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String Spacing
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Leaviathan
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August 9, 2019 - 8:24 pm
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In general what is the difference between a Viola and Violin as far as string spacing goes? And do 16.5" Viola's have a wider spacing than smaller ones?

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cid
August 9, 2019 - 8:37 pm
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@Leaviathan 

The violin strings are closer together. The smaller the violin, the closer the strings. 

I have a 15”, 15 1/2” and 16” viola. The smaller the viola, the closer the strings.

When I googled, I found a luthier’s chart, it showed narrower distance between strings, also.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Leaviathan
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August 9, 2019 - 9:42 pm
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I wonder if Viola makers have a consistent spacing for 16.5" instruments, or if they all vary slightly.

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cid
August 9, 2019 - 10:05 pm
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@Leaviathan 

Here is a chart with viola specs:

Alan Goldblatt, Luthier Viola Spec Chart

Maybe you can find what you need here? 

I know I had a cello that recently traded in that had a narrower than normal fingerboard. The strings were a little closer. The rest of the cello normal 4/4 cello. I traded it because when shifting, the C and A strings were too close to the fingerboard edge. It made it hard to learn shifting because it felt like my fingers were falling off the edge. There are a few made like this for smaller hands. Could be for other reasons, too, but that was the explanation at the violin shop. It was comfortable until I started shifting.

Given that, I would think there could be the occasional viola, or any string instrument, with slight variations. 

Are you making a viola?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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August 10, 2019 - 2:49 am
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Cid said

Here is a chart with viola specs:

Alan Goldblatt, Luthier Viola Spec Chart

I'm surprised the bow is 740. I just Googled violin bow lengths and it said 750.

Andrew

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Leaviathan
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August 10, 2019 - 7:24 am
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cid said
@Leaviathan 

Here is a chart with viola specs:

Alan Goldblatt, Luthier Viola Spec Chart

Maybe you can find what you need here? 

 

Are you making a viola?

  

I'm considering buying an entry level Viola, perhaps more of an intermediate model, and I definitely want the widest string spacing available. I'm 6' 210 with large hands, and just got rid of my Violin, just too narrow of a fingerboard. I'm continuing with the Cello but am also considering a Viola

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cid
August 10, 2019 - 8:17 am
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Ah. I think you will find the placement of the fingers for positions much easier on the viola than the violin or cello. At least it is for me. You will love it. When you are able to, play Danny Boy on it. Simply lovely. I have a wonderfully warm viola.

The one I actually use is the 15 1/2” warm one. The length of the 16” was too much, even though that is where the chart had me. The good one I had before the good 15 1/2” was a 16”. I traded it in for the 15 1/2” and it is a perfect fit. The 16” was too bright anyway. 

I do have a cheapo 16”, $56. The fingerboard is bad. It was a test to see if I liked it. The 15” is a pawnshop rescue. It is gorgeous. Inlaid purfling(?), not painted.l on. It is a student level. Lovely finish. We bought strings for it, and it is fine. Not as full sounding as the 15 1/2”, but it is a smaller instrument, and not as good a quality. The 15” and 15 1/2” are both student level, but sound lovely.

You will enjoy it.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Leaviathan
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August 10, 2019 - 8:28 am
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Thanks for the info Cid, So I shouldn't necessarily get a 16.5" just because I'm 6' 0"? I don't have a place where I can try different sizes unfortunately. I definitely want a warm tone over bright

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Leaviathan
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August 10, 2019 - 8:32 am
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From my arm pit to the tip of my fingers is 29" I'm not sure how to measure arm length

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cid
August 10, 2019 - 9:56 am
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@Leaviathan  

My height is about 5’6”. I can’t remember my arm length. I know that bending the wrist to do the strings was a bit much. I got sore and tired more easily. It tightened my arm too much because the viola was actually a little too long and stretched my arm too much. It didn’t look like it, but when playing it, I could feel it. I would think that if you have tight arms and are not extremely flexible, I would go with 16”. I would think it would be much easier to finger. The change in space between strings is minimal. I was concerned with that because I have fat fingers. Fatter than the long slender fingers all those people in those violin and viola instruction videos have. So annoying. Normal sized people need to make those videos!

That little 1/2” made a world of difference when I downsized. The sound is just as full as the 16”. I actually tried the same model in the 15 1/2” and 16” and they sounded the same. Can’t remember which one it was. It was not the 15 1/2” one that I bought. The pawnshop rescue 15” is a little hollower sounding (not as robust), but still a nice tone. That would be too small, anyway, but just a reference as to sound difference. Between the 15 1/2” and 16”, there was none.

My 15 1/2” viola is a Rudoulf Doetsch, as is my violin. They are very warm with a beautiful sound. They are keepers. I have am waiting for my Fiddlerman Concert Deluxe Violin because it is brighter and the happier songs a d fiddle music will sound better. That is how warm they sound to me. Fiddle music sounds sad on my violin because of the warmth. It is lovely for all my other music and I am not complaining. It is exactly the sound I wanted. Warm violas are so much more beautiful than bright violas. In the Viola section (I think) I posted a link to a Ted Talks for a lady who is talking about the viola. It is so entertaining and so in spot! She also played the viola. Exquisite. I will see if I can find it for you. 

Leaviathan, where do you live? If the shipping will not be too much, I could send you my non-working 16” viola and you could see if you can do that. I would not want it back. If you like it and think it sound good, maybe it would be worth getting a new fingerboard, but I doubt it. It was only a $67 test viola to see if I liked it. It depends on how much it would cost me to ship it because the viola is really not worth much. You can PM me if you don’t want to post location publicly.

Argh! I have to get a new shoulder rest for my viola. The one for my 16” that I traded doesn’t fit, even with the legs in all the way. I keep forgetting until I pick it up to play it. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
August 10, 2019 - 10:45 am
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@Leaviathan 

Here is a link to the Ted Talks viola video I mentioned above. Couldn't find my original post. It is a talk by Jennifer Stumm

Jennifer Stumm: The imperfect Instrument

I actually think she is playing a 16 1/2” viola. It looks larger than my 16”. But, you can’t tell from the video. It may even be 17”. She might mention the size of hers in the video. I can’t remember. It just looks to big compared to her size. I didn’t rewatch it, although, I never get tired of watching it. The viola is so well explained and played here. 

Oh well. Off to do my cello.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Leaviathan
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August 10, 2019 - 10:55 am
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I remember hearing that Alison Krauss plays a Viola as a fiddle, not sure if that's true but she has great tone.

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Leaviathan
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August 10, 2019 - 11:08 am
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cid said
@Leaviathan 

Here is a link to the Ted Talks viola video I mentioned above. Couldn't find my original post. It is a talk by Jennifer Stumm

Jennifer Stumm: The imperfect Instrument

I actually think she is playing a 16 1/2” viola. It looks larger than my 16”. But, you can’t tell from the video. It may even be 17”. She might mention the size of hers in the video. I can’t remember. It just looks to big compared to her size. I didn’t rewatch it, although, I never get tired of watching it. The viola is so well explained and played here. 

Oh well. Off to do my cello.

  

Nice video, she doesn't look that tall so maybe her Viola just looks big? She draws a nice tone out of it regardless.

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