About viola sizes
Viola sizes refer to the actual length of the instrument’s body, in inches. The largest common size is 16.5″. Adults generally play a 15.5″ to 16.5″ viola.
Violas are larger than violins, and are measured to be a little bit over-sized for the player. That said, it is important that the student is comfortable holding and playing the instrument or physical problems may develop.
How to measure
Stand with your left arm fully extended, perpendicular to your body. Measure from the neck to the base of your fingers.
Note that this results in a higher measurement than the recommended method for sizing the violin (neck to mid-palm).
Viola measurement chart
The chart below shows the comfortable ranges for each viola size. For example, if your arm measurement (see above) is 24.5″, the 14″ viola will be most comfortable.
Using age to determine size
If measurements are not available, you can approximate the viola size by using a child’s age. This is not the most accurate system, as some children will be large or small for their age, and there are several sizes that adults use.