Violin Basics

What Violin Size Do I Need? How To Find the Right Size

Stepping into the world of violin playing is an exciting moment, full of potential and melody. Yet, an essential choice awaits you before you draw your bow across the strings for the first time — picking a violin that’s the right size for you. 

Most adults comfortably use size 4/4 (full-size) violins. However, each player’s body is different, and there are several other sizes that may be more comfortable based on your age and stature.

Below, we'll explore how to find that perfect violin that feels right — because when it comes to playing the violin, the right fit lays the foundation of your playing experience.

How do I know if a violin fits me?

Determining if a violin is well-suited for you is an intuitive process, especially for beginner violinists venturing into the world of stringed instruments. 

When you cradle the violin in the correct playing position, your left arm should gracefully extend, allowing your left hand to easily reach the notes, free from any tension. This natural fit ensures that your fingers can move deftly across the fingerboard, with each note readily accessible and every movement fluid — essential for any stringed instrument, from the violin to the cello.

Furthermore, when you're holding the violin, give your left hand a chance to gently encircle the curve of the scroll. The ideal position will have your elbow comfortably bent, ensuring your left arm isn't stretched too far or cramped too close. 

Again, most adults can comfortably use a full-sized violin. However, if you find your arm is being stretched too far, you may need to size down.

What should be the size of my bow?

The violin bow should never be mismatched in size. Just as each violin has its dimensions tailored to the player, so does the bow. A bow that's too long or too short can throw off your balance and technique. 

When you've found the right bow, it becomes a natural extension of your arm, much like the shoulder rest that cradles the violin against your body, enhancing comfort and stability. 

Steps for determining the right violin size

Choosing a violin that’s too big or too small can greatly affect your technique and comfort while playing. To help you on this quest, we've outlined some practical steps to lead you to the violin that fits you like a glove.

(Still need more support? Check out this helpful sizing resource from our partner, Fiddlershop.)

Step 1: Measure your arm length

Grab a flexible measuring tape to measure your arm length, which is the distance from the base of the neck (right where it meets the shoulder and below the collarbone) to the wrist of the hand on the pinky finger side. 

Whether you're using inches or centimeters, record this measurement accurately, as it's the foundation for selecting the right-sized violin.

Step 2: Consider your age and comfort

The second step takes into account your age and overall comfort. Arm length is the key indicator but isn't the only consideration. 

For younger players or those with a smaller stature, a slightly smaller violin can often be the ticket to a more comfortable and manageable learning experience. This can be particularly helpful for beginners building the endurance and strength necessary for playing.

Sometimes, you might find that the arm length puts you between two violin sizes. When in doubt, it's usually wise to opt for the smaller size. A smaller violin will generally be easier to handle and can prevent the development of any strain or bad habits, making it easier to transition to a larger size when the time is right. 

Step 3: Try out different instruments

Once you've got your measurements, the real fun begins. If you can, take a trip to your local music shop. Here, you can get hands-on experience with violins of various sizes. It's like a test drive — but with violins. 

Play each one and notice how they feel. This is your opportunity to assess tone quality and resonance and examine visuals like varnish tint (an additional perk of selecting an instrument).

Remember, each violin has its own character, and the right instrument should feel and sound natural, almost as if it's a part of you. So, take your time, play a few scales, and listen to how the different instruments sound and feel in your hands. 

Step 4: Seek professional advice

There's no substitute for expertise. That's why step four is all about getting a professional opinion. Reach out to a music teacher or an experienced violinist for advice. They can offer personalized recommendations that consider your size, playing style, goals, and experience level.

These seasoned players can guide you through the nuances of choosing a violin, sometimes picking up on subtleties you might not notice yourself. They might even accompany you to the music shop, providing hands-on assistance in choosing the violin that’s just right for you. 

Trala’s team of experienced violin teachers can help you determine which violin may best suit you and can provide personalized, one-on-one guidance to help you find the perfect fit. If you’ve talked with your Trala teacher, consider a violin from one of our trusted instrument shops.

Step 5: Consider growth (for younger players)

If you're sizing a violin for a young musician, keep in mind they're still growing. It's a bit like buying clothes for kids — you need to think about how long they'll fit. While it's important to have a violin that fits well now, you also don't want to be back for a new one too soon.

Some parents opt for a size their child can grow into, and a little room for growth can be practical. However, it’s crucial not to go too large, as this can make learning more difficult and less enjoyable. 

A good rule of thumb is to choose a violin they can play comfortably now, but with just enough room to accommodate growth spurts that might sneak up!

8 violin sizes to know

Navigating through the world of violins, you'll find a symphony of sizes, each designed to fit a range of players, from the young enthusiast to the seasoned adult musician. 

Understanding the various sizes is crucial to making an informed choice. Here, we will delve into the eight primary violin sizes available, helping you discern which violin will work best with your stature and your musical journey. If you’re not sure which size is best, consider renting a violin instead of purchasing one (Trala can help you find the right violin to rent).

4/4 size violin (full size)

The full size, or 4/4 violin, is the standard for adults and children who have reached their full growth. This size suits most adults (unless they are under 5 feet tall). 

The length of a full-size violin is generally about 23 inches (58.42 cm), and it pairs well with an arm length of 23.5 inches (59.69 cm) and above. If you can comfortably extend your arm and wrap your hand around the scroll, a 4/4 violin is likely a match for you. 

7/8 size violin

For some adults, particularly those who find a full-size violin causes discomfort or pain, the 7/8 size violin is an excellent alternative. It offers a slightly more manageable size without a substantial sacrifice in sound quality. 

Children who have outgrown a 3/4 size but aren't quite ready for a full-size violin may also find the 7/8 size to be the perfect bridge. These violins are less common and may be a bit harder to find when you are buying a violin, but they are worth the search for those who need them. 

It’s worth noting that the sound produced by a 7/8 violin (and all smaller sizes) won't be as full as that of the full-sized instrument, but it can still be rich and expressive. Typically, this violin is around 22.5 inches (57.15 cm) in length, suitable for arm lengths of about 22 to 23.5 inches (55.88 to 59.69 cm).

3/4 size violin

The 3/4 size violin is a step down from the 7/8 and is often the choice for children ages 9–12. It measures about 22 inches (55.88 cm) in length and fits arm lengths between 20 and 22 inches (50.8 to 55.88 cm). 

This size helps younger players handle the instrument comfortably, ensuring that their technique can develop properly without being hindered by a violin that's too large.

1/2 size violin

Geared toward children ages 7–9, the 1/2 size violin is even smaller, enabling younger students to hold and play the violin with ease. The length of a 1/2 size violin is approximately 20.5 inches (52.07 cm), making it a good fit for arm lengths of 18 to 20 inches (45.72 to 50.8 cm). 

Selecting this size allows budding musicians to focus on their technique and musical expression rather than struggling with an oversized instrument.

1/4 size violin

The 1/4 size violin is the miniature maestro of the violin family, typically suited for children between the ages of 6 and 7. It's a favorite for little hands making their first foray into the world of strings. The length of a ¼ size violin is around 19 inches (48.26 cm), and it's designed for arm lengths of 17 to 18.5 inches (43.18 to 46.99 cm). 

With a 1/4 size violin, young students can comfortably learn the basics, develop proper posture, and build the foundation for future musical endeavors.

1/8 size violin

The 1/8 size violin is perfect for children ages 5 to 6. It's a delightful starting point for the youngest of students, allowing them to explore the violin's wonders without being overwhelmed by size. 

This violin measures approximately 17 inches (43.18 cm) in length, which pairs well with an arm length of 15 to 17 inches (38.1 to 43.18 cm). The ⅛ size violin ensures that the earliest steps in music education are accessible, enjoyable, and ergonomically appropriate.

1/10 size violin

The 1/10 size violin is crafted for musicians as young as 4 years old. It's a size that acknowledges the enthusiasm of early starters and nurtures their budding talent. 

This violin spans about 16 inches (40.64 cm) in length and is meant for arm lengths of 14 to 15 3/8 inches (35.56 to 39.05 cm). The 1/10 size violin enables the smallest players to handle their instrument with confidence, encouraging a love for music that will grow with them.

1/16 size violin

The 1/16 size violin is one of the smallest standard sizes available, designed for children under the age of 5. It's a wonderful introduction to the violin for the youngest learners, allowing them to begin their musical journey with an instrument that's tailored to their size. 

With a length of approximately 14 inches (35.56 cm), this violin is suitable for those with an arm length of 14 inches (35.56 cm) or smaller. The 1/16 size violin brings the magic of music into even the smallest hands, planting the seeds for a lifelong relationship with the arts.

While we've explored sizes up to 1/16, it's worth noting for our smallest musicians that violins come as petite as 1/32nd, ensuring even the youngest players can find their perfect match.

Begin your violin journey today with Trala

Embarking on your violin journey is a thrilling adventure that starts with selecting the perfect instrument for you. As you venture into this melodious quest, Trala is here to guide you every step of the way. Connecting with one of Trala's dedicated violin teachers can elevate your learning, offering personalized guidance that's in tune with your progress. With their expertise, the journey from your first scale to a captivating melody will be smooth and rewarding.

With the right violin in hand and Trala by your side, the music you'll create will not just be heard, but felt deeply by all who listen. Let your musical story unfold — take your first lesson with Trala today! 

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