Tepotzlán Viola

Year:

2017

Materials:

Back: Yellow Poplar
Top: Italian Spruce
Neck: Plain Maple

Finish:

Antiqued oil varnish

Dimensions:

Body length: 415
Bouts: 197, 140, 239
Ribs: 36
String length: 375
Stop: 222

Notes:

This instrument is the product of my stay at the workshop of Maestro Ernesto Ramirez, in Tepotzlàn, Mexico.  I wanted to incorporate something of the place and experience of the trip into the instrument. The model is based on an Andrea Guarnieri, a viola that exemplifies some of Ernesto’s theories on historic instrument design principals. For the back I wanted something local,  I used some “yellow poplar” that we found in a local woodyard. I picked it because it had an appearance and feel that made me think that it would make a good tone wood. Having subsequently done a little web research on Yellow Poplar, I learn that it mostly comes  from the southwestern United States so, ironically,  it is likely that, just like me, my back wood  was an import to Mexico. Assimilation is not a simple thing! The back did prove be a good choice tonally, the viola is warm and rich yet quite punchy.

The label has a little more genuine local flavor. It is written on Amate, a traditional bark paper that dates back at least to  75 CE.