Steffen Nowak 
Maker of fine Violins, Violas and Cellos in baroque and modern style
75 Sylvia Avenue, Bristol, BS3 5BU, UK  tel +44 (0) 117 9777141





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The Steffen Nowak "Cutaway" Viola

This cut away model was commissioned by the violinist and viola player Deborah Hamilton. The general idea behind the cutaway design on larger violas is to facilitate the left hand shift in higher positions, which can be difficult for players with a "normal" hand span.

The cutaway model therefore can be of a fairly broad width which, combined with a manageable string length of 14 3/4" (375mm), makes a comfortable instrument, particular for those players who have difficulties with the 16 1/2" model or bigger.

The choice of wood for this viola was a deeply figured one piece slab back of English sycamore with matching ribs. The front was made from a fine straight grained piece of alpine spruce. The slightly softer slab back makes for a good response with a fine tenor quality, yet having strength and projection.

The viola commissioned by Ms. Hamilton is extraordinary too because of its uniquely designed head. Instead of the traditional scroll terminus at the end of the pegbox, this instrument is graced by a honeybee! It was carved by Bristol based woodcarver and harpmaker Mark Barlow from alternating pieces of walnut and lime for the bee body, ebony for legs and eyes, and the wings were made from 1 8ct gold wire in filigree fashion by Bristol Jeweller Harriet St.Leger.

Any future cutaway violas can of course be commissioned with the more traditional scroll, but individual requests for heads can also be designed and executed.

recent photos of the Viola, taken in 2014 can be seen here...