Summary: This best violas on Amazon guide will explain which Amazon picks are best for beginners, intermediates, and professionals.
If you are looking for a new viola, whether as a professional in need of an upgrade or a beginner in need of a new instrument, this best violas on Amazon guide will explain which options you should consider, under which circumstances, and why.
The bottom line upfront is that there are many great violas on Amazon. The best for professionals is the Professional Handmade D Z Strad Viola model 400. This is constructed by award-winning luthiers, using twenty-year-old tonewoods with professional-grade strings, rosin, and carbon fiber bows.
For intermediates, I recommend D Z Strad Viola Model 101 because of its aged wood construction, quality sound, and ratings. For beginners, I recommend the Cecilio CVA-500 because it comes with all the accessories you need to get started as a beginner and is explicitly designed for students. It’s very affordable and highly rated.
My selection criteria included Amazon ratings, price, construction, and accessories. I looked at different instruments based on levels of musical skill.
Violas have a slightly different size guide than cellos and violins, so instead of listing them as fractional sizes like 1/2 size or full size, they are usually listed based on inches, like thirteen inches or fifteen inches.
- 12 inches: Meant for arm spans of 18-20 inches, or children 7-9 years old
- 13 inches: Meant for arm spans of 20-22 inches, or children 8-10 years old
- 14 inches: Meant for arm spans of 22-23 inches, or children 9-12 years old
- 15 inches: Meant for arm spans of 23-25 inches, or children 11-13 years old
- 15.5 inches: Meant for arm spans of 26-27 inches, or children 12-14 years old
- 16 inches: Meant for arm spans of 27-18 inches, or those 14+
- 16.5inches: Meant for arm spans of 28 inches, or higher, or those 14+
If you are an adult, you can stick with a 16 inch or 16.5-inch viola and not have any issues. However, please be advised that this is just a guide. You should get help taking specific measurements at a music store or with a musical professional so that you don’t get an incorrectly sized instrument, usually for a child.
Quality and Cost
Quality and cost are two of the most significant components you need to consider, and they usually have an inverse relationship. The better the quality, the higher the price and vice versa.
For beginners, lower cost and lower quality are just fine.
For intermediates, you start to see a shift in the quality and, of course, the cost. The price is the highest at the professional level, but you get a better instrument in exchange. Therefore, the higher cost and higher quality are usually related to how long the tonewoods were allowed to age, their cut, what type of wood was used, and whether the instrument was put together by hand.
A significant consideration here is what bundled accessories you get. Beginning models typically have more accessories that come with the purchase. If you are a professional, your professional models usually won’t have any accessories because you likely already have yours.
Best Violas on Amazon Guide: Beginner Picks
Beginners have very different needs. Beginners need an outfit that includes all of their accessories, so they don’t have to search for things like a viola bow or a case. Beginners also need something inexpensive.
Buying an overpriced model that has 20-year aged tonewood doesn’t do you any good as a beginner because you can’t make the most of these features or qualities. So, you can stick with something remedial and student grade.
Mendini 16-Inch MA250
Mendini is a beginner brand owned by Cecilio. They make the Mendini 16-Inch MA250 for beginners, children in particular. It comes in five sizes with six options for finish. This makes it fun for kids who don’t want a natural wood finish and instead want a bright blue or purple.
This is the number one rated seller in “acoustic violas” on Amazon, so it takes the top place on this best violas on Amazon guide. Be advised that this is an excellent viola for beginners or students. It is not the brand to consider if you are a professional looking for the best professional violas.
- The top-rated seller for violas
- Five sizes are available
- It comes with six finish options
- You get extra strings, a hard case, a bow, and rosin
- The accessories are very remedial, meant for children
Cecilio makes a range of stringed instruments, labeled with numbers such as 300, 400, and 500 to indicate their advanced quality and construction. The Cecilio CVA-400 is one of their top student models.
Cecilio brands are all manufactured in China, where machines cut the parts. However, the cut pieces are assembled by hand, hence “handmade.” You get a rosin cake, hard case, bridge, bow, and extra strings. I like the case the most because Cecilio’s hard cases have a beautiful cream interior with a classier appearance than purple or black velvet.
- There are five sizes available, so you can pick fractional sizes that are not available with other Cecilio models
- It has a natural finish that is brighter than a satin finish
- The top is made from rosewood, maple, and spruce
- The strings that come with it are lower quality, so experienced beginners will need to swap them early
- It doesn’t come with a chin or shoulder rest
- The pieces are constructed in China before they are assembled, which not every buyer likes
The Cecilio CVA-500 is one of the best Cecilio violas in this best violas on amazon guide. Cecilio is very well known for manufacturing student or beginner model instruments. If you are on a budget or buying for a child in your family, I recommend them wholeheartedly.
I love that you get quality accessories for a student or beginner with every purchase because it means you can start playing immediately. You don’t have to wait to get other accessories like a row or rosin for your viola bow.
- There are four sizes available
- It is made with spruce and maple
- There is a beautiful satin finish
- It is hand-carved
- You get many accessories
- This is still a student model, not fit for intermediates or professionals
Paititi, 4-String Viola
Another option for students is the Paititi, 4-String Viola. I like this model because it doesn’t come with many accessories compared to Cecelia or Mendini. It is meant for students, but students come with multiple musical skill levels. Getting a Cecilio or Mendini kit is best if you are a brand new beginner with no musical background or minimal musical background.
But, if you already have a musical experience, perhaps you already play the violin and are switching to the viola, or have played the viola for more than a year, you can upgrade to a higher quality instrument. You also don’t need a lot of beginner accessories because you probably already have them.
The case you get is lightweight, made of rainproof canvas, and it can hold two bows, something that more advanced students need. It has beautiful inlaid purfling with solid maple wood for the body that has been aged 15 years. You get an oil varnish finish with an attractive, smooth appearance.
- This version comes in six different sizes
- You have alloy steel strings
- You get accessories like a bow, a rest, rosin, and a hard case
- The tonewoods have been aged for fifteen years
- Not many accessories
Cremona SVA-150 Premier Student Viola
If you want another viola for students who are not beginners, bordering on intermediates, the Cremona SVA-150 Premier Student Viola is a top pick. This has decent ratings on Amazon, but I included it in this best violas on Amazon guide because the instrument’s craftsmanship is exemplary.
The downside is that it doesn’t come with any accessories beyond a case–and the case isn’t of excellent quality. However, this is a significant consideration if you don’t want something manufactured in China. You prefer something a student can use as they matriculate in their musical skill.
This is truly an excellent selection for people who want a decent instrument and don’t care about a lot of the accessories that come with a Cecilio or Mendini model. I recommend Cecilia or Mendini for younger students just starting, like a child who wants to pick up the viola in middle school.
But, if you have advanced beyond your first year and want a better quality instrument that you can play for the next decade, this is a significant consideration. You might have to change the strings in the bridge over the course of the first five or ten years that you use the viola. Still, it’s very loud and lightweight, perfectly paired with steel strings for high school or college orchestras.
- It is available in five sizes
- It comes with Prelude strings
- It has a Swiss-style boxwood peg set
- The body is crafted with spruce and maple
- There are next to no accessories included, and those which are, are not good quality.
Best Violas on Amazon Guide: Intermediate Picks
Intermediate players need slightly better accessories like better strings, a higher-quality viola bow, and construction that helps bring out their new playing techniques and skills. You likely don’t need as many accessories at this level because you probably already have a reliable bow and rosin to match.
D Z Strad viola Model 101
There are some top picks for intermediate models for this best viola on Amazon guide. The D Z Strad Viola Model 101 is made by a top-of-the-line manufacturer, with seven different sizes. It is more of an intermediate model of the D Z Strad violas because it has limited accessories (more professional models have carbon fiber bows), and the wood is not aged as long. However, it is still aged for many years. There are traditional fittings with the viola and a high gloss lacquer finish.
- It comes in seven sizes
- 4.5 star reviews
- The outfit comes with a Brazilwood bow, shoulder rest, rosin, and hard case
- It has a beautiful, warm sound
- It has a Wittner composite tailpiece
- Crafted with aged tonewoods
- It does not come with a chin rest or carbon fiber bow
- The strings tend to break early on and should be replaced with stronger strings
Infinite 5 String Viola
The Infinite 5 String Viola is less expensive than the DZ Strad for intermediates. It is unique in that it has five strings. It offers an exquisite tone and is well built. You can get one of three sizes, but they all have the same materials; you get maple for the back, spruce for the top, and ebony for the other pieces.
The strings are the biggest downside because they are synthetic nylon and break pretty easily. The accessories you get are limited, but you can invest in this viola and buy quality accessories separately for the price. I would recommend replacing the strings immediately because they are not good quality. Better strings will help you make the most of your sound.
- It comes with an unbleached Mongolian horsehair bow
- It has a Hardcase with zippered pockets and backpack straps
- You get a chin rest, bow, and rosin
- It is a five-string design that not everyone likes
- Only available in three sizes
Stagg EVA 4/4-BK Silent Viola
The Stagg EVA 4/4-BK Silent Viola is, as the name suggests, a silent viola. This means it is electric and can be played with headphones on so that no one around you hears your music. It is an intermediate design with a maple body and lacquered finish.
It comes in three colors for the lacquered finish: metallic red, blue, or black. This is an electric viola only, so you can’t play it without headphones or an amp–at least, you won’t be able to hear anything.
- It comes with all of the accessories you need to start, including headphones, batteries, rosin, and bows
- It is only a full size
- It comes in different colors
- It does not come with a shoulder rest
- It does not come with auxiliary accessories if you want to amplify your music to an audience
Best Violas on Amazon Guide: Professional Picks
As a professional, you are mainly worried about the quality of construction. The accessories don’t matter at this point because you already have all of the accessories you need at this level. What matters most is having properly aged tonewoods, handmade construction that is reliable compared to machine cut construction, and the general aesthetics and sound produced by the instrument.
D Z Strad Viola Model N2011
This best violas on Amazon guide does not just cover beginner models. The D Z Strad Viola Model N2011 is one of them. This instrument has a solid five-star rating and comes from a well-known manufacturer of quality stringed instruments. This model is 100% handmade, which means no part of the body is machine cut.
The natural varnish is also done by hand, not sprayed by a machine. You get a warm, round tone complete with a Brazilwood bow and carbon fiber bow so that you can take your pick. This is a favorite among private teachers and the Suzuki method. The tonewoods for the body are naturally aged for twenty years before they are handmade.
Therefore, you get wood that does not expand or open at any point. This is important because the distinction between aged woods and unaged woods means aged wood violas won’t change shape and potentially crack or break within a few years. Aged tonewood models are long-lasting with a hard feel and consistent tone.
- There are more fractional sizes than any other manufacturer on Amazon, including nine total sizes
- You get D’Addario Helicore strings which are top-notch steel core strings that give a robust, metallic sound
- It comes with professional-grade Pirastro Goldflex rosin
- You get a shoulder rest, chin rest, bow, and hard case
- The manufacturer is highly regarded
- It is expensive
- It is only intended for high school or college students who are at an intermediate or professional beyond
D’Luca PD02-16 16-Inch Orchestral Series
The D’Luca PD02-16 16-Inch Orchestral Series is part of the orchestral series, which is considered a professional-grade instrument. This professional viola is entirely handmade. It has a beautiful varnish, flamed maple back, and fine spruce with even grains for the top.
The case it comes with has space for two bows, which many professionals look for in their viola case. You also get accessories like a chromatic tuner, a genuine horsehair Brazilwood bow, and a shaped case.
- Available in six different sizes
- Beautiful antique finish
- It is completely handmade
- It has a beautiful flamed maple back
- It comes with a tuner, shoulder rest, shaped case
- You get D’Luca strings
- It is meant for those who are part of an orchestra or group, not soloists
Professional Handmade D Z Strad Viola model 400
If you are a professional and you want the absolute cream of the crop, consider the Professional Handmade D Z Strad Viola Model 400 is the model to pick if you can afford it. It is the absolute best for professional violas, with a solid five-star rating on Amazon.
It is handmade by luthiers who have won prizes for its design and craftsmanship. As a beginner or student, having a professional model won’t help compensate for lack of experience; stick with a beginner model. You need a professional model to help you make the most out of your experience as a professional.
The tonewoods for this are not generic maple or spruce but rather, Alpine and Italian tonewoods known for their strength and durability. These tonewoods were aged for twenty years, almost twenty years more than you get with a beginner or student model like Cecilio.
The finished body is hand-rubbed with antique varnish giving it the glowing luster. The ebony pegs are heart-shaped. The outfit comes with a carbon fiber bow, shoulder rest, hard case, strings, and rosin. DZ Strad is highly regarded for its professionalism and artistic designs, particularly for stringed instruments. I cannot recommend them enough if you want a good quality instrument that will last the rest of your career.
- Award-winning luthiers make it
- It is entirely handmade
- You can pick from five different sizes
- It comes with high-end accessories
- It has heart-shaped pegs
- It is crafted with alpine and Italian tonewoods
- You have a stunning varnish
- It is expensive and only meant for professionals
Answer: No. Violas are larger than violins and have lower bass notes.
Answer: Cecilio is a good budget brand. They are highly regarded for providing quality instruments at a cheap cost, specifically for students and beginners. They are more affordable and accessible if you are just starting or buying for a smaller member of your family. Still, the quality is much lower than D Z Strad or other professional models.
Answer: There are nine Viola sizes, and the one that works best for you is based on your arm span. They are typically measured in inches, indicative of the physical length of the instrument, so you might find something that is listed as 16 inches which means it’s physically 16 inches long, and you can match that to your arm span with a proper band in your elbow.
Answer: Violas range in price, and beginner models should cost no more than a few hundred dollars. In comparison, professional models might cost a few thousand dollars. If you are looking for a quality instrument that you can grow into, whether a beginner or an intermediate player, you can expect to spend between $500 and $1,000.
The bottom line is that for professionals, I recommend the Professional Handmade D Z Strad Viola model 400. It has some of the best accessories you will find, which are meant for professionals and were constructed by award-winning luthiers.
For intermediates, I recommend the D Z Strad Viola Model 101 because of its quality aged wood construction, design, and ratings. For beginners, I recommend Cecilio CVA-500 because it is one of the best models Cecilio has to offer. However, it’s still designed for students and beginners. You get all the accessories you need as a beginning musician, decent quality, and reliable construction.