Fractional size viola can't play in tune?
In the past, I've always taught viola students who were using 14" or bigger violas. Or, they had started on fractional violins and only transitioned to viola after having gotten to the point of using a full size violin.
However, recently a student started with me who is using a genuine 1/2 size viola. It's not a 1/2 size violin with viola strings, it's actually a mini-viola. I didn't even know these existed.
Anyways, the C string just can't play in tune without compensating immensely, either through applying nearly zero pressure to the bow or by adjusting the fingers about a semi-tone. Neither of these solutions are acceptable to me. Is there anything I can do about this, or is this just the result of such a short vibrating-length C string? I believe the strings are synthetic core, so I can't blame steel-core for the issue.
Any ideas on how to remedy this issue?
Oh, yes, fractional violas exist and should be used by young students from the start. They are proportioned differently from full-sized violins (ribs are deeper for one thing), and are designed for viola strings. A full-sized violin with viola strings is not an adequate substitute for a 3/4 viola, and it makes me very angry to see students who think they're renting a smaller viola when really they're renting a violin with the wrong strings on.
I know the problem: the bow deforms the low tension string. The string maybe shortened to sell for a fractional viola, but the gauge is rarely adapted.
This is not fair: even a full size viola can hardly play on tune! What do you expect from a fractional? Just a fraction of intonation!
Would a viola string such as D'addario's Prelude In XSmall or Helicore in Small gauge work for this?
The ONLY difference between a 13" viola and a 3/4 sized violin is the depth of the ribs. No other differences. No difference in proportions, no difference in graduations.
Definitely need a higher tension string. When the tension is too low and the string is not stretchy enough longitudinally, the deformation in the string caused by the bow / fingers / vibrations pull the string tighter and cause it to raise its pitch.
Yes, using a higher tension string was my thought for a solution as well.
"The ONLY difference between a 13" viola and a 3/4 sized violin is the depth of the ribs. No other differences. No difference in proportions, no difference in graduations."
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