Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Is it a 4/4 violin or 3/4 viola?


Recommended Posts

I picked up a vintage instrument but need help determining if is it a 4/4 violin or 3/4 viola.

It's overall length and body match a 4/4 violin, but it's abnormally wide. It appears to have an E string on it, but there isn't a fine tuner on it. Below are the dimensions.

Overall length: 23 1/4" (59.05 cm), Body: 14 1/4" (36.195 cm), Upper bout: 6 5/8" (16.83 cm) at widest point, Lower bout: 8 3/8" (21.27 cm) widest, and Fingerboard: 10 3/8" (26.35 cm).

Is it just an abnormally wide 4/4 violin? It doesn't fit in my regular violin case. 

Thanks for your assistance. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without providing pictures, it will be unlightly that anyone can offer authoritative help. The question does occur occasionally, and the only way to really find out, is to put viola strings on, and try it, then put violin strings on, and try that, and see which one seems to work the best

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The ribs measure 1-1/4" (3.175 cm) using a tape measure, vs 1-3/16 (3.016 cm) on my violin. 

I'm afraid I don't understand the stop/neck part of your question. I'll try to post some photos later tonight or tomorrow. 

Thanks, jp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

They really don’t do a significant number of 14” violas, so it’s probably a chunky 4/4 violin.

Although 14” violas are uncommon, that doesn't mean jps doesn’t have one.  I encounter them occasionally.  Right now I have a 13” viola in my workshop, and I recently worked on a 12” one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The stop length is the distance (in mm) from the plate edge right up against the neck root, to the F hole notches. This is usually measured on the treble side. 

For violin, this number is usually in the 193-197 ballpark, with 195 being ideal. 

For viola, usually it's set at 6/11ths of the body length. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I've attached some photos that may be useful. The photo with two instruments has my violin on the left side for reference. The instrument in question is on the right. I did notice that the scrollbox is an 1/8" deeper than my violin. The poor fitting 'E' string tuning peg appears to be a replacement peg, which makes me wonder if something didn't throw an 'E' string on it at the same time. 

I wasn't able to respond sooner as apparently there is a limit of two posts in 24 hrs for new member as the forum displays the message: "You have reached the maximum number of posts you can make per day."

I'm still reviewing the info related to the stop length measurement and hope to determine what it is for this instrument. jp










Edited by jps
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the information.

Do you consider it worth the expense of putting it back into playing condition?

I'd guess at a minimum it needs 1. New strings (I'd probably put on Dominants w/Pirastro gold E on it.), 2. a fitted 'E' string tuning peg, 3. Set the Sound post correctly, 4. It could probably a new bridge (existing one looks pretty thick).  5. Plane the fingerboard? (I noticed some waves near the nut.) 6. Other work my untrained eye doesn't see?

Thanks, jps


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The neck measures 5" (127 mm), and the stop length is 8" (203 mm). I appreciate all of the things I've learned in this post. 

Re: a tape measure. We can't seem to complete the conversion to the metric system in the U.S. We prefer to add numbers like 1/8", 3/16", 7/64", etc. It makes things more challenging. :)

Any opinions on the value of fixing up this violin? Approximate value of it as is? Thanks, jps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Asking for the value of an item based on bad photos is unreasonable.  Also, prices vary by location, and it's subjective.  People offer the same repair services for different prices, and have different instrument sale prices. -- I see price inquiry as aiding a reseller vs protecting an owner. 

Is it worth fixing, I think so.

  • treble side edge repair needed
  • strings are not in the correct order, so it's hard to evaluate nut, string spacing -- setup seems very wide
  • pegbox needs some TLC/reaming, and all pegs need to be replaced, they are not contacting, random mix
  • tailpiece can be made to look nice, tail gut seems too long
  • invest in a chinrest, over-tailpiece version seems the best for most, but I'm sure there are threads on the topic
  • need far better photos to evaluate setup or to ID
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you iburkard for the repair info. Unfortunately, there are three areas that could use an edge repair, but I'm more concerned with how it would sound when the repairs are done.

As an amateur player it gives me pause as to whether I'd want to put that much money into it to have a 2nd violin around that may not sound as good as my current German trade violin. jps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@jps It looks good, it just needs maintenance.  Since you play, you should replace the strings and give it a test spin (if the post is there and in ~ a normal spot).  If you want to go crazy swap the tailpiece, or just add fine tuners since the pegs are shot.  It won't cost much to do this, and it might give you peace concerning what to do with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...