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Which Size Violin is Best for Beginners?

You are about to buy your very first violin and overcome with excitement. Don’t let the thrilling anticipation make you overlook the importance of correct violin size. That should be a top priority in all violin purchases, especially beginner purchases.

So, how do you know if a violin is the right size for you? Let’s go over some key considerations.

Considerations for Violin Size

Comfort is at the top of the list of considerations when deciding the violin size for you. You have to be able to place all four fingers on the instrument’s fingerboard and find it easy to do so.

The Violin Chart

Before you rely on the chart, it’s essential to understand that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to your size concerns. You should be able to reference the chart in general, but note that there will be some exceptions.

For one, some young students use only a three-fourth-size violin. Don’t get us wrong, some of these kids can play exceptionally well; it’s just that others have longer arms. Thus, a three-fourth-size instrument is not for smaller-sized adults all the time, and so the chart isn’t always true in this regard.

Some child learners are comfortable enough with a larger-sized instrument. In fact, they may even thrive on playing it.

Measuring Arm Length

Whether or not you’re dependent on the violin chart, it’s essential to measure the length of your arms when deciding what size violin to get. Here’s how you do it:

  • Stand with your left arm stretched out to form close to a right angle with your torso. Basically, if you were a clock, your arms would be between 10 and 11 o’clock. Also, your palms should be facing upward.
  • Grab a measuring stick or tape measure and start measuring the distance from your neck to the center of the palm. This is the farthest distance to consider when deciding on the violin size for you. Write that figure down.
  • Then, measure the distance from your neck to the base of your wrist. This would be the general distance to base violin size on. Take note of this number, too. You should then be able to reference the chart more easily using these figures.

Violin Sizes To Choose From

If you’re in the market for a new violin, here are some generic sizes to consider:

  • 1/16: The smallest size commercially available, though word is you can get an even smaller one. It suits three to five-year-old learners.
  • 1/10: Not too different from the 1/16 in size (just one or two inches), but this should already matter for child learners. It is best for four to five-year-old students.
  • 1/8: Measures 17 inches and should be used with a 19 to 25-inch bow., it’s an excellent size for six-year-olds, as it should be comfortable for their weight and height.
  • 1/4: Five-year-olds with longer arms and seven-year-olds should find this size ideal. The violin’s total length is 19 inches.
  • 1/2: This is known as the half-size violin and suits players with a 20-inch arm measurement. This specific model is perfect for transitioning to larger violins from smaller ones.
  • 3/4: A 21-inch violin that’s perfect for players with 21.5 to 22-inch arm measurements. This should be played with a 27-inch bow. For most brands, this size is usually made with grade-A materials on account of its older and more experienced users.
  • 7/8: The 7/8 and 4/4, which follows this size, are difficult to tell apart. That’s why the 7/8 isn’t always offered. This particular violin has a length of 22.5 inches and is ideal for teenagers or adults with shorter arms.
  • 4/4: A full-size violin comes in this standard size. This is what you’ll generally find on the market. The violin should be comfortable enough for most practiced adult players to hold and play, but it usually isn’t fit for those learning from scratch.

What To Do When You Are Between Sizes?

The rule of thumb when you find yourself between sizes on the chart is to go for the smaller-size model. More often than not, a violin that’s slightly too small will feel more comfortable than one that’s a bit too large.

However, the exception is when you’re a child about to become an adult or an adult getting a violin. This would mean the larger option for you would be a full-size violin, the better option in general.

Even if your arms are a little too small for the instrument, you should still be able to play it relatively comfortably. Besides, full-size violins come in many sizes, and you can always scour the market for one whose size aligns closest to your arm measurement.

The Right Size for Beginners

Beginner or not, a violin should be the right size for you if your fingers can touch the pegbox comfortably. If your fingers can’t reach this section, that would mean the violin is too big. On the other hand, if your elbows bend when touching the area, that means you have a too-small violin.


Jeff Campbell