I’m making this viola for my rental scheme, and there is already a young player lined up for it, who is currently hiring a smaller viola from me. I have made these violas regularly over the years, and refined the design to make an instrument that is easy to play, light and which sounds really good – with a genuine viola quality of sound and a rich C string.
The viola has a two-piece back of nicely figured maple which I’ve had in my stocks for some years. The front is of fine-grain, high quality spruce from northern Italy. After cutting out the outline and carving the initial arching shape, I fitted the purfling and finalised the arching. Then I turned the back and front over and reduced the inside to the final thickness. I look for a good balance of weight and stiffness for optimal sound quality.
The ribs are made from strips of maple which I plane to just over 1mm thick. I bend them to shape and then glue them directly to the back. While working on the rib assembly, I’ve cut the soundholes in the front. The head for the viola is a simple, light design which echoes the minimalist aesthetic of the viola body.
I’ve now varnished and set up the viola. I’ve used a very transparent golden varnish which shows off the grain of the wood. For the fittings I’ve tried as much as possible to avoid endangered hardwoods that are increasingly subject to more rigerous CITES legislation; so the pegs are European plum, the fingerboard is Corène, a hardwearing synthetic ebony substitute made in Switzerland, and the tailpiece is plastic.