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?
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
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!
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?
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.