Can you use violin strings on violas?

4/4 violin strings (32.5 cm VL) are frequently used for 1/2 violas, as the vibrating string length is identical for each. However, you usually need to complement the violin strings with a suitable viola C-string. Thomastik-Infeld offers the 4/4 violin C-string VI05 from the Vision® line for this purpose. The same applies for a 3/4 violin string on a 1/4 viola. Currently, however, Thomastik-Infeld has no 3/4 violin C-strings in its range. For a 3/4 viola with a 34.5 cm vibrating string length, you could use light tension 4/4 violin strings (32.5 cm VL). The length of the violin string should normally fit the viola too. However, the winding on the peg end of the violin G-string could come very close to the viola’s saddle. Even though the vibrating string length is different, the light tension violin strings ensure that the string tensions ultimately match up, if you usually opt for “medium” tension viola strings. The light tension violin string (32.5 cm VL) becomes a medium tension string on your viola (34.5 cm VL). This should be applicable to all common violin strings (A, D, G). However, you would have to find a suitable viola C-string in this case too.


Here’s a practical example using the Dominant® D-string 132 with its light string tension of 3.9 kg as the basis for the calculation: 


The newly calculated string tension of the 4/4 violin string (light tension) used on the 3/4 viola thus equals the exact value listed in the Thomastik-Infeld catalog for the 3/4 viola Dominant® D-string (medium tension):



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