How to Choose the Right Size of the Violin: Complete Guide

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The violin is a lifetime instrument, beginners can start to play it as children and experts continue for life. If you’re new to the violin or know someone who is and are looking for help, this page is a starting point.

We have put together a complete beginners guide to violin sizing. We want to cover two topics in this blog post. The first is the different sizes of violins and their appropriate ages, and the second is how to measure your arm and violin for a good fit. Different violins have different sizes, but could be around 4 or 5 feet tall.

We don’t just do all of this in theory, we’ve also been playing the violin for decades and can share our vast knowledge with you to help you find the best instrument.

Violin Size Chart

This is the violin size chart to see what kind of violin you need.

Age Arm length Size
3-5 14” or 35.5cm 1/16
4-7 15” – 17” or 38-43.2cm 1/10
5-7 17” or 43.2cm 1/8
6-9 18”-20” or 47-51cm 1/4
8-10 20”-22” or 54-56cm 1/2
9-12 21.5”+ or 56cm 3/4
10 -12+ 22” or 57cm 7/8
12+ 23”+ or 58cm 4/4

The size of a violin is measured in fractions. This table gives an indication of the age and arm lengths that would match a violin size. There will be some overlap between the arm lengths and ages. This chart is meant to be inclusive of as many violinists as possible and can be used for guidance depending on the level of musical and physical growth.

Different manufacturers have different dimensions for their instruments. These measurements can vary by as much as 2cm in certain cases. It’s worth considering your age, arm length, and expected size when determining the size of your violin.

The 1/16 is the smallest violin that is commonly available. The 1/16 is just 36.8cm long and would suit musicians 3 years and older. A 1/32 is also available, but they are rare. A 1/32 is a size that students as young as one or two years old can theoretically play with, but it’s very rare.

A child would typically start with the 1/16 size and then work their way up to full size 4/4. The length of a bow will vary from 42.5cm to 75cm depending on the size.

While the chart will give you an idea of which sizes would work best in each situation, nothing can replace trying one on your own. You will only know if the violin fits you when you hold it in your hand. This page is not intended to be a buying guide.

Why do Violins Come in Different Sizes

We may have mentioned it before. Violins can be customized to suit a student’s size, so that they are the best instrument for them. Children need smaller violins than adults would because they have smaller hands. As a student of music, you’re going to be spending so many hours practising your instrument. Be sure it’s comfy! That means finding the right size violin is also really important.

These sized violins are all different, providing the perfect size for any musician who plays them. People with different arm lengths are also able to use the keyboard, there’s no compromise in comfort or aesthetics because of how the arm is extended.

Factors Affecting Violin Size

There are several physical factors that determine the size of a violin.

They include:

  1. Age of the student
  2. The student’s arm length
  3. Violin dimensions
  4. Oversized violins
  5. Bows

Let’s take a quick look at each of those.

Age of the student

The younger the student, the smaller the violin that is required for that level. The lot of students is a key factor in figuring out whether they would be interested in playing the violin. Separate from arm length, sizing the racquet according to a player’s age can also affect whether they are able to put in a lot of practice time or not.

The student’s arm length

We are all different shapes and sizes and instead of offering a one-size-fits-all sizing guide, we wanted to make it clear that the size guide at the top of this page is just a rough guideline. Some students will have short or long arms. Some just have small arms. The numbers given are just an estimate and they can be adjusted to suit your needs.

Violin dimensions

A 1/16 violin measuring 36.8cm is very different from a 4/4 measuring 60cm. The differences between the sizes reflect the arm lengths and average age of younger violinists. This also includes students with shorter or longer arms, as we mentioned above.

Larger violins

Do you purchase a cheap violin for your child and then replace it when they get bigger? Or do you spend a bit more and buy a smaller violin every now and again? Although there is no right answer, we have found that buying a smaller violin and getting a slightly larger one usually pays off.

An oversized violin is fine as long as the student can use the fourth finger comfortably or almost. It will take only a few months before the instrument feels a little too big for most children. You have thus extended the life expectancy of your violin.

Bows

The bow grows with the violin’s length. A 1/4 violin bow measures 38cm long, while a 1/16 is 38.1cm. With a full-size violin bow, this can reach 75 cm. While the bow length is important for student development, it is not as important as the size and shape of the violin.

As long as the student is able to use the bow in the most natural way, there’s no problem with a longer bow.

Violin Sizes at A Glance

We’ve already covered a few different sizes of violins, so let’s go over the whole list so you know all the facts.

1/32 Violins

The 1/32 violin is the smallest available violin. This violin is suitable for the youngest or smallest of violinists. It measures 34.2cm long. It is not possible to find 1/32 violins from every manufacturer, but you should be able buy one at a good violin shop.

1/16 Violins

The 1/16 is the smallest violin. Ideal for students between 3 and 5, with an arm length of approximately 35.5cm. The length of the violin is approximately 36.8 cm.

1/10 Violins

Next, the 1/10 violin is for students between 4 and 7, with arms measuring approximately 38-42cm. It measures approximately 41cm long.

1/8 Violins

The 1/8 violin is slightly bigger than the 1/10, and is intended for students between 5 and 7, with an arm length around 43.2cm. It measures approximately 43cm in length.

1/4 Violins

Students aged 6 to 9 years old with arms between 47 and 51cm long are best suited for the quarter size or 1/4 length violin. The violin measures approximately 47cm to 48.3cm.

1/2 Violins

Half-size violins and 1/2 instruments are made for students between 8-10 years old with arms measuring approximately 54cm to 56cm. The length of the violin is approximately 53cm.

3/4 Violins

For violinists between 9 and 12, three quarter, 3/4 violins can be purchased. They are suitable for arms up to 56cm long. The length of the violin is 53.3cm.

7/8 Violins

Rarely, this size violin is available. These violins are suitable for adults and children aged 10 to adult, with arms approximately 59 cm. The length of the violin is approximately 57cm.

4/4 Violins

This is the full-size, 4/4 violin. It is suitable for anyone between 12 and 60 years old with an arm length of at least 58cm. Depending on the manufacturer, the violin will measure approximately 58.5cm to 59.5cm.

How to Measure Yourself for a Violin

It’s possible to measure yourself for a violin, but it is better to have someone else help.

You can also try out several different manufacturers’ violins in the same size range to see the differences in the sizes.

This is how to measure yourself for a violin:

Take note of the ruler’s position from the neck to where it reaches the wrist.

  • With your palm facing upward, stand against a wall and extend your left arm horizontally.
  • Measure from your left neck to where the wrist meets the hand with a metal tape measure.

For the best measurement, keep your arm straight and your spine upright. It may be easier for someone else to measure while you are standing straight.

Some violin teachers prefer not to be too cautious and measure the instrument to the palm. This is fine, but it may result in a shorter instrument’s lifetime. The wrist measurement gives students more time to get used to it before they have to go up a size.

The violin should fit your wrist as long as it can be curled up and around the scroll. The left arm should be capable of holding the position for extended periods while remaining comfortable. You may need to resize your arms if they are too stretched or compressed.

A Certain age Doesn’t Mean a Certain Size Violin

We alluded earlier to the difference in size of violin versus how old the child is, but these are just approximations. Just because someone is of a certain age, doesn’t mean they have to play a large instrument. Playing violin mostly depends on the length of your arms, hand size, neck size and jaw shape. It can take years before you master this skill.

As with shoes, clothes and other goods, there will always be the best fit for a person. Don’t pay too much attention to averages. Use the measuring section above to get the right size for a violin. The student’s music teacher or store should also be measured for a good fit.

All Violins Should be Sized Correctly

Students who are serious about playing the violin will spend many hundreds of hours, if not thousands, with it. It is hard to overstate how important a good fit is for the enjoyment of this time. It’s not all about the violin.

The size of the violin is important, but so is the appropriate sized bow. Although the bow is more flexible in length than the violin it must still be appropriate for the student. If you are using them, the same applies to the shoulder rests and chin rests. It is time to size up your violin and the whole outfit.

A majority of violin outfits come with a matching case, bow, chin, and shoulder support.

Do not rely on the manufacturer for perfection.

To ensure that the outfit fits the student, make sure you try it on first. Once they fit together, you are good to go. You will need to move all your items to a larger size when you move.

Some violins do not come with a chin or shoulder rest. However, they can be made to order. Students will find the right type, size, shape and material for them, and they will stick with it throughout their playing career.

When is a Good Time to Move to a Bigger Size

Another important aspect of encouraging long-term play is knowing when to size up the violin. It’s time to consider a larger size if the student experiences another growth spurt, or begins to have to bend their left arm to support the violin. You may get advice from music teachers about when to increase the size.

It’s okay to make a change if the next size is a good fit and the student can grow into it quickly. You should follow the advice of your teacher and try the next size before buying. Much depends on each individual.

Some children may remain the same size for several months before experiencing a growth spurt. Others grow at a steady pace. Take the initiative to adapt and let the teacher and student guide you as needed.

Is it Okay to Skip a Violin Size

Yes! It is not a rule that a student should have x size violin at any age. It all depends on the age of the student, their size, arm length, hand size and stage of development. It is a personal decision that you all will have to adjust to as your student grows. The debate about violin size changes once you use a 4/4.

Many teachers of violin are comfortable with students changing sizes so long as they don’t interfere with practice. As long as the difference in size is reasonable, it is acceptable to allow a student to learn how to play a violin. Children learn quickly and can still practice form and intonation, even if they have to stretch for the fourth finger.

Rent or Buy a Violin

For violinists who are still learning to play their instrument, there are two options. You can rent or buy. There is no right or wrong answer.

All it comes down to personal preference. The instrument you buy is yours to use, dispose of and play as you wish. You can get a return on your investment when you decide to upgrade.

It is possible to rent a violin during growth. Although the initial cost of renting a violin may be higher, it will still be significantly less than the overall cost. The violin is not yours so you will need to take care of it. However, it won’t be necessary to sell it or trade it in.

Many good violin shops offer rentals and sales for younger students.

Conclusion

One of the best things about playing a well-known instrument such as the violin is the fact that thousands of other students have faced the same size challenges as you. The industry has had ample time to adapt its products to these challenges.

Music teachers and schools need to be knowledgeable about sizing violins. The road ahead will be positive as long as you realize that comfort is more important than following arbitrary guidelines for size.

There are many opinions on how to buy a violin. Some people say that your student will not enjoy practicing and won’t succeed if the instrument isn’t the right size. Although it is important to match student needs to the instrument, I believe passion and love for the violin will be more important than any instrument in the student’s success.

You can choose what works best for you. Because they have a more full sound, some students prefer larger violins. Some students prefer a smaller, more comfortable instrument.

Many rental shops will allow you to trade sizes without any problems. You will need to confirm this with the rental shop. It is a good idea if your student is growing fast and you want to purchase a larger instrument. Many violin shops will buy back your violins and give you the money to purchase a larger violin.

Ask your private violin teacher for his/her opinion whenever possible. We want a violin with a great sound, but also that is comfortable and affordable. Get the best bang for your buck.

FAQ for Violin Sizes Choose

What is the difference between violin sizes?

Violins can be classified by the size of their body, the number of strings, and the overall length. Violin sizes are usually measured by their body size in inches. A violin’s body size may also be classified by its depth or width. The length of a violin is measured in inches or centimeters.

What is the difference between a student and professional violin?

When it comes to the violin, there is a big difference between a student and professional one. The student violin is smaller and has fewer strings. It is also less expensive than the professional one.

Student violins are often used by beginners because they are easier to play on and they can be found in many schools and music stores. Professional violins are more expensive than student ones, but they have a better quality sound.

How do I choose a violin suitable for my body type and height?

There are many types of violins including the violin, viola, and cello. While choosing a violin, it’s important to consider your body type and height so that you can choose the best size for you.

The most important thing when purchasing a violin is to find one that feels comfortable in your hands. If you are playing classical pieces, it is important to find one with a good sound quality as well.

It’s also important to consider what size would be best for your height if you’re under 5’2″ or over 6’2″.

What are the different violin sizes?

The violin’s size is measured in different ways. The most common way is by the length of the body (measured from the bottom to top of the scroll). It can also be measured from the bottom of one side to the other, or from one end of a scroll to another.

There are many different sizes for violins. The most common size is about 4 feet long and 1.2 feet wide. This is called a full-size violin and it has been used since around 1710. There are also smaller violins that are about 2 feet long, but they are not as popular as full-size ones because they don’t sound as well.

Which size of violin should I choose for my playing style?

As a beginner, it is important to know what size of violin you should choose. There are three different sizes of violin –

A) Violin with a body length of 18.5 inches or less

B) Violin with a body length between 18.5 and 26 inches

C) Violin with a body length between 26 and 31 inches

How do I find a violin that fits me well?

It is important for violin players to find the right violin for them. They should find a violin that is not too heavy, has the right tension, and has a good sound.

The following are some tips to help you find a violin that fits you well.

  • Find a reputable seller who sells used violins or has been in business for many years.
  • Look for violins made by famous makers like Stradivari, Guarneri, or Amati.
  • Check the condition of the violins before buying it. If it looks like someone tried to sell it as new then it might be worth considering whether or not you would use it often enough to justify buying it new.

How do I know which size violin to buy for my child?

It is important to know what size violin to buy for your child. This will help them find the right instrument and make sure that they are able to use it easily.

The first step in buying a violin is knowing what size you need. If your child has a smaller frame, then they might be better off with a smaller violin. On the other hand, if your child has a larger frame, then they might be better off with a larger violin. It all depends on what size of instrument will fit your child best and how much room they have on their body to hold it comfortably.

When buying an instrument for children, it is important to consider the age of the player as well as the skill level of the player when purchasing an instrument. Some instruments are designed for beginners and some are designed for professional musicians.

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