You are currently viewing How to Measure a Student for a Viola

It is important to properly fit students for the right size instrument.  Violas come in several different common sizes: 16”, 15 1/2”, 15”, 14”, 13”, and 12”.  16” is the largest readily available standard student size and 12” is the smallest.  Below is an easy way to measure what size viola best suits the student.

To get a general idea, we can use the student’s age to narrow down their size. Of course, some students need larger or smaller instruments based on their individual size. We will get a more accurate determination of the student’s size with the measurement in the steps below.

Student’s Age  Approximate Viola Size
7 to 11 years old 12”
8 to 12 years old 13”
9 to 13 years old 14”
13+ years old and small adult 15”
14+ years old and average adult 15 1/2”
15+ years old and large adult 16”


viola sizing

  • Have your student stand up straight with their left arm extended perpendicular to their body at shoulder height (see picture). Their arm should be extended naturally and not forced completely straight.
  • Gently place a tape measure or yardstick against the student’s neck and along the extended arm.
  • Measure the distance in inches to the middle of the student’s palm.
  • Use the chart below to determine the appropriate size of viola the student needs. If the student is on the edge of two viola sizes, we recommend going with the smaller size.




Measurement in Inches Viola Size
20 3/8″ to 21 1/2″ 12”
21 5/8″ to 23 1/8″ 13”
23 1/4″ to 24 5/8″ 14”
24 3/4″ to 25 1/2″ 15”
25 5/8″ to 26 1/4″ 15 ½”
26 3/8″ or greater 16”


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