How to Choose the Right Viola Size For You

How to Choose the Right Viola Size For You

Every musician considers not only the quality, design and color of their chosen instrument, they also carefully choose the size. It is crucial because it would affect the ease of playing it. Doing the proper technique won’t be possible if the size of the instrument doesn’t fit the player.

However, compared with the violin and cello, choosing the size of your viola could be challenging as there is no universal or standard size for everyone. Violas are larger than violins but smaller than cellos.

One of the first things you should do in choosing your viola is to ask some help from a professional string instructor or a viola specialist. They can either base the size on your age or on your arm length. The age is an important factor in identifying the size of the viola as well as determining whether one needs to replace his or her current instrument.

You may refer to the chart below:

Size
1/8
1/4
12”
13”
14”
15”
15.5”
16”
16.5”
Age
3-5
5-7
7-9
7-10
9-12
11-13
12-14
14+
14+
Arm Length
(inches)
14-15
15-18
18-20
20-22
22-23
23-25
26-27
27-28
28+

 

The viola sizes are measured in inches unlike violins that are sized in fractions. A viola for an adult commonly has a size of 15.5 to 16 ½ inches. For children ages 9-12, the junior viola or 14 inches viola will allow them to play the instrument comfortably. The size of the body is measured from the upper and lower bout of the viola.

 

If you want to make sure that viola is the right size for you, you may consider some practical steps below:

  • Stand with your left arm fully extended at a right angle, and measure the length from your neck to the middle of your left palm. Refer to the chart above and choose the appropriate viola size for you.

 

  • Hold the viola, rest your chin on the chin rest and wrap your fingers around the scroll. Make sure that your arm is slightly bent.

 

  • Place your arm on the playing position and see the angle of your arm that is bent, if it is on a right angle, then the fit is good. Your arm shouldn’t be too bent. That means that the viola is too small for you. If you find it hard to reach the scroll with your palm, then the viola is too big for you. Playing a viola that is too big from your size could cause serious injuries in the long run.

 

Apart from the size, considering the type of material used for the instrument is also important, especially for beginners. Choosing one with quality tonewood and tight construction will create a pleasing sound and would motivate you to improve in learning how to play the viola. Lastly, in choosing the right viola, make sure that you are comfortable enough both on holding and playing the instrument without pain and tension.

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