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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: More fiddling on viola

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FiddlerPaul71 - Posted - 04/20/2020:  20:07:28

Got lucky and found a nice 16.5" German viola on Facebook Marketplace for about the cost of a moderately priced set of strings. It also came with case and bow. The bow is actually a very nice stick with silver mounts (not the usual German/nickel silver). Using my Baroque bow here, though. Apparently this instrument belonged to a man who played in an orchestra who died recently, and his son didn't want it.

So, of course I cross tuned the thing. I started off with it in GDAE, then moved to ADAE, then AEAE (all an octave below a fiddle). I'm surprised how stable the strings with it tuned that low. and really having fun with this "octave fiddle."

Playing Greenback Dollar (Pat Turney)/Crow Little Rooster (Collins family): 

Fiddling on Viola


groundhogpeggy - Posted - 04/21/2020:  05:58:46

That's cool, Paul. Congrats on getting a viola! Sounds so rich.

I have a cheapie Chinese viola and I keep it tuned CGCG...mainly for singing...some stuff is too far outta my range for singing with my fiddle cross-tuned, so I use the viola in those situations. Fun to play.

Yours sounds great!

FiddlerPaul71 - Posted - 04/21/2020:  08:28:09

Thanks, Peggy! I have my old viola from high school (a 15 1/2) tuned to DADA (CGCG is just too muddy on it). That's a Roth from the 60s, not too bad, but this one (16 1/2") is much better and smooth and easy to play. I just need to get used to those big 4th finger unison stretches! I don't recall the viola I used in college even being this big. Well, my hands and brain were younger back then, so maybe they were both more flexible! lol

loy - Posted - 04/22/2020:  04:21:36

Great sound from that Viola! Great find Paul, hope to hear some more tunes from you on it.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 04/22/2020:  05:44:40

It can feel like a stretch when you're used to the fiddle!

chas5131 - Posted - 04/22/2020:  10:48:10

Great sound. Would like to hear more.

boxbow - Posted - 04/22/2020:  14:50:17

It reminded me of some of the Scandinavian fiddling I've been listening to on Spotify. Very good. Meditative. I hope you work something else up on that thing and let us hear it. Loved it.

FiddlerPaul71 - Posted - 04/22/2020:  15:49:43

Thank you, all. Now I'm a little confused as to the strings that are on it. I'll need to replace the 2nd one soon. Maybe y'all can help. I assumed they were regular viola strings. The man who owned this apparently played in an orchestra, and it's a pretty nice instrument. A full 16.5 body with a 15" scale length. I posted a photo of the windings on FB to see if someone could tell me what kind of strings they are. All said Obbligatos, which would make sense for the setting this viola was apparently played in.

Someone commented that they are not Obbligatos, but are Sensicore octave strings. That might explain why it sounds good and handles well tuned that low, but otherwise doesn't make sense. The string tension is low, but not floppy, and I don't get any pitch bend unless I lay into it. How much tension would there be with octave strings?

Does anybody have any experience with octave strings on a large viola and/or can anyone tell what strings these are by the windings?

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 04/22/2020 15:52:02

FiddlerPaul71 - Posted - 04/22/2020:  15:53:48

Oh, an experienced music teacher friend said the top string is not an Obbligato, but he wasn't sure what it was. I know they sell the octave "high E" separately from the octave CGDA. Maybe it's that?

Color me confused!

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 04/22/2020 15:54:12

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 04/22/2020:  17:37:46

Totally wonderful! A treat!

FiddlerPaul71 - Posted - 04/22/2020:  18:10:26


Originally posted by boxbow

It reminded me of some of the Scandinavian fiddling I've been listening to on Spotify. Very good. Meditative. I hope you work something else up on that thing and let us hear it. Loved it.

Thanks, and will do. There's so much music I can share with y'all on that instrument 

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 04/22/2020 18:10:54

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