click here for the Pellegrina picture gallery and animated rotation

The entire project described on this web site started with the Pellegrina. It began as an effort to help solve the frequent and sometimes severe physiological problems that result from a musician constantly and repeatedly playing a viola that is too big. Tendinitis is epidemic among violists. Players have even been obliged to leave the profession because of carpal tunnel syndrome, back, shoulder and left arm injuries and related orthopedic issues.

The problem is that, for a viola to perform optimally, it should really be several inches longer than it is humanly possible to handle--at least when it is held under the chin. Ideally, a viola should be played like a cello or a gamba: between the knees. But the chances of anyone going to a symphony concert and seeing a viola section suddenly transformed into a clan of mini-cellists is slim indeed. So the next best thing is to redesign the viola to sound, work and feel better to the player.

The question which became the genesis for the design of the Pellegrina was simple: Is there a way to get a lot more vibrating surface area and a lot more acoustic resonance space into a viola and still keep the string length short and comfortable? What followed were several years of experimenting and refining (still going on, by the way).

Ultimately, over half a dozen changes were incorporated into the Pellegrina, most of which have proven so practical that they were applied to the other instruments described on this web site as well. All of this is explained in detail on the Design Concepts page.

And the Pellegrina? Most professional violists play instruments from 16 ¼ to 17 inches long. Before they were reduced in size, some historic instruments were even bigger, sometimes as long as 18 inches. The corpus length of the Pellegrina is an unprecedented 20 inches. And yet, to the player’s left hand and arm it feels like a 3/4 sized viola. And now, with the introduction of the “Mini-Pell” it is available in two sizes, the Mini-Pell being even smaller.

To date, about 75% of all Pellegrinas have been bought by career string players, several of them in major, internationally renowned symphony orchestras. And these players, in addition to remarking on the size and richness of the deep, tenor sound, especially on the C string, comment on a kind of acoustic focus that the Pellegrina has. As one player put it, "There's all this dark chocolate, and yet there's less fuzz in the sound."

You are invited to try one out!

The Instruments ~ Home Page ~ Design Concepts ~ About the Maker
Cost and Availability ~ Requested Artwork

Copyright © David L. Rivinus 2001
Phone (503) 794 2953
15794 SE Norma Rd.
Portland, OR 97267-5136