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The 5-String Viola
Issues More Specific To 5-String Violas
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March 28, 2022 - 4:03 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 5011
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Well, I'm now only a couple days shy of having Edgar for 2 months! 

HUGE difference in the way we sound together, compared to only a couple weeks ago! 

Just realizing there may be issues unique to 5-string Violas, so here's my thoughts. 


Attaching a tuner to a 5-string Viola.

There's been recent talk of people having issues with a tuner attached to 4-string instruments and I'm also having my fair share.  First of all, I don't think tuners are really meant for 5-string violins or violas. 😳

I have the 5 strings on my Viola like on my Violin, but I didn't have as much of an issue with the extra sympathetic overtones when tuning as I do now with the 5-string Viola.  They resonate SO MUCH MORE - making an accurate reading hard to accomplish.  My 1st tries were attached to the scroll, then the pegs and last, the bridge! 

Yesterday, I finally decided to quit fooling around - used video tones on my laptop from YouTube.  Started to realize I hadn't been listening very closely... wondering if I was hearing anything right anymore - certainly don't trust my ears enough to tune by strings alone, even though I watched videos on how to do it.  🤔... guess I'm getting too much practice attempting to play in-tune on an out-of-tune instrument. 🙄 

Oh, what I'd give to have perfect pitch!  Oops, sorry folks, you're ALL probably wishing I had it, much more than me. (lol)

So, this all made me start listening more closely to what videos I end up playing along with (or Alexa).  Wow, took me all this time to realize some of them are NOT tuned to standard A=440Hz!  Another reason to use 4th finger instead of open strings, but I haven't really decided if I want to completely give up getting nice easy ringing tones.  Guess that depends on what I'm playing - being inherently lazy, don't think I'm alone not wanting to mess with good 4th finger tone, well any more than necessary, on a fast reel?  Slower pieces do make more sense, to me. 

Anyway, appears I won't be looking to my tuner for anymore intonation guidance on Edgar.  


...hope I can focus on playing more in tune. 🤞🏼  

- Emily


March 28, 2022 - 4:04 pm
Member Since: June 10, 2020
Forum Posts: 5011
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Now, strings and bridge on 5-string Viola. 

I mentioned differences I noted between the bridge shape of my Violin vs Viola in ABitRusty's thread.  New Viola Day Thread

https://gifimage.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/gif-bug-3.gifI'm slowly getting used to the wider string spacing and the difference the higher arch of the bridge on the Viola vs. Violin, but one thing was still bugging me.  C, G & D strings are thicker than on my violin, which isn't really an issue in itself, but the skinny Larsen A string is!  It's VERY skinny, like the E string - and Larsen uses the SAME 'A' string in ALL it's Viola sets (that I've found so far)! 

Now, an issue arises because my thick D string (Larsen Virtuoso is thicker than the Larsen Originals) sits on the peak of the bridge arch - making my DA & E strings VERY close to a straight bowing plane.  I've been getting more used to it, but probably could be easier if the bow angle were the same in relationship to ALL the strings, but as it, the A string is the hardest to play. 

I hate the idea of removing a tiny bit of the bridge to lower the D string (🤔 still thinking about it), cause one thing can possibly lead to another, etc... 

So, next best thing... I installed a Zyex 'A', last night! 🤗 It's thicker than the Larsen - MUCH better for playing! 


...yeah, only beat my head against the wall how many weeks? 🤪 

- Emily

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