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Hello String Instrument people!
In high school my wife had her locker broken into and viola stolen. It was later found in a trash can on school campus broken into pieces. She hasn't played since.
I want to get her a nice viola that isn't a piece of junk. I know absolutely NOTHING about violas except that there seems to be a ton of brands and NONE of them seem to stand out as being quality.
Coming from the guitar world, I know that I like Taylor guitars. The more expensive a Taylor... the better. Taylor have a great name when it comes to quality guitars. What is the 'Taylor' of the viola world?
Please forgive me if this is a stupid question. I just don't want to buy some junky off brand that she will throw away in a year.
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
I think violas which have a brand are usually made in a factory.
There would be more variation in the quality of violas which are made in factories, compared with violas that are individually made by (competent) luthiers.
The worst factory made violas are worse than the craftsman made violas.
Another way of putting this is to say that the brand on hundreds of violas can be the same, but there will be a spectrum of instrument quality among those same hundreds of violas.
To figure out whether you are buying a quality viola you actually need someone to play it, and judge the sound it makes, irrespective of whether it has any brand on it or not.
Two desirable characteristics when buying a viola are:
a) volume is even across the four strings
b) it does not have wolf tones
In general, the louder (more resonance) a viola the better.
Other things being equal, violas hand-made by Italian (or Italian trained) craftsmen are more likely to retain their value than others.
Violins, Violas, Cello's and Basses are hard to go after name brands. Even the best brands sell cheap Chinese instruments. There are great Chinese viola's as well as cheap ones. The trick is to buy from a reputable dealer and make sure that you can return it if necessary.
We sell great violas but have not listed them on our site yet. They are in such low demand. Michael and I will have a meeting and add some soon.