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1 East Diamond Ave. Ste F Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Helpful Measurements and Guides

Bridge Placement | Bridge Heights Sizing a New Student |

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. 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 by two. (13 cm/2=6.5 cm on most violins)
3. Multiply that number by three. (6.5cm x 3= 19.5cm on most 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 adjusted. Make sure to bring the instrument in to see if your soundpost needs 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 or shortening the vibrating string length. 

Bridge Height- Between Strings & Fingerboard

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 New Student

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.

Listed below are some measurement guidelines to give an approximate idea on what size violin or cello a student will need. To measure--with their palm facing upward, have the student fully extend their left arm to their side with a slight bend in their elbow. Place a yardstick or measuring tape at the base of the student's neck and measure to the center of their palm. Use the table below to determine which size the student will most likely need.

Arm Length Approx. Age Violin/Cello Size
14" to 15 3/8" 3-5 years 1/16
15 3/8" to 17" 3-5 years 1/10
17.1" to 17.5" 3-5 years 1/8
17.6" to 20" 4-7 years 1/4 (11" viola)
20" to 22" 6-10 years 1/2 (12" viola)
22" to 23.5" 9-11 years 3/4 (13" viola)
22" to 23.5" 9-adult 4/4 (14" viola & up)