Over the years we have sold a number of Benjamin Banks violas which are one of the most successful instruments made in a smaller size (15 3/8"). The Banks workshop of Salisbury were famous violin makers at end of the eighteenth century and their output of violas and celli are especially sought after today.
The smaller sized violas made in Salisbury came in two designs, one of which works particularly well. The reasons for this are:
1. the model itself is broad across the centre
2. the wood used is often indigenous and of a lower density than imported instruments
3. the English Amati design with fluted edgework on the front and the back
We have sold several Banks violas over the years and we selected the best features of three instruments and spent a weekend photographing and making templates of them. From this research, Nigel Melfi and Philip bounced a lot of ideas back and forth between us to come up with the final design for this particular viola model. They made sure the neck has pleasant proportions which makes it easier for a violinist/viola player to switch between instruments.
Nigel has been making this model for the last 5 years now and we consider this particular instrument to be the best interpretation of Banks that Nigel has made.
In Philip's experience there is only one other maker that comes close to achieving this holy grail of a petite viola that really works and that is JB Guadagnini whose instruments sell for 6 figures. A good Banks instrument can be found for £20,000 plus. The copy we asked Nigel to make is now selling for only £7,500.
This instrument has a very good tone and is an ideal quartet instrument. To make an appointment to trial this viola please contact the workshop on 01635 35465 or email@example.com.