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Helpful Measurements and Guides

Bridge Placement | Bridge Heights Sizing a New Student |

A violin diagram with two sections labeled: measurement 1 (13 cm on most violins) and measurement 2 bridge placement (19.5 cm on most violins).
Bridge Placement 
Although the notches in the f-holes can be a good general suggestion for bridge placement, they aren't always the best location on every instrument. 

Determining a more accurate and often better sounding placement is achieved by determining the MENSUR. The MENSUR is a ratio of neck length to partial body length to determine bridge location.

Use the following instructions to determine the MENSUR of a violin/viola:
1. Measurement 1: Measure the distance from the end of the nut (closest to the fingerboard) to the edge of the violin top next to the neck.
2. Divide the total of Measurement 1 by two. (13 cm / 2=6.5 cm on most 4/4 violins)
3. Multiply that number by three. (6.5 cm x 3= 19.5 cm on most 4/4 violins)
4. The resulting measurement (from the edge by the neck, to the center of the bridge foot) is the proper location of the bridge for the violin/viola, thus a 2:3 ratio.

The MENSUR for the Cello the ratio is 7:10 and the Bass is 3:4.

A couple of final important notes.
*When moving your bridge to a new location, your soundpost may also need to be adjusted. Make sure to bring the instrument in to see if your soundpost needs to be tweaked with your new bridge placement.

*If you have any markings on your fingerboard (like tapes for finger placement), these markings will also need to change as a result of a bridge shift and lengthening/shortening of the vibrating string length. 

Bridge Height Measurements:A close up of the fingerboard, string, and bridge of a violin. A ruler has been placed vertically at the end of the fingerboard. An an arrow points to the ruler's measurement of the string at the end of the fingerboard..
To determine the correct bridge height (assuming the upper nut height and fingerboard scoop are correct), place a ruler at the base of the fingerboard. 

Measure up from the surface of the fingerboard to the underside of the string(s). 

The measurements should be as follows:  

Violin E: 1/8" G: 3/16"
Viola A: 3/16" C: 1/4"
Cello A: 1/4" C: 5/16"
Bass G: 7/16" E: 11/16"

Sizing a Student

A child leans against a chalkboard with their hand on their head. A ruler has been drawn on the chalkboard to measure the child's 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 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 at 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's funny and it helps an excited/anxious student to relax. 
  3. Have the student relax their shoulders.A man has his left arm stretched out from his side, parallel to the ground. A line shows a measurement from the base of the man's neck to the center of his outstretched 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, bent arm is the most accurate posture for measuring.An arm is outstretched, parallel to the ground and the hand is facing with the palm upward. A ruler extends above the arm and measures to the center of the palm of the hand.
  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 of instrument the student will most likely need. If the student is measuring between sizes, choose the smaller size for their comfort.
A yellow yardstick has unique measurements listed for different sizes of violins.
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

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 which can be done in a safe and socially-distanced manner during our regular business hours.