I have been toying with the idea of moving to a 5-string instrument, myself, for a while now. I teach both violin and viola (originally a violist), and I find it a bit annoying when I can’t always jump to whatever high or low string is needed at that time without having a different instrument handy. In response to Gayle’s contribution, I’ve heard that there’s an adjustment period, but I haven’t really heard that it’s as difficult as you’re describing. It really seems that these kind of instruments aren’t nearly as standardized, so perhaps it really was something with that particular violin you have.
Either way, Christie, it is a consideration – and definitely something to test out on an instrument before you buy! One day soon I’ll be testing out Michael’s 5-string Damiano from Superior Violins. Perhaps you could as well. Maybe whoever gets a chance first can report back on what it’s like? Best of luck!