best violin size for beginners

Violins come in a good range of different sizes so that all of us can find the right instrument to play according to our own unique body proportions. Violins sizes range from a 1/32 to a 4/4 and come in 9 different sizes to accommodate the youngest of players all the way to adult players, and even adult players with small hands and arms. Today, we look at the Best Violin Size For Beginners and best violin for beginners options on the market as well.

violin and hand

Best Violin Size For Beginners

1/32 Violins

The smallest fiddle in the family is the 1/32 size, and is for the youngest students ages 1-3.

Children can actually start playing with a violin as young as age 1, and will often begin with a cardboard violin, just to get their hands and body used to the position one is in when playing.

Then they will move to a “real” violin, and this would be the size violin that they would start playing on.

This size violin measures 13 ½ inches in total length and best suit arm lengths of 14 inches.

1/16 Violins

The next size is young students ages 3-5. This is the 1/16th size fiddle.

They are about an inch longer than the smallest size, and most beginning students at this age will start with this size rather than the 1/32 size violin.

These violins measure 14 ½ inches in total length and best suit arm lengths of 14 inches.

1/10 Violins

Now we move up to the 1/10th size violins that are really just about an inch longer than the 1/16th violins.

These violins are best suited for children ages 4-5. They measure 16 inches in total length and best fit arm lengths of 15 inches.

1/8 Violins

Following this, we have the 1/8 size violin which is again, about an inch longer than the previous size. These violins are most played by students age 4-6 years old.

They measure 17 inches in total length and fit arm lengths up to 16 ½ inches.

1/4 Violins

Students ages 5-7 most often play on our next size, which is a 1/4 size violin. These violins are about 2 inches longer than the 1/8 size fiddles.

They measure a total length of 18 ½ – 19 inches and fit arm lengths of 18 – 18 ½ inches.

1/2 Violins

1/2 size violins are our next size. They fit best with students ages 7-9.

These violins measure 20 ½ inches in total length and are about 2 inches longer than the 1/8 sizes. They fit arm lengths 20 inches.

3/4 Violins

Now we come to 3/4 size violins. 9-12 year olds most often play this size violin. These instruments measure 21 inches long and fit arm lengths of 21 ½ – 22 inches.

7/8 Violins

The 7/8 size violins are not that commonly played, but are perfect for smaller teens, adults, or anyone with smaller than average hands.

These violins measure up to 22 ½ inches in total length and fit arm lengths of 22 inches.

These violins are not always easy to find, but if you ask your favorite violin shop to keep an eye out for one, most times they gladly will.

4/4 Violins

Finally we get to the 4/4, or full size violin. These violins are played by tall teens or adults, and measure 23 – 23 ½ inches in total length. They fit arm lengths of 23 inches or larger.

As a general rule, most students and adults that are at least 5 feet tall can play a full size violin.

Exceptions occur when the person has very small hands or arms, and would benefit on remaining on a smaller instrument for easier playing.

How Do You Measure Up

It’s fairly easy to figure out what size you need. Have either your violin teacher or the shop that you’re renting or buying your instrument from measure your arm length from the neck down to your wrist.

The total length of the violin (including the neck) should allow the wrist to curve up and wrap around the scroll, if it is the right fit.

If you or your child is in between sizes, it’s best to go smaller than larger, and then you can move up in size comfortably when the time is right.

man playing violin

If the left arm cannot bend in playing position, then the violin is too large. The arm should always be able to bend comfortably at the elbow as the fingers are placed on the fingerboard next to the scroll.

Make sure to get students playing any size under a full size measured each year to account for any growth spurts.

It’s even possible for students to change sizes in one year if they happen to be in a big growing year, and this can happen at any age in childhood, not just the teenage years.

Not everyone that is the same age will play on the same size violin

If you have 2 children both aged 5 and they are starting violin, don’t assume that they will both play the same size instrument.

There are several physical features to consider with each individual to get the right sized instrument:

  • length and size of left hand fingers;
  • width of left hand palm;
  • length of neck;
  • shape of jaw.

Also Consider…

  • When the violin is placed under the student’s chin in playing position, look at the length of the violin compared to the height of the student. Does the length of the violin look out of proportion to the student’s body? If it does, it’s probably too big even if the student can bend their left arm when in playing position. Re-measure to make sure.
  • Have the student (unless they are a beginner) hold the violin under their chin without using their left arm to help support it. Can they do this comfortably? If so, you are good to go. If not, the violin is probably too big.

Be careful about sizing a student’s violin without measuring carefully. Don’t buy a certain size based on age or height alone.

If you are buying a violin online and can’t figure out what size to buy since you can’t measure the instrument in person, it might be best to get your child’s private teacher to do the measurements, or go by your local music store and have them measure your child beforehand, so you can test out which size will work best.

violin and bow

Adult students will almost always purchase a 4/4 or full size violin, unless they are very small framed, and then they would want to look at a 7/8 size violin.

Everything needs to measure up

It’s not just your violin that you need to correctly size. Other items that need to be sized along with your violin are:

  • Bow
  • Case
  • Shoulder Rest
  • Strings

Many times you can get a whole “package” when renting or purchasing a new violin. A “package” usually comes with a violin, rosin, case, and bow.

If you are getting a package to rent or buy, the bow, case, and strings will be included.

If you are purchasing a violin without a bow and case with it, you’ll need to make sure that both items are the same size as the violin, when you do buy them.

Tell the store exactly what size violin you have and that you need a bow and case to fit.

focus violin and bow

Beginning students will not always start with a shoulder rest, but they will want to use one in most cases at some point in the first year.

Shoulder rests come in different sizes as well to match the size of you or your child’s violin.

Shoulder rests typically do not come as part of a violin package and will need to be ordered separately. They fit violins sizes 1/16 – 4/4.

For violins smaller than 1/16, often times teachers will use sponges as an introductory shoulder rest, moving into a standard model as the player gets a little bigger and more comfortable on the violin.

Strings always come on a violin, whether you rent or buy it. Sometimes strings break, or just wear out after being played for about 6 months.

focus string

When it’s time to buy new strings, you’ll need to make sure you select ones that fit your violin.

Make note of whether you need strings that fit a fine tuner, or ones that will be tuned using your pegs. E strings always attach to a fine tuner.

best violin for beginners

No matter your age, height or weight, there’s a violin for everyone!

Playing on the right size violin is like slipping on your favorite pair of shoes.

Get proper measurements so the violin won’t be too large or too small to play on comfortably.

Realize that anyone playing on a violin smaller than a full size, will be growing, and should be measured at least every year, or more often if there is a large growth spurt happening.

Keeping yourself or your young violinist in the right fit, will ensure a pleasant experience and allow for the greatest growth.

Types of Musical Instruments

Musical instruments can be categorized depending on the way they generate sound. All musical instruments fall under one of the following – string, wind, percussion and keyboard, though there may be further divisions and sub-divisions.

Here are a few examples:

  • String instruments include guitars, violins, ukuleles and cellos.
  • Wind instruments include pipes, sax, clarinet, flute and such other types.
  • Drums, bongos, cymbals and bells are percussion instruments.
  • Keyboard instruments include pianos, harpsichords, organs and accordions.

While these are the more commonly played musical instruments, over thousand musical instruments are available across the world, including folk instruments.

Read: Which Music Instruments are easier to learn?

General Things to Consider Before Buying a Instrument

Here are some of the things that you should take into consideration before choosing a suitable instrument:

  • The age of the student: The child needs to have developed motor skills to be able to play
  • The character/personality of the student
  • Your interests, the kind of music you want to play
  • The cost, the amount of money you’re willing to spend
  • The practicalities involved (such as size, portability, maintenance of the instrument)

Research Prices & Competing Stores

Do spend some time looking for instruments and their prices online; you can find some great deals online. Also, do check competing online stores. For instance, Amazon and Walmart are great for finding beginner instruments and toys for kids. Merchants like Amazon, zZounds, Musiciansfriends have wide range of instruments for pros. You will find great deals on guitars on sites like Guitar Center.

If you’re looking for an expensive instrument, do check it out at your local store as well. While you may not be able to get lower prices, you will be sure about the model that you have selected.

When buying online, see what accessories are included, and also factor in shipping costs.

Beginner Instruments for Students

The good thing about buying a new musical instrument is that you now have access to several products that are available for cheap. These are designed for beginners and offer great features, are functional, but don’t cost much.

Although a student or beginner instrument is a cheaper version of what professionals play, these ‘cheaper’ instruments are not sub-standard products.

In fact, a good student instrument comes with several features that assist students to progress faster and also to enjoy music making.

These are easier to play, offer less resistance (string instruments), is easier to blow (wind instruments), for the inexperienced player. For example, a lower action on a guitar makes playing easier for the young or inexperienced hands.

Most of these musical instruments are also available as a packages – comes bundled with useful accessories and Music books/DVDs so that you get everything to get started.

Get Creative With Home Made Musical Instruments

Musical instruments can also be made at home using items of daily use (mostly percussion); this works great for kids.

You can make almost anything, from shakers and jingle bracelets to drums and tambourines. Its easier to make percussion instruments at home.

It turns out cheaper and you won’t feel bad if the kids break the toy instrument.

Homemade musical instruments help your child to be creative and can keep them busy. Kids will also have a great time, playing in their own band at home.

Are You Already a Player?

If you are already a player then you should avoid picking up the cheapest musical instrument.

Its best to go out and play all the instruments you can, and pick the one that appeals to your ears, suits your requirements and your budget (you should be open to increasing your budget a bit, in case you get hold of some really good musical instrument).

You should also go through the used gear/blemished gear section on top online merchants. You can find some really good instruments with minor bruises (but in perfectly working conditions) for good discounts.

Also Read: Buy used/blemished gear for cheap.

You can Buy, Rent or Borrow?

While everybody would love to buy a new musical instrument, in some cases its just not the practical thing to do.

You can always choose to buy a second-hand instrument.

Some music services (organizations contracted by the Local Authority to provide music tuition in state schools and at music centers) and schools offer instruments on loan to beginner students.

Then there are some (including some retailers) who operate rental systems. For a modest fee, they provide you a musical instrument for a trial period so that you get sufficient time to make up your mind.

The great thing about these options is that it allows you to get a feel of what is involved in learning, and how to take care of and maintain the instrument, before actually buying one.

In case you’re considering purchasing a second-hand instrument, make sure you check it for suitability, before it is used.

You Don’t Have to Buy the Most Expensive Instrument

Musical instruments can be expensive, especially if you are seeking the best option available on the market. In general, these can cost anything from $100 to over $10000. For example, a good Yamaha or Roland keyboard can cost almost $2000.

That is why used musical instruments are often a good choice, especially if you are learning to play a new instrument.

You definitely don’t have to buy the most expensive instrument out there. Choose something that fits your purpose. Feel free to consult a music teacher or a music shop.

Its important that the instrument is appropriate for your child, no matter how you intend to obtain it.

Most young string players, for example, begin learning on smaller sized instruments as they feel uncomfortable playing full-sized instruments (too large for them).

For beginners it is advisable to invest in musical instruments in the lower price range. However, you also should keep in mind that learning on a sub-standard instrument can be demotivating and usually prevents progress.

Don’t Go Too Cheap

If you’re buying an instrument for a child, you can pick a cheap one but for a serious beginner you want something better. A $50 cheap guitar is unlikely to last long and may not sound inspiring. And if it breaks down, you will have to buy another one (basically you will end up spending more money than you would spend buying a quality, new guitar).

A quality instrument costs more but it saves money in the long run and it will make you practice more.

Use the Power of Social Media

Have a huge social media presence? Do you (or your friend) manage social media accounts for some school, college or charitable institution? If yes, you can post that you’re looking for a music instrument and ask for help.

You never know; one of your followers might want to sell an instrument. In some cases, they might even give it for free (you will have to collect it though).

Having a huge online presence can help you find help in the online community.

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