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Posted by mudbug on Friday, August 31, 2012

I got a viola last Fall,  nothing special,  but I chose a nice pernambuco bow that seemed to bring out the best tone.  I learned to read the alto clef,  but couldn't  seem to control the bow.  I don't know if it was because I got a very responsive bow or I just was having troublw with the added weight,  but it was very jittery and souned like one of the BeeGee's on Thorizine.  I';d get disgusted and put it away for up to a month at a time.  I'd break it out once a month so I didn't lose the recognition of the alto clef and see if getting more relaxed with my violin bow was translating to the viola bow.

This morning I broke it out again,  and was surprised to find that I was starting to be able to get a smooth tone.  I've got a long way to go,  but it was so nice to see improvement.  Now I can strat prcticing regularly with it. 

20 comments on “Breakthrough”

richdissmore Says:
Friday, August 31, 2012 @4:11:34 PM

keep it going my friiend some times improement comes very slow it sure does for me i,m getting better now when people come over they ask do i know more songs i could play they seem to enjoy my playing

mudbug Says:
Saturday, September 1, 2012 @2:44:59 AM

Thanks, Rich. I'm glad to hear that you're playing with others. You're an inspiration.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Saturday, September 1, 2012 @5:58:34 AM

Beegees on Thorizine!!!! You rule. As for bow control--be the bow--ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm, ahhoooooooooooooohhhhhmmmmmmm.

mudbug Says:
Saturday, September 1, 2012 @4:03:45 PM

I'm trying to be the bow, honorable Humble-San, but the bow don't wanna be me.

Mandogryl Says:
Sunday, September 2, 2012 @10:59:33 AM

Keep the bow moving.
Great Job Steve!

mudbug Says:
Sunday, September 2, 2012 @4:09:37 PM

Thanks, Stephanie. I'll just keep plugging away.

Ozarkian DL Says:
Sunday, September 2, 2012 @6:34:19 PM

Mud, if you ever come across a "Heddon" bow, buy it. There were only 3 models made for 3/4 and 4/4 violins. Their very light bows made of metal, rare and hard to find. Most people do'nt like em, but I like a very light bow myself. Their no longer made, and were manufactured by "Heddon" fishing tackle company. If you like a light bow their great, but finding one in half-way good shape is getting hard to do, as collectors are buying em up. I have 4 of em.

mudbug Says:
Monday, September 3, 2012 @3:36:02 AM

Thanks, Doyle. Nice to know.

Andah1andah2 Says:
Monday, September 3, 2012 @5:07:12 AM

Hey Muddy, jam that frankenfiddle.
you bringin it to Fiddle Hell?

mudbug Says:
Monday, September 3, 2012 @3:16:45 PM

Hey, Stew! I'm not sure.

bj Says:
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 @7:46:56 AM

Why don't you just use one of your other bows? Yes, I know you're supposed to use a viola bow, but . . . who made up all these rules? ;-)

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 @12:10:36 PM

Hey, BJ! Actually, when I first got the viola, I didn't have a viola bow and used my violin bow. It worked, but took a lot more pressure to get good tone. There's a reason why they make designated viola ( or cello, or bass) bows. More weight and more hair translates as less effort and better tone with the thicker strings and bigger bodies. I just have to keep working on controlling the thing.

Larry Rutledge Says:
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 @7:52:32 PM

Put another string on it and have ya a 5 string.!

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 @1:52:25 AM

Hey, Larry! There's always that, and I admire those who choose to go that route, but I guess I'm more conservative in my instrument choices. I listen to what's been done with four strings by past masters, and figure I have a loooong time 'til I need more options. I know with other instruments, there's always compromises when adding to the "standard". A good example is adding a fifth or sixth string to electric basses. The scale lenghth for 4 string is not quite right for the low string and the amps weren't really designed to handle the low note, and then when you get into a 6 string, you're stepping into guitar territory and nobodys holding down the bottom end. Stanley clarke plays a "piccolo" bass tuned A D G C and hires a bass player to take care of the bottom, which someone needs to do. Sorry for the rant, but that's my resoning for designated violin and viola. The high notes don't soung great on a five string viola, and the low notes don't have the depth / timbre on a five string violin. IMO. Before someone gets angry and says that theirs sounds heavenly, I have to say that my experience with them is limited and I try to keep an open mind.

bryfiddle2 Says:
Thursday, September 6, 2012 @6:16:41 PM

I got a 5-string violin several years ago after a former PA champion, Charlie Dowd, let me sit in with his at a local square dance. Just had to have one, I guess, but it didn't quite sound right. Too small in the box, seemed to be the consensus of the players and makers I got info from. I visited a few makers and checked out a few more online and ended up getting a very nice 5-string 15 inch viola from Eric Aceto at Ithaca Stringed Instruments, near Ithaca, NY. I love the sound of that low C string, now, but it's like giving up a sports car to drive a truck, isn't it? The instrument is a ton heavier and, with 5 strings, there's a lot more real estate to cover. My master craftsman violin tech (Geoffrey Judd, Williamsport, PA) recommends using a viola bow for the same reasons you've mentioned, for what it's worth, and that's what I have done. A lot of master makers I talked to refused to consider taking on the callenge of developing a 5-string instrument due to the considerable effort it would take to develop patterns able to handle the extra tensions and so forth. I found it was really necessary to go to those guys who were already in that game because they have solved some of the problems with the 5-string sizes.
I've also found that strings have a huge impact on tonal character and have been experimenting with some different brands ($46 US for a C string really puts a crimp in the old wallet!). I have been using Thomastik Dominants for a while previously with no problems (except price). One other string issue with the 5-string violas; there's no such thing as a large scale viola E string! I'm using Wondertone Gold E's but have to gently scrape away some of the silk on the peg end of the string to get them to fit! Eric also warns that the extra tension on the E will cause more breakage and that's what I've found, too. I broke my first E string in a long while this year.
I like the extra range my viola has given me and I only have to carry one instrument to gigs (except for the guitar, dulcimer and banjo).

mudbug Says:
Friday, September 7, 2012 @1:45:14 PM

Great post, Bry! Thanks for your input.

frogeyes Says:
Sunday, December 9, 2012 @12:48:32 AM

Goly a viola ooh cello and viola duets has a nice ring to it mudbug

mudbug Says:
Sunday, December 9, 2012 @3:00:57 AM

Hey, Froggy! Haven't heard from you in a while. Glad you're still playing.

sophiabrugman Says:
Friday, April 18, 2014 @3:23:06 PM

hey hey,,, a viola!! super,, i was a viola proffessional player,, meaning i got paid to play it .. in the Albany NY symphony,, in another life time!,,, says old senior me,,,,, oOOOOooo i love it,, gave mine to my nephew to try as he is studying music at Potsdam School Crane School,,, (proud me) his instrument is stand up bass,, check out the music on their website,, ( they went to China to play! )
keep up the viola-ing!! yahooooo

wilford Says:
Sunday, June 1, 2014 @5:12:44 AM

I love the viola. Especially dark waltzes. I have a Heddon metal violin bow as mentioned by dlhamp and I love it. Have a great day.

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