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History of the Viola

The viola originated in Italy in the mid-1500s. As was the case with the violin, a number of changes were made to the basic construction of the viola in the 19th century when larger performance venues required instruments to produce greater sound volume.

Viola Sizes and Viola Types

The sizing of violas is less standardized than that of the violin. Typically, a viola is 16 inches long. In addition, there are 13”, 14”, and 15” violas, and even less common, 13.5”, 14.5”, and 15.5” versions of the instruments. For young children in need of a smaller size, it is sometimes recommended to use a small-size violin with viola strings.

In addition to the wooden, acoustic viola, electric violas are also available. These can be either acoustic violas with pickups and amplifiers, or special electric violas that have no body or only a skeletal version of a body. As with the electric violin, the advantage of the electric viola is that it can produce a large sound with the help of electric sound amplification.

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