Beginner Violin Tips

Choosing the Right Violin Size

To be clear: adults use full size violins. “Full Size” is frequently also written as “4/4.” If you are looking for an adult violin, read our article on Buying A Beginner Violin. If you are looking for a kids violin, read on.

Violin Size

Violin Size (4/4 and 1/16) - Image from Wikipedia

One note about violins that are less than full size: it is usually better to rent them than buy them. The same craftsmanship does not go into kids violins (different type of wood, machine-made rather than handmade, etc.), and the quality tends not to be very high. Also, children outgrow each size very quickly, so it can be expensive to buy a series of violins. Renting typically costs $10-$30 per month and includes the violin, a bow, a case, and rosin.

Where to Get Kids Violins

Go to Violin Shops – It is easiest to determine the best violin size by trying out different sizes. The staff at the violin store will be able to quickly determine what the right size should be.

Here is how they will likely make the determination:

How to Determine the Right Violin Size

  1. Hold the violin – Put the base of the violin between your neck and left shoulder as if you are about to play
  2. Point your left arm straight out
  3. Curl your fingers around the rounded top of the violin (called the “Scroll”)
    • Just Right – If your fingers can get all the way around so that your fingertips touch the front of the Scroll Box (the part right under the Scroll), then the violin size is probably about right.
    • Too Big – If your fingertips can’t quite reach the Scroll Box, the violin may be too big and you should try the next smallest size.
    • Too Small – If you have to bend your left arm significantly in order to wrap your hand around the violin Scroll (i.e. your arm is much longer than the violin), then the violin is likely too small. Try the next larger size.

More General Guidelines, From Largest to Smallest Violin Size

Violin Size Arm Length
(base of neck to fingertip)
Approx. Age
4/4 (Full Size) 23.5+ in 12+
3/4 (Three Quarters) 22 – 23.5 in 10-11
1/2 (Half Size) 20.75 – 22 in 8-9
1/4 (Quarter Size) 19 – 20.75 in 6-7
1/8 (Eighth Size) 17.75 – 19 in 5-6
1/10 (Tenth Size) 16 – 17.75 in 3-5
1/16 (Sixteenth Size) 14.5 – 16 in 3-5


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