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String length
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Vermont, Massachusetts or somewhere in between

October 11, 2018 - 6:38 pm
Member Since: November 2, 2014
Forum Posts: 382
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I've been reading where string length effects tone/sound. Not that I don't have enough of a skill with that myself. 


For a 16.5" viola where do I find info for ideal string length. Bridge to tailpiece vs Bridge to pegbox. 


As Fiddlerman set my Master up, I can only assume the sound post is in ideal position, but after changing my bridge a few times, I think I need to fix that. 




October 11, 2018 - 9:46 pm
Member Since: December 23, 2017
Forum Posts: 1009
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Hello Ripton and others.  Most luthiers believe that a ratio of 1:6 between the after length (bridge to tailpiece) and string playing length (nut to bridge) is ideal.  Various things can be done to influence this ratio.

The most obvious and immediately advantageous is to remove the fine tuners (perhaps with the utilization of a piccolo tuner on the a string of the viola).

Adjustment can be easily be made on the tailpiece gut to affect the distance between the saddle and the tailpiece.

Additional lower harmonics can be obtained by the use of a “harp” style tailpiece and by the use of intentionally smaller tailpieces (such as the use of a 16” tailpiece on a 16 1/2” viola).  I frequently use a 3/4 tailpiece on a 4/4 violin.  The latter practice is similar to the continental “Senza System.”  It is very effective on warming the sound of a harsh instrument, but can be over done.  I have an interest in this and have frequently done it.

Lastly, although not strictly germaine to this discussion, is the material used for the tail piece.  Ebony, rosewood, boxwood, aluminum, carbon fiber and plastic have all been employed in useful tailpieces and all offer different sounds to the instrument. 

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.


October 12, 2018 - 9:53 am
Member Since: March 15, 2014
Forum Posts: 244
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Here is some useful info if I can get it to post.

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With violins there is no fretting over the music.

Fort Lauderdale
October 12, 2018 - 10:19 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14229

The ratio is often mentioned and it may be a great starting point but we have noticed that there are no negative results from making the afterlength as long as we can. In other words, violins, violas, and cellos that we shorten the tailgut as much as possible don't sound better if we lengthen them. On the other hand, if we have a tailpiece that is too long (tailgut not shortened enough) the instrument is not as vibrant.

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