The Caldersmith viola design used Australian tonewoods profiled and graduated to create a genuinely unique and beautiful instrument.
Graham’s perspective on viola development
"Viola players want an instrument that feels like a violin and sounds like a ‘cello. I.e. they want a viola that is not uncomfortably long and has a big, rich sound. Many luthiers (including myself) have addressed this challenge by widening the body of the viola without increasing the length beyond 16”, regarded as the limit of comfort for most players. The results have been equivocal and the “fat” outline of these violas can be unattractive and even uncomfortable for some musicians who value the elegant proportions of the traditional master instruments.
In the early 80’s I made violas in traditional European and Australian tonewoods to large, small and wide patterns. As feedback from musicians accumulated and the maturing luthiers’ muse found its metier I gravitated to a 15.8” body length of portly but not obese proportions which was comfortable and friendly to the bowing action.
By the late 90’s I had adapted this pattern to Australian tonewoods and varied the arching profiles and graduations to set the principal body resonances at appropriate frequencies. The result was a comfortable, responsive, light viola of unique aspect in native tonewoods which are evident in the images here."