Difference Between Violin And Viola [Which Is The Best?]

As similar as these instruments may sound, the both of them are entirely different in many regards.

Perhaps, not in the way they look but the way they sound, their structure, their built and above all, their use in the music industry. In this article we will not only learn about what is a violin, and a viola, but we will also learn how to differentiate the two from each other.

What is a Violin?

A violin is a fiddle like instrument, that has a hollow body, which further Accentuates its high-pitched shrill sound. The violin originated in Italy in the early 16th century.

As far as the sources go, it is known that the first ever violin was built by a man named ‘Andrea Amati’. These instruments come in various sizes which include, ‘4/4, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and 1/32’ Out of these, 4 by 4 is the largest, while 1/32 is the smallest. A good quality violin might cost a person a fair fortune of about, $1000 to $3000.

Structure of a Violin.

The parts of a violin are as listed below –

  1. The Body

The body of a violin is 2 planks of wood joint together by another plank through the sides which may also be called a rib.

The reason for a violin being costly may also be the care, and maintenance of the wood that is used for the planks, which make up the violin.

  • Belly

The belly is the part of a violin that is made out of a ‘quarter sawn spruce’ rightly matched to a strongly glued joint in the centre, with two holes for sound delicately placed in between the C-bouts and the lower corners. These holes affect the flexing pattern of the top and allow the box to let in some air white the vibrations/sounds course through it.

  • Back and Ribs

The back and ribs are mostly made of maple wood, these possess similar striped patterns quite often, called a “flame.”

Backs are the one-piece slab that’s cut and sewn quarter wise. The ribs may have a curvy pattern due to being sealed with heat.

  • The Bridge

Bridge is the part of a violin that holds up the strings and provides them support. It is a narrow piece of wood which is held together by the tautness of the strings.

This bridge is what helps in converting the vibrations produced while playing, into the sound that we hear.

  • The Soundpost

The Soundpost of a Violin is what gives it its signature, fuller and heavier sound. Alongside that, a Soundpost also holds us the bridge, as well as the top plate of the violin, where the bridge is placed and the wires are connected.

  • The Bass Bar

The Bass bar or a violin is something that is found in it’s belly. It strengthens the belly and helps in resonating the sound better from within it.

  • Tailpiece

The Tailpiece of a Violin acts as a anchor for the strings. It is available only on one side of it. It is helpful in the tuning and the working of a violin’s tuning mechanism.

  • The pegs

Pegs are the tools used by the violinists to tune their instrument. These pegs are what cause the strings to be straight and taut, while giving the player full Liberty to adjust it, or tune it as per their own.

  • The bow

The bow is the stick that is used to play a violin. This stick causes the tension that when put right, results in the music or sound that comes out of a violin.

  • The Strings

A Violin has 4 strings. Namely, E, A, D and G. These strings are made up of different materials. As essential part of the violin as this is what converts the vibrations into music.

How to play a Violin?

While Learning to play a violin might be a longer process, the basic steps to start playing are as listed below-

  1. Getting the bow prepared for playing a violin is the first basic step towards learning how to play. You must tighten the thread in such a way that it is not parallel to the stick but curves slightly inwards towards it.
    Keep in mind that the distance between the bow stick and the thread should be as such, that a pencil could pass through it.
  2. Second important step is tuning the violin. While tuning may seem like a complex process, it can be made easier by tuning it through an electric tuner. The sequence for the same should be, G, D, A and E
  3. Third step includes holding the bow in such a way that it feels light and comfortable in your hand. The bow should not be held stiff, and should be able to glide on the strings with ease.
  4. The fourth step in playing is holding the violin the correct way. The violin should be held by the neck and should be placed against your shoulder.
  5. The fifth step is the hand placement in such a way that you can play the with ease. Your hands should be placed on the upper part of the neck, where it can glide on strings easily as you play the violin with the bow using the other hand.
  6. The sixth step is to learn playing the strings openly, and getting familiar with the rhythm and the sound that each string produces. This when perfected will help you to create melodies.

What is a Viola?

Viola is a string instrument that is built quite similar to the violin, the difference lies in the size. A viola may be, about 2 inches longer than a violin. The strings of a viola are as such, C, G, D and A.

Structure of a Viola.

The structure of a Viola is the same as that of a Violin. To learn about the structure, refer to the information mentioned about a Violin’s structure.

How to play a Viola?

  1. Similar to the playing a violin, a bow is needed to play a Viola as well. So, the very first step adjusting the bow and learning its placement and holding it properly

as explained while listing down the steps for playing a violin.

  • The second step is holding the Viola correctly. It is to be held by the hand and placed against the collar bone, where its strings that are attached to the top can be strummed through the bow.
  • Thirdly, the bow is now to be placed on the ‘A’ string right above the bridge. This is where the string is pulled tight from both above and beneath, which is helpful in creating a sound.
  • Fourth step is the press along the strings that are placed on the neck and gliding along it with your fingers, to change the note and create variation of sound.
  • The fifth step is to tune the strings using the fine tuning pegs, located right alongside the bridge. The tuning is to be done in the sequence of the strings.
  • The sixth step is to practice and experiment with various scales until you find the one that suits you best.

Difference between Violin and Viola.

As far as the information stated above goes, there is not much of a difference between a Viola and Violin.
They belong to the same family, have the same structure and sound very much similar. Listed below are some notable differences that distinguish the two instruments apart –

  1. The most notably evident Difference between the two is of their size. When placed together for comparison, one will notice that a viola is comparatively bigger than a violin. While a violin may be 35 cm long, a viola can go up to as much as 45 cm in length. Ranking it larger in size.
  2. The string sequence and purpose is different for both violin and viola. A violin’s strings are G, D, A, and E. E is highest, and G is lowest. A viola’s strings are as C, G, D, and A. A is highest, and C is lowest. This can be counted among one of the most prominent differences.
  3. Another major difference between the two is the difference in their clef. The violin is possessing a Treble Clef.
    The violin is also called the ‘soprano voice’ and is the highest sounding instrument in the string family. The viola possesses the Alto Clef, also known as the C Clef. One intriguing thing about the viola is, it is the only known instrument to use this particular clef for notation.

Some good Violin selling companies

  1. Stentor
  2. Cecilio
  3. Yamaha
  4. Antonio Stradivari
  5. Franz Hoffman
  6. Kennedy Violins
  7. Etc.

Some good Viola selling companies

  1. Eastman
  2. Cecilio
  3. Yamaha
  4. Stentor
  5. DZ Strad
  6. Etc.

Good products available online

Violin –

  • Mendini By Cecilio Violin – MV500+92D – Size 4/4 (Full Size), Black Solid Wood – Flamed, 1-Piece Violins w/Case, Tuner, Shoulder Rest, Bow, Rosin, Bridge & Strings – Adult, Kids
  • Eastar 4/4 Full Size Violin Set Matte Fiddle for Beginners Adults with Hard Case, Rosin, Shoulder Rest, Bow, Tuner and Extra Strings (Imprinted Finger Guide on Fingerboard),EVA-3
  • Maestro Old spruce Stradi 4/4 Full Size Violin D Z Strad Model 509 Powerful tone Antique Varnish

Viola –

  • Professional Handmade D Z Strad Viola model 400 – handmade by prize winning luthiers (16.5”- Size)
  • Cecilio CVA-400 Solidwood Viola with D’Addario Prelude Strings, Size 15-Inch
  • D Z Strad viola Model 101 with Strings, Case, Bow, Shoulder Rest, and Rosin (16″ – Size)

Conclusion

Both the instruments as similar as they may seem ionic in their own ways. Be it their sound or size.  In order to play an instrument, it is first important to learn and understand what differentiates it from the others.
What makes it unique and how it works. I hope this article has worked as a helpful guide for those wanting to choose either a violin or Viola as their instrument and has given them a clear insight into watch to choose and whatever is most suitable.

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