Skip Navigation Website Accessibility
News from the Bench / Measuring a Student

Sizing a Student for a Violin, Viola, or Cello 

A child has their hand on their head and leans on a chalkboard with a ruler to measure their height.
Although we strongly recommend having the size checked by a teacher and/or a member of our staff, we realize it isn't always feasible for the teacher to see the student in person or to bring the student to our store for sizing. 

How to Measure at Home

Measuring a student for an instrument is simple with these steps:
  1.  Have the student stand (or sit) up straight and tall with their feet spread shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Have the student raise their shoulders up to their ears. The purpose of this is to simply have the student relax their shoulders for a more accurate measurement. Pro Tip: We recommend having the student hold their shoulders up for a comically long time; it helps them relax and it's funny. 
  3. Have the student relax their shoulders.A person outstretches their left arm and a line shows to measure from their neck to their palm.
  4. Ask the student to reach out their left arm from their side with their palm facing upward. 
  5. Ensure the Student has a Slight Bend in their Elbow. (See the photo above.) Pro Tip: Students like to really stretch out their arms for this portion, but a relaxed, slightly bent arm is the most accurate posture for measuring.An outstretched arm has a yardstick above it. Their size is marked as 1/2 size.
  6. Place a yardstick or measuring tape at the base of the student's neck and measure to the center of their palm.
  7. Use the information on the yardstick pictures below to determine which size instrument the student will most likely need. If the student is measuring between sizes, choose the smaller size for their comfort.
A custom, yellow Lashof Violins yardstick indicates different violin sizings.
Size Measurement Range
1/16 Size 14" - 15 1/4"
1/10 Size 15 3/8" - 16 7/8"
1/8 Size 17" - 18 3/8"
1/4 Size (11" Viola) 18 1/2" - 20 1/4"
1/2 Size (12" Viola) 20 3/8" - 22 1/8"
3/4 Size (13" Viola) 22 1/4" - 23 1/2"
4/4 Size Violin/Cello 23 5/8" and up
14" Viola 23 5/8" - 24 3/4"
15" Viola 24 7/8" - 25 1/2"
15 1/2" Viola 25 1/2" - 26 1/4"
16" Viola 26 3/8" - 27"
16 1/2" Viola  27 1/8" and up

From our experience, the size most 4th graders need (in order of popularity) is: 1/2 size (12" viola), 3/4 size (13" viola), 1/4 size (11" viola) or 4/4 size (14" viola). This can vary based on each student's arm length, but these are the sizes we rent the most at the beginning of each school year. 

That's it!
That's all it takes from home!

It is best to have an instrument in the student's hands for the most accurate measurement, so feel free to bring the student by our store (or to their teacher) with their instrument for a double-check on sizing when it's possible. Double-checking a student's size with their instrument is a fast process that can be done in a safe and socially distanced manner during our regular business hours.