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Kallie

Viola string size question/problem

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Complete Edit:

 

Does viola vibrating string length correspond with viola body size? Or are the 2 different? Based on what do you choose the correct viola string length? 

 

Thank you.

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This is a bit of a dilemma. In general smaller Violas will have proportionately sized necks and shorter string lengths. Therefore some string makers make  strings that are heavier so that they can be tensioned roughly the same and still get the correct pitch. But some makers will change the proportion of the instrument to hit a desired string length usually by moving the bridge position.and then making a neck that matches the string length regardless of the actual body size.

Thomastic makes Dominant strings for viola based on the string length but then translates that to measurements in inches which seem at first to match body lengths but actually do not.  It can be pretty confusing but it is the string length you need to be looking at. Other string makers don't try to customize the length and those strings will be looser or tighter when tuned to pitch and the player may or may not find that a problem.

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This is a bit of a dilemma. In general smaller Violas will have proportionately sized necks and shorter string lengths. Therefore some string makers make  strings that are heavier so that they can be tensioned roughly the same and still get the correct pitch. But some makers will change the proportion of the instrument to hit a desired string length usually by moving the bridge position.and then making a neck that matches the string length regardless of the actual body size.

Thomastic makes Dominant strings for viola based on the string length but then translates that to measurements in inches which seem at first to match body lengths but actually do not.  It can be pretty confusing but it is the string length you need to be looking at. Other string makers don't try to customize the length and those strings will be looser or tighter when tuned to pitch and the player may or may not find that a problem.

 

Thank you very much for the explanation. Would a looser or tighter string, as you mentioned in the last sentence, influence the response or sound of the viola? Or will it simply change to the playability?

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Thank you very much for the explanation. Would a looser or tighter string, as you mentioned in the last sentence, influence the response or sound of the viola? Or will it simply change to the playability?

According to Thomastic they design the string for optimum performance for the given  string length. I would think with strings that are not designed for a specific string length  both the feel and the response/tone quality would be affected..but in what way would depend on the instrument..

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Bodhan,

   I play an 18" viola.   body 17 7/8 inches.

                                   scale 16 5/8 inches

                                   nut to tailpiece 20  inches.  sorry I do not have a metric rule handy.

 

  When I first got it, strung with normal viola strings, the sound was VERY harsh.

  I usually broke at least one string each week.

 

 

  After thinking a bit I used  A Cello G string for my C string.

                                               Cello D string for my G string  

                                               Cello A string for my D string

                                               Stainless steel fishing leader (0.011 inch) for my A string.

             

  This worked reasonably well, but when I got strings from Sensicore Super Sensitive (John Cavanaugh)

                                                they were MUCH better.

 

I am currently using the Spiricore strings designed for 20" violas.  

        I am happy with these strings, but I do not have other choices.

 

         Having strings with the correct tension for each string is important.

         Having a small diameter (Wolfram) for the lower strings on small violas is important.

         First get these elements right, then worry about the other matters required for a really good string!!

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go_oa, you do have other choices, the most obvious are Dominants, they make several different sets that are longer and lower tension. I use set 4121 on a viola that has a string length of 17 inches. They are fairly light in tension so they may be a little flabby on your viola. They have plenty of length. Set 4125 is a little thicker and will still be long enough for your instrument, I would try these first. These are my go to strings for violas with a string length of around 16 inches. I'll bet they work well on your instrument and will still be lower tension that Sensicores or the Spirocores.

 

Go to the Connolly website and you will find these listed.

 

Other choices are Helicore extra long (too much tension for my taste but you may like them). Long scale Zyex or Pro-art, you will probably need to peel back the threading, they may be a bit short for your instrument, but I forced them to work on my Strad tenor model. Problem is they stopped making light versions of these, which I liked best. And you can special order strings from several companies including Jargar, which can make an extra thin/extra long A that works great.

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