Viola size and neck length


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Hello,

I just started playing viola 2 months ago. My viola is 15 1/2". This is my first experience with a stringed instrument, so I apologize in advance if I sound kind of dumb! (Oboe is my primary instrument.)

It feels too big. Specifically, with first and fourth fingers down, I can manage only a major third. With second and fourth fingers down the stretch is a little difficult, but not as much. The bend in my left arm is a little beyond 90 degrees as well.

Now I'm realizing neck lengths are not standardized on violas and I'm wondering if the neck length is considered long for a viola of this size. The neck is 145 mm long. 

I'm reluctant to downsize to 15" if the neck length is actually the problem. I'm thinking that even with a smaller viola, if the neck is the same size as this one, I'll have the same problems playing comfortably in first position.

I'm curious what anyone thinks as it will be some time before I can work with a teacher.

Thanks for any feedback.

 

 

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Although neck length is usually a fixed fraction of the vibrating string length, it might not be the case.  The important dimension (if finger stretch is the problem) is the vibrating string length from nut to bridge.  Measure that.  Hand size can matter too; are you a very small  person? (Dimensionally small, that is)

2 months is too soon to tell what is difficult.  Most things become easier with practice.  I remember when I started playing guitar, I thought an F chord was impossible, and was astounded when a friend of mine played it no problem (and it's no problem for me either, now).

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17 hours ago, tanoposc said:

It feels too big. Specifically, with first and fourth fingers down, I can manage only a major third. With second and fourth fingers down the stretch is a little difficult, but not as much. The bend in my left arm is a little beyond 90 degrees as well.
 

Well that's rather weird, on such a small viola. Hope that helps. :lol:

Like Don said, give us the actual measurements, and we may be able to provide better advice.

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Unless you are a physically very small person you should be able to learn to play a 15 1/2” viola. Violas are always going to require more stretching than a violin but if you find that you like the instrument you may have trouble finding a nice viola in the future if you are limited to something less than 15 1/2”.  
 

My teacher Rene Morel told me to set viola string length as close to 375 mm as possible regardless of body size. Not always practical but most players would find that comfortable.

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4 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

My teacher Rene Morel told me to set viola string length as close to 375 mm as possible regardless of body size. Not always practical but most players would find that comfortable.

I've been doing this for many years, with a 15 cms. neck, it worked for all my viola sizes.

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