Whether you are an experienced musician or just starting out, having the right size violin is essential to hit the right notes as the resonant frequency of the body depends on the size of the instrument.
In simpler words, the violin size affects the quality of the sound created. It is also a matter of comfort. Playing a violin that is either too big or too small can be a challenge, especially for beginners. But don’t worry – we have compiled a detailed guide on violin sizes so you can choose the right one.
A Step-By-Step Guide on Choosing the Right Size Violin
Step 1 – Learn About Different Violin Sizes
The first thing you need to do is learn about the different violin sizes available in the market. Violins come in eight main sizes. The size corresponds to the length of the base of the instrument, excluding the length of the neck and the scroll. Only about 9 inches (23 cm) in length, 1/16 is the smallest violin size.
The sizes work up the 4/4 or full-size violin, which is about 14 inches (36 cm). Most adults and children above the age of 10 require a full-size violin. However, a 4/4 violin is not suitable for younger children. Take a look at this table to check out different violin sizes in inches and cm.
|Violin Size||Violin Size in Inches||Violin Size in cm|
|1/16||13 ¼ inches||33.5 cm or less|
|1/10||14 ¼ inches||36 cm|
|1/8||15 ¼ inches||38.5 cm|
|1/4||17 ¼ inches||44 cm|
|1/2||19 inches||48.5 cm|
|3/4||20 ½ inches||52 cm|
|4/4||21 ½ inches||54 cm|
Step 2 – Measure the Arm Length
Now that you know about different violin sizes in inches, the next step is to determine which size is ideal for you. If you are an adult and are choosing a violin for yourself, you can go with a 4/4 violin size. It is the standard size for adults and works well.
On the other hand, if you are choosing a violin for a child, it is a good idea to measure the length of the child’s arm. There are two ways to go about it.
- Measure from the middle of the left hand’s palm to the base of the neck. This measurement will help you determine the biggest violin size the child can play.
- Measure from the wrist of the left hand to the base of the neck. This measurement will help you determine the most comfortable fit for your child.
When you measure the arm length, make sure that the arm is stretched out straight, perpendicular to the body.
Step 3 – Check the Charts
You can pick the right size violin based on the arm length. This is the preferred method of choosing a violin as it gives more accurate results. Opt for the violin size corresponding to the arm’s length in the chart given below.
|Violin Size||Arm’s length|
|1/16||13 ¼ inches|
|1/10||14 ¼ inches|
|1/8||15 ¼ inches|
|1/4||17 ¼ inches|
|3/4||20 ½ inches|
|4/4||21 ½ inches|
Another method is to choose the violin size by age. However, keep in mind that children grow at different rates, which means choosing violin size by age may not give the most accurate results. Regardless, here’s a violin size chart by age that you can use to pick a suitable instrument.
|Violin Size||Approximate Age|
|1/16||3 to 5 yrs|
|1/10||3 to 5 yrs|
|1/8||4 to 5 yrs|
|1/4||4 to 7 yrs|
|1/2||6 to 10 yrs|
|3/4||9 to 12 yrs|
|4/4||11+ to adults|
Step 4 – Test the Instrument
The only thing left to do now is to test the instrument. Holding a violin will give you a pretty good idea about the size accuracy. If you are choosing a violin for your child, have them hold the instrument in the playing position.
The child should be able to drape their fingers comfortably around the scroll. The scroll of the violin is the rolled-up end with the tuning pegs. If the child can touch the tuning pegs while holding the violin in the playing position, then the instrument you have picked is the right size.
If the child is unable to reach the scroll or has to stretch unnaturally to reach the scroll, the violin size is too big for them. It is best to look for a smaller violin. On the other hand, if the child’s fingers extend the scroll, the violin is too small. Hence, you need to look for a larger violin size.
Testing the instrument can save you a lot of trouble. This is especially true if you are choosing the violin size by age instead of the arm’s length.
Step 5 – Choose the Violin Bow Size
The size of an ideal violin bow depends on the size of the player. However, keep in mind that the length of the bow directly affects its stiffness. So, while a stiffer bow may not be capable of playing a vast range of expression, it offers more control.
Smaller bows are more suitable for small children or beginners. Here’s a violin bow size chart based on the player’s arm length that you can follow.
|Arm’s Length||Violin Bow Sizes|
|14 inches or under||3 to 5 yrs|
|15 inches||3 to 5 yrs|
|16.5 inches||4 to 5 yrs|
|18 to 18.5 inches||4 to 7 yrs|
|20 inches||6 to 10 yrs|
|21.5 to 22 inches||9 to 12 yrs|
|23 inches or more||11+ to adults|
Summary on Picking the Right Size Violin
When it comes to playing the violin, the music’s quality and the playing experience depends on choosing the right violin size. There are eight violin sizes that you can choose from. The best way to go about it is to measure the distance between the base of the neck and the middle of the palm or wrist. Match the readings to the violin sizes chart to find the perfect one for yourself.
Still not sure what size violin to buy? Leave a comment below for expert advice!