Making our own electric solid body viola from parts from an acoustic?

December 22, 2018, 5:25 PM · Hello all! New to the site with my first question. My son (18 in January) has been playing the viola for 6 years. I have this crazy idea for a father/son project. I would like to buy a cheap used/or "for parts only" acoustic viola on Ebay, take off all the usable parts (basically throw away the the body) and make a solid body electric viola adding the appropriate parts needed for amplification. I have tried to look on line for a similar project but came up empty. Any thoughts? Is it a crazy idea? Pros and cons? Thanks for your thoughts.

Replies (14)

December 22, 2018, 7:02 PM · I think it's a cool project. Let us know how it turns out.
December 22, 2018, 8:03 PM · Agree with Paul. You could also buy an amp for a viola, but that probably isn't going to be the same...
December 23, 2018, 3:26 AM · Or you could simply buy an electric viola for about the same money and much less effort?????
Edited: December 26, 2018, 7:37 AM · From what I am reading on the net, a half decent electric viola is going to be $1000 and up. I plan on getting a used viola for less than $100 and adding the electronics. Since most of the good sounding acoustic stringed instruments are based on the construction of the body, I'm thinking I could get away with almost a piece of junk since I'm tossing the body.
December 23, 2018, 9:02 AM · Or keep the body. Gives you space for the electronics and the rest can be filled up with PU foam. That way it will feel like a normal instrument to the player.
December 23, 2018, 10:35 AM · There's a lot of critical structural engineering in "the body" that allows an acoustic instrument to bear the stress of the tensioned strings. What part of that do you think you can cut away? Anyway, make sure the instrument you choose to modify is humble enough so that if it turns out to be a total loss, you'll be able to live with that without regret.
December 26, 2018, 7:37 AM · I won't keep any of the body, but replace it with some yet to be determined free form solid wood/body design. The only stress I will need to take into account would be attaching the neck to the solid body.
December 26, 2018, 10:48 AM · Why not make all of it? I should think that the body is the difficult part to make and if you are not going to use it at all just make the solid body and the neck from a single board.
I have seen a design where there was almost no head on the violin. The strings were "upside down" with guitar type pegs located where the tailpiece would have been. Makes a very compact design.
What are you going to use for the electronics?
December 26, 2018, 10:49 AM · Another alternative would be to buy just a viola neck and fingerboard. I have seen violin necks available on E-bay
December 27, 2018, 2:27 PM · I'm still researching and learning the electronics part of the project. Open for suggestions.
December 27, 2018, 2:30 PM · I figure with an old viola, I would have all the parts I need. This would be a prototype. It it sounds like garbage, I haven't spent too much time or money. Then I can try a second time and learn from my mistakes.
December 27, 2018, 3:48 PM · Why go to the trouble of trying to convert your acoustic viola into a solid body? There are plenty of pickups and microphones available for acoustics. Is it a visual style thing?
January 4, 2019, 2:45 PM · I bought a semi-acoustic electric violin while traveling that is fantastic. It still retains somewhat of a traditional violin sound but the enclosed part of the body is only about 30% in volume of an acoustic violin. The frame of the instrument is the same as a classic violin and so is the wood and finish. The best of both worlds!

So why not keep the sides as a frame and cut a good portion of the top and back away?

January 5, 2019, 10:40 PM · Lots of comments about "going to the trouble" and so on. Steve is envisioning a father-son mechanical project. Why is that so hard to understand?

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