Very confused with viola string lengths
Upon checking the tensions for a viola G string and a violin G string, the viola has greater tension even if it's the same diameter. I'm assuming this is because the viola fingerboard is longer and bringing the string up to the same pitch requires more tension.
I have a pretty large viola 16.75 inches/42.5cm so should I be using higher tension strings or lower tension? At first, higher tension seemed to make sense since its a bigger instrument and should required bigger strings. But then is the tension overwhelming for that particular pitch?
The longer VSL (vibrating string length), the thinner strings you need (low gauge). Resulting tension will depend on string brand and other factors.
Thanks for that Rocky. So in the future if I decided to get a 17 inch viola, would you recommend as a rule of thumb to get light gauge strings?
It's not so much the diameter, but rather the mass per unit length (linear density), that determines the required tension. They are of course related, but different strings may contain different proportions of winding and core.
James, most musicians will determine which string works and sounds best on a particular instrument, by experimenting. I don't know of any hard and fast rules.
James, what is the string length in your viola, in milimeters?
It is not the body length of the viola that matters, but the vibrating string length. Vibrating string length on a longer viola may be the same as that on a somewhat smaller instrument.
Viola strings are marketed by the VSL (vibrating string length) and then the tension.
Thanks so much for your comments guys! I found the suggested gauge strength for different VSL on the Pirastro website, and indeed longer VSL's require smaller gauges.
Sometimes we see violas that had the string length made shorter by cutting a piece of the upper part of the fingerboard and with a modified upper saddle.