Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Fiddle Lovers Online

Discussion Forum

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Other Fiddle-Related Topics
 Fiddle Building, Setup, and Repair
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Is this a situation to take a wait & see approach: octave strings

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Heady - Posted - 12/23/2020:  16:33:26


I'm bored due to COVID. I'm not really a "fiddle" player in terms of style - I play viola in an average community orchestra. Due to COVID, we've been shut down for 9 months and it looks like about 9 more to go. Since I don't have to be a viola any time soon, I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to try new things - things I wouldn't be able to do if community orchestra was up and running.

I wanted to play around with a set of viola-sized octave-violin strings. (The GDAE tuning, not the "chin cello"). If I put the strings on and see the bridge, nut, or anything else need to be tweaked, I'll gladly bring it to the luthier. Since I'm not going for the C string, is it worth just trying them and seeing how it goes, or is this something you should always bring to the luthier to set up from the start?

Thanks - stay safe.


Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 12/23/2020:  20:05:30

I suppose it depends on the difference in tension between the two string sets--if the manufacturer lists it. Also, difference in string diameter that might overstress stress bridge and nut. I would be afraid to 'test' on my good instrument without asking a luthier unless it's a common thing violists do. Several luthiers on here so I'm sure one will be along soon.

An alternative would be to buy a reasonably-priced 5-string violin, where tuning is CGDAE. You're already familiar with everything but the 'E'.

Edited to add--in case of 5-string, interval on fingerboard would be different and may mess up intonation technique on your viola

Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 12/23/2020 20:14:26

banjopaolo - Posted - 12/25/2020:  10:13:24

I'm also a Viola player, but never tried that kind of strings, I didn't even know they existed! What size is your viola?
I think you can try yourself and see what happens...
If you can send me the link of this strings, I have a second instrument on wich I may try, also if I plau some cello, so if I need to go dawn I can use Cello!

alaskafiddler - Posted - 12/25/2020:  11:30:37

Octave violin strings are designed to violin size scale; on a viola's longer scale would naturally make them lower in pitch (depending on viola's scale length) Trying to tune them back up to GDAE will add a lot more tension.

Alternatively, if a larger viola, might try high tension 5 string violin scale but tuned down. The violin A string tuned down to E; D tuned down to A; G down to D; C down to G. The extra length of the viola naturally gets you good part way there, so the strings shouldn't be too much more slack.

Ideally, I know that I have seen unique strings available for all sorts of other odd violin family instruments, (like mezzo violin) different lengths and tension and can calculate what would work. I can't recall exactly where, might have been on Shar, or Johnston Strings?


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 12/25/2020 11:33:25

Heady - Posted - 12/25/2020:  12:26:48

Thanks guys :) I know octave violin strings are made for 4/4 violin, which would be too short for my just shy of 15.5" viola, but Super Sensitive make a set for viola:

The full set is for octave viola, but you can buy them a-la-carte with a viola scale E (see the dropdown menu).

I'm going to go for it :)
I know it might not sound right unless a luthier tweaks the slot in the bridge and/or nut, but my rogue middle school teacher from the 80s is encouraging me take a rattail file to it on my own - I won't be doing so but if my old teacher thinks I can do it, it can't be that bad.

banjopaolo - Posted - 12/25/2020:  12:46:19

Let us know how it works!

Heady - Posted - 01/10/2021:  09:19:27

LOVE them. Got them on yesterday. So much fun.

They fit nut and bridge but I needed help slipping them into the tailpiece slots. I thought they needed to be filed but my luthier/mandolin teacher just used a little force and didn't charge me.

The G was binding in the peg box so I had to trim that quite a bit.

I tuned it very slowly bc it was starting to creak and I LOVE the bridge I currently have and would be crushed if anything happened to it.

I have my backup bow black so it's easy to tell which is which, so I used cello rosin on it to get a nice bite, and it was a blast.

Once Sunday chores are done I'll be back at it.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories