Ask a Luthier Codabows Instruments Links Pi Guitar String Band Contact
Return to questions listing:

Which strings?

Q: Which strings would be good for five-string viola?

A: There are two sets that I like. The D'Addario Zyex give a sweeter richer sound, the D'Addario Helicores speak faster and give a sharper, more present sound. Today I have Zyex on my favorite 5 string viola. I prefer a plain .010" steel E string. You can raise the pitch of a string by shortening it or by tightening it.  A violin E is about 13" long. A viola E is at least 14" long. Hence, there is more tension on a viola E. On a plain steel string the whole diameter of the string is adding to its strength. A wound E string is only as strong as the core wire. My experience is that if your five string is 15" and you have a fine tuner on a traditional wooden tail piece, any E string on the market will fit. If, for some reason, a standard E is too short for your Five String, you can use a .010 guitar string. Music wire is music wire. The string is exactly the same.

Steve Mason

Return to Questions