Viola Size Chart: choose the right size viola
Did you know that violas come in a variety of sizes?
Selecting the correct size for you (or your child) is absolutely vital for fostering a happy and healthy viola journey.
Playing on a viola that is too big forces the player to contort their body into unnatural positions, possibly leading to injury (namely carpal tunnel and tendonitis); and playing on a viola that is too small can cause the player to feel very cramped and limited in their bowings and finger placements. Keep reading this article to discover what viola size is best for you or your child.
Although the violin and viola are similar, sizing is one big way in which they differ. The viola is generally bigger than the violin, and a “full size” viola can actually be a variety of sizes! Bigger violas are generally preferred because they give a deeper, richer sound. With that being said, being tall does not necessarily mean a bigger viola is for you, and being small does not necessarily mean a smaller viola is for you! When trying to find your optimal viola size, I highly recommend trying several options to see what feels (and sounds!) best.
16.5 inch + size viola
16.5 inches is the largest readily available viola size. Bigger violas are certainly available, but you may have to look harder to find them. To fit a 16.5-inch viola, your arm length should be 28 centimeters (or 71 inches) or longer. However, if your arms are shorter but your hands are big, you very well could play on a 16.5-inch.
16 inch size viola
16-inch violas are considered large violas, recommended for players with an arm’s length of 27 centimeters (or 69 inches). 16-inch violas (and larger) are typically best suited for adults and children above the age of 14.
15.5 inch size viola
15.5-inch violas are made for players with an arm’s length of 26 centimeters (or 66 inches), typically suited for the average adult player, or children above the age of 14.
15 inch size viola
15-inch violas are made for players whose arm’s length is around 23 centimeters (or 58 inches). Children around the ages of 11-13 typically play on 15-inch violas.
14 inch size viola
14-inch violas are best suited for players with an arm’s length of 22 centimeters (or 56 inches), or children ranging from ages 9-12. 14-inch violas are comparable in size to full-size violins.
If you play violin and you want to play viola from now and then, it can be really easy to have a viola in the same size. The distances between the notes are the same.
13 inch size viola
13-inch violas are made for players whose arm’s length is 20 centimeters (or 51 inches), typically children around the ages of 8-10. 13-inch violas are comparable to ¾ size violins.
12 inch size viola
12-inch violas are best suited for players whose arms-length measures around 18 centimeters (or 46 inches). Children around the ages of 7-9 will most likely need this size. 12-inch violas are comparable to ½ size violins.
11 inch size viola
11-inch violas are made for players with an arm’s length of 15 centimeters (or 38 inches), usually children around the ages of 5-7. 11-inch violas are comparable to ¼ size violins.
10 inch size viola
10-inch violas are made for players with an arm’s length of 14 centimeters (or 36 inches), usually, students under the age of 5. 10-inch violas are comparable to ⅛ size violins.
What size viola do you play?
Leave a comment below what your ideal viola size is.
In my article about violin sizes you can find more information how to measure the right size and use the size chart.