This is the second viola of a commission from a viola teacher in Hong Kong, who is building a collection of fine instruments to loan to his pupils. It’s my usual cornerless design, which I have made many times over the years and which has helped a fair few fledgling viola players on their way.
I’ve chosen well-seasoned wood for this viola; broad-grained spruce for the front. It has a lovely texture and cuts well, so I think be successful acoustically. The back is a good piece of figured spruce with a little interesting quirk in the grain. I’ve started by roughing out the arching.
That done, I’ve cut the channel for the purfling and glued it in. Then I can sink the fluting round the edge and finalise the arching.
The thicknessing is now completed. I spend a lot of time carefully checking how the plates feel when I tap and flex them, and checking the weight, removing small amounts of wood until I’m satisfied. Then I cut the soundholes in the front, a slightly unconventional design that fits well with the streamlined outline.
I’ve now bent the ribs and glued them directly to the back.
Everything is ready now for gluing the front to the ribs; the inside of the back and ribs is all finished and sealed with my label glued in, and the bass bar is fitted to the front.
I’ve also made the simple light head that complements the body, fitted the neck, shaped it carefully to make it fit nicely in the hand, and the viola is finished ‘in the white’ ready for varnishing.
The viola is now finished. I’ve used a warm golden-red varnish with a slightly aged finish. I’m really pleased with the sound; it’s very even, the C string responds well, and it’s powerful with a lot of quality.