Long scale violins?
(unnecessary introductory text)
Do violins with longer-than-standard vibrating lengths exist (that aren't firewood)?
Yes, they are called violas.
Yes, I'm aware. Any existing long-scale violins are probably quite old, since nobody in their right mind would make one today.
Yes, they do exist; I've seen a few slightly longer than normal that are sometimes nice for really tall players with long arms, big hands, long fingers.
My 18c violin, a 5th generation family heirloom, has a vibrating length of 333mm and a back length of 14-1/4", the depth and bouts being proportionally that much larger. It's not a copy of a long-pattern Strad, and can be described as a normal violin writ slightly larger. I and my luthier are disbelieving of the label (of course!) of possible German origin, although another luthier suggested French.
I believe Ms Hutchins first wanted a 16" Mezzo (with violin tuning) but settled for a mere 15"! Robert Spear's Mezzo is a little smaller: he also prefers to scale up (and down) from a narrower Strad model rather than Ms Hutchins' wide Gasparo design.
Adrian, mine also resonates with a C-nat. My standard size Jay Haide produces a D, as you'd expect.
I have got a long pattern violin and am very happy with the sound. It is all a matter of preference, but I think that they are perfect for Baroque music. From my experience, when set up properly (thin gauge )they beat most of comparable standard size violins hands down when it comes to depth and colour of G and D strings.
I always understood that Maggini violins and copies were bigger than normal. But, I am not sure their dimensions qualify them as long pattern violins.
While I don’t know why the OP is looking for long scale instruments, I find it interesting that player size does not map to chosen instrument. My violin is a few mm smaller than average, but I am quite tall with long arms and fingers.
...whereas I have the shortest fingers of any adult I know, and I primarily play viola.
I wonder if we need to open our minds up to new sounds. The viola isn’t “optimally” proportioned for its pitch range, comes in so many shapes and sizes, and is a staple in classical music. I wonder why we perceive it as so much more acceptable to mess around with size in the viola pitch range, rather than stick an end pin in them, and make them the “right” size. Why couldn’t we have some wonky sounding “misproportioned” violins?
String length is only one aspect of violin or viola design, so I wouldn't assume that simply having a longer (or shorter scale length) will magically produce a deeper or more pleasing tone. The violin is a system, and such things as arching (in all dimensions), wood choice, graduation, overall pattern, f-hole shape, and other factors must work together.
Lieschen, these theoretically "optimal" violas HAVE been produced. Several times. But have you ever tried a Ritter viola??! I'm often fighting my rather ordinary 42 cm viola with 37,5 VSL, especially on the C in first position. Only way I eventually could play a Ritter would be chello-style, balancing the instrument upright in my lap.
With reference to my previous post but one I should have added that the vibrating length of my 14" Jay Haide is 328mm, as set up fairly recently when I had a new bridge installed by my luthier. The difference in vibrating lengths (328, 333) between my two violins does not, I find, affect my intonation when swapping between them, which I frequently do in practice sessions.
They certainly exist, though unusual. My primary playing instrument is a modern instrument along Long Pattern Strad lines, with a 14 1/4" back and a vibrating string length that I believe is slightly longer than normal (don't have the measurement). I've also played another instrument of unknown origin (likely German) that had a longer back length, between 14 and 14.25, and I have handled one instrument (not set up) that had an even longer back length, close to 14.5.
That's a bit different, as the entire violin is upsized. A long-pattern Strad has a narrower width than his Golden Period instruments, especially the top bouts, so I don't think the resonating body is significantly larger (?). The narrow width may actually be what I like, as much as the longer back. Long-back instruments may tend towards a darker or sweeter sound anecdotally.
Francis, a friend of mine has a copy of a long-pattern Strad, and it fits your description exactly. My long-scale is a standard violin that is about 1.7% larger linearly, which implies about 5% larger by volume.
Makes sense, instruments shaped on the lines of most of what Strad made in the 1690s are generally called "Long Patterns" and there is some possibility that Strad himself used this term (the abbreviation on the old may mean Stretto Lungo). This is probably qualitatively different than simply upscaled instruments, though both would share the longer vibrating string length (unless they were intentionally set up to compensate for this).
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