So this is 'luain' my new CVA-500 14" viola, he arrived Monday 4 Feb at 5pm. I took him to last night's Celtic Jam and he caused quite a stir at break time, specially when the other fiddlers realized that a size identical to their violins and A, D, and G strings in common; they could play this viola. And they made some nice music.
I am satisfied with the fit and finish. There are no obvious blemishes in the finish. I cannot tell if the purffling is real or painted on but I think it is real because there are minor dips in the finish that follow the line of the purffling. Finger board is a uniform black but I have read that todays crop of ebony is not consistently black and is normally stained to make it uniform. StewMac sells some of this stain for DIYers. I have replaced the Cecilio strings with the Prelude Short Viola strings I had on my acoustic violin during my experiment. I also found their fine tuners hard to adjust so I replaced them with the set that had been on my acoustic violin. The satin finish is nice but tends to hide the grain of the wood. Both bridges have been carved to conform to the shape of the top and the instrument was shipped with the bridge installed and enough string tension to keep it in place. Pegs turn easily and don't stick, though I wonder that they don't come completely through to the outside of the peg box. There is a pencilled 01 at the front edge of the fingerboard, A string side, probably a check of the finger board angle. I tried taking some pictures with my Playbook but the forum balked at loading the files, probably size problem, I have a less elaborate camera and will try again. The only casualty of shipping was the rosin which I reheated and flowed back into its plastic holder but I have 3 other rosins so it is not a worry
About the pegs not going fully to the outside of the holes is concerned, I had the opportunity to try many hundreds of violins and violas at NAMM and can say that many if not at least half the instruments are done this way today. I think the less friction is considered better for smoothness. Half our high quality instruments are that way too.
Congratulations on your instrument.
Very happy to hear.
In response to some questions in chat. A viola is of the same family as the violin, perhaps even more senior than the violin in age of development. Normal violas vary in length from 15 to 17 inches in the body and 3-5 mm in thickness in the body. Because of the larger resonant chamber that is the body they have a more mellow or "darker" sound. This sound appeals to some players. It is tuned in fifths as is a violin but has a C string below the G of the violin and lacks the E string of the violin. Because of the variable length of the body, string length is not standard so finger positions can be spread out and noticeably different between violas.
My new viola is built as a viola but is 14" in the body just like a violin though still thicker in the body so it has the darker sound of the viola. I am a total beginner so what I have learned about playing a violin still applies to MY viola. Should I choose to, I could string this instrument as a violin and it should play just fine. When I took it to our Celtic Jam 5 or 6 violin fiddlers tried it out and had no trouble adjusting to the altered range of notes and liked the instrument. My viola is named 'luain' after a fictional Druid Seer in a Manda Scott novel, Dreaming The Hound.
I have been asked why I call it a fiddle. If a violin becomes a fiddle when it plays fiddle music it stands to reason that a viola playing the same tunes must also be a fiddle and in this case since it looks like a fiddle looks ergo it must be a fiddle .... but with a surprising voice.