Strings to a small viola

April 21, 2019, 8:54 AM · To a small viola, or even a normal violin to be used as a viola, which is the better set of strings ? Normally the main concern is the C string, which requires a larger instrument.

Replies (7)

Edited: April 21, 2019, 9:47 AM · We need higher-than-usual tension but not too thick.
For the C, a steel core e.g. Helicore.
For G,D,& A, Dominant or Tonica. Savarez and D'Addario are thicker.

For a 14" viola, use violin G,D,& A strings

April 21, 2019, 10:51 AM · In my experience, the best C-string for a viola with approximately the same vibrating string length is the Dominant 14" viola C, and, as Adrian Heath mentioned, violin strings on the G,D, and A. I used a Helicore short C for a while, but the difference to the other strings was very pronounced.
April 21, 2019, 11:28 AM · How small is small? I use Vision CGD and Larsen A, a combo recommended to me for "smaller" violas, but that was after I mentioned that I play a 15.75" viola. Still, that's higher than average tension and fits Adrian's suggestion.

My stand partner in one of my orchestras plays a 14" viola and uses Zyex strings.

April 21, 2019, 12:00 PM · A small viola needs LOWER tension (or heavier strings) to get the same tones as a big one. My stepdaughter plays an old German 38cm viola with standard Warchal Amber viola strings. Sounds great (unusually good for a small viola, her teacher saya).
April 21, 2019, 12:05 PM · My viola is bigger than your viola.
Edited: April 21, 2019, 2:18 PM · Theoretically speaking: If the same tension is desired (while tuning to 440Hz), the shorter string is , the higher the gauge (thicker strings) should be used.
This might not be possible with fractional size viola without adapting nut and bridge grooves.
Have not tried this with fractional size viola, so other contributor's with more experience probably know more.
Edited: April 21, 2019, 2:23 PM · Ole, by "higher tension", I meant heavier (thicker) than "medium" strings to get normal tension with a shorter string length.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha YVN Model 3
Yamaha YVN Model 3

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases


Aria International Summer Academy

Meadowmount School of Music

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine