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Alto violin/vertical viola


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Hi all

I am in the process of purchasing an alto violin (commonly called a vertical viola - which sits upon an endpin). Is there anyone on Maestronet that owns or plays one? Specifically, I am trying to determine what bow to purchase. I've tried 3/4 sized cello bows, 4/4 sized viola bows.... The alto is about 20" long (so 'large' as far as a viola sized instrument). I am more comfortable with a cello bow (since I play the cello), but I'm certain I can adapt to a viola bow if that would be the better choice. What about a 3/4 size viola bow? The strings are the D'Addario Helicore which are made for the alto violin. ANY information would be greatly appreciated. Oh, BTW, I have sent emails out to luthiers who make these instruments (ie: The New Violin Family)and each one has a different opinion! So, I would love to hear from a musician (no offense to the luthiers is intended).

Thanks in advance.


San Diego

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Hi Jill,

I used to play an instrument like that with the Hutchins Consort, which is based your area. I used a viola bow, but I also played it under the chin! The maker of that instrument is Dr. Carleen Hutchins. You can see her website HERE

You can contact the Hutchins Consort to reach the person who is playing it now. He plays it like a cello, and will have plenty to tell you about choice of bows.



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Hi Jerry,

Thanks for your reply. I have heard the Hutchins. I love the voicings of the Octet. Joe Acosta played the Alto with the Hutchins for a while. Now Carolyn Tyler is playing the alto.

Can we communicate off the web? I would really appreciate it if I could just ask you maybe 2 or 3 other questions about the alto. It has been quite the search regarding which bow to use. I am a rather new cellist, so I know very little about viola bows - I did inquire of Omar and he has been very helpful.

Thank you so much.


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