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Kallie

Falling in love with Violas

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Hi there,

 

I recently borrowed a friend's viola, which she isnt using anymore. It is a non-expensive Palitino viola, 15.5inches. Unfortunately, to me it sounds incredibly nasal, and overall not what Im looking for. I want to buy my own viola, but unfortunately, unlike violins, there arent that many Antique violas on Ebay for affordable prices, like I got my beloved German cottage-industry violin.

 

Does anyone perhaps have experience with new violas, from Ebay, like the following ones?

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-year-New-16-5-inches-viola-Ornati-style-No-4201-with-best-handcraft-viola-/321401043197?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ad4feb8fd

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/16-5-420mm-Mellow-Tone-Orchestra-Top-Favourite-VIOLA-plus-a-PERNAMBUCO-BOW-/181321497103?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a379a7a0f

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Best-quality-16-5-viola-nice-flamed-maple-wood-back-sides-spruce-top-/360923362760?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5408b575c8

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Attractive-sound-viola-16-bird-eye-wood-BD-156-/231203986830?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d4d4dd8e

 

 

These are all pretty looking Chinese violas, which seems to already (some of them), be strung up with good strings aswell.

 

If I buy one of these, and it sounds dreadful, I could always try regraduating the top plate, change the bass bar, or if the varnish is ultra-thick I could revarnish it myself, or whatever might be suggested. My other option is to buy a white viola on Ebay, and go from there.

 

Since this is for myself, time and effort is no concerning matter, so I wouldnt mind having to work on it myself, and since the viola wouldnt have any antique value, I see no reason for using a better varnish (if needed, and if it comes to that).

 

What do you think? Any suggestions? I would really like a smaller Viola, but I doubt I'll find a cheaper one that sounds great which is 15.5 inch, so I guess 16-16.5 inch is a safer bet.

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Hi,

I set up a few chinese instruments for students. What you need to do is get a new set of pegs, a new tail piece, make a new sound post, strip the fingerboard off the black gunge, a new set of strings and you should be OK. A new fingerboard or stripping the one already on, off the laquer- whatever is underneath- makes a lot of difference.

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I just bought an inexpensive viola off eBay to play around with...it arrived last week. It's 15.75" 1785 Guad copy.

A already have a decent 16" viola, so I wasn't too concerned if this one didn't work out. However, it does look quite nicely made (pegs fit well, tuning isn't an issue at all, tailpiece seems fine - but the fine tuner might need replacing, there is no black gunge on the fingerboard, and I don' t  know about the soundpost yet...)...but it did come with cheap no-name steel strings. I need to replace them to see if that helps - because right now it doesn't sound very good (in an odd way that I haven't come across before). So I think/hope new strings might solve the issue.

If not...I'll be looking for other things to tweak - like that soundpost, lol. :rolleyes:

Since you can do your own repairs, you're ahead of the game.

I'd suggest you don't go 'too cheap' though...there's a reason a why a viola sells for a "buy it now" price of $200.  So pay a little more and get a little more to work with...

 

Let us know what you end up with - and what you end up doing with it...I'm all ears! :)

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I've heard good things about Yita music. Below is a link to a model I would like to try some day, they put them up as true auctions from time to time, and this exact model usually goes for quite a bit less than its current buy-it-now price, you just need to keep an eye out.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Giovanni-Paolo-Maggini-Contralto-Viola-Copy-A-M20-Viola-16-25-/201086508499?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ed1b09dd3

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Hi,

I set up a few chinese instruments for students. What you need to do is get a new set of pegs, a new tail piece, make a new sound post, strip the fingerboard off the black gunge, a new set of strings and you should be OK. A new fingerboard or stripping the one already on, off the laquer- whatever is underneath- makes a lot of difference.

 

Thank you for the advice. If it comes to that, I will definitely try this before major viola surgery.

 

 

 

Thank you Rue. I will let you know, and please, let us know how your viola sounds with better strings. :)

 

 

 

I've heard good things about Yita music. Below is a link to a model I would like to try some day, they put them up as true auctions from time to time, and this exact model usually goes for quite a bit less than its current buy-it-now price, you just need to keep an eye out.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Giovanni-Paolo-Maggini-Contralto-Viola-Copy-A-M20-Viola-16-25-/201086508499?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ed1b09dd3

 

Thank you Deans. The viola looks good, I will keep an eye out for their auctions. They seem to have good feedback, and a return policy. Which is pretty nice.

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Hi Kallie,

 

I've had good results with violas from Old Violin House and also Yitamusic.

 

Glad you're falling in love with violas.

 

Thank you for the recomendations, unfortunately Old Violin House doesnt seem to ship to South-Africa. :( Will check out Yitamusic for auctions though. :)

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Years ago I found this viola on ebay for sale. I think the person wanted 600$ for it, but was also accepting offers. It sounded absolutely amazing on the soundclip, absolutely breathtaking, with a tone that reminded me of a well-made cello. Unfortunately I didnt have the money then.

 

It was unlabelled. Any idea what it is?  For interest sake.

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post-63555-0-41420700-1399931753_thumb.jpg

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I received a lovely 16" viola as a free sample thrown in with a Chinese cello I bought some years ago and got lucky on the sound on both  The Wittner knock off tailpiece works OK.  Pegs, fingerboard, bridge, and strings needed replacing.  Wood's pretty, tight top, some flame on back and ribs.  Price was certainly right! :lol:

 

Like I've observed before, sound on the Chinese mass produced is a crapshoot, and the setups normally need redoing, but the corpus/neck workmanship is usually good.

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Hi again Kallie,

 

I assume that the viola you show is Chinese.  The viola I'm playing in my avatar is a Guadagnini copy by Mr. Bai of Beijing--a very good value for the price.  Beside me is David Yang playing his 17th century Joachim Teilke which was formerly owned by Joseph Joachim.  David still has the original receipt from Vuillaume from whom Joachim purchased it in the 19th century.

 

Currently I play a very nice instrument by Michael Darnton and another by a British luthier, Sarah Beaton.

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I received a lovely 16" viola as a free sample thrown in with a Chinese cello I bought some years ago and got lucky on the sound on both  The Wittner knock off tailpiece works OK.  Pegs, fingerboard, bridge, and strings needed replacing.  Wood's pretty, tight top, some flame on back and ribs.  Price was certainly right! :lol:

 

Like I've observed before, sound on the Chinese mass produced is a crapshoot, and the setups normally need redoing, but the corpus/neck workmanship is usually good.

 

Thank you. :) I dont suppose you have any broken saxon violas lying around in a box in your double-wide castle with gators in the moat? :P

 

 

Hi again Kallie,

 

I assume that the viola you show is Chinese.  The viola I'm playing in my avatar is a Guadagnini copy by Mr. Bai of Beijing--a very good value for the price.  Beside me is David Yang playing his 17th century Joachim Teilke which was formerly owned by Joseph Joachim.  David still has the original receipt from Vuillaume from whom Joachim purchased it in the 19th century.

 

Currently I play a very nice instrument by Michael Darnton and another by a British luthier, Sarah Beaton.

 

Sounds very interesting. Do you use different violas for different pieces/performances? Or do you have one which you prefer and always use?

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...K. A new fingerboard or stripping the one already on, off the laquer- whatever is underneath- makes a lot of difference.

 

Hi Wolfjk

 

Why do you specially mention "stripping" the surface?

 

regards

Tango

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Hi Wolfjk

 

Why do you specially mention "stripping" the surface?

 

regards

Tango

Hi,

I found that thereis almost 1mm of laquer on the fingerboards. Some were made of rosewood,others from maple or other hardwoods.Stripping them made a lot of difference to the sound.

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Hi Kallie,

 

Usually I choose the instrument depending on how I feel at the moment.  Each has its own unique virtues.  The Darnton is a bit smaller at 408 mm.  It's an enlarged version of the Tullaye Strad violin of 1670 and is identical to the one on Darnton's website entitled "Making Ethan's Viola".  The Beaton is a copy of the Conte Vitali Guarneri of 1676 and is 415 mm.  These are probably sizes that would particularly appeal to you.

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Hi Kallie,

 

Usually I choose the instrument depending on how I feel at the moment.  Each has its own unique virtues.  The Darnton is a bit smaller at 408 mm.  It's an enlarged version of the Tullaye Strad violin of 1670 and is identical to the one on Darnton's website entitled "Making Ethan's Viola".  The Beaton is a copy of the Conte Vitali Guarneri of 1676 and is 415 mm.  These are probably sizes that would particularly appeal to you.

 

Thank you, sounds interesting. Do you perhaps have a recording with the Darnton viola? Ive seen the pictures and it looks stunning.

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