What size violin do I need?

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What size violin do I need


Playing the violin

Like all musical instruments has to be able to fit the person who is going to play the instrument. Having one too large makes reaching key notes impossible and discouraging. The player may simply give up after awhile.

Playing one that is too small, leads to the player making mistakes even though they can reach those key notes and it is difficult to bend the hand to reach those shorter notes. This too can be discouraging.

If you want to encourage someone to learn how to play the violin, then you need to help them get one that fits their stature and arm length. To find out how to do this, just continue to read our article. It explains all the question like What size violin do I need? and all to you

How many sizes are there

Before you go buying a violin, it is important to know how many violin sizes there are. This helps you find the right fit, plus it helps to know that not every violin maker makes every size. So if you are looking for a particular brand of violin, you may be out of luck if that company doe snot make the size you want.

When you go looking for the violin, you find that there are between 7 and 8 different sizes. As you shop it is imperative that the person who is going to to play the violin hold it and see if it is a good fit.

Their left hand should be able to comfortably reach all the notes without letting go of the instruments. This applies to adults as well as children. The largest violin is called the 4/4 and it reaches about 23 inches in length.

Adult players have the least amount of sizing trouble as their growing years are over. Its the children who will run into difficulty as their body changes over the years. Keep an eye on the future when trying to find a violin for a young adult or child.

What size violin do I need

The answer to this question would depend on what size you are. If you are an adult, or a teenager who has stopped growing, then a 4/4 or adult violin is the one you should play. The smaller versions are not going to be comfortable and may cause you some problems.

There is a caveat to that though. Full grown adults or teens who are below average size should check the smaller sizes to see if those options fit their arm length. Just because it is an adult size violin does it mean that it will fit every adult.

Don’t worry, if you cannot find a smaller one that has the right tone, you can spend a little extra money and get one custom made to your specifications and arm size. There is always a good solution when size problems do show up.

Medical problems are not an excuse to avoid learning how to play. Instruments can be adapted to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to play, even an instrument like the violin.

Violin sizing chart

If you are still not sure which size you should buy, here is an easy to use and understand violin size chart to guide you. Keep in mind that these are not hard and fast, written in stone guides as there will always be exceptions to the rule.

  Violin size  Length of the violin  Age group
  1/16  14 inches  3 to 5 years of age
  1/10  15 inches  3 to 5 years of age
  1/8  16 inches  3 to 5 years of age
  1/4  18.5 inches  4 to 7 years of age
  1/2  20 inches  6 to 10 years of age
  3/4  22 inches  9 to 11 years of age
  4/4  23 inches  11+ years of age

There also may be some disagreement as to the exact length for each category but these figures will give you an idea of how long a violin is when talking to the maker or the salesman.

Then, when a violin is under 19 inches long, it is usually thought of as being a violin for a child. As we said, if you are a small adult with short arms, a full size violin may be too hard to hold as well as reach the notes.

The best thing to do is to go to the store and try holding different violins. That is the best way to get the right fit for you.

How to measure violin size

Besides using a tape measure and simply measuring the length of the violin there are better ways to see if the violin will ft you are your child. All the tape measure method will do is give you the total overall length and not tell you if the violin fits in other keys aspects of holding and playing the instrument.

The following steps help you answer what size of violin do I need:

  1. Have the person who is going to play the violin extend their left arm . They need to keep that arm straight with no bend at the elbow or the wrist.
  2. Now take the tape measure and measure from the neck to the wrist. That total will give you the appropriate size and comfort length.
  3. Next measure from the neck to the palm of the hand. This total tells you how long the violin can be for that person to play.
  4. Or you can have the violin placed in the hands of the player holding it in playing position. The violin scroll should sit in the palm of the hand and the player should be able to curl his fingers over the scroll.

How to measure a violin

In figuring out what size of violin you need, you can also measure the back of the violin. This measurement will also help you figure out the length of the violin you already own and what bow length you should use:

  Violin Size  Violin BACK Length  Violin size (Approx.)  Bow length
  1/16  8 inches  14 inches  16 3/4 inches
  1/10  9 inches  16 inches  17 1/2 inches
  1/8  10 inches 17 inches  19 1/4 inches
  1/4  11 inches  19 inches  22 1/2 inches
  1/2  12.2 inches 20 1/2 inches  24 1/2 inches
  3/4  13 inches  21 inches  27 inches
  4/4  14 inches 23 1/2 inches  29 1/2 inches

As you can see, there is some discrepancy in the measurements between the two tables. This should prepare you when you talk to different salesmen or violin makers. Their standard size may be a little different from each other.

This discrepancy helps you find the right violin size for yourself or your child as everyone is different. So are their arm lengths. Don’t hold to one measurement over the other but be flexible.

Children violin size

As the charts have indicated, these violins are a lot smaller and should be easier for your child to play. But there are some subtle differences between them and the adult size you may not know about. The following list should get you up to speed on picking out a violin for your young children:

  1. They are not made the same way as adult violins. The craftsman ship is different.
  2. A different type of wood is used to make these violins.
  3. Not usually hand made but machine made.
  4. They produce a different tone than an adult violin.
  5. The quality of the violin is not very high.
  6. Sometimes it is better to rent a child’s violin than own one.
  7. Children can play different sizes of violin depending on their arm length.
  8. These are usually less costly than larger violins.

The best place to look for a child’s violin is not the department store. Rather you should go to a violin or music shop that specializes in instruments and have knowledgeable people on their sales staff.

They can help you find the right size for your child and offer different tips as well as point out any issues that may arise as your child grows up. Measuring a violin is the same as described above.

Pros and cons of violin sizes

Finding the right violin and size for yourself or your children cannot be done well unless you look at all the positive and negatives about different violins


  • There is more music written that requires the violin to play than any other instrument.
  • All sizes of violins are small and light to carry.
  • Smaller violins are more cheaper.
  • Adult size violins are made with better craftsmanship.
  • Adult or bigger sized violins may have better tones than the smaller sized ones.
  • The strings are usually less expensive for a child’s size violin.
  • Adult sized violins can become very valuable.
  • Violins of all sizes are easy to find.


  • Children’s sized violins are usually machine made not handmade.
  • Adult violins or larger ones are more expensive.
  • Children’s violins have inferior tone and inferior quality strings, etc.
  • One size does not fit all.
  • The strings for large or adult violins can be very expensive.
  • Children’s sized violins are not valuable at all.
  • Children outgrow the smaller violins very quickly adding to your expenses.
  • Owning a child’s violin may not be better than renting one.

What size violin do I need: FAQs

#1. Is it better to buy or rent a violin?

This will depend on you and if you want to teach your child responsibility or if they are dedicated to playing the instrument., Buying usually gets your child a better instrument to play. Renting is only good if your child is not sure they want to play the violin and change their mind. Then you may have saved some money

#2. Which sounds better a rental or a purchased violin

A rental violin’s sound depends on how the violin was treated by its previous user. If it was mistreated, subject to high humidity or temperatures and other factors, the sound of the rental will be a lot worse than a bought violin

#3. Will renting save me money

Not really as, like a car rental, there are always add on fees to protect the owner of the violin. The real expense of a bought violin comes when your child outgrows his current instrument and you ave to buy a new larger one.

#4. How much do violin strings cost?

This will depend on the quality of the strings and some other factors but generally, you are looking at paying between $10 and $40 per set of strings

#5. Is there really a difference in the tone of an adult violin and a child’s violin?

Yes, that is true. A child’s violin is not made for centuries of use and a lot less pride goes into their creation as well as lesser quality materials. All of these factors influence the tone of a child’s violin. On the other hand, the adult violin is made usually with great care and top quality materials.

Some final thoughts

Learning to play the violin can be a great achievement for children and young adults. It is best to make sure they have the right instrument and the right fit. Your child may not grow up to be Yo Yo Ma but they still can master the violin and feel good about their accomplishment.

Using the charts above you can help start your child off on the right path to self confidence and other needed adult characteristics.

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