Viola string length effect

December 22, 2018, 6:10 AM · What happen when we use a longer or shorter scale strings than the viola string vibriting length?

Replies (17)

Edited: December 22, 2018, 8:53 AM · Shorter scale may be too short to install. If installed, will result in higher tension and may choke the instrument.
Longer scale will result in less tension and possibly a flabby C. Depending on the height of the bridge (clearance) and curvature of the finger board, a buzz may occur.
December 22, 2018, 9:05 AM · Shorter scale means less tension with the same strings. You've got it backwards.

December 22, 2018, 10:12 AM · A string designed for a 14 inch vibrating-length viola will sound a lower pitch if used on a 16-inch vibrating-length viola. Therefore higher tension would be required to bring such a string to a higher pitch.

I think Rocky got it right.

Or maybe we each understand different things by "shorter scale strings."

December 22, 2018, 10:32 AM · @Rocky: I play 16.5" viola, I wanted a more higher tension by changing the strings scale (I didn't found higher tension in my country). Can a medium scale (15-16") increase tension for 16.5" viola? or maybe a more shorter scale?

@Andrew: can you explain me what do you mean by "sound a lower pitch"?

December 22, 2018, 10:34 AM · I misread the question. Anyways, that's what I meant. Longer length = more tension.
December 22, 2018, 10:46 AM · Amine, If I were to put a D string designed for a 14-inch viola on a 16-inch viola and tightened it to the intended tension it would sound a B or C instead of a D. To get it to play a D it would have to be tightened - possibly about 10% more than it is designed for.

Higher tension in the strings causes more downward force (by the same percentage) on the bridge (some people call that "pressure," an incorrect use of the word) and then onto the instrument's "belly" (or top). This can cause the sound of some some instruments to choke. However, some instruments get louder with greater string tension - you don't know until it happens.

December 22, 2018, 1:40 PM · Andrew, thank you for the great explanation!
Please can you also answer to the other question?
Edited: December 23, 2018, 7:55 AM · When a string is described as "short-scale" it is designed for a short-scale instrument. To have "normal" tension, it will be thicker.

Some makers use an average vibrating string length of 37cm (Pirastro, I believe) other offer strings for 36 or 38cm VSL. My VSL is 35.7cm, and I appreciate the lower tension this give on "medium" strings.

Edited: December 23, 2018, 8:35 AM · Amine, If you provide the VSL (measured from nut to bridge) that would help us help you. I am curious why are you looking for more tension on your instrument?
December 23, 2018, 8:45 AM · Tension is proportional to the square of the scale length.
December 23, 2018, 2:18 PM · "Tension is proportional to the square of the scale length" Plus something to do with mass per cm...
December 23, 2018, 5:10 PM ·
December 23, 2018, 5:48 PM · Rocky, based on Amine's other threads, it appears he is trying to tune his viola an octave below a violin without the strings getting floppy.
December 24, 2018, 7:02 AM · @Rocky: my VSL is 38cm, I would like to tune my viola an octave below violin, I actually tune down a standard 4/4 A4-D4-G3-C3 viola strings to E4-A3-D3-G2 (steel string Pyramid Gold), the sound is good but the tension is very low and affect the projection. I would like to experiment a short scale strings set, but I'm not sure about the result?
December 24, 2018, 9:51 AM · @Andrew: exactly!
December 24, 2018, 4:02 PM · I see... A friend of mine has done it on his viola, which I played. Will ask him what was the string combo after Christmas and let you know.
Edited: December 27, 2018, 2:56 PM · Here you are: "The string length is 14 1/2". I used Sensicore Perlon octave viola strings for the G, D and A. The E was the problem because there was no ready-made string for it that I know about. After breaking a few viola D strings tuning them up a tone, the best I found is an Obligato viola D.
The G string is not very responsive, ... but the middle strings sound very good.

Your main challenge is longer VSL.

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