11/23/2012

c.1976 Roth-adjusted Pfretzschner 13" Scale "Junior" Viola




While this is essentially identical in size and shape to a standard 4/4 violin (13" scale), it has been built and voiced to suit the viola range, which it does rather nicely for a smaller viola. This was built by Pfretzschner in Germany and then adjusted by the famous Roth shop when it was imported into the US. I picked this up locally and my only work included a cleaning and light setup on it (I cut down and reshaped the bridge a bit for better playability).

Even with the old steel-core strings on it, this viola performs nicely with a husky, warm tonality that's easy to play and forgiving. A viola like this is perfectly suited to a fiddle player seeking a lower tone without shifting to a longer scale or a student or smaller player who doesn't like the overhang of a longer 15"+ scale.


No cracks -- the top is spruce and the back and sides are medium-flamed maple.


A surprise at the pegbox were these Caspari-type adjustable friction pegs.


These look essentially the same as rosewood violin pegs but have a screw-tightened adjustable tension to them which means that they function like banjo friction pegs and are easier to use and more stable than traditional wood pegs.

The nut and fingerboard are good-stock ebony.


Decent bridge, now cut correctly.


The tailpiece is a bit more worn, but it's also ebony. It's missing its saddle but that hardly matters since it has 4 fine tuners mounted.


There are some nicks and scratches throughout and one chip-out beyond the purfling on one edge, but nothing that causes concern. It's all visual flaws, or as I like to point out -- benefits. I love the look of a played-in instrument.





Heel is joined nice and tight.



The red/orange finish looks pretty good with that medium flame.





The end-pin is also a pitch-pipe! Blow through it and a harmonica-style reed sounds an A.


This comes with an older (but functional) fiberglass Glasser bow and a good thermoplastic hard case.


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