Violins come in many sizes ranging from 1/32 (very small) to 4/4 (full size).
It is important to have an instrument fitted by an experienced person. Ideally, fitting should be done with an actual instrument but it is also possible to use a measuring stick or measuring tape to get an estimate of correct size.
MEASURING WITH AN INSTRUMENT
Have the child place the violin under her chin (in the chin rest) and fully extend her left arm. The scroll (very end of the violin) should hit the center of the palm of the left hand. Generally, it’s a good idea to play on an instrument that is a bit smaller than one that is bigger, especially for beginners.
MEASURING WITH A YARDSTICK (or stiff measuring tape)
If you don’t have access to an instrument, use a yardstick. Lift the left arm and extend it fully to the side, palm facing upward, fingers flat and straight out. Place the yardstick under the chin, touching the neck (you are going to measure from neck to palm as this is where the violin will sit), and then determine the measurement from the neck to the center of the palm. Don’t allow for any slack. Once you have the size in inches, use the size chart, below, to determine the child’s size.
FAQ about instrument sizing.
1. Is it better to get a slightly larger violin or smaller violin?
Generally for a beginner, it is better to select a slightly smaller instrument for ease of playing. However, it is recommended that you consult your teacher when making this decision.
2. Is arm length the only factor to consider when choosing the correct instrument size?
No, finger length and other body dimensions could also be important. It is always recommended that you have someone experienced correctly size the instrument. Also, keep in mind that violin dimensions and sizes may not be consistent across various makers. It is always best to size on the actual instrument that you will be using.