Violin Information

Measurements

 

 

 

   On This Page

Average Body Length

Average Bow Length

Standard Measurements

How to Choose the Correct Size Instrument


 

                    Parts of the Violin 

 

Average Body Length of Instruments

 

When determining an instruments size, the measurement is taken by measuring the length of the back from next to the neck button down to the end by the endpin. Distance "B" is the one that you want and measurements may differ from one manufacturer to another, and from instrument to instrument. Looking from the back and often the easiest way to measure (next photo), take a flexible tape measure and measure the distance as shown with the arrow. See the sizing charts below in this section.

 

The total length "A" is not used to determine instrument size since neck length can vary by 1/2" causing an incorrect sizing.  However, those general measurements are also given below in the Standard Measurements section below.

Note: Another important measurement in determining if an instrument is suitable, is the Mensur ratio. This is the ratio of the neck length(distance from nut to the upper edge of the top) : stop length(distance from the upper edge to the bridge). If the Mensur ratio is off, it can make the instrument difficult to play and I have even seen injuries to the the tendons from a poorly set up/made instrument. This was specifically noted on a viola where someone was trying to make a large viola easier to play for a small player by shortening the neck length, it took 6 months and lots of physical therapy for the player to recover. The Mensur ratio on the violin should be 2:3 (most typically 130:195 mm for 4/4 violin). These measurements can be seen in the Makers Measurements section.

 

Violin

4/4

3/4

1/2

1/4

1/8

1/10

1/16

14"

13 1/4"

12 1/2"

11"

10"

9"

8 1/2"

 

Viola

  16 1/2"

16"

15 1/2"

15"

14"

13"

 

A 13" viola is approx. the same body length as a 3/4 violin and a 14" viola is approx. the same body length as a 4/4 violin.  The difference is that the rib height is as much as 20% higher on a viola.

 

Cello

4/4

3/4

1/2

1/4

1/8

29 3/4"

27 1/4"

25 1/2"

22 7/8"

20"

 

Bass

3/4

1/2

1/4

1/8

43" - 44 1/2"

41 1/4"

37 1/2"

33 1/2"

 

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Average Bow Length in Inches

 

 

Violin

4/4

3/4

1/2

1/4

1/8 - 1/10

1/16

29 1/4"

27"

24 1/2"

22 1/4"

19 1/2"

16 7/8"

 

 

 

Viola

14" and Larger

13"

12"

29 1/4"

27"

24 1/2"

 

 

 

Cello

4/4

3/4

1/2

1/4

1/8

28 1/8"

26 5/8"

25 3/8"

23 5/8"

20 1/2"

 

 

 

Bass

3/4

1/2

1/4

French frog

28 3/4"

26 5/8"

25 1/2"

German frog

29 1/2"

27 7/8"

26 3/4"

 

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Standard Measurements for Violin, Viola, Cello, & Bass

 

Don't know what size for violin, viola or Cello you have?
Instruments do vary in size from the measurements listed on this chart.
All measurements are in InchesSize

Body
Length

"B"

Total
Length

"A"

Max
Width of

lower bout

 

Standard  European Cello4/4 Full304817.75 
7/828.5046.517 
3/427.254516 
1/2264215 
1/42338.513.5 
1/82033.511.75 
1/1017.7529.59.75 

Suzuki Cello
4/4 Full304817.75 
3/4264215 
1/22338.513.5 
1/42033.511.75 
1/817.7529.59.75 
 SizeBodyTotalMax
Width
 
Viola16.516.5279 
161626.58.75 
15.515.5268.5 
1515258.0 
1414237.5 
131321.757 
121220.56.75 
      
Violin4/41423.57.5 
7/813.522.57.25 
3/41321.757 
1/212.520.56.75 
1/411.518.756 
1/810.2517.255.5 
1/109.25165 
1/168.2514.54.45 
All measurements are in Inches - Convert to mm   1 inch = 25.4 millimeters

 

Instrument

Fingerboard
height
above the top

Bridge
thickness
at the top edge

Sound post
thickness

String height
between the strings
and fingerboard

String width
at the top of
the bridge

Violin

19.5 - 20.5mm

1/16"

1/4"

    E-1/8"    G-3/16"

7/16"

Viola

24 - 25mm

1/16"

1/4"

    A-3/16"  C-1/4"

1/2"

Cello

62 - 65mm

3/32"

7/16"

     A-1/4"     C-5/16"

5/8"

Bass

9.5 - 11cm

3/16"

11/16"

    G-7/16"   E-11/16"

1 1/8"

 

String Heights Steel Core Strings (measured at the end of the fingerboard). Gut and Synthetic Core strings may be slightly more.

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Determining the Correct Instrument Size For The Student

 

VIOLIN / VIOLA - While supporting the instrument under the chin in the playing position the instrument is of the proper size if the palm and fingers of the left hand can comfortably cup the scroll with the elbow relaxed.

CELLO - Seat the student in a comfortable chair or bench so that the knees are bent at a 90º angle. The instrument should rest with its upper edge, by the neck, on the sternum and the knee is in contact with the curve below the lower bout corner. The C-string peg should be near the left ear, with the neck a few inches from the shoulder. The left hand should be able to reach both ends of the fingerboard with ease, and the first and fourth fingers able to comfortably span a major third (E to G#) in the first position on the D-string.

BASS - While standing behind the bass in playing position, the fingerboard nut should be at the top of the ear, and the right hand should be able to comfortably draw the bow from frog to tip. The first and fourth fingers of the left hand should be able to easily span a whole tone (E-F#) on the D-string in the first position.

Violin Sizes by Arm Length
 

Violin Size

Arm Length
(in inches)

4/4 (Full Size)

24

3/4

22 1/2"

1/2

21

1/4

19

1/8

18

1/10

16 1/2"

1/16

15

  Violins come in 9 different sizes: 4/4 (also called Full size), 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16 and 1/32.  All adults unless especially short use the 4/4 violin. The 7/8, originally referred to as a "ladies violin" is used by those who want a full-size violin sound but whose hand might be a little small for the full size violin.

Some teachers prefer students to use the measurement from the neck to the wrist instead of the neck to mid-palm measurement. The neck to wrist measurement runs a little smaller and is the size that is more comfortable for students to hold. The violin size determined by the neck to mid-palm measurement is the largest size students should use.  You should ask for your teacher's recommendation.

 

 

Violin Sizes by Age:
    A more general way of determining the size is by age nut it is not as accurate as the other two procedures. 

Violin Size

Age

4/4 (Full Size)

12 year and older

3/4

10-11

1/2

8-9

1/4

6-7

1/8

5-6

1/10

4-5

1/16

3 and below

 

 Viola Sizes by Arm Length and Age

To pick which size is correct for the player, take a measuring tape from the left side of the player's neck to the palm of their outstretched left arm. (The arm should not be bent at the elbow and the arm should be at a right angle to the body. The palm should be facing up to the ceiling)

 

 Age of Player

 Player's Arm Length

(to base of fingers)

 Viola Size

Large Adult

26" and larger

16" Viola (or 16.5")

Average Adult

25" - 25.25"

15.5" Viola

Small Adult,

Child 10-12 years

 

24.5"

15" Viola

9-12 years

23"

14" Viola
(or 4/4 violin)

7-9 years

21.5"-22"

13" Viola
(or 3/4 violin)

6-7 years

20"

12" Viola
(or 1/2 violin)

 

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