Can You Play the Viola Using A Violin Bow?

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The viola and violin are both awesome instruments. Although their names sound similar, they are actually different instruments. For instance, the viola is much larger than the violin. The viola is also an alto instrument whereas the violin is soprano. Moreover, the viola produces deeper and mellow sounds whereas the violin has higher pitches as it goes all the way up to the string of E. That being said, different tools are used for each instrument which is why a violin bow can solely be used for a violin! Here are a few reasons why you should not be playing the viola with a violin bow:

  1. The primary reason: violas have bows of their own! For an optimal sound, a viola bow is more preferred than a violin bow.
  2. Violin bows are too light for violas which affects the sound quality produced when playing the viola.
  3. Viola bows, considering its size, have thicker strings. With that, violin bows do not have enough hair to effectively vibrate the strings of a viola.
  4. The sounds produced by a violin bow on a viola are generally soft or gentle sounds which limits the extent to which a viola can produce. Moreover, violas are meant to create deep and mellow sounds to balance out the sopranos in an ensemble.
  5. If you plan to use a violin bow, you will have to exert more effort on strings like C as the bow is generally lighter than that of the viola.
  6. As using such will require more strength, this could develop into shoulder problems as you will have to divert from the proper way of playing a viola.
  7. For long pieces, using a violin bow on a viola could easily tire the player and the violist may be fatigued while switching movements along the piece.

In lieu of the cons of playing the viola with a violin bow, it is safer to invest in a viola bow! Furthermore, you will also ease your method of playing and have better chances of reaching your notes effectively. By using the bow appropriate for a viola, you can fully maximize the rich sounds that the viola is capable of producing. More than this, you reduce the risk of damaging your instrument and your bow. With that said, it is necessary to pair the right tool with its corresponding instrument!