Not as well-known as violins and cellos, their smaller and larger siblings, violas have a rich, haunting tone that can work extremely well in an electric format. These instruments come in three varieties.
Simply a traditional viola equipped with added electronics, an acoustic-electric viola can have pickups mounted on the body with soft clamps or a special adhesive putty, or on the bridge.
Pros: Use your existing viola, and in many cases, easily mount or remove the pickups. This format provides the most natural “standard” tone compared to an unamplified viola.
Cons: The pickup system will have to be installed, and you will likely experience some feedback issues due to the resonating chamber of the acoustic instruments.
Solid-body Electric Viola
Though they sound the least like a traditional instrument, these futuristic models offer onboard electronics with enhanced tonal configurations and a solution to the feedback challenge. While they may sound and look unusual, they are set up to feel and play like a standard viola.
The Yamaha silent viola
Bridging the gap between the two styles above, Yamaha’s unique silent viola includes a body suggested by an outline made from wood, as well as the traditional scroll and pegs. Dual pickups offer a rich, resonant tone that capture the player’s every nuance.
For more information, read our full article on Electric Violas.