Small Violas (12″) and where to find

Angela said: Aug 5, 2012
Angela Villanueva
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Viola, Violin
Naples, FL
25 posts

My daughter (9 y.o.) was in violin book 5 and switched to viola about two months ago and has never looked back. We rented a 12″ Samuel Eastman VA100 viola from the local violin shop but I hate throwing half our money down the drain for the next two or three years until she is big enough for a 15″. She is small and if she doesn’t get any bigger than me she may never be big enough for a 15″. I contacted The String House and they had no 12″ Tartini violas (smallest they had was a 13″) so they sent us restrung violins but they did not have the feel or sound of violas to her. Potters also sent us a Deutch 1/2 size viola and while that is better she is still not satisfied since it is not as loud as what she is used to using. The local violin shop will let us buy the instrument and then trade up but only at 65% of the value we paid. That does not sound like a good deal. Does anyone have any advice on this issue?

Angie Villanueva

Alissa said: Aug 6, 2012
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

Robertson and Sons in Albuquerque, NM has beautiful 12″ violas. I have
three private students on 12″ers from them and 4 viola orchestra sections
almost entirely outfitted by Robertson’s. Some of them are 4th graders so
definitely a few 12″ in there. They have a 100% value trade-in also!
Provided, you take good care of it of course :-) They ship all over the

Sounds like you have a very discerning violist on your hands, awesome!

~Alissa Rieb

On Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 3:30 AM, SAA Discussion

Trina Christensen said: Aug 6, 2012
Trina ChristensenInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Trumpet, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
6 posts (out of Utah) has beautiful violas for a very reasonable price. Adam Day has them as small as 11 inches and up although he has to order in the smaller sizes. I would highly recommend him! He knows his stuff as well—he is a violinist having began with the Suzuki Method long ago. Small coincidence but a lot of the local teachers send their students to him. Good luck!

Catherine said: Aug 6, 2012
Catherine WhelanViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Portland, OR
12 posts

Bernard Sabatier in Paris has them in all sizes. My students buy them directly from him over the phone, wire the $, have it mailed in the regular mail, then sell it to the next little one coming along. The local shop takes them as trade-in. You have to measure and know the size you want in centimeters not inches and he’ll make any size. He uses high tension strings so the C speaks and the instruments play and sound like a real viola sound—which is why I use them. None of this hybrid violin stuff. The only C that didn’t speak well was the 1/16 but it didn’t matter as it wasn’t used. I love the symmetrical two cornered violas opposed to the asymmetrical three cornered. The symmetrical is easier for teaching set-up. BERNARD SABATIER 45 rue de Rome 75008 PARIS. Tel : 01 45 22 16 77

They come sounding green and need playing to get them going so don’t be put off by the new instrument sound. They get better.

Good luck!

Cinthya Fuentes said: Aug 6, 2012
Cinthya FuentesViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Piano, Cello
Houston, TX
2 posts

You may want to check, they have a variety of sizes, and instruments from beginners to advanced and fine instruments. They have reasonable prices, and good quality instruments.
Good luck!

Merietta Oviatt said: Aug 6, 2012
Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
104 posts

These are a little pricey, but I have seen them in small sizes small enough for really young kids. If interested, contact the maker and see what he says. They really have an amazing sound and all the kids think they look really cool! Again, you may want to look at other options as these are a little pricey.

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

Robin Lohse said: Aug 6, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello, Viola
Souderton, PA
29 posts

I am trying to locate other viola students.who coudl benefit from using a
good student viola. I have several models in my shoppe that are looking
for a new home.They are just sitting there and it makes me quite sad that
they are not being played. I try to convert violin students but
with little success.
There are the West Coast String models Peccard and some are from Scott
Cao the ST-017 models and one or two MT100 models. I have have rent to won
plan fro all my students so that they can trade up to a bigger size when

Hope this helps.
Lohse Studio

On Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 3:20 AM, SAA Discussion

Robin Lohse

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 13, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Catherine: How much do your students pay, currently, for a new Sabatier? And, for tiny ones, where do you get strings to re-string them when they need new strings?

For smaller than 12 inches, btw, we’ve been getting a local luthier to do “hole-in-the-heart” surgery on the cheapest decent (and some not quite decent) violins we can find. Works wonders when re-strung as a viola.

Catherine said: Aug 13, 2012
Catherine WhelanViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Portland, OR
12 posts

RaineJen, I paid 550 euro for the smaller ones and up from there. The euro today is 1.2338 which would make the viola 678.59 USD. A decent price compared to being in a trade-in program at at shop. Our shop has traded these in at full value if there hasn’t been a student needing it, but typically, they stay in my group. I have a special 33.5 cm, two-cornered one with a cat design on the back that I can’t sell because I love it so much, so I do rent that one to keep it played, to a long-time student.

I don’t know if the price has been raised on these violas or not. You’d have to call and check. In my group there is about one of each corresponding violin size, which the parents wait for, and then sell to each other at the same price they bought it for. Because of this, I haven’t ordered new ones in a while. At one point I ordered 5, which were shipped by the regular mail to me, for five students needing one, and there have been a handful more ordered, but we’ve been trading those around to each other since.

We have a great local shop that’s always come up with high tension strings for the instruments. In fact I think Dominant is making high tension short strings now, but it’s been a while since I’ve been the one to buy them, so I am not sure about this. You should call your luthier.

Oh and the hole-in-the-heart. Not for me. I bought a ‘doctored’ cheap Eastman when I first heard of this and it was simply awful sounding compared to regular violins and to the Sabatier violas.

Hope this helps!

Lauren said: Aug 13, 2012
Lauren Lamont
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Edmonds, WA
33 posts

I’ve had couple viola students with hole in the heart small violas and their violas sounded terrific. I wonder if Luthier technique varies greatly on this. Dorothy Smith in Bellingham, WA, Allegro Strings, does a great job on these.

Sent from my iPhone

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 13, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

The luthier who does the hole-in-the-heart conversion for us is Jim Brown in Claremont, CA ( So far we are very pleased with every conversion he’s done—they all sound better than before; the C string speaks quite well for tiny instruments.

Just to be clear, we’re talking about a small hole in the top of the instrument (slightly larger in diameter than the soundpost), right under the treble foot of the bridge, and a (longer) soundpost is then glued to the treble foot of the bridge, without touching the sides of the hole.

Maybe it only works for certain instruments. Or, as Lauren says, perhaps luthier techniques vary quite a bit… Oh, and we’re also talking smaller than 12 inch instruments—I understand the “this is better C-string tone” effect gradually disappears as the instrument gets larger.

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