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What Size Viola Do I Need?

Viola Size

The following charts provide a guide to selecting an appropriate viola size.

Instrument sizes may vary slightly within their specified fractional size; our guide applies to Bridgewood and Neitzert’ range of instruments, it is aimed to be as thorough as possible.

How to measure

Have the player extend their left arm completely straight (but not overextended) with no bend in the elbow or wrists.

Violin Hire from Bridgewood and Neitzert London

The ideal size viola for a child is found by measuring the distance between the base of the neck and the left wrist. The hand should be opened, and the arm held out perpendicular to the body (but not overextended) with the shoulder relaxed. With this measurement use the table below to establish the correct viola size.

We do not recommend playing on instruments with ‘growing room’ as this can have a detrimental effect on technique, form and posture.

Viola sizes over 15” are determined by personal and teacher preference.

Viola Size Age guide Arm length distance A in cm
12” 6-7 years old Up to 50.8 cm    or 20”
13” 7-9 years old Up to 55.9 cm    or 22”
14” 9-12 years old Up to 58    cm    or 23”
15” 10-12 years old Up to 62.2 cm    or 24.5”
15.5” Average adult Up to 64    cm    or 25.25”
16” Average adult + Up to 66    cm    or 22”
16.5” Average adult ++ Up to 66    cm    or 22”

Measuring which size viola you require is very straight forward. This guide is intended to help you find the correct size if you have not been advised.

The actual size between the instruments isn’t much to look at, they only change by 1/2 an inch in the larger sizes and 1 inch in the smaller, but these small size differences can make a big difference to the player.

When looking at fractional size violas the differences in size don’t look that different, the variation in actual size between smaller violas is only 1 inch and for larger sizes by 1/2 “, but these differences can make a big difference to the player.

If your child is just under the next size, it’s tempting to go for a larger instrument. They should only move to larger sizes when they are 100% ready. Playing an instrument which may be only slightly too large could inhibit their progress.

If the viola arrives and your teacher suggests a different size, please let us know and we’ll arrange a swap.


Other methods of measuring if you already have a viola

If you already have a viola you can easily measure and check if the size is appropriate.

Violin Hire from Bridgewood and Neitzert London


Hold your viola in the playing position, extend your left arm as above, this time try and hold the scroll (as pictured) it should sit in the middle of the palm of the left hand and your fingers should be able to curl around the scroll.



Violin Hire from Bridgewood and Neitzert London


Check which size viola you already have using the measurements table below, measure the length of back but be sure not to measure the button (see picture).

Viola Size Back length guide
12” 305 mm or 12    inches
13” 330 mm or 13    inches
14” 356 mm or 14    inches
15” 381 mm or 15    inches
15.5” 394 mm or 15.5 inches
16” 406 mm or 16    inches
16.5” 419 mm or 16.5 inches