As with our violins, RentalInstrument.com violas are constructed to the highest standards, approved by professionals and educators. You’ll find violas for every level of player. Young players can start learning with player-friendly beginner instruments and advanced players can choose from our professional-quality violas. All violas are custom made for RentalInstrument.com.
White Label violas are our most affordable instruments, perfect for beginning players. Available in sizes 11, 12, 13, and 14 inches, they are set up to be friendly for the beginning player, with soft, lower strings and scratch resistant varnish. They come with Super Sensitive Red Label or Thomastic Dominant strings, four adjustable fine tuners, a wooden bow made of real horsehair, a hardcase with backpack strap, and name tag.
Black Label violas are constructed with aged wood and oil varnished, giving them a rich and mature tone rarely found in newer instruments. The ribs, back, and scroll of the instrument are made of beautiful flamed maple, the bridge is aged maple, the instrument has a solid ebony fingerboard, and the top is constructed of resonant spruce wood. Available in sizes 13, 14, 15, 15½, and 16 inches, they come with Super Sensitive Red Label or Thomastic Dominant strings, four German-made Whittner adjustable fine tuners, a wooden bow made of real horsehair, a hardcase with backpack strap, and name tag.
RentalInstrument.com has access to European violas constructed in countries such as Germany to Romania in the 1970s. After being kept in careful storage for 30-40 years, these aged instruments are available today exclusively to RentalInstrument.com customers. Rarely will you find such high quality instruments that have already been aged. These violas are available in sizes 13, 14, 15, 15½, and 16 inches.
“The varnish on these violas is beautiful to start with. Deep, full and fast responding low strings, especially low on the C-string. Also, the G-string (high positions) is easy to play on (easy to create the right quality of the high position G-string). The A-string has enough brightness to bring out the necessary quality of sound that every viola needs.”
About the Viola
Consider the viola to be the middle child of the violin family, sitting pretty between the big brother cello and little sister violin. That is, if you can tell the violin apart from the viola. It’s easy to mistake the viola for a violin because their sizes aren’t very different, and the pitches they each create also sound very similar. The two are also played in nearly identical ways. In truth, the viola is only a fifth below the violin in pitch range, allowing it to have a considerably richer sound perfect for playing harmonies. Unfortunately, the viola doesn’t get as many spotlight opportunities as its violin counterpart.
While someone who has no knowledge of violas or violins might not be able to tell any difference between the two, the viola is larger in size and less proportionate in shape. This difference in size contributes to the instrument’s technical differences, with notes being spread out further across the finger board, often requiring different fingerings. The heavier bow and slower responding strings also cause the violist to bow differently and more intensely than a violin player. In staying true to the family roots, the viola is most usually found with four strings. However, some luthiers have constructed violas with five strings, giving the viola a great playing range.
Due to the thicker strings, the viola takes on a thicker accent if you will, and sings slower than the violin, with a deeper, richer tone. Even the bow used to play a viola must have a wider strap of horsehair. Picture the viola like a slow turtle behind a fast hare, slow enough in fact that if a viola and violin are playing together, the violist must start moving their bow about a fraction of a second sooner than the violin in order to create a sound that begins at the same moment as the violinist’s sound. As mentioned before, the viola, more often than not, is outshined by the violin. However, chamber music is well known as one type of composition that is all about liberating the viola. Six string quartets were a favorite of Mozart’s, and typically required 2 viola parts. These also happen to be widely recognized as some of his best works. Other great composers noted to be true blue viola supporters are Beethoven and Bach, who when playing in ensembles preferred the viola over the violin.
Today, the viola is widely used, not only in chamber orchestra and ensembles, but in popular music that can be heard every day on the radio by bands like 10,000 Maniacs and The Velvet Underground. The Who have featured violas in their music, including in their huge classic, “Baba O’Reilly”, as well as The Beatles duo of violas in “Hello, Goodbye”.