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James McKean

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James McKean | Violin | Viola | Cello

The maple back and sides of this viola are unusual, in that they are cut on the slab, which means that the direction of the grain is horizontal, not vertical, as in the more traditional quarter-cut. It's perfect for violas because when combined with a hard top like this one it helps bridge the tremendous and sometimes contradictory tonal requirements of a viola -- a deep, rich tone, but one that does not sacrifice clarity and projection in the upper registers. This wood was so spectacular that I decided that I had to add double-purfling and ornamentation -- a nod to the greatest viola makers of all time, the Brescian masters Gaspar and Maggini, whose patterns influenced my own. The body length is (xxxxx), with a string length of (xxx) -- short enough to maximize playability without sacrificing any depth or richness of sound.
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