This viola is a commission from a player in Suffolk, who has seen and liked a viola of this model that belongs to a colleague.
The model is actually based on a Paolo Maggini violin. Maggini worked in Brescia, northern Italy at the end of the 16th and early 17th century, and is known particularly for fine sounding violas. The violin belongs to Ian Belton of the Brodsky Quartet who kindly let me measure and photograph it. The violin is, as are a number of Maggini violins, oversized by modern standards, so I thought this lovely instrument would work better enlarged as the inspiration for a viola than shrunk as a modern violin. I’ve make this model quite a number of times now; it is very manageable in size but has a warm and rich real viola sound.
I’ve started by making the rib assembly; bending thin strips of maple to shape and gluing to the blocks fitted into the mould. Then I’ve made the scroll. The Maggini violin I use as a model has a head that I don’t think is orginal, so instead I’ve used the head of another Maggini viola. The heads on the early Brescian violas are often large, so I’ve scaled this down to slightly more than violin size to make it light and easy for the player.