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Violin/Thank you Mr. Fisher! 17" Violas


Hello Mr. Fisher. I thank you for helping me with questions earlier, especially the question about whether increasing size affects the A string.

However I have another question. I read in an article that until 16.5", the sound doesn't change too much. But when the size reaches 17", the whole acoustical game changes. Here is the article:

Do you know how the sound changes after reaching 17" or greater?

Thank you very much. I keep coming to you for these questions.



Hi Ridhwan,

Good to hear from you, again.  I'm not sure that I can give you a clear answer, here.  I'm a violinist myself, and our shop specializes in violin.  So, you might get a more helpful answer from a professional violist.  With that said . . . I do hear a difference between say 15" violas and 16.5" violas.  I've had relatively little experience with violas larger than 17", so I really couldn't say . . . perhaps the improvement in tonality/power does improve more quickly as the size increases after that point.  But, really, how many people are capable of playing an 18" viola with anything like comfort?

And, as I've said before, there are so many other factors that effect the sound, other than the size, that you don't necessarily have to stretch into an instrument that is too big for you, in order to get the sound you want.  Better sounding instruments do, of course, cost more.  Fine, aged wood is costly, as is the time of an experienced maker.  My advice . . . find an instrument that feels good to you - that is comfortable for you to play, and that produces a tone that pleases you.  If you can't find such an instrument in your price range, save up for a while.  And, try as many instruments as you can.  Sometimes, it's just a matter of finding the right instrument for you - not necessarily the most expensive instrument out there.  And, who knows - your perfect viola might even be a relatively small one.  Theory is all well and good.  But, in practice, it's often best to just get out and try as many instruments as you can get your hands on.

Good luck!
Jim Fisher


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James S. Fisher


Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.


I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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