How To Measure Violins for Kids

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Category : Music

Violins can be scaled down so younger students can still learn to play

One of the really nifty things about starting young children on violin is that they can use an instrument that is, proportional to their bodies, the same size as an adult violin! That doesn’t happen with pianos or drums. It’s even hard to do with guitars, because you can only make the neck so skinny before six strings just won’t fit. But a violin can be shrunk small enough to fit just about any musician!

For your young student, one of the most important things is getting a violin that is the correct size. Aside from the basic frustration of trying to play an instrument that’s too big or small for them, a properly fitted violin also helps students build good technique habits.

Here’s some things to keep in mind to help you pick the perfect size violin.

Arm Length

Easily the MOST IMPORTANT part of selecting a violin is the student’s arm size. When we say this, parents often get very nervous, because they know how fast kids grow. Don’t worry! You don’t need to buy the violin. Most good music stores have violins available for rent, so you can change every couple years as your child grows.

There are two ways to measure for the fit of a violin. If you have instruments available to test, have your student hold the violin in position (under his or her chin) and extend their arm out along the instrument. If they hold up their hand at a right angle to their arm, the end of the violin should just fit into their palm.

You can also do a similar measurement with a yardstick. Have your student hold their arm out to their side with their hand up at a right angle to the arm. Place one end of the yardstick into their palm and measure to their neck. Here’s a size chart to figure out what size violin is best.

Arm Length

Violin Size

Approx. Age

14” – 15 3/8”


3 – 5 years

15 3/8” – 17”


3 – 5 years

17” – 18”


3 – 6 years

18” – 20”


4 – 7 years

20” – 22”


6 – 10 years

22” – 23”


9 – 12 years

23” and up

Full Size

9 years – Adult

Generally speaking, it’s better to err on the side of a smaller instrument if your student is right on the edge and not sure which one to go with. Larger instruments can be very frustrating because they’re physically difficult to play. Go up to the larger size when your student is ready, but keep with an instrument they’ll be capable of managing.  

Other Size Considerations

Arm length should decide most size questions, but it’s also worth giving some consideration to other measurements, especially when on the border between the larger sizes. As students grow, differences in hand size become more pronounced. A student who measures at about 22” but has small hands may prefer a ½ size instrument, whereas a similar student with large hands will be more comfortable on a ¾ size violin.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the size chart is a guide. Take your student and try out some instruments! There’s no substitute for putting hands on a violin and seeing what fits firsthand. 


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