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How to Find the Best Viola
Buying a viola is a complicated process so it is advisable to know what viola brand to purchase. You should buy the best viola brands that are recognized for their high-quality craft. High quality is proven through the external beauty of the instrument and in addition the sound quality. Our listing relies on quality and affordability and is meant to help you buy the best viola brand that’s high-value, but that matches your finances.
- The fewer upgrades needed the better
- High-quality materials used
- Attention to detail
To learn more about what you need to search for when buying a viola, read our viola buying guide where we cover what makes a superb viola. Violas to most of the players are a very personal item. You need to just be sure you purchase a viola that sounds and feels right to you so you’ll wish to try lots of totally different violas. You might wish to go to a local music store to try some violas out before finally making your purchase online.
Most violas’ price is somewhere between $200-$5000, and the violas listed below cover that spectrum. We’ll call out typical prices and suggestions for skill levels for every brand beneath.
One last word before we get to our really useful best viola brands: Shopping for a viola online is a relatively new phenomenon. We extremely suggest going to a local music store to check out violas before you purchase a viola online for the perfect deal.
Best Viola Brands for Beginners
Beginner viola players want an instrument that’s both ready-to-play out-of-the-box and cost-effective since they might not continue playing for long. Our complete list of beginner-best viola brands below has been evaluated to make sure that they’re both beginners- and budget-friendly. Each of the viola brand outfits beneath comes with a minimum of a student viola, a bow, a case, and strings. As with all violas, components may be upgraded, but these basic outfits will probably be enough to get the beginner up and playing within minutes.
Cecilio is once again among our primary viola brands. They produce high-quality stringed instruments at a fraction of the price of other big-name players and all of their musical instruments are hand-made, even lower than $200 CVA-400. Due to this, Cecilio is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known student viola brands on the planet.
Cecilio violas are made out of hand-carved solid tonewoods within the traditional style: spruce top flamed maple sides and back, and inlaid purfling. The chin rests are made from boxwood, traditionally a feature only available on higher-end models.
The main shortcoming of Cecilio violas is that their fingerboards are made from maple instead of ebony. Ebony fingerboards are sturdier than maple since ebony is a hardwood which implies ebony fingerboards can stand up to the repeated pressure of fingers tapping on them. In fact, removing the ebony fingerboards makes for a lower-cost viola, but you might have to take your viola in for repairs more often.
These viola outfits are additionally very generous. Most Cecilio outfits include a high-quality brazilwood bow with unbleached Mongolian horsehair. In addition, they include boxwood pegs, chinrest, and tailpiece (with 4 fine tuners).
Given the worth you get for the price, the Cecilio viola brand will get our highest vote, but if you’re an advanced player, we suggest buying a higher-end viola below in the intermediate viola section.
You Can Buy Cecilio Violas at the Links Below!
This viola brand is trusted by viola students and teachers of all types. Among reasonably priced viola brands, Stentor has made a reputation for itself by being one of the highest quality viola brands for the price. Many parents depend on this well-known brand to get their kids to an intermediate-level viola.
Based in the UK, Stentor manufactures the instruments in Chinese workshops but checks every instrument for quality before delivery to your house or music store.
With all kinds of violas on the market, from absolute beginners to slightly below intermediate violas, Stentor is bound to have the fitting viola for your student. Not only do they come in multiple sizes, including variations on a “full size” instrument (a misnomer as a result of viola sizes aren’t as standardized as cellos or violins), with 16” and 15.5” outfits.
Like their other instruments, Stentor violas are made in the traditional approach out of solid tone woods. This features a solid ebony fingerboard (versus the Cecilio above), pegs, and fittings with maple sides and back, and a spruce top. Stentor violas even have inlaid purfling to prevent the softer spruce wooden top from splitting.
Packages on Amazon include a padded rectangle case, wooden and horsehair bow (normally brazilwood), and rosin.
For beginner violas, Cremona violas are of nice quality for a good price tag. Made out of select-tone woods, similar to hand-carved maple, spruce, and ebony, these violas stand up properly on their own but might be made significantly better with small improvements.
Out-of-the-box, Cremona violas include Prelude strings that are okay, but swapping them out for a higher-quality viola string brand could make a world of difference.
Cremona violas are constructed to MENC standards (National Standards for Music Education as prescribed by the Music Educators National Conference in 1994) in their Cremona workshop within the state of California. The MENC standard ensures that they’re playable after they arrive, and could be simply integrated into your child’s school orchestra or ensemble. It’s no surprise that students and teachers alike favor Cremona over different student viola outfits.
Every outfit comes with a high-quality J. LaSalle Brazilwood bow, a preferred TL-33 case, Prelude strings by D’Addario, A. Breton VP-61 alloy tailpiece with 4 built-in tuners for simple tuning, together with a Kaufman chinrest, and rosin.
You Can Buy Cremona Violas at the Links Below!
While lower quality than most of the viola brands on this list, Merano undoubtedly delivers quality at an affordable price. A lot of their violas are just over $100 which makes them especially good for absolute newbies who might not continue playing after their first yr. While they won’t garner a high resale worth, they may definitely meet the requirements of a novice and your funds.
Like Cecilio listed above, Merano viola fingerboards are made out of hardwood instead of ebony, which means you’ll most certainly need to upgrade to a better model or have the fingerboard repaired often.
When you can’t afford a higher-quality model at this moment, the Merano viola makes an excellent beginning instrument.
Outfits on Amazon include a ton of extras including an additional set of strings, an additional bridge, a shoulder rest, a rosin, a case, a music stand, and an electronic tuner. Shopping for a Merano viola outfit is one approach to being up and playing very quickly.
You Can Buy Merano Violas at the Links Below!
Best Viola Brand for Intermediate Players
When to upgrade to a greater level instrument is a complicated question. Usually, when the student begins classes together with his or her first personal teacher, it’s time to step up. Others choose instruments from this level for a starting player. One thing is for sure, in the cheaper price ranges, slightly extra investment goes a long way to improve the playability and quality of tone over an entry-level product. Choose a price level that’s comfy for you, and think about upgrading in a yr or two.
D Z Strad
DZ Strad violas are constantly rated as among the best intermediate viola outfits. Opinions on Amazon rave about the sound quality of those instruments so we needed to give one a try. We have been blown away! The Model 400 particularly is a good high-quality instrument for the intermediate viola student.
The company has a workshop in New York and Minnesota and provides an entire range of services for the string community. The best violas themselves are made with hand-rubbed Italian tonewoods which have been naturally dried outside in a covered, ventilated space for 20 years. The wood is then placed right into a drying room, consistent with old-world traditional European practices to ensure that the wood won’t open or expand, and ensures stability.
The outfits include the viola, a viola case, and two quality bows: a carbon fiber bow, and D Z Strad Pernambuco Viola Bow. For a high-quality viola that ranges between $1000-$1300 depending on size, it is a ton of value.
You Can Buy D Z Strad Violas at the Links Below!
Yamaha is well-known within the musical world for producing top-quality instruments at an inexpensive price. Their piano and violin family instruments are just as high-quality.
While costlier than many of the models featured in the above list, Yamaha violas are handcrafted in Chinese workshops out of the best quality woods for this price range. Because of this, Yamaha rounds out our intermediate listing as one of the prime brands of violas.
The Yamaha student viola outfits are available in assorted sizes and include a case, Brazilwood bow, and rosin. They are hand-made out of solid spruce, maple, and ebony and fitted with a Wittner tailpiece with 4 fine tuners for simple tuning.
Yamaha violas additionally include high-quality D’Addario Prelude strings, though upgrading your strings to Dominants or Evah Pirazzis can drastically improve the tone of your instrument.
You Can Buy Yamaha Violas at the Links Below!
Primavera violas are a really reasonably priced intermediate viola brand. Barely costlier than most beginner violas ($250-$350), Primavera violas are made out of top-quality solid tonewoods, together with hand-carved maple and spruce with inlaid purfling.
The fingerboard and pegs are made out of carved ebony, in addition to the fittings. In addition, the Primavera intermediate viola outfit comes with a “student-proof” composite bow with an ebony frog and Mongolian horsehair.
Primavera has made several choices to cut prices while improving the musical experience. For instance, they use a metal alloy tailpiece with 4 fine tuners, as an alternative to a solid wood tailpiece. Additionally, they use a Styrofoam-shaped case instead of a regular “pillowy” case. While slightly lower in quality, this case nonetheless performs properly and can protect your viola from the weather and drops.
Primavera beginner viola outfits are available in many sizes at an affordable price, so you will discover the right match for you or your child. Most also include a hardwood bow.
You Can Buy Primavera Violas at the Links Below!
Finest Viola Brand for Advanced Players
When a player reaches a high stage of proficiency an instrument with greater versatility is required. Many new and difficult methods will confound the student if the instrument is just not able to produce the desired response. A better bow or different-quality strings won’t do enough. Response to a wide range of bow strokes, wider dynamic range, more powerful projection, and high aesthetic qualities are some characteristics of professional violas in this price range. We all know this could be the instrument on which a student wins his or her first competition, or begins post-secondary level studies.
While Eastman Strings does make student model violas, they’re well-known for making advanced violins and the best violas that sound stunning which is why we highly suggest them for the advanced player.
Strings Magazine usually recommends Eastman VA305 violas for advanced players because of their playability and tone.
The violas of Eastman Strings are handcrafted from one-piece, flamed maple back with boxwood-and-ebony fittings. Outfits usually include a base Despiau bridge, which may in fact be modified after-market, and a Wittner tailpiece with inbuilt fine tuners.
Outfits on Amazon normally only include the instrument, no bow or case. As Eastman’s violas are constructed for advanced players, the bow choice is usually up to the player.
You Can Buy Eastman Strings Violas at the Links Below!
Viola Brands 2022 Buyer’s Guide
What Is A Viola?
The viola is a member of the violin family. It’s slightly larger and has a lower sound, unlike violins.
The viola has been a staple instrument within the classical music world since the 18th century. It has an essential position as an accompanying voice in an orchestra or string quartet, and in newer times, the viola has developed into a solo instrument too.
The viola has a deep tone, and we believe it’s an exciting alternative to its higher-pitched sibling, the violin.
Types Of Violas
The viola is an ever-changing instrument because makers find the proper size for all players. In the past, there have been “alto” and “tenor” violas, in addition to “pre-baroque” and “baroque” violas.
At present, we’re lucky that there’s a more standard viola (although dimension remains to be a debate, and it varies). These are the commonest types of violas available on the market today:
The acoustic or classical viola is the commonest type of viola. It was developed within the late 18th century and has had variations in size till today (not like the violin, which saved its original size).
The acoustic viola is strung a fifth lower than a violin. Its 4 strings are tuned to A-D-G-C, whereas a violin is tuned to E-A-D-G. This tuning offers the viola a deeper range than the violin, making it more versatile as an accompanying instrument.
Very similar to electric violins, there are electric violas too, though they’re harder to come by. This instrument produces its sound electronically and will be amplified by means of an audio system or silenced with headphones.
Electrical violas are extra sturdy than acoustic violas, as they don’t depend on their wood to provide sound quality. They’re used in all genres of music and are nice for recording too.
Violas For Children (Otherwise Recognized As Violins)
Not like violins, violas don’t normally come in very small sizes. It’s because all sizes of violins could be strung with viola strings for kids to learn to play the viola.
Things To Think about When Choosing A Viola
There are lots of vital factors when choosing a viola. Aside from the obvious (deciding between playing the violin or the viola), quite a bit comes into play.
Here’s a listing of things that you need always to think about before shopping for any new instrument:
Not like violins, the size of violas can vary. In case you have a preference (or whether you’ve got long or short arms), there are several choices in shape, width, and length. The commonest sizes are 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″, 15.5″, 16″, and 16.5″.
The smallest viola sizes are usually just a bit smaller than a full-size violin. In case you’re a younger beginner, you’ll be able to choose a fractional-size violin to start out and re-string it with viola strings.
Arm length and hand size/finger length are the primary factors that decide which size viola you need to be searching for. If in doubt, start small. Injuries should be prevented at all costs, and they’re frequent for players who select an instrument that’s too big.
The Overall Tone & Sound
The viola has a unique sound. It isn’t as high-pitched as a violin, but additionally not as deep as a cello. From a few years of playing, you will come to like the nice and cozy, and stately sound of a viola.
When choosing a viola, it’s good to note that the instrument’s size would possibly impact the sound. A bigger instrument can have a larger and louder rich sound. More wood means more resonance, however, smaller violas can sound impressive too.
Violas are constructed and finished with a variety of high-quality materials. Here’s what you might expect your viola to be made out of and the way it could be finished.
The viola requires good high-quality wood that’s hard, strong, and dense. Violas are made out of all types of wood, however probably the most trusted are maple (for the back and sides), spruce (for the top), and ebony (for the fingerboard and other fittings).
The varnish of a viola is necessary for protecting the wood and helping the projection of sound. It additionally brings out the sweetness in the wood. Why not select a viola that’s fantastically varnished?
Viola and violin makers have experimented with many kinds of varnish and varnishes produced from linseed and walnut oils.
Violas usually have a natural wood tone and might be varnished with oils of different tones.
You’ll be able to choose a viola with a darker hue or with yellowish or reddish tones. There isn’t a proper or wrong we have several instruments with totally different toned woods, and we like all of them.
Electric instruments can be found in more diverse and exciting colors, so whether or not you want bright pink or solid black, you can find what you are searching for.
The bow of the viola is slightly heavier than a violin bow and is as essential as the viola itself. The bow is what pulls the sound out of the instrument, and quality issues.
Weight and balance determine the quality of a bow, and though the viola requires more weight than a violin to find an excellent sound, you must be capable of discovering a bow that feels comfy in your hand.
In the end, shopping for a viola could be very subjective. You have to be the one to determine if you’re pleased with the sound and feel of your instrument.
Does the viola resonate fantastically under your ear? Are all 4 strings ringing evenly? Is the dimensions of your viola comfy in relation to the length of your arms and neck?
Take into consideration these things carefully before shopping for them, and you’ll make sure to discover the perfect viola for your needs.