Save big on combining string sets: Combined Viola Strings
Pirastro Viola Strings: Evah Pirazzi, Obligato, Passione, Olive, Flexocor, Permanent, Eudoxa, Gold Label Wondertone, Tonica,
Chorda, Chromcor
Thomastik-Infeld Viola Strings: Dominant,
Spirocore, Vision, Vision Solo, Superflexible,
Jargar Viola Strings
D'Addario Viola Strings: Helicore, Zyex, Kaplan,
Pro Arte
Prim Viola Strings
Warchal: Brilliant Vintage, Karneol
Violin/Viola Rosin
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Viola Humidity

It's good to be aware of seasonal changes which can change the relative humidity and/or the sound of your viola.  There are several related factors with humidity and dryness that can not only endanger the physical well being of your viola, but in most cases will adversely change the tone and response of your instrument.

A couple of things.  First, most everyone knows that in much of the world (N. America, Europe, most of Asia and S. America too) it can get pretty dry in the winter.  If you look closely at some of the older violas, you will occasionally run across one that has some kind of repaired crack on it.  This is not always a 'ding' in the value, but in some cases, a bad sound post crack on the top or back can greatly devalue it.

Besides the cracking issue, the dry air tends to 'tighten' the response of the instrument.  This is why some players keep humidifiers on in their studios or home.  Most of the time, keeping one of the little green Dampits in the instrument (or even two) will get the instrument through the driest patches of the cold winter months.  A viola that gets too dry will dry the wood and keep it from vibrating at its fullest capabilities.  Often there is shrinkage involved with drying wood that will push down or contort the top enough that it interferes with the nice symmetrical balance of the top and f-holes in relation to the location and proper fit of the viola's soundpost. 

What to look and listen for.  If you are concerned about how your viola is doing in the winter (or even summer) there are some easy telltale signs to look for:

  • the strings are a lot lower than usual.  The strings tend to get too low in the dryer winter months.  Little minute (previously unnoticed imperfections in the fingerboard) get more noticeable with clacking or buzzing
  • there is a buzz in the sound somewhere.  Sometimes the dry air will cause a seam to open.  That's not bad, but a good (pressure valve) way of letting you know.  Seam repairs (gluing) is quick and easy.
  • the instrument is not as responsive as you know it can be.  Here those of you that just bought a new instrument (new or old) but 'new' to you and haven't been through a winter yet.  Watch out! You don't want to wait and see if you noticed some of these traits for dryness.  It's good to take the viola in, and just to be on the super safe side, some luthiers will deliberately open some seams to relieve that tight pressure.  This is easy, quick and much better and cheaper than getting a more serious crack on the viola.
  • You didn't buy your new Viola strings from Viola-Strings.com and now God is punishing you! (Ok, maybe not, but this just proves that we have a good sense of humor around here!!)

Manufacturer: Brands:
Combined Custom Sets for Viola You name it...we combine it!
Pirastro Viola Strings Evah Pirazzi, Passione, Obligato, Gold Label, Olive, Chorda, Eudoxa and Paranito and Tonica
Thomastik-Infeld Viola Strings Spirocore, (most popular are the C and G's!) Dominants,  Vision
Larsen Viola Strings Offered in light, medium, heavy gauge.
D'Addario Viola Strings Helicore, Kaplan and Prelude cello strings
Jargar Viola Strings Jargar Supremes, come in light, medium and heavy gauges.
Prim Offered in light, medium and orchestra heavy gauge.
Warchal Brilliant and Karneol  (These are new and getting popular.)

We also have some helpful and interesting links about individual string brands, comparisons and some practical related viola information to read: