Different viola tuning

August 28, 2016 at 11:14 PM · Hi,

I'm a viola player, but not in a classical style, I'm playing arab-andalousian music, and for that, we use a different tune for our viola "E4 A3 D3 G2" (like a Cello with high E string) to give a dark warm tone witch it's particular for our traditionnal music.

I would ask to you, witch the perfect type of strings set would you choose for this tuning ?

Maybe EADG cello strings ? or a high tension viola strings set and tuning down for EADG ? (this is just some exemples you can give me other advice)


Replies (14)

August 28, 2016 at 11:25 PM · So is this one octave below the violin?

I think even fractional cello strings will be too long, although you could check the lengths for the really tiny ones (1/8, 1/10, etc.)

August 28, 2016 at 11:35 PM · Most of the people on this site may be unfamiliar with the tuning you describe and how it differs from normal tuning. With some explanation, more people may be able to comment. However, your best bet may be to ask your luthier. That person can probably give you the best advice on how to achieve the sound you want.

August 29, 2016 at 12:48 AM · Double bass is tuned to: E1, A1, D2 and G2.

If I am not mistaken, you are proposing to tune viola a few octaves higher than double bass, thus using 4ths instead of fifths.

Why is that so? Are you a bass player in disguise ?

What clef will you read using that "scordatura"?

August 29, 2016 at 07:06 AM · @Paul Deck: right ! one octave below violin. the cello strings can be cutted it's not a problem I think ?

@Tom Holzman : yes true, it's unfamiliar, but simple, I just want to tune down my viola by one octave below violin, and I'm looking for compatible strings with this tuning.

@Rocky Milankov : no, I want E4 A3 D3 G2 tuning, it's one octave below violin, or like a 4 strings cello with a high E string et no C string :)

August 29, 2016 at 07:13 AM · There are octave strings available. Sensicore and Superflexible and perhaps others as well. That should take care of the G, D and A. Then for the E I think the best bet would be a standard viola D tuned up.

I have a viola stringed with a set of Sensicore octave strings and they work surprisingly well. They are very fat, though, so be prepared for a different sensation on the lower strings. And you would have to enlarge the groves in the bridge and nut and also the holes in the pegs.

August 29, 2016 at 11:12 AM · Isn't that how violists usually seem to tune? Oh come on - somebody had to say it! ;-D

August 29, 2016 at 02:28 PM · What Bo said except that you can also use viola C and G strings tuned up a step (as long as they are not too high tension) as well as the D. Probably cheaper and more widely available. For the low G I only know of Sensicore octave viola strings. The disadvantage of using cello strings is that it may be difficult to thread in the peg.

August 29, 2016 at 02:52 PM · Cello strings will probably not be thick enough. The octave strings are certainly thicker than cello strings to give the same frequency with a much shorter string length.

August 29, 2016 at 03:56 PM · @Bo Pontoppidan : maybe be an octave violin strings set would sweet more ? But the question now, would a set of 4/4 violin settle in a 16.5" viola ?

If I tune up a D string to E, the sound would be different accross the rest of the set with more tension also.

August 29, 2016 at 04:45 PM · @Christopher Payne : I already do this one, but I found the sound a little harsh, it's more like a "noisy" sound... you can only use it with covred gut viola strings to hope for a sweet sound.

August 29, 2016 at 06:14 PM · You could try a light gauge D string. Or one of Warchals long scale D strings.

August 29, 2016 at 06:29 PM · "...would a set of 4/4 violin settle in a 16.5" viola?"

Some coordinates:

Vibrating string length for medium gauge violin strings is typically 325-327mm.

Vibrating string length for a 16' viola is 370mm or more, depending on design.

As Bo said, octave strings are your best bet.

Still unclear if you will be playing by ear or reading music. If later, what clef will you use?

August 30, 2016 at 01:18 PM · I hardly use this "chin cello" - I made it just for fun because I saw that these octave strings were available. I bought the largest viola I could find from Yita musics Ebay store - I think the strings cost more than the viola. Especially the C string is very difficult to play because it is so fat. The finger is balancing on top of it rather than being in contact with the fingerboard. Your post had me thinking about converting it into a more moderate octave violin instead. Hmmm.....

August 30, 2016 at 04:59 PM · Yes, an octave violin strings would sweet really more for viola, but the problem is the strings length...

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