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Kristen Stadelmaier

Buying Viola Fittings

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Hi everyone,

Dumb question from a violist who has played for awhile but has never done any customization:

I want to switch out the Wittner tailpiece for a Hill style on my 15in viola. I found the one I'd like for the price I want on Shar (it's not my main instrument and I'm not going to be performing any solos; just teaching my kiddos but I want it to match my boxwood Teka chin rest, so it doesn't need to be anything crazy expensive). It says  "full size", so will it be okay for my instrument?

Thanks everyone! I'm learning new things every day! :D

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Call and ask. Viola tailpieces (and violin for that matter) are made in different sizes. Some people call a 15 inch viola 3/4, so I don't know. Most viola tailpieces designed to fit average full size violas (16") might be too long.

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1 minute ago, deans said:

Call and ask. Viola tailpieces (and violin for that matter) are made in different sizes. Some people call a 15 inch viola 3/4, so I don't know. Most viola tailpieces designed to fit average full size violas (16") might be too long.

Oh, thank you! I didn't know a 15" is sometimes considered 3/4. I wish I could play a bigger one, but my arms and fingers are too small! :P 

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Hi Kristen

Not a dumb question.  For viola's, the tailpieces can range in size from around 215mm to 235mm or so.  This is because of the range in size of the instrument.

You are going to want a smaller one for the 15" viola.  If it is too long, you may run into trouble with the string after length being too short and even the possibility of the silk wrap on the string being too close to the bridge.

I see Dean has just replied with the same explanation.  He's right. Call and tell them you need one for the 15" Viola.

Good luck!

Dorian

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23 minutes ago, barnesviolins said:

Hi Kristen

Not a dumb question.  For viola's, the tailpieces can range in size from around 215mm to 235mm or so.  This is because of the range in size of the instrument.

You are going to want a smaller one for the 15" viola.  If it is too long, you may run into trouble with the string after length being too short and even the possibility of the silk wrap on the string being too close to the bridge.

I see Dean has just replied with the same explanation.  He's right. Call and tell them you need one for the 15" Viola.

Good luck!

Dorian

Hmm on Shar it says it's 125mm! I might pay my luthier a visit when I pick up the violin he's working on now. Should be done next week, woohoo! I can even have him order it for me from Southwest Strings or something so I don't get the wrong things. 

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I‘m not sure what „customization“ could be, but changing tailpieces is a task that I wouldn‘t necessarily have confidence that any musician could do entirely successfully him/her self. It will involve taking the strings and bridge off, which will involve the danger of the sound post either moving or falling over. Also getting said sound post and bridge back on in the right place. It would be better for many musicians to go to a violin maker who would do this for a small charge, and check out if the viola has other afflictions while he‘s at it. If it is a violin maker who has viola tailpieces in stock, he will probably be pretty grumpy if you turn up with some mail order junk that he is supposed to put on

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23 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I‘m not sure what „customization“ could be, but changing tailpieces is a task that I wouldn‘t necessarily have confidence that any musician could do entirely successfully him/her self. It will involve taking the strings and bridge off, which will involve the danger of the sound post either moving or falling over. Also getting said sound post and bridge back on in the right place. It would be better for many musicians to go to a violin maker who would do this for a small charge, and check out if the viola has other afflictions while he‘s at it. If it is a violin maker who has viola tailpieces in stock, he will probably be pretty grumpy if you turn up with some mail order junk that he is supposed to put on

Mine doesn't make his own fittings, if I'm not mistaken, so he's happy to order some for me. I found a nice set for my new violin and he said they looked great. I would never put anything on myself, but I figured I could make his job a little easier for him. But, since I'm not as well-versed in viola fittings, I'll learn something from him when I see him next, and he can order them. 

When I brought my new-to-me violin for him to work on, it came from the seller with the tailpiece off, so I tried my luck at putting it on (knowing everything was going to be re-done anyway) and he said I did a half-decent job for my first time, so that was nice of him!   I know I'm nowhere skilled enough to do all of that myself for real, don't you worry! :) I'm a naturally curious person, so learning this stuff is pretty fun for me.

P.S. by "customization" I just meant having the hardware switched out from what was already on it, that's all!

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Wittner tailpieces for viola come in 2 sizes that they label 15-15 1/2" and15 1/2 to 16 1/3. The smaller one is more like a long violin tailpiece with narrower string spacing, the larger wider spacing. The shorter is about 115-116mm, the larger is 125mm. Which will work for your viola is difficult to say. Your local luthier is your best choice, and you should purchase such things from the local luthier rather than SHAR. That is, if you want to keep the local luthier in business.

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