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Don Rickert Musician Shop

B-Rex II 5-String Octave Viola

No longer available

B-Rex II 5-String Octave Viola

No longer available
0.00 LBS
$30.00 (Fixed shipping cost)

Product Description

Comes with a usable case. You must acquire a suitable bow. Any good cello bow will work (some players use viola bows); however we recommend our Specialized Series Heavy Octave Viola Bow, which is lighter than a standard cello bow or the Specialized Series Light Bow (based on a viola bow shaft). Both the"Light" and "Heavy" bows have special synthetic hair (Zaralon by the legendary Dr. Peter Zaret) matched to the weight of the bow shafts.

See more detailed information: Introducing the NEW B-Rex II 5-String Octave Viola


The B-Rex II 5-String Octave Viola by D. Rickert Musical Instruments embodies a number of significant improvements over its extremely popular predecessor, the B-Rex.

The B-Rex II 5-String is a 15” body* viola that is tuned an octave lower than a violin (the first 4 strings), making it quite large-bodied octave violin (i.e. tenor). Strings 2 to 5 are tuned an octave lower than a viola (i.e. identical to a full size cello), making it a “chin cello” (i.e. baritone) as well. You can think of the B-Rex II either as…

  • Two instruments in one
  • A big burly octave violin or fiddle with an extra octave C string at the low end.

In addition to being a powerful octave-tuned instrument, the B-Rex II 5-String can also be strung and tuned as a 5-String viola, using a special long-scale e"-string. The sound can best be described as a larger-than-usual 17-18 inch 5-string viola! Of course, anything over a 16.5” viola is almost impossible to obtain these days!

* Note: with violas, the standard 4/4, 3/4, etc. size designations used for violins do not apply; rather, one refers to the length of the instrument body in inches, even today, when the metric system is the international standard.

With top and back dimensions about the same as a smallish standard 15” body viola, making it ergonomically feasible for most adult players.

Key Dimensions:

  • Upper bout width: 7 1/8"
  • Middle bout width: 5 1/4"
  • Lower bout width of the body: 9 1/2"
  • Rib depth: 45mm (an increase over the 41mm ribs of the original B-Rex) B-Rex II Side sized final

The dimension that differs radically from a regular 15” body viola is the depth. The B-Rex II 5-String has a rib depth of 45mm (>1 3/4"), compared to about 36mm (1 3/8”) of a typical 15” Viola.

  • Translates to an incredible approximate 55 additional cubic inches of air volume inside the sound box!

How the B-Rex II is Different

Several characteristics differentiate the B-Rex II 5-String from a regular small viola strung with octave strings.

  • Extreme sonic power and deep timbre throughout its entire range (even the low C string)
  • Ergonomic features that make it possible to actually play!
  • Adequate string spacing at BOTH the nut and the bridge

How the incredible sound is achieved

For the B-Rex II, it is primarily a matter of body size, specifically the large air volume inside of the instrument body. Other factors for the B-Rex II’s powerful sonority include:

  • A specially graduated top
  • The design of the bass bar
  • A neck angle allowing for a high bridge
  • A composite (spruce, ebony and maple) fingerboard that is more resonant than the usual
  • A sound post that is cut and placed in just the right place

Key Features

Genuine hand-applied and UV-dried (no toxic chemical drying agents) old Italian type varnish (all non-toxic pigments and zero volatile organic compounds: aka VOCs)

  • The varnishing alone takes about 12 hours of actual expert human effort. Instead of 4 to 6-week drying times (depending on time of year and amount of sunshine) between EACH of the 8-10 varnish and pigment layers, we use a purpose-built (made specially for drying violin varnish) UV chamber, which allows each coat to dry in 8-10 hours without the use of chemical drying agents.

Specially graduated fingerboard to accommodate the large diameter C-string B-Rex II fingerboard sized final

  • Allows for arching of the nut and bridge that affords for ease of playing

Wider fingerboard to allow for better string spacing at the nut and bridge

  • Adds to the playability benefits of the specially graduated fingerboard
  • Fingering and/or bowing adjacent strings unintentionally is a thing of the past.

New Composite Fingerboard

  • More resonant
  • Composite of ebony, spruce and maple (like a baroque fingerboard)
  • Looks really cool—like a modern version of a baroque fingerboard

Innovative New Peg Box B-Rex II Peg Box 1 sized

  • Designed specifically to avoid the frequent breakage of strings typically associated with 5-string octave violas
  • State-of-the-art, yet traditional looking, composite of ebony, maple and carbon fiber

Tuning Pegs (Graduated Sizing: the right size for each string)

  • The B-Rex II is fit with Wittner FineTune internally geared pegs.  B-rex II Peg Box 2 sized
  • Rather than using one size of peg for all of the strings, the pegs on the B-Rex II are graduated in size to match the extreme variation in string diameter from lowest to highest. 
  • The pegs range from a small cello peg for the cello-sized C-string down to a normal viola peg for the e string.

Chin Rest and Shoulder Rest

Given the size of the B-Rex II, we work with the customer to determine the ergonomically correct combination of chin rest and shoulder rest to match the musician’s physique. We apply a $100 credit to the chin rest and shoulder rest. For the most common setup of a Kun shoulder rest and a Strad or Guarneri over-the-tailpiece chin rest, there would be no additional charge.

What Type of Bow is Used?
In most cases, we have found that a high-quality carbon fiber cello bow in the 78 to 85 gram weight range works best with the B-Rex II. Some players will prefer a viola bow in the mid-60 grams weight range. Still others will want BOTH a cello and a viola bow

Trying to play the B-Rex with a regular violin bow is out of the question. You need to get a proper cello or viola bow. We offer the Glasser Octagonal Shaft Carbon Fiber Cello Bow for $550 and Glasser Octagonal Shaft Viola Bow for $475. We also offer the following Revelle carbon-graphite and braided carbon fiber round shaft bows:

  • Revelle Phoenix round shaft braided carbon fiber cello bow ($404.00)
  • Revelle Raven round shaft carbon-graphite cello bow ($212.50)
  • Revelle Phoenix round shaft braided carbon fiber viola bow ($340.00)
  • Revelle Raven round shaft carbon-graphite viola bow ($191.50)

Other Bow Options
We are evaluating several other bow options

  • Incredibows

These bows look sort of like baroque bows. They are carbon fiber with synthetic hair. They are considerably lighter, yet have incredible “bite”, than conventional bows. We are looking at a high-tension viola bow as well as a normal tension cello bow.

  • Glasser and Revelle bows with special aggressive synthetic hair

We will soon be experimenting with Glasser and Revelle viola bows re-haired with Zaralon heavy-pull synthetic hair. The idea is to see if we can get the same string attack with a lighter viola bow as with a much heavier cello bow. Call if you want to be a beta tester (B-Rex II buyers only!).

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