To help accommodate violinists of different shapes and sizes, violins come in a wide range of sizes.
This gives you the freedom to play based on your own unique body proportions, instead of having to adjust your body to fit.
That’s why when it comes to violin sizes, finding your fit is very important. The problem is, there are 9 different violin sizes to choose from. The sizes range from 1/32 to 4/4.
These different sizes can accommodate small children just learning to play, all the way up to adult players with larger hands.
Breakdown of The 9 Different Violin Sizes
Understanding the different violin sizes will make it a little easier to find the right fit.
The 1/32 is the smallest size violin there is. It is perfect for younger players between the ages of 1-3.
Children as young as one can actually start learning how to play the violin. At this young of an age, a cardboard violin is often used to teach them how to position their body and hands.
Once they understand how to hold the cardboard violin, they will move on to a real violin. This is the size violin they will use once they start learning how to play.
The total length of this size violin is 13 ½ inches. It is ideal for those whose arm length is around 14 inches.
The next size up is 1/16. This is the ideal size for students between the ages of 3-5. This size is about one inch longer than the 1/32 which makes it a total of 14 ½ inches.
It too is best suited for those with an arm length of 14 inches.
Next on the list is the 1/10 size violin. It is about 16 inches in total length and is ideal for children between the ages of 4-5, with an arm length of 15 inches.
The 1/8 size violin is 17 inches in total length, and is most commonly used by children between the ages of 4-6.
It is best suited for those who have an arm length of up to 16 ½ inches.
This size violin is most often played by students between the ages of 5-7. In total length the 1/4 violins are around 18 ½ inches.
They are ideal for those with an arm length of between 18 – 18 ½ inches.
1/2 violins are best for students between the ages of 7-9. They are 20 ½ inches in total length, which makes them about 2 inches longer than the 1/8 violins.
They are best suited for those with an arm length of at least 20 inches.
The 3/4 violins are 21 inches long and fit those with an arm length of 21 ½ – 22 inches. You will often see 9-12 year olds playing this size violin.
While the 7/8 violins are not all that common, they are the perfect size violin for those with a smaller than average hand size.
This would usually include smaller teens and some adults.
These violins are up to 22 ½ inches in total length and can fit those with an arm length of 22 inches.
The 7/8 violins are often difficult to find. However, they do come around every now and then. Ask your local violin shop to contact you if one comes through.
The 4/4 is the full size violin. They measure 23 – 23 ½ inches in total length and are most often played by teens and adults. They are ideal for those with an arm length of 23 inches or more.
Generally speaking, those who are at least 5 feet tall will be able to comfortably play the full size violin.
If you have small hands and small arms, stick with the smaller sizes. Otherwise you will have a difficult time learning to play.
What Size Violin Do You Need?
Figuring out what size violin you need is fairly easy. All you need to do is have your arm length measured. This can be done by your instructor, or by someone at the shop where you will be buying, or renting, your instrument from.
When measuring arm length, it must be from the neck down to the wrist. The total length of the violin should allow you to comfortably curve your wrist up, and around the scroll.
If you are able to do that, then it means the violin is the right fit. If you find that you are in between sizes, it's always best to go with the smaller option.
Only move up in size when it is comfortable to do so.
If it is difficult to bend your left arm into the playing position, that’s a sign the violin is too large. When you place your fingers on the fingerboard, your elbow should be able to be comfortably bent.
Children who are currently playing a violin that is not full size, should be measured every year to account for any growth spurts.
It's not uncommon for children to change sizes multiple times a year. So be sure to have them measured anytime there is big growth.
Age Doesn’t Determine What Size Violin You Should Play
Just because a child is the same age as another child, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to play the same size violin.
There are several important factors you must consider when it comes to finding your fit. Yes arm length is important, but you should also consider the length and size of the fingers on your left hand, the shape of the jaw, the length of the neck, and the width of the left hand palm.
When the violin is placed under the chin in the playing position, compare the length of the violin to the height of the child.
Does it look out of proportion? If it does that means the violin is too big.
To get the right size re-measure the student. Have them hold the violin under their chin again. This time, however, instruct them not to use their left arm for support.
If they are able to do this comfortably, the violin is the right size. If they can’t, that means the violin is too big.
You should never purchase a violin based on age alone. You should also never size a student without first carefully measuring them.
If you will be purchasing your violin online, have your child’s teacher measure them first. Or, as previously stated, you can take them to a local music store and ask them to do it.
Adults will almost always use a full size violin. Unless however you have a smaller frame. In this case you should opt for the 7/8 size violin.
Everything Must Measure Up
The violin size isn’t the only thing that needs to be properly measured. The bow, case, strings, and shoulder rest must also be the right size.
Some music stores will allow you to rent or purchase a violin package. This package usually comes with a violin, a bow, a case, and a rosin.
Strings will also be included if you are buying or renting a package.
Just tell the store the size of your violin and they should be able to help you find the right size bow and case.
While newer students won’t need a shoulder rest, at some point in the first year it will become a necessity.
Just like everything else must measure up, the shoulder rest must also measure up. It has to be the right size in relation to students' violin size.
Generally speaking, shoulder rests will not be included in violin packages. You will therefore need to order them separately.
Shoulder rests fit all violin sizes except for the 1/32. For these size violins sponges are often used in place of a shoulder rest.
As the player grows a little more, and becomes more comfortable on the violin, that is when a real shoulder rest can be introduced.
While violins will always come with strings, overtime those strings may break. In most cases, the strings on a violin will wear out after about 6 months.
When it's time to buy new strings, do a little research to make sure you get the ones that best fit your violin.
Some strings will need to be tuned with a fine tuner, while others will need to be tuned with pegs. It is very important you know which type of strings you have.
There Is a Violin For Everyone
The great thing about the violin, is it doesn’t care about your age, weight, or height. There is literally a violin for everyone.
The key however is making sure you are playing the right size violin. Otherwise you will be uncomfortable and it won’t be a good experience.
Make sure you have read through the various size options we have outlined above. Doing so will help you find your fit.
Even though we have outlined all size information in this article, you should still make sure you get proper measurements.
Doing so will ensure you don’t purchase a violin that is too small, or too large.
Keep in mind that if you have a child playing on the smaller size violins, they will at some point start growing.
It is therefore very important you have them measured once a year. This way any unexpected growth spurts can be easily accounted for.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having the right size violin. It can literally be the difference in you having a pleasant experience, or one that makes you wish you never started playing the violin.