The workshop produces various models of viola, in a variety of sizes, mainly based on those of Gasparo da Salò, whose instruments are renowned for their wonderful, penetrating sound.
These images show our small viola to the model of a Gasparo da Salò, c.1580. This is not a cut-down larger viola, but an original 15.5" (395mm) instrument that has the feel and sound of a larger viola. It also has double purfling and the typical Gasparo cloverleaf decoration on the back. This copy was made in 2004, and has been in professional use ever since.
The original instrument itself was featured in the Strad magazine in December 1999.
Instrument photos above ©2004 Clarissa Bruce
Construction and sound quality
In order to show how an instrument is made, a small Gasparo da Salò model viola was photographed throughout its construction. This work was done in co-operation with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the images also appear on their website. The completed viola was shown to Vicci Wardman, co-principal viola of the orchestra, for her comments. There is a video of Vicci Wardman playing and talking about the viola here.
The viola is one of two Rod Ward violas now owned by the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff.
Development of a medium size viola in Gasparo's style
Gasparo da Salò violas are generally very large (17"+ / 432mm+), with the exception of the small instrument copied by the workshop. There are no in-between size violas made by Gasparo, but following requests for a medium size viola, the workshop has developed a 16 3/16th", 412mm instrument in the style of Gasparo da Salò. The tone of these instruments is exceptional both in power and quality.