How to determine the body size or length of a Violin, Viola, Fiddle, Cello or upright Bass
PLEASE READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE STARTING. THESE INSTRUCTIONS APPLY TO VIOLIN, VIOLA, FIDDLE, CELLO AND UPRIGHT BASS.
To determine your Violin, Viola or Fiddle body size; carefully turn the instrument over in your lap, or have someone carefully hold the instrument. Measure along the back of the body from the edge of the purfling near the end button area of the instrument to where the imagined line of the purfling passes through the heel or button of the neck (see image below).
Cello and upright Bass players should turn their instruments around and gently place it in a stand or have someone carefully support the instrument while you measure.
Be mindful of not scratching the finish when measuring. A cloth tape-measure used for sewing can be helpful.
Below is a list of body sizes for Violin (Fiddle), Viola, Cello and upright Bass*. This list is based on the modern day full size (4/4) Violin having a body length of 14 inches or 356mm, a 4/4 Viola body of 17 inches or 430mm, a 4/4 Cello body of 29-3/4 inches or 755mm and an upright 4/4 Bass body of 45-5/8 inches or 1160mm*
Over the centuries Violins, Violas, Cellos and upright Basses have varied in body size. Modern era violin makers adhere to accepted industry standards. If your instrument is old your measurements may vary from today's standards.
Here is a link to convert millimeters to inches:
For best results use the millimeter measurements. Some of the standard inch measurements have been rounded up or down for convenience.
Violin Body Lengths:
4/4 Violin = 356mm or approx. 14 inches
7/8 Violin = 343mm - 348mm or approx. 13½ inches
3/4 Violin = 335mm or approx. 13 inches
1/2 Violin = 310mm or approx. 12.2 inches
1/4 Violin = 280mm or approx. 11 inches
1/8 Violin = 255mm or approx. 10 inches
1/16 Violin = 230mm or approx. 9 inches
Viola Body Lengths:
Large Viola = 430mm or approx. 17 inches
Medium Viola = 410mm or approx. 16 inches
Small Viola = 390mm or approx. 15½ inches
3/4 Viola = 356mm or approx. 14 inches
1/2 Viola = 335mm or approx. 13 inches
1/4 Viola = 310mm or approx. 12 inches
Cello Body Lengths:
4/4 Cello = 755mm or approx. 29.7 inches
3/4 Cello = 690mm or approx. 27 inches
1/2 Cello = 650mm or approx. 25.6 inches
1/4 Cello = 580mm or approx. 22.8 inches
1/8 Cello = 530mm or approx. 20.8 inches
Upright Bass Body Lengths:
4/4 Bass = 1160mm or approx. 45.7 inches
3/4 Bass = 1110mm or approx. 43.7 inches
1/2 Bass = 1020mm or approx. 40 inches
1/4 Bass = 940mm or approx. 37 inches
*Many thanks to Henry A. Strobel and his excellent book "Useful Measurements for Violin Makers, A Reference for Shop Use" for providing the above body length measurments. These measurements reflect modern day acceptable standards. Your instruments measurements may vary.