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I have managed to bump into a viola. I had some exposure to the violin family many years ago and now that I actually have one in my hands, I want to learn how to play. I was playing it for a few weeks tuned as a violin until I realized it was a viola.
Now I am worried that tuning it like a violin will damage the neck and who knows what else. I have tried tuning it like a viola and it sounds a bit better, but I suspect the strings are violin strings, they just don't perform as well as when they were tuned up like a violin. It is much harder to get a note going with the bow, it sounds pretty scratchy, even if the tone is a little more appropriate.
This viola is apparently pretty old. It says "Albert Krell, Cincinnati Ohio, 1867" inside and I figure I can sell it to get into a nice student violin. But meanwhile, I'd like to keep playing.
So, is it bad for a viola to be tuned like a violin? How can I tell if the strings are viola strings?
In addition to what Fiddlerman already said, you might also want to measure the back of the instrument from the edge of the body by the neck to the edge of the body by the tailpiece and let us now how big an instrument we're talking about.
Also, I found this:
The Brompton’s Book of Violin & Bow Makers
Author: John Dilworth
AMERICAN MADE VIOLIN BY ALBERT KRELL----1887 This is a very nice old full size violin in very good condition. It was made by Albert Krell, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1887. It is No. 274. It has a light amber finish in reasonably good condition with a few tiny nicks from wear. I purchased the violin from the estate of a concert player, well known in the area at the time. The violin was exhibited in competition at the Cincinnati Centennial Exposition and was awarded a gold medal for tone and workmanship. It has full corner blocks and linings and the back is two piece with very nice flaming. T are no visible cracks or loose joints or seams. A good solid instrument with a good tone. Several documents are included with the violin, including the original sales slip, with the cost cut out of the document and letters to Mr. R. O. Hawley (the well known violin collector). T is also a letter to Mr. Levi Scofield (buyer and father of the player) from Albert Krell listing many owners of his violins. It's a very good history of the violin. An Albert Krell violin sold at auction in 1995 for $2080.00.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright
Thanks for that Fiddlerman. So the strings are shot, but the viola has not suffered from this mistreatment?
I've emailed more images around about it and a local maker (Ifshin) says that it has a sound post crack. With the crack, they will not take it for consignment. There is a hairline crack to the right of the bridge and it does look like it is over the sound post.
Tarisio has seen the images. They say nothing about the crack, but they give me an estimate of $1500 to $2200 and they say they'll take it for auction.
At this point, Tarisio seems like my best bet to get your Concert Violin.
We'll see. It's either Tarisio or eBay. Including PayPal, fees on eBay are about 13%, Tarisio is 9% for my price range. And Tarisio is orchestra strings only. So Tarisio it will be.
I've also posted at the forums under Violins for Sale, Albert Krell viola, I'll post updates there when things are under way.