15″ 5-String Viola Completed

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Completion is a Relative Term

I would love to just say, “There! All Done!” but the fact is, I will always be able to see little things I wish I could change, and perhaps could not see until it was pretty much too late. That’s OK…it’s part of being a maker. I just have to know when it is time to say, “That’s as far as I am going!” and call it good.

Varnish

Last time, I shared how one of those decisions was how dark to make the varnish. I came to that decision about two coats past the last time I posted, so I allowed the varnish to harden for about a week, and then gave it a final once-over, and began the set-up procedures. Here is how it looked before I began set-up:

Five String Viola, Final varnish front view.
Final varnish front view.

 

Five String Viola Final Varnish, Back View.
Final Varnish, Back View.

 

Five String Viola Final varnish, Scroll.
Final varnish, Scroll.

 

The varnish took several days to harden enough to work on set-up, and even when I thought it was ready, it still easily took fingerprints. 🙁   I guess I should have known. Anyhow, it means there will be some rubbing out to be done after set-up is complete, and the varnish is even harder.

Set-up

I did not take many photos during set-up. Set-up includes:

    • Re-installing the Fingerboard,
    • Installing the nut,
    • Installing the saddle,
    • Installing pegs,
    • Fitting the soundpost,
    • Fitting the bridge,
    • Installing the end-button,
    • Installing and adjusting the tailpiece and strings,
    • Installing the chinrest, and
    • Playing while adjusting for sound (balance, tone, etc.)

So, I had a fairly frustrating day, wherein it seemed nothing went right on the first try. It took me twice as long as it should have, but I got it done. I only took a few photos:

Beginning to ream peg holes on Five String Viola.
Fingerboard installed: Beginning to ream peg holes.

 

Pegs, nut, saddle, end-button and soundpost installed on Five String Viola. Working on the bridge.
Pegs, nut, saddle, end-button and soundpost installed. Still working on the bridge.

 

Almost done with set-up of Five String Viola: chinrest and final adjustments remaining.
Almost done with set-up: chinrest and final adjustments remaining.

 

Sound

The 5-string 15″ viola had good sound from the first moment, but, as usual, it required some sound-post adjustment to achieve balance across all five strings. A sharp-eyed viewer also may notice all the mismatched strings; Jargar C, heavy Dominant G, D and A, and a regular Dominant E. I was unable to find the string sets I had bought recently (found them later), so, for the moment I simply used what I had, and adjusted accordingly. And, surprisingly,  it sounded quite good.

It has a huge voice compared to my violin-size five-string fiddles, and except for the C, the balance is very good. I adjusted the soundpost to bring the C-string into line, and it is much better, now. I am anxious to try an actual “set” of strings on it, to see what I can achieve in terms of balance and over-all tone.

Anyway, here is what it looked like immediately after full set-up:

Front view of completed 5-string viola.
Front view of completed 15″ 5-string viola.

 

Back view of completed 15" Five String Viola
Back view of completed 15″ 5-string Viola.

It still will need a final rub-down, but for now, I am playing it and just letting it finish hardening.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

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