September 2012
The viola I bought some months ago from Martin – instrument no. 54 – is a beautiful instrument to look at and a great pleasure to play. I have owned five or six violas and would say unhesitatingly that, of all of these, this is the best value for money and looks of all of them and performs better than many much more expensive violas I have seen and tried in shops up and down the country.

Getting a really good viola is hard!! It is neatly and precisely made with a fine scroll, well-fitted pegs and impeccable purfling. The interestingly-figured one-piece back is nice, the varnish warmly coloured and expertly applied and the whole impression is of a well-made instrument. It’s still quite new but from the start has been even across its range and attractive on all strings (it still has its original Dominants, which suit it well), with a sonorous C (often the weak string on a viola), pleasantly mellow G and D and lovely, singing A, which has presence and power without any of the thin, edgy sound that sometimes you find high up on a viola. I fully expect that the sound will become fuller and better as the viola matures and is played more, but already it is excellent. Recently a friend, a very capable player and teacher, who plays in the string quartet of which I am a member, used it in one of the Mozart Quintets and immediately commented on its lovely sound and its ‘playability’ – it speaks very easily. I use it in classical music but also when I play Scots airs, and in these it is beautiful – the tunes truly sing. In all, I am very happy with it and would certainly recommend this kind of instrument to anyone, student, keen amateur (like myself) or professional player.
Alastair Macfarlane, Scotland

My new handmade viola is best value for money

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