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Perhaps I ought to submit this page to The VIOLA JOKES pages for indeed there are almost as many sizes of violas as there are jokes. Never-the-less, here we go!

The viola is usually taken up by youngsters after they have first started with the violin and very often at the beginning of their secondary education. This usually means that they have started with a violin tuned as a viola (perhaps even as small as a 1/2 size violin). Whilst this might satisfy the size requirement it is far from satisfactory as a viola, the would be viola being very deficient on the C string. However the trend now is to start youngsters from the very beginning on a viola with foreign manufacturers now producing purposefully designed smaller outfits.

Violas are classified in size according to their body length and the shortest outfit generally available was 15" long but now are available from the Far East in smaller sizes - 13" and 14". Once the player has grown to his/her mature build he will seek out a larger viola : a 15 1/2". 15 3/4", 16" or even 16 1/4" and over. The size of viola and it's bow are dictated therefore by the player's build and preference of tone be it 'alto' with the smaller sizes or 'tenor' with the larger ones.

The factors involved for buying a viola are the same as those set out in the VIOLIN section but being a larger instrument usually cost quite a lot more, typical prices being:

  • foreign mass produced : 70 - 700
  • second hand mass produced : 150 - 700
  • old factory/handmade : 1 - 3000
  • commissioned : 1800 - 6000
  • antique : 2000 +