Hand carved solid spruce top with solid flamed maple back & sides
Satin antique varnish finish
Hand inlayed purfling
Ebony fingerboard, pegs and chin rest
Ebony tailpiece with 4 nickel plated fine tuners
D'Addario Prelude Strings
VAC-40C light weight form fitting hard case
VAB-40B Brazilwood bow and unbleached horsehair
Extra viola bridge
Quality rosin cake
Yep, the Fiddlerman himself is to be believed! You're not going to get a better viola to start on, than this Cecilio CVA-500 outfit! Incredible value at this price, even the 'extra' Cecilio bridge looks like it was cut specifically for this viola. The bow is decent for starters, and the violin setup and fit, form, and function just works. The Prelude string are mellow with the supplied bow, although I used my own light violin rosin, not the light rosin supplied by Cecilio. I needed to supply my own shoulder rest and Damp-It, and the case left a little to be desired (better room, better latching/zippers), but what the heck do you expect at this price point, I'm super impressed with the viola and bow, which are most important. I've been learning the violin, but the fingering is so tight for me that I wanted to try viola (in spite of the alto clef, haha), and so I constrained the budget to this Cecilio model, not knowing if I could handle playing viola.. I ordered the 16.5" since my arm measurement allowed for this, but the viola I received measured a 16" body length (I didn't include the heel at the base of the neck, because my violin body measures 14" not including the heel). Anyway, the end result is that with the 16" body, the fit is perfect for me, and the notes are under my fingers much more comfortably than with the violin. I placed the order with Fiddlerman, and the Cecilio arrived here from west coast to east coast in 5 business days! One last thing, I am very impressed with the sound. I have heard that for a viola to be "truly alto" or "full scale" (or a viola scale equivalent of a 4/4 violin), it would have to be a 20" body! The viola does have a nice cello like sound on the C string, and when plucking the G, D, and A strings, it is violin like, but with more thickness. The antique varnish is nice on this viola, but I like that oil finish that my violin has. The CVA-600 is considerably more money compared to the CVA-500, but it must be awesome, if the CVA-500 is any indication. One last thing, I am pleasantly surprised that it really doesn't need any setup work. The bridge is perfect, the sound post is where it should be, and the string heights meet the standard. The nut height is slightly higher than it should be, but not bad enough to affect play or warrant expense to a beginning or intermediate player. I imagine Cecilio has improved in this area based on some past reviews (or I got lucky?). Thanks Fiddlerman !! Thanks Cecilio !!
Purchased the CVA-500 16.5" over 3 weeks ago, and I have probably close to 50 hours playing time on it (couple hours a day) and I still say incredible value at this price. The bow could be better for me, but decent for beginners, and easily upgraded. The Prelude string are mellow sounding enough, maybe due to losing 20 % of the length between the bridge and tailpiece because of the removable tuners. Anyway, with better strings, a different tailpiece, upgraded bridge, and a professional setup are always an option, as an intermediate step before necessitating the purchase of a better viola. No need to spend $400-500 on the first one, and the next level could be modifying the CVA-500 before going for a serious violas. If you have some experience and want to shoot for a modifiable intermediate viola at the outset, the CVA-600 looks maybe worth considering, with its nice rubbed oil finish. I was impressed with this viola the first day, but in the last couple of weeks the viola has been improving soundwise, so I just keep wanting to play it. ;-). The color of the wood under the antique finish also seems to be getting deeper and richer looking. I have a violin with the oil finish that started sounding more resonant after a few months, and also looks better when it's kept hydrated. Just keep the viola and your violins hydrated, and if they have good pegs, pegbox holes, and were/are installed and adjusted properly, they should stay in tune. Even the best violins could slip tuning if they're dehydrated or mistreated. Dehydration not good for your bows/bowhair. Happily, I am having very good experiences with this viola; the alto clef reading is also starting to gel, although I am impatient, lol.
Let me start by saying that this is a student quality instrument through and through. By that I am referring to the price and the quality of the instruments build. Everyone’s biggest questions about this instrument are possibly going to be: 1) is this instrument worth the price? 2) does it sound any good? 3) is it going to last? The answer to all of these is yes. Definitely. Is it worth the price: absolutely. It’s build quality is surprisingly nice for this low price bracket. It doesn’t look like a high end instrument, but it is still a nice looking and playing instrument. Does it sound any good: yes, it does. It surpassed a $500 viola of mine in a blind sound comparison between me and my teacher. That being said, again, it does not sound like a high end instrument. But it does sound better than its price would suggest. Is it going to last: I believe it will. I bought this instrument on curiosity to see if it was worth keeping and using on a weekly basis. Once I played it, it was easy to decide to do away with my more expensive viola and have this one as my main viola. As with most new instruments in these lower price ranges, you will need to take it to a professional to have some adjustments made. The reality is that buying most “beginner priced” instruments comes with a bit of extra cost to get them working to their full potential. Some better strings, and a proper bridge and string height setup will make this viola a great option for beginners and budget conscious musicians that will exceed your expectations. As a last thought, I would say, definitely get this viola over the cva-400. It features better woods that are common of quality stringed instruments. In my opinion, the cva-400 will not last, and you will want to replace it if you end up progressing in your playing. you will be much happier with the cva-500 in the long run. Happy playing!
Ordering and delivery was very efficient. The Viola has a very good sound. Better than expected for this price. I am happy with the buying experience an this instrument.
I definitely recommend this Viola over the 400. Decent looking and nice playing viola. On these lower priced instruments its always best to check them over when you get them. Mine had a loose chinrest and a couple loose fine tuners but nothing you cant fix yourself in a few minutes time.well worth the money !!Barry
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