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Mendy Smith

Viola shopping Part 2

January 31, 2006 at 4:13 AM

Well, I had the 16" all weekend. It sounded beautiful when I played in tune - but (there's always a but), it was just too big. My shoulders and neck hurt (with and without shoulder rest) and I found myself with a death grip trying to hold onto it. Couldn't get my fourth finger in the right spot unless I was in 4th or 5th position for the life of me. I guess my hand just isn't large enough for that much of a stretch, or I'm just not conditioned to a larger instrument.

I picked up my old 15" after some work - got the tailpiece changed out to one the right size, the bridge replaced, some varnish work and ended up having to get the fingerboard re-glued. It made some improvement in the tone - a bit more bright to the ear, but not what I was hoping for in comparison to the loaner that I had. The bouncing bow problem came back also. And, expectedly, everything is sharp after practicing on a 16"! Arghhh!

I think I'm in for some serious shopping now. Lessons are tomorrow, so I can get a second opinion. I spoke with the shop that did the work, and they have a few (not many) 15 1/2 and 15 3/4 inch instruments that I can try to see if these sizes fit me better. Apparently, sizes between 15" to 16" are somewhat harder to come by. Haven't gone to any of the other shops yet, waiting to get through tomorrow first before driving all over the Bay Area.

Wish me luck!

From Neil Cameron
Posted on January 31, 2006 at 5:10 AM
Good luck Mendy.

Hang in there. It's the old story of trying as many instruments as you can until you find the one that is just right.

Of course you could also change your ID to Goldilocks. :)


From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 31, 2006 at 5:13 AM
I was thinking more along the lines of "The Princess and the Pea" :)
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on January 31, 2006 at 5:37 AM
You may just be having trouble adjusting to the larger instrument after playing your own for so many years. I recommend that you keep trying until you find the right one for you. Would it help for you to try playing a larger viola for short periods of time, like 1/2 hour to one hour, with resting in between?

I wish you lots of luck.

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