new instruments

innovations / viola cinque



This “Viola” was designed for jazz violinist, Frank Wunderer, who was dissatisfied with his solid body 5-string violin.  The violin length C-string was intolerably flabby and the purely electronic sound of the rest of the instrument was boring after a few minutes.

After much brainstorming, we decided to make a 5-string acoustic viola, rather than violin, to help the C-string and include a rich acoustic sound in the mix.  It had to have enough volume for a proper C-string sound, and be short enough for an E-string (thanks to Fan Tao and D’Addario Strings).  This was quite a challenge, an oxymoron to date.

The outline of the viola was designed to give it the short length from head to bridge for violin length bow feel with enough width and volume for viola sound without reducing critical areas for the E-string such as the upper bouts.

The viola needed to function fully as an un-amplified instrument, and be fully amplifiable with pickups under the bridge and a mounted mini-microphone.   Throughout the construction thought had to be given to the extra string and pressure.  The scroll and pegbox were also a challenge needing to have the strength and space for 5 strings and pegs without being too large or looking long and skinny.

To date the Viola Cinque has just been finished in the first phase and is being played as an acoustic viola.  Now we are working on the pickups and microphone mounts.

The sound is enormous on all strings with no loss of quality or power, on any string including of course, the C-string or the E-string.  We surprised even ourselves.  Conventional wisdom would have expected there might be some kind of compromise.  The Helicore Viola E-String from D’Addario, despite its length, sounds like a violin E-string, but with more body perhaps from the added volume and vibrating surface, and the medium tension string has not shown any signs of breaking easily.

ribs bent & glued to the blocks /
Zargen geleimt.
linings glued
to the ribs /
Futterleisten geleimt
roughed out /
Wölbungen grob
shaping blocks /
Stechen der Klötze
bassbar glued / Leimung Bassbalken  
neck block /
Der Hals,
noch in einen Stück
scroll /
Hals und Schnecke
Viola Cinque finished white /
Der Aufbau ist fast abgeschlossen


Viola Cinque


Viola Cinque  

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