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The Kid Should See This

The Viola Maker: How Helen Michetschläger crafts string instruments

In a documentary short by Eamon Urtone, violin maker Helen Michetschläger shares how she makes a viola, a slightly larger version of a violin with a deeper, more mellow sound. On her site, she writes:

Violas have absorbed a lot of my time in recent years. I have had commissions for a wide range of sizes, which has helped me to think deeply about how to make violas which are both comfortable for the player and which sound outstanding…

carving a viola

Most of my violas are made to order, as I find that this is the best way of producing a viola which is optimal for the player both in sound and in feel. It can be particularly helpful to customise neck shape and size and string spacing to suit the individual.

I use models based on the very early makers from Brescia in Northern Italy; Gasparo da Salo and Paolo Maggini. These models have considerable benefits for the player, both in terms of their design and proportions, and their tone. This reconciles two things which can sometimes be opposites; a rich, dark sound and projection with power…

crafting the body

Over the years, owners of my violas have included principal players of the English National Ballet and National Youth orchestras as well as three members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, players in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Oslo Philharmonic, European Union Youth, Gustav Mahler Youth and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras.

Based in Manchester, England, Michetschläger continues to make violins, violas, and cellos for musicians in the United and abroad.

carving a viola
File under: how instruments are made, which includes The Sound of Wood: From sapling to violin.

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