Orchestral Instrument Sizing


It is always best to have your orchestra instructor size your student for his/her instrument.  If this is not possible, you can estimate the size of the instrument that should work for your student by using the information below.

You will need a yardstick or tape measure.  Have the student stand and extend their left arm straight out from their left side with their palm facing up.  In other words, if the student is facing north, their left arm should be fully extended to the west.  

Hold one end of the yardstick against the left side of their neck and read the distance to the MIDDLE OF THE PALM.  If your measurement falls right on the line, go to the next larger size.

If the measured distance is:


less than 17"  =  1/10 size
more than 17" but less than 18.5" = 1/8 size
more than 18.5" but less than 20.25" = 1/4 size
more than 20.25" but less than 22.25" = 1/2 size
more than 22.25" but less than 23.5" = 3/4 size
more than 23.5" = 4/4 (full) size


more than 21.5" but less than 23.25" = 13" viola
more than 23.25" but less than 24.75" = 14" viola
more than 24.75" but less than 25.5" = 15" viola
more than 25.5" but less than 26.25" = 15.5" viola (considered Full Size)
more than 26.25" but less than 27.25" = 16" viola (considered Full Size)
more than 27.25" = 16.5" viola (considered Full Size)


There are no single measurements that will give an accurate sizing for cellos or basses.
As a general rule here are some guidelines based on height:

  • 1/8 to 1/4 size - below 4 feet
  • 1/2 size - 4 to 4 1/2 feet
  • 3/4 size - 4 1/2 to 5 feet
  • 4/4 size - 5 feet and above

Please refer all upright bass inquires to our friends at the Bass/Violin Shop of Greensboro.