Viola vs Violin Which Is Better in 2023?

Viola Vs Violin: Which is Better In 2021

Do you wish to learn how to differentiate between viola vs violin?

This article will provide you with the perfect evidence-based information that will help you make your pick in the viola vs violin debate.

The bowed string family includes four similar instruments: Cello, Viola, Violin, and double bass.

The viola and Violin look the same for someone who does not know how to distinguish between the two. Unfortunately, it is not easy telling the two apart.

The Violin and viola have lots of similarities and dissimilarities. Do you wish to know what they are? Fortunately, this article will discuss in detail the viola vs violin debate by outlining the prime features that are the same and different between the two instruments.

This way, even the layman can stay informed about the two and musicians can use the information to decide which instrument is suited for their song or label.

Violin vs Viola: Similarities

  • The musician holds both the Violin and Violin on their shoulder
  • The Violin and viola have four strings, each.
  • Both the musical instruments can be played by rubbing a bow on the strings.
  • Both instruments are of a similar structure and shape. The only difference is in size.
  • Passacaglia which is a classical song that can be played on both instruments (Here is an amazon link for it: passacaglia for viola and violin ).It can also be played on flute and clarinet as well. The latter 2 are quite similar.

Note: Violin and fiddle are different words for the same instrument.

Viola Vs Violin: Dissimilarities

Below are some of the major and minor features based on which one can differentiate between the two musical instruments. Naturally, a music enthusiast would want to know the difference not to incur the disappointment of his fellow musicians. So let us dive into it.

Size Comparison?

While it is often difficult to tell apart the difference between a violin and viola, their size is the most significant determinant of how the two may differ. A viola is generally much larger than a violin. A viola is usually 15.5- 16.5 inches, while a violin is usually 13-14 inches in size.

If we compare a viola vs a cello, a cello is much larger in size than a viola.

In addition, a viola is usually broader. Another thing to note is that both the Violin and viola come in various sizes. Therefore, a beginner can use a minor viola to get accustomed to the instrument.


Since the viola is more prominent in size, it is also naturally heavier than a violin. A viola roughly weighs around 0.5 kg while a violin around 0.4 kg.

Finger Spacing Of The Two Instruments

Naturally, a difference in size reflects on the finger spacing of the two instruments. There is a gap between the strings of a viola, so naturally, the fingers have to be placed in a particular manner. As a result, they are set a little more apart from each other than their placing on the Violin.


Wondering how many strings does a viola has? Both the viola and Violin have four strings. It is the order of strings that is different and makes all the difference. A viola has the order ADGC (A being the highest and C the lowest), while a violin has the string order of EADG (E being most elevated and G lowest)


The bow anatomy of the two also differs, so both instruments cannot use the same bow. The viola has thicker strings and requires a more extensive and bulkier bow to support the strings; the Violin, on the other hand, has a smaller and lighter bow.

The front of the bow that the musician’s grip is called the frog. On the viola bow, the frog is bigger and more arched compared to that of a violin. The Violin’s bow is a lot more straight-edged compared to that.


Another variation among the features is the clef.

The Violin uses a treble clef while the viola uses a C clef or an Alto Clef. The viola is the only instrument that makes use of the alto clef.


The tuning of both the viola and Violin are similar. Both are tuned in the fifths. However, the Violin is tuned in the lower fifth while the viola is in the higher fifth.

Difference Between The Violin And Viola Technique?

We have already established that Violas are larger compared to violins. The viola offers a heavier weight on the musician’s arm compared to the Violin. So the viola player must be a person who can support a greater amount of weight. Naturally, the violist needs to put in a little more effort compared to the violinist.

Is there a technique difference among our fellow lady and gentlemen violinists? Not at all Technique may differ among a violinist and violists but gender label has no part in it.

Do They Sound Different?

The viola and Violin do sound different. Due to the larger and heavier size of the viola, it produces a heavier sound.

On the other hand, a violin is a primary part of the orchestra and produces a higher sound due to the light anatomy of both the body and the string.

If a comparison between the two is made, it can be noted that in an orchestra, a violin is the main instrument while a viola is used to add value to the sound produced by the Violin. Basically, it complements the Violin. If we had to compare Violin vs cello, it can be noted that a viola embodies or imitates the base of a cello.

Are The Keys The Same Or Different?

The viola is read using keys C and G, while the Violin is read using the key G only.

To read and understand the keys, you need to learn and read sheet music. A course can be done online, which is relatively easy.

Final Words

Considering all the things that tie the two instruments under the same family and the features that set them, we hope you have enough content on the topic to conclude the debate ‘ Violin vs viola: which is better?’

Hopefully, this article has enlightened the readers about the two fantastic musical instruments that give meaning to the orchestra.

This article will also help musicians weigh the features and be able to choose which one is better suited for their form and skills.

If you want to experiment, then violins are more flexible and will do the job just fine. But, generally, If a learner has gotten the hang of a violin, it will be a lot easier for them to master the viola.

You can also check out Fiddle vs Violin- Are They Essentially The Same Instrument and An Exclusive Guide on Riptide Ukulele Chords.

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