Friday, June 3, 2011

Violas. Size Matters.

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins

If you read the previous blog (and you should) you will learn that the air volume inside your instrument has a fundamental frequency that helps power the low tones on your instrument. The bigger the air volume inside your instrument, the lower the fundamental frequency will be.

For violas, where an adult might play anywhere from a 15 inch body length up to 16 1/2 inch body length (and sometimes larger) the larger violas will sound better. That is, a 16 inch viola will sound much better than a 15 inch but not quite as nice
as a 16 1/2 inch viola.  The fundamental frequency of the air inside the viola will be lower in tone so the C and G strings will sound better on the larger violas.

You might conclude that no matter what, you should play a big viola. If you are six feet tall and taller, this is probably the right answer. However, if you're not that tall, play a viola that is comfortable in size for you.  Use the same sizing guidelines we discussed in our blog on violin sizes. What Size Violin Does My Child Need?
Playing a viola that is too large for you might result in neck, shoulder and arm pain that will take years to recover from.

If you're shorter than about 5 1/2 feet (as an adult, no problem if you're still growing!) you might consider that the viola should not be your primary instrument. At least, if you're hoping to audition for major orchestra and quartet positions. You probably cannot play a viola that is large enough to compete with taller people's large violas.

Sorry, but in violas, size matters.

See all of our violas at:

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