Viola Making, Step by Step (For Use with Violin Making, Step by Step)

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9780962067396: Viola Making, Step by Step (For Use with Violin Making, Step by Step)

The seventh in this readable, no-nonsense series, it has the same format as Violin Making, Step by Step (which is a prerequisite). It includes full size drawings for an elegant smaller (15-5/8 inches or 397 mm) viola, as well as information, photos and illustrations on a wide range of traditional and innovative viola styles, sizes, and other considerations. You can see photos of this viola on my web site.

The Strobel books for violin makers are professional, concise, and convenient, reflecting traditional, conservative, and artistic work. Some forty thousand sold, they are used internationally by student, amateur and professional makers in shops and schools, and referred to by manufacturers, sellers, users, and lovers of bowed instruments. High quality 8.5 by 11 in. paperbacks made to lie flat and last on your workbench.

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About the Author:

Henry Strobel is the author-publisher of seven books on violin, viola, and cello making, repair, and adjustment, which are used worldwide. He recently published a video Watch Me Make a Cello, Step by Step. Born in Indiana in 1936, he had a first career as an electronic design engineer, and was one of the founders of Digital Telephone Systems, Inc. in California, which manufactured transmission and switching equipment. He served in the US Air Force service in Scotland as a communications officer. He studied violin as a schoolboy, made his first over thirty years ago, and has had his own violin business for twenty years, fifteen at his current full service violin shop in Oregon, where, with his wife and sons, he also makes violins, violas, and cellos, and writes books.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface to the First Edition

At the time I was writing Violin Making, Step by Step, I had not planned to write books on cello or viola making. The viola was again overlooked when I went on to write Cello Making, Step by Step. At that time I wrote:

"Making a viola, on the other hand, is quite similar to making a violin. It remains, moreover, an opportunity for originality. I have found it a fascinating and challenging instrument to make. Variation in style and size, even a degree of ornamentation are still acceptable. Do make it playable, and make it sound! This mostly means keeping the size in human scale (for playability), and graduating hardly thicker than a violin (for sound)."

. . . So here at last is book seven in our series, Viola Making, Step by Step. It does require Violin Making, Step by Step for completeness. The other books in the series are recommended, not necessarily required. Experience in violin making techniques is assumed.

As I write I am making a "small" (397 mm or 15 5/8 in) viola, which will serve as the demonstration viola for this book. It is shown in full size drawings similar in format to those used in Violin Making, Step by Step. This is a pattern I have used several times, and it suits those who prefer a smaller viola. It is very similar in size (2 or 3 mm longer) and outline to the Gasparo da Sal viola that Louis Kievman played, and which he showed me at the VSA Convention in Chicago in 1981. The earlier instruments I made to this pattern were double purfled in a "Maggini" style, different from Gaspar's. This time I am using an ordinary single purfling; I don't like repetition (and it's easier). Also lower, recurved, arching and different sound holes.

This small viola may well not be the one you want to make, so I have included some other suggestions and photos as possible starting points. These do not include mold, block, and scroll specifications. This is more an "idea book" than a "cookbook." If you have got this far, you will be able to design your own mold (assuming that you use one) and blocks and linings, working from another outline as described in Violin Making, Step by Step. The information, outlines, measurements, and photos in this book will get you off to a safe start, but your creative and adaptive violin making expertise is needed for the process, and your good taste and style for the details of carving and finishing. You can scale them, modify them, or find or draw another pattern more to your liking. (See ABOUT SIZES on page 9.)

For example you may prefer a more popular "medium" size viola (413 mm or 16 in, measured flat) not too large for most to play comfortably or too small to sound good. This might be similar in size and outline to the prototype 1676 model of Andrea Guarneri, which he repeated in the "Primrose", considered by some as an ideal. Or to the very early 1672 "Mahler" Stradivari viola of similar size. Or one might consider a "large" viola, conceivably even the once popular (425 mm or 16 in) Tertis model, or other more innovative designs, some of which are shown.

I could not possibly include drawings for all these examples, but have tried to point out some of the possible paths in viola making. The purpose of this book is to help you to create your viola, whatever its shape and size; not to "paint by the numbers." The range of viola sizes and styles is so great that I could only treat some of the design approaches, and cite some of the sources.

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