lengthened nut to convert 4/4 violin to 7/8 violin).  I saw real potential in that modification.  

 

For the price range I'd be shopping in, I wouldn't want to make any major modifications; the risk of significantly reducing the instrument's value is too high. (Also, I'm about 95% certain I've already purchased my last string instrument, because I'd never need to upgrade even to play in professional ensembles.)

Also, with the viola, lengthening the nut comes at a price: it becomes harder to play in high positions because the body starts to obstruct your hand sooner. I routinely play orchestral viola parts going to 9th or higher positions, which is inherently awkward on any viola. I really don't want it to get any harder. Even on a violin, that modification might not be desirable for someone who plays Romantic and post-Romantic solo rep and 1st violin parts.

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Fiddlerman
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November 19, 2018 - 1:27 pm
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wtw said
Hi everyone,
This forum looks nice so I thought I'd join, even if I'm not sure yet how much I'll be posting. I'm 29 and playing viola (never violin), it's been almost 3 years in total – with a 2-year interruption in-between.
I think I'm reaching the phase where progress is slower, so I might need your advice and/or all the information available here. (I don't want to take lessons, not now anyway.) I'm already on a violin forum in the "same spirit" as here (the helpful and encouraging kind), but you can never be on too many of those, right ? 🙂

P.S. I'm french so please excuse my sometimes poor english. I'll try my best !  

Welcome to the forum, and your title is hilarious. Not sure that everyone understood that.

Sorry for the delay on my part. I have another forum that is basically unactive called violaman.com
It just never took off. Maybe I'll put some effort into it later.

In any case, always happy to have more violists here.

Hope we can help with your progress and motivation.

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

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Gordon Shumway
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I've emailed my teacher to ask if she thinks a 14" viola (available in the Stentor Conservatoire model) or a 15" (widely available) is the better idea for me (she plays a 15"). But she's on tour at the moment.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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November 19, 2018 - 3:17 pm
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What size are you playing on right now Andrew?

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

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Gordon Shumway
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Fiddlerman said
What size are you playing on right now Andrew?  

Right now I'm only playing violin. But I like the viola's sound. Who knows, maybe when my teacher is back, she'll tell me I'm crazy!

Andrew

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wtw
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Nah, you're perfectly normal wink

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Fiddlerman
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November 20, 2018 - 1:59 pm
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In that case, I recommend the 15"
I feel very comfortable with a 15" because it's so close to a violin size but still big enough to be deeper and darker. I'm also fine playing on a 15'5" or 16" viola. If I had to own just one, I'd get a 15" as long as I kept playing the violin as well.

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

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Gordon Shumway
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Fiddlerman said
In that case, I recommend the 15"
I feel very comfortable with a 15" because it's so close to a violin size but still big enough to be deeper and darker. 

Yes, good point, the tone is the whole reason to play a viola, isn't it.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
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November 21, 2018 - 8:45 am
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Andrew Fryer said

Fiddlerman said
In that case, I recommend the 15"
I feel very comfortable with a 15" because it's so close to a violin size but still big enough to be deeper and darker. 

Yes, good point, the tone is the whole reason to play a viola, isn't it.  

Exactly! - If I ever retire and stop working at Fiddlershop entirely, I might get a 5 string to get that nice C string and just play for myself.

Not kidding though, bigger is better. 🙂

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

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Gordon Shumway
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Fiddlerman said

Exactly! - If I ever retire and stop working at Fiddlershop entirely, I might get a 5 string to get that nice C string and just play for myself.

Not kidding though, bigger is better. 🙂  

Yeah, my teacher just emailed me to say she thought I'd be good for a 16" if I wanted a viola (and she reiterated what everyone said above about tone and so on).

Could you offer some technical details about the 5-string, please - is it modified to give more bass response, is it thicker?

Andrew

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Scrap
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Welcome to the party. A couple of summers ago my family took a long trip to Europe. We spent almost a week in Paris. It was amazing and the people were awesome. I can't wait to go back and enjoy more. I may have gained a few pounds, I got my eating on!

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