Types of Violas – Should You Go For the Acoustic, Electric, Or Electro-Acoustic Viola?

Violas belong to the family of stringed musical instruments. They may resemble violins in terms of appearance and manner of playing but they are different with their darker timbre and fuller tone and the lower-pitched strings that are significantly thicker than those in a violin.

The instrument is usually played to emphasize inner harmonies from a string ensemble. However, not every viola is the same with another because nowadays, you can find different types of violas that can complement the needs of your string quartet or musical ensemble. Here are some of them.


The most common among all types of violas is the acoustic variant that produces sound coming from the vibrations between the string and the bow. The sound is rounder and has a more resonant impact compared to electric variants. Acoustic violas have wooden bodies that are hollow so sound can resonate better.


Electric variants have electronic pickups for better sound projection. They are characterized by bodies that are slimmer compared to acoustic violas and they are made of solid wood. They can also have internal preamplifiers that contribute to the volume’s initial boost.


The last but not the least among the types of violas is the electro-acoustic variety that has magnetic pickups for sound amplification and a hollow body. Electro-acoustic violas are available in various finishes and materials including carbon fiber and you can plug them into amplifiers and microphones, which makes them useful for live performances and large venues.

Buying tips for any viola

Invest on violas with a good voice. Hardwoods like maple are ideal for deep and clearer sounds while softwoods like walnut can create a darker voice. The materials and construction of the viola should also be considered. Violas made of wood that has been air-dried rather than kiln-dried are best because they are less prone to cracks and have better acoustic quality. A darker finish is also ideal for better resistance to moisture.

Important information

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