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What you need to know before buying Viola:

  1. Know your size:

VIOLA Sizing Chart

* Approximate sizing and measurements. Exact size/dimensions will vary from maker to maker. Note that 1 inch = 2.54 cm

Age of Player*

Player’s Arm Length*

Viola Size

Viola Measurements (Length: Body)

Body Length*

Large Adult

26” and larger

66cm

16” to 16.5” Viola

16” or 16.5”

40.6cm or 42 cm

29.25” [full viola]

75 cm

Average Adult

25”-25.25”

63.5 cm - 64cm

15.5” Viola

15.5”

39.4 cm

29.25” 

75 cm

Small Adult, Child 10-12 years

24.5”

62.2 cm

15” Viola

15”

38 cm

28.25” 

75 cm

9-12 years

23”

58 cm

14” Viola

(4/4 Violin)

14”

35.5 cm

29.25” 

75 cm

7-9 years

21.5”-22”

54.6 cm – 55.9 cm

13” Viola

(3/4 Violin)

13”

33 cm

27” [3/4 violin]

68.6 cm

6-7 years

20”

50.8 cm

12” Viola

(1/2 Violin)

12”

30.5 cm

24.5” (1/2 violin)

62.2 cm


2) Body Material:
  • Spruce.  Straight-grained spruce is used on the top of the viola because it is strong enough to handle the stress of string pressure.  Spruce also helps ensure proper resonation and should be aged for better sound creation.
  • Maple.  The back, sides and neck of the viola are often constructed from maple, which adds strength to the body of the instrument while being aesthetically pleasing.
  • Ebony.  The fingerboard and pegs should be ebony or a similar wood that is both stable and dense.
3) Level:

Student violas are specifically designed for beginners and are most often produced by a machine. They are made of materials that are durable and can withstand the wear-and-tear of travel and play, but are somewhat less attractive.  This makes these models very affordable and well-suited for the early stages of musical development.

Intermediate violas feature wood and workmanship that is a step up from student violas.  Most of the manufacturing is done by hand, causing the instrument to sound better and thus accommodate the needs of a more advanced player.  Extensive hand graduation on the top and back of the viola also helps to create a more refined sound, while ebony pegs and fingerboard finish off a sleek look.

Professional violas are made with premium woods and are always hand-crafted with fine attention paid to detail and construction.  Very few individuals are actually skilled enough to create professional level violas, putting these models at a particularly high price point.

We have a few suggestions:

Professional Violas Student Violas
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