Not everyone is going to start off with a full-size instrument. Violin-family instruments are somewhat unique in that people of all sizes and ages play them, and they are sized to fit the stature of the player. You rarely see a 3 year old studying a brass or woodwind instrument because these are larger instruments that require a certain physicality to them to play properly.
When a beginner student picks up a violin to begin their studies, whether they are 3 years old or 12 years old, they play what is referred to as a fractional size instrument. Violins are sized down from 4/4 (full-size) – 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, 1/32. A 1/32 violin is small enough for me to put it in my pants-pocket (don’t try this at home). While I have never met a 1/32 size violin that made a truly beautiful sound, it is imperative that it is well set up and easy to play.
Cellos, violas, and even basses come in fractional sizes small enough for the earliest student. We stock the smallest sizes and strive to have instruments that are responsive, easy to play, and encouraging for a young student. We currently have a large stock of high-quality 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 violins that are more advanced options for those students who have been playing since an early age available in our specialty orchestral strings shop as well.
We want to ensure that your student is fit with the proper size and are more than happy to help! When testing instruments at school, the teacher will typically estimate a size but that could change by the time the student is ready to play. If you are unable to make it in to the store for us to physically measure the student, we have specialists on staff who can work with you on finding the best size. However, the best way to make sure the student has the right fit is to bring them into the store if a teacher is unable to measure the proper size.
While violins and cellos are pretty straight forward when it comes to a full size, violas and basses are a little different. Violas can range between 15”-16.5”, so the player wants to make sure they are comfortable with the size. A full size bass is essentially considered to be full size between 3/4 and 7/8 sizes. As the student grows, the instrument will too. When a student is ready for the next size, we can easily exchange for the correct one that is the best fit! Once they reach the full size, they will not need anything larger.