How to choose a Viola

How to choose viola sizes

Violas are available in 6 different sizes: 16.5", 16" (also known as full size), 15.5", 15", 13" and 12". 16.5" viola is the biggest and 12" viola is the smallest. Most adults use 16" violas.

To measure what size viola best suits you, you need to know the length between your neck and the middle of your left-hand palm (when your hand is fully extended and raised perpendicular to your body, just like holding a violin). Most of teachers prefer students to use the length from the neck to the wrist for measurement instead of the neck to mid-palm approach. The viola size determined by the neck/wrist approach would be the size that is more comfortable for students to hold. The viola size determined by the neck/mid-palm approach would be the biggest size students should use.

The following table lists the length of each viola size. Find your length using your preferred approach and use that to determine the size of viola to get.


Viola Sizes Length
16.5" 26 inch
16" 26 inch
15.5" 25 inch
15" 24.5 inch
13" 21.5 inch
12" 20 inch