Edward Maday - Violin and Viol Maker Viola d'Amore


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Viola d'Amore

The Viola d'Amore is such a lovely instrument in every respect. It is viol-like in construction but is held and played similarly to the violin. The glorious sound it can produce is unearthly, ethereal, meditative, and pulls gently at ones heartstrings.

The model I use is based on an original instrument design from circa 1720. It is flat backed and gamba shaped with sloping shoulders. The top is arched like a viola, and has flamed, shaped sound holes. A small rosette is inlaid into the central upper bout area. The elongated peg box has fourteen strings; seven of which are bowed and run over the top of the bridge in the usual way. The other seven are the resonant sympathy strings that run under the fingerboard and through the bridge. They are tuned in unison with the open bowed strings. The resonance of these unbowed strings is what adds to the charm of the Viola d'Amore's sound.


The instrument can be made with a scroll or a decorative carved head, such as a blind folded cupid angel (love is blind). The body length is 15 5/8 inches and the string length is just a hair over 14 inches; easily managed by both violists and violinists alike. The tuning from the bottom string the top string is as follows:

A – d – a – d’ – f#’ – a’ – d”

When you order a Viola d'Amore it will come as a complete outfit. The case is of beautifully grained wood, oil finished with polished brass fittings, all of heirloom quality and in period style. The bow also is in period style with an open trench frog and similar weight to a light viola bow. Some players choose to use a modern style viola bow, and if you prefer I will supply that instead.

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