Made by Alberto Guerra, this is an excellent yet affordable modern Italian viola of good proportions with a warm, fruity sound. It has a slightly “lived-in” appearance but is free from any condition issues.

Alberto Guerra was not a prolific maker and there aren’t so many examples of his work to be found. However, Marlin Brinser (author of “Dictionary of 20th Century Italian Violin Makers”) rated him highly. A pupil of Pollastri, his work is quite reminiscent of this maker, particularly the varnish and the arching.

This is quite a large instrument though still manageable being relatively narrow for the length of back. The table uses a “reverse grain” principle with broad growth in the middle, narrower at the flanks. The varnish is rich but not thick, and the instrument remains lightly built for its size.

The condition is very good – some signs of use but no repairs other than a grafted scroll.

This is a really good sounding viola – warm and sonorous with a touch of “coffee grounds”. It’s very responsive and easy to set in motion, and it’s unusually well-balanced, responding to a light or a heavy bow in the same way throughout the register. It excels in softer dynamics, and I would say it’s an instrument for chamber music or for a tutti player more than a soloist. It has great sustain, a C string that speaks easily, and an A string that remains warm and musical even in the high positions.

Overall this is a very good-natured instrument that would relax even the pickiest of players!

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