Violin Types and Sizes

Before learning how to play the violin, it is useful to know about the different sizes and types of violins.

The type of violin can be classified by the country of origin, brand or style of music.

  1. Acoustic (Non-Electric) Violin – This is the traditional violin that is more suitable for beginners.  It is the standard violin within the classical music repertoire.
  2. Electric Violin – This type of violin is usually utilized by more advanced players experimenting with different types of music, especially improv.  Electric violins convert regular vibrations generated from the strings to an electric signal for a more amplified sound.

Violin sizing is fractional, meaning that a full, adult size violin is 4/4, or a whole.

The smaller sizes were developed to fit the Suzuki Method of teaching violin, where children as young as three would acquaint themselves with the instrument.

The right size depends on your arm length and hand size. With your arm fully extended horizontally, perpendicular to your body, measure the length between your neck and the middle of your left palm. Another measuring approach is from the neck to wrist. Both methods of measurement are valid indicators for fitting a violin.

The different sizes of violins with approximate  arm and age measurements:

  • 1/16 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 14 to 15 inches.
  • 1/10 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 15 to 17 inches.
  • 1/8 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 17 to 17.5 inches.
  • 1/4 – Four to 7 years old with arm length of 17.6 to 20 inches.
  • 1/2 – Six to 10 years old with an arm length of 20 to 22 inches.
  • 3/4 – Nine to 11 years old with an arm length of 22 to 23.5 inches.
  • 4/4 or Full Size – For violinists age 9 and above with an arm length of 23.5 inches and up.  This size is the adult size.

Here is a reputable video from the respected SHAR Violins on how to find the correct violin size:

Although you can fit yourself, it is suggested that violinists go to a local music or violin specialty shop to be measured correctly.

Some reputable music shops in and near my city Tempe, AZ include:

For the next post, I plan to demonstrate how to properly hold the violin and the bow.


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