Worth knowing about the viola


The viola (from ital. Viola da Braccio, „arm violin“), is the big sister of the violin. In the midst of the bowed stringed instruments, pitch of the viola is an octave higher than the cello one and a fifth lower than the one for violin. In the orchestra, the viola therefore takes the alto pitch of voice.

Violas are available in different sizes, measured by their body length. A small viola is approx. 39 cm long, large violas up to 43 cm. Generally a big viola is rather played by professional musicians, smaller instruments are preferred by amateurs. Children violas can be even smaller then the size of a violin.


Construction of the viola

Virtually all violin makers, as well as the greatest Amati or Stradivari have, of course, also built violas. The construction of the viola is very similar to that of the violin. Aside from the difference in size, the viola is different from the violin mainly by their larger vibrating string length and thicker and lower strings (a, d, g‘, c‘). So, it sounds not only deeper, but also warmer and fuller than her younger sister.

The scroll of the viola, the typical ornament at bowed stringed instruments, is a relic from the baroque age, which has survived to this day.das sich bis heute gehalten hat.

During the construction of the instrument, different materials are used. The capotasto and the fingerboard, over which the string is stretched, are usually made of ebony. For more favorable violas other hardwoods are used, which are then stained. Chin rest and pegs of the viola are also often made of ebony - but also boxwood and rosewood are used.

The table of the viola is made of spruce wood and the back is usually made of maple wood. This is often flamed even in the aftermath to make the instrument visually more appealing. Back and table of the viola can be either made of one or two parts. Connected through the ribs they build the resonating body or only "bosy" of the viola. Regardless of the species of wood, good tone wood is characterized by its evenly and closely grown annual rings for stringed instruments. The bow, of course, has also great influence on the sound of the instrument. Together with the musical instrument, the viola bow, shoulder rest, rosin and viola sheet music are stored in a case. The most viola cases have a wooden core, but there are also modern viola cases, which arre made of carbon.

Playing of the viola


The viola is generally played like the violin. However, for the violist the instrument is a special technical challenge because of its size and the deep and powerful strings. The arm must be stretched further, the tones are farther apart on the fretboard and the pressure of the violist on the strings necessary for both the left hand and on the bow with his right hand require more power. In fact, the first violas were significantly larger than today, but were also very difficult to play. The dimensions of today's viola are actually not quite sufficient for the low tuning. For the sake of playability, a compromise was discussed here. Since 1740, the musical instrument was built smaller and first concerts for viola were created.

Use of the viola

The oldest known violas are from the 16th century. Over time, the viola was a central component of orchestral music, which she maintains to this day. Although the first violist is not the leader of a symphony orchestra, he has as principal viola an important task in the design of the middle voices. Due to the already mentioned technical challenges of construction of the viola, it took some time before the viola was able to prevail as a solo instrument. Also in the chamber music, the instrument is playing an important role, for example, in the string quartet. Many violists have originally learned playing violin, and then they switched to the viola.

Characteristics of the viola

The wonderful preface by the Hungarian composer György Ligeti to his Sonata for viola solo (1991–1994) characterizes this beautiful string instrument from the perspective of the musical artist:

„Apparently, the viola is just a bigger violin, just tuned a fifth lower. But in fact there are worlds between the two instruments. Three strings they have in common, the A, D, and G-string. Due to the high E string the sound of the violin gets a luminosity and metallic penetrability, which lack the viola. The violin leads, the viola remains in the shadows. Therefore the viola has a peculiar harshness with its low C string, compact, slightly hoarse, with the smoky taste of wood, earth and tannic acid.“

At PAGANINO you will find

Violastrings from Pirastro and Thomastik

Shaped viola cases or oblong viola cases and furthermore

Viola bows and

Viola-sheet music as well as all

Accessories for viola such as

Chin rests
Shoulder rests
Fine tuners
Wolf eliminators
Viola bridges
Viola stands or 

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