F String on Viola

January 31, 2019, 4:30 PM · Hi, recently I ordered to build a 17.3 inches Viola but i'm a little bit worried about the strings Im going to use on it. I'm plaining to use a lower pitch (maybe a perfect fourth or a perfect fifth) but i cant find strings that could fit the lenght of the instrument. Do you know about some strings made for larger violas?

Replies (3)

Edited: January 31, 2019, 5:32 PM · Just because the body is longer than average, the vibrating string length need not be. What will be the distance from nut to bridge? How will that compare with a typical 16.0 - 16.5 inch viola?

I know a big violist who plays a 17-inch viola - but complains about the pain (and mostly plays his cello these days). He uses standard tuning on his viola - you pretty much have to if you are trained to read conventional music - otherwise you may soon head for the loony bin! Of course, if you are an improv guy you won't have that problem. But I do wonder if an instrument tuned in 4ths has the same resonance behavior as one tuned in 5ths.

Edited: February 1, 2019, 12:57 AM · I think the idea was to tune a forth lower than the viola, not to tune in fourth. But as Andrew says its the vibrating length that matters. I have a viola with a 43 cm body and the vibrating string length is just under 38 cm. (that's 17" and 15" respectively for the SI unit challenged). Standard viola strings fit just fine.
If you want to tune lower I would recommend a fourth which would make it an octave violin. For me that was easier mentally than adding a low F. There are octave viola strings available and for the E just use a standard D tuned up. I'm not sure if the octave strings are available separately. My usual string pusher sells the in sets only.
February 1, 2019, 1:24 AM · There are larger viola's than 17.3 using regular strings.

As has been mentioned, VSL is what matters. In case this is actually still an issue, both Warchal and D'addario offer a 'long' scale version of their strings, but am not sure about other brands as I don't use long scale strings.

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