When learning to play the violin, choosing the correct size is crucial. In total, there are 7 different sizes of violins, ranging from 1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 4/4. You can measure a violin for a child by measuring the length of his arm and selecting the corresponding violin size. Have the child hold the violin and hold the headstock to check the size. If you can comfortably wrap your fingers around the headstock, the violin is the right size.
Part 1 of 3: Measure a Child's Arm
Step 1. Have the child extend his arm to the side, parallel to the floor
It is best to measure the size of the violin when the player's arm is straight. To do this, ask the child to extend his dominant arm outward.
Make sure they hold their arm as straight as possible. If your arm is bent at the elbow, the measurement may not be accurate
Step 2. Begin by measuring from the center of the child's hand
Ask the child to spread his fingers and flatten his hand. Next, hold the edge of a tape measure in the center of your hand.
- The middle part of the hand is approximately where the base of the thumb meets the hand.
- If you don't have a tape measure, you can use a ruler instead.
Step 3. Stretch the tape measure up to the child's neck to find out how long his arm is
Hold the tape measure in the child's hand, and stretch it up to his neck. Take the measurement where the neck meets the shoulder.
- This area covers the region with which the violin is held, providing a correct measurement.
- Be careful with the metric tape, do not accidentally hurt the child. The edges can be sharp!
Part 2 of 3: Choosing the Right Violin
Step 1. Try a 1/10 or 1/16 violin if your arm is less than 16 inches (41 cm)
Use a 1/10 size violin if the child's arm is between 15 and 16 inches (38 to 41 cm). Go for a 1/16 violin if the child's arm is only 14 to 15 inches (36 to 38 cm). If your child is 4 years old or younger, these are good size options.
While these sizes are not very common, they are available for young aspiring violinists
Step 2. Go for a 1/8 violin if the child's arm length is 16 inches
Young children most often begin to learn the violin at this size. This is a great option for children ages 4-6 or in kindergarten.
Step 3. Try a ¼-size violin if the child's arm length is 16.5 to 18 inches (42 to 46 cm)
On average, children between the ages of 5 and 7 use this size violin. This is the typical size for first grade violinists.
The body of a ¼ violin is between 42 and 46 cm (16.5 and 18 inches). This measurement does not include the fingerboard or headstock
Step 4. Go for a half violin if its arm is 18.5 to 20 inches (47 to 51 cm)
The ½ violin is the middle point on the spectrum of violin sizes. This size is recommended for most children ages 7-9 and second and third grade.
The average body measurement of a medium violin is between 19 to 20 inches (48 to 51 cm)
Step 5. Select a size ¾ violin for an arm length between 52 and 56 cm (20.5 and 22 inches)
If your child's arm length is too long for a medium-sized violin, try a ¾-size violin. On average, this size works well for children between the ages of 9 and 12. It is also common among fifth and sixth grade orchestra students.
Some adults prefer to use a ¾-size violin
Step 6. Choose a full-size violin if its arm length is 23 inches (58 cm) or more
If your measurement is over 23 inches (58 cm), your child should use a full-size violin. Full-size violins typically fit children 12 and older. They are generally used from the seventh grade onwards.
This is the largest violin option, and is used by adult violinists as well
Part 3 of 3: Testing the Violin
Step 1. Have the child hold the violin in position to play
Ask the student to reach out and hold the end of the violin. Then ask him to hold the violin between his chin and shoulder.
This way, you can choose a violin size based on how it fits in your hand
Step 2. Ask the child to close his hand around the head of the violin
The child must place his fingers around the head, which is decorative, carved on the end of the violin. If the child can comfortably play the pegbox (where the tuning pegs are), the violin is a good size.
The violin headstock normally has a spiral wound shape
Step 3. Choose a smaller size if your child has trouble reaching the head
If the child cannot comfortably cover the headstock with his fingers, the violin is the wrong size. Your fingers should easily reach the tuner without any effort or discomfort.
If the child plays a violin that is too large, it may be difficult for him to balance the weight. This could lead to incorrect playing posture and technique
Step 4. Try a larger violin size if the child's fingers go over the headstock
If your child's fingers extend to the pegbox, try holding a larger violin. Your fingers should reach the end of the head.
If the child uses a violin that is too small, it may develop poor playing posture. A bad position can negatively influence the tuning of the instrument
If you need help measuring a violin, ask your child's orchestra instructor or a music store clerk for help
- If the child uses a violin that is too large or too small, he may not learn to play it properly and may become discouraged.
- Instead of buying a larger violin with the intention of growing your child, choose a smaller size. It's better to round down than up when it comes to children's violin sizes.