String height question (yes, another thread)
Is there a good reason why string height on a viola must be higher than on a violin? I have a 15 1/2" viola, and a violin. The action on the viola is not high for a viola, but its higher than I'd like for my finger's sakes. If I get the action lowered by luthier trimming the bridge, assuming no buzzing results, 1. what is the likely consequence soundwise, if any and 2. is there any good reason why the action should be higher on the viola? thanks
Typical (standard) string height at the top of viola fingerboard is 3.5 mm for the A string and 5 mm for the C string.
A lower bridge will give you a more subdued sound.
A lower bridge will give you more resonance. But watch out for the buzzing because it also depends on the string tension.
A lower bridge results in lower downward force of the strings on the bridge and into the top. As Cotton says this can subdue the sound of some instruments - BUT it can release increased sound for some instruments. I have instruments that go both ways.
I don't understand it, but violas tend to be set up with (what seems to me) extremely high clearance at the nut. That has the most effect on fingering, particularly in the low positions. I'd look there first. A lot of scoop in the fingerboard (or warped neck) would also give problems.
I set violas up at 4mm-6mm A-C. Smaller violas with lower tension will buzz with lower action unless you put more scoop into the fingerboard. I can see lower action with steel strings, and I always go for less than 1/2 the diameter of the string at the nut. More scoop in the fingerboard is no different than higher action in a practical sense.
Duanes right, 3.5mm and 5mm is a bit too low for a viola, even on the low side for a violin.