Five String Viola by Joseph Ian Ross, Pitlochry, 2015

Five String Viola by Joseph Ian Ross, Pitlochry, 2015

About Joseph Ian Ross

Ian Ross was an incredibly gifted maker based in Pitlochry, Scotland. We were proud to have known Ian: he was a hugely individual and charming man, endlessly talented, and incredibly generous to generations of players. He passed away at the end of February 2023 and we were very grateful to be given the chance by his family to buy the collection of his instruments. These instruments are now being finished in our workshop and added to our catalogue of his work.

Ian´s workshop was a treasure trove of instruments, all stunningly well observed and beautifully made. He had an amazing eye for different models and always has several different models on the go at once. Ian´s instruments are popular with traditional and classical players alike for their very human, expressive qualities.

About 5 string violas

These instruments have the 4 viola strings but also the E string found on a violin. They are usually fairly small in body due to the practicalities of the E string. These instruments are usually popular with players who want the flexibility of being able to play fiddle tunes as normal but with greater scope for harmony being provided by the lower C string.

About the viola

This viola was made in Pitlochry in 2015. It is modelled after the great early Brescian maker Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò. We have seen a great many Brescian instruments made by Ian, all of which are brilliantly observed and really capture the bold, experimental character of the school.

The viola has a one piece back of poplar, grown in nearby Blairgowrie. The ribs and scroll are of similar wood and the back bears the inlaid design found on many of the early Brescian instruments. The front is two pieces of straight-grained spruce. Though unantiqued and unshaded, the dappled nature of the varnish gives a beautiful appearance of age.

The viola has a length of back of 15 and a quarter inches, or 388 mm.

How does it sound?

The viola has a rich, fruity C string and mellow inner strings. The E string projects well and has a degree of violin-like shimmer to the sound. A fascinating and relatively unique instrument, this will be the perfect partner for a player looking to explore the creative potential of this sound world.


The viola is in original mint condition.

Further information

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