My latest 15.5-inch viola (39.6 cms.), just finished.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 4:20 PM · Here some photos of a small 15.5-inch viola, "La Piccina". I just finished, a commission from a teacher of the Manhattan School of Music, my personal model inspired in Andrea Guarneri.

Replies (26)

September 26, 2019, 2:56 PM · La Piccina's younger sister?
September 26, 2019, 2:57 PM · You're working really fast!
September 26, 2019, 3:02 PM · This is "La Piccina". I am making just about 4, 5 violas a year.
September 26, 2019, 3:11 PM · Beautiful as usual. Hope she'll have a great time in Big Apple!
September 26, 2019, 4:21 PM · Thanks Nuuska! I will be in NYC from October 16th to 26th, come to play my violas! I will stay at the Upper West Side, as usual.
September 26, 2019, 10:58 PM · Too far for me from Austria, as usual. And not actively looking at this moment. But the day will come...
September 27, 2019, 3:51 AM · Well, add me to the admiring herd. Excellent stuff, Luis.
September 27, 2019, 11:44 AM · Looks beautiful.

I wonder if you would consider adjusting your string lengths some of the time.

A 375 mm string length seems long for most folks who might otherwise like a 396 mm viola.

September 27, 2019, 1:36 PM · Beautiful. Your maple backs always look gorgeous. What maple do you use?

I have an Andrea Guarneri " Count Cozio" inspired viola, by Michael Koberling.
It is 16 5/8 inch in length and sounds fabulous. A bit large for some people, ok for me.
You may have seen the pictures on Maestronet when he was building it.

September 27, 2019, 2:32 PM · There are pics of many more viplass made by Mr. Manfio on Maestronet and can be found on his work bench page witb an easy search. If I played viola I would buy one of these beauties.
September 27, 2019, 3:38 PM · Jeff, and if you visit him in Sao Paolo to pick up your new instrument, chances are it comes with pasta. Just saying...
Edited: September 27, 2019, 4:15 PM · Andrew, as I think the "long" string length on a "small" body makes the strings as responsive as on larger instruments, while the combination with the short body and a narrower than average fingerboard makes it more ergonomic to play. But ergonomics is only one piece of the whole, and I guess there is much more voodoo Luis is doing to make it sound good than I might be able to understand.
September 27, 2019, 6:53 PM · รท))
September 29, 2019, 2:04 PM · Thank you all! Andrew Holland, this one has a 372 mm string length, and I think it would work with a 370 mm too.

Hendrick, this is red maple, softer and lighter, very good for violas.

Yes, Nuuska, there is a lot of voodoo, violas are unmerciful with makers, if you make something wrong, the sound will be hollow and unfocused, the C string "dead", the response slow, and the dynamic range too narrow, as we see in many violas. So I do prefer sticking to my winning "recipe".

September 29, 2019, 3:39 PM · Beautiful piece. Just stunning back.
September 29, 2019, 3:40 PM · ... never change a winning team...
September 30, 2019, 8:36 AM · Is it Carpathian red maple at least? (chuckle)
October 1, 2019, 10:47 AM · Luis, your instrument turned out gorgeous and I suspect sounds equally gorgeous. Any chance that you might be able to share a sound clip with us?
Edited: October 5, 2019, 12:47 PM · Thank you all. You can listen to some of my violas if you google the name of some of my players such as "Esther Apituley", "Alberto Lepage", "Katya Lazareva". if you send me an email I can send you a list of sound samples. Thanks!
October 5, 2019, 3:56 PM ·
There will be lots of really good maker's work at the New York exhibit which can be both seen and played. No need to decide from from an internet forum.
Edited: October 6, 2019, 12:44 AM · Do Manfio's violas sound as dramatic as his photography looks????
October 6, 2019, 1:42 PM · David, that's right - no need to decide from an internet forum. And if you're living in New York City which is full of shops and exhibitions and whatnot, or near Ann Arbor which is full of makers, you've got plenty of choices.
I'm lucky to live in a region where violin making isn't an obscure profession, and I have 9 luthiers within 1 hour (or slightly more) driving distance, plus the opportunity to travel to Vienna as a day trip. Only two of these 9 could be regarded as high level makers, whose instruments sell to high level pros (for >20k). And only one of these is making a small amount of violas - the demand for violins is much higher,and they're easier to sell. And I'm happy to own one of these rare creatures. I assume that this is a common problem for violist - except in the big shops in metropolitan areas, good violas are rare, and choices are few. So when viola shopping, if you do not live near such a privileged location you have have to travel a lot, or just take what you can get. Note the costs for frequent traveling - for the money you get a decent upgrade on your price range... Someone like Luis who is in similar shoes from a makers view and is willing to send you his instruments for trial opens another option. If you're living in Vienna, Berlin, London, NYC, this may not be very interesting, except if he played one of his instruments and fell in love with. If you're living in a more rural area, this may appear in a different light.
October 6, 2019, 3:38 PM · Lyndon, if Immo Schaar from the Grieg Quartett and Gewandhaus Leipzig still plays his Manfio, then there's nothing to complain. (Heard him not too long ago with his quartet in Leipzig. Sure it always depends on the player, and it's difficult to judge if you don't hold the instrument in your own hands. High level players seem to be able to make a good sound out of almost any cigar box, and Mr Schaar unquestionably is some really fine violist...)
October 6, 2019, 3:58 PM · I'm sure Manfio's violas are top notch, I just find the photography a bit dramatic.
October 6, 2019, 4:31 PM · Yeah, he really knows how to put them in scene! But we have to understand that this is part of his business. When looking for a violin family instrument, most peoples first thought isn't about looking for a Brazilian maker with European prize tags. It's a very conservative business. So he's using the jungle drums and does some mouth watering.
October 12, 2019, 9:19 AM · Thank you all! By the way, I will be in NYC with 4 violas, come to try them! I will stay at THE EXCELSIOR HOTEL, directly across the street from the National History Museum. Please contact me if you want to play them.

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