A Beginner’s Guide to Violin Sizes

There are a total of 8 common violin sizes: 1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4.1/2,3/4,7/8 and 4/4.

mendini 4/4 mv500

The violin is made from wood and metal strings. It is a musical instrument which can play both small and high pitched music. The violin has 4 strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is played by drawing a bow across its strings. If you have decided to play violin you must first choose the perfect instrument that you are comfortable with. If it’s not comfortable you might lose interest in learning how to play.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the perfect violin size for you among all violin sizes. We know that violins are played by people of all age groups from 5 to infinity or some even before 5. Because of this factor the violins come in different sizes to be perfect to people of all age groups. The perfect size would be which you can hold and play perfectly without any factors affecting you. You must be able to play your violin comfortably.

As we all know the violins usually come in 8 main sizes. Violin sizes correspond to the length of the body of the violin. This does not include the neck and scroll. The smallest size would be 1/16, it is only 9 inches or 23 cm. The size keeps increasing from 1/10 up to 4/4 or full size it is about 14 inches or 36 cm You know that you have the perfect size when a violin perfectly fits you. That is when you are freely able to reach the notes. You should be able to hold up the violin by yourself without any discomfort.

Usually adults require a full size violin. But it really depends on the individual person. A perfect violin would be something you can hold with ease. You should be able to grip the top of the finger board with your hand and still be able to bend your arm easily at the elbow. Thus if just a 7/8 feels comfortable for an adult, then it will be perfect for them to play. If you are buying the violin for kids then to get the perfect size would be a little confusing. This is because the children grow rapidly when they are young so the situation would be similar to buying shoes.

The best way to find a suitable violin would be to measure to get the correct size for each child. It is very easy to measure. You just need to ask the child to stand up straight and hold out their arm with palm facing upwards. Then you have to measure from their neck to their wrist but make sure to measure from the left side of their body. This is a method used by a few teachers. There is a possibility that when compared with another method there can be a slight difference in the size. The other method is measuring till the middle of the palm. Thus it is better to choose the bigger size that is the next size.

VIOLIN SIZES  –    MEASUREMENT FROM NECK TO PALM


1/16          –            33.25 cm or less, 13 inches


1/10         –            36 cm, 14 ¼ inches


1/8           –            38.5 cm, 15 ¼ inches


1/4           –           44 cm, 17 ¼ inches


1/2          –           48.25 cm, 18 ¾ inches


3/4          –           52 cm, 20 ½ inches


4/4          –           56 cm, 22 ¼ inches


It is very important to choose the correct size. If the violin is too big it will be very heavy for the person to hold and play. The weight of the violin will make the arms tired and numb. There is a possibility of developing a pain in the neck and back. This would hurt the person’s neck and back thus not allowing them to play the violin in future. They won’t be able to concentrate on the notes and play in tune. This would completely destroy their motivation to play music.

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A half – size violin is neither large nor too small it is the middle size available. The length is 20.5 inches. A full size violin would be 23.5 inches or the 4/4 violin. These measurements are not exact they can vary according to different brands by a few inches. Some brands have different sizes based on the gender. The male violins are usually a little longer then the female variety. The difference is usually half an inch. The persons using half- size violin will be comfortable with 24.5 inch bow. This would give them an ultimate comfort and quality.

If you are beginner you should concentrate more on the price and also other features which could make it easier for them to play. They need not buy the big ones. Better start with something that is a little smaller and easier to handle. Maybe after a little practice they can move on to a bigger size. This would allow them to easily play a violin rather struggling to play the appropriate size.

Violin Sizes

  •  1/16 – this is the smallest variant available in the market. There is an even smaller variant available but it is unofficial. This size would be suitable for kids between the ages of 3 to 5 years
  • 1/10 – the difference between this and the previous 1/16 is very less just about 1 or 2 inches. It usually depends on the brand. It will perfectly suit 4 and 5 year olds.
  • 1/8 – this variant measures 17 inches and should be played with a 19, 25 inch bow. It is suitable for 6 year olds. It will be comfortable in relation to their length and weight.
  • 1/4 – for beginners within the age group of 5 to 7 years old this would be a perfect choice. The total length would be 19 inches.
  • 1/2 – this is the half size violin suitable for players with a 20 inch measurement. This would provide a good transition from small to big models.
  • 3/4 – the length is about 21 inches. It will be perfect for players with a measurement from 21.5 to 22 inches. It will be great with a 27 inch bow. This is usually made with better quality materials. This is because it is made for older players.
  • 7/8 – this is actually a rare phenomenon because there is not very big difference between this size and the 4/4. This measures about 22.5 inches in length. This is suitable for people with small hands or young adults.
  • 4/4 – this is the standard size of a full size violin. This is the most popular size available in the market. Anyone who is big enough to hold it with ease and reach all the notes would be able to enjoy this size. If the young beginners practice enough they might be able to use the 4/4 with no problem.

Size Selection Issues:

The problems we might usually face in size selection would be in children who are growing constantly. If you cannot afford to keep buying a new violin to upgrade to the next size you have a few options. The first would be renting a violin. The other option is very simple just wait there is no hurry. Once you keep practicing with a size give it time till you grow to a stage where you can skip a few sizes. This way it will put a time gap in between your upgrade to the next size. Thus giving you an opportunity to save money for buying your next violin. This would be perfect for those who are on a budget.

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The size of the violin has got nothing to do with the performance. It all depends on how comfortable you are with your violin. If a half –size violin is your perfect size and you feel no need for a 4/4 then stick to it and keep practicing. Then, if some of you feel that you need a bigger size then go ahead. If you are able to play the fourth finger notes in tune then there is no problem. You will face no problem with it.

Then there is this final thing, I think everyone will have this question in their mind. When I buy a bigger violin should I buy a new bow and case? The answer is absolutely yes. You will definitely need to buy new ones. Because if you are playing a half size violin you need a perfect half size bow similarly while playing a full size violin you need a full size bow.

When buying a new violin it’s better to buy a violin, bow and its case all together. By doing so you might be able to get a discount at most of the shops. But there are few shops which sell only violin and you have to buy the bow and case separately. When you are buying a bow separately make sure you buy the right size for your violin.

Finally we have reached the end so be sure to measure your size and by your perfect violin size. Wish you good luck on choosing your perfect violin size.