Female size violin

May 29, 2007 at 02:18 AM · Hi everyone,

I would appreciate your thoughts. I am looking for an instrument, either new or older but well preserved to replace the violin that I love. My violin is falling apart on me. I have been trying out instruments, but so far I have been unable to find an instrument that would be similar to the slightly smaller violin that I own. I am not especially fond of the many Strad and Guadagnini copies (although I own a Strad copy by a Polish maker). It seems to me that the modern trend is to make violins as big as possible. There is nothing wrong with that except that it cannot work for everyone. I really enjoy playing my delicate violin. The only thing that I do not like about my fiddle is that it was influenced by Steiner and consequently it is a bit fat (but not as fat as actual Steiner violin). Here are my fiddle's dimentions:

350 mm Body lenght

157 mm Upper width

105 mm Middle width

195 mm Lower width

35 mm Rib height

330 mm String lenght

(I did the meassurements myself, so it can be slightly off, although I tried to be acurate)

Is there anyone here in the forum that also playes a smaller fiddle like me and if yes, who is the maker?



Replies (23)

May 29, 2007 at 08:23 PM · Hi,

Yes, some makers do make smaller instruments. In general, Del Gésu copies (because many of the original violins are small) tend to work better. You may not necessarily get something at the dimensions you describe, but there are some violins with lenghts of back floating around 351-352. That said, you may have to commission an instrument.


P.S. My Denis Cormier is small (with a back around 352 and quite narrow). But, he no longer makes this pattern.

May 29, 2007 at 02:59 PM ·

May 29, 2007 at 03:28 PM · Davic Van Zandt (of http://www.vanzandtviolins.com) makes what he calls a 'petite' model, based on a Guarneri:


body length - 350mm

upper bout width - 165mm

c bout width - 111mm

lower bout width - 204mm

mensure - 192mm

total vibrating string length - 326mm

Larry Samuels

May 29, 2007 at 04:53 PM · Tim Johnson, a professionally trained violin maker, makes undersized violins. I tried a del gesu model recently which projected well and had excellent quality. He finished another recently made for an undersized person and had a super light fingerboard which made the instrument feel weightless. He is exhibiting several Andrea Amati (baroque) copies at the Boston Early Music Festival this summer. Price of his instruments is very reasonable.

May 29, 2007 at 08:07 PM · You didn't mention what your price range is, but Anton Krutz's full size Guarnieri model at K C Strings is a very compact feeling 353 mm, with world class sound. The Williams and Krutz violin is also made in the same size at about half the price. There is also a true 7/8 model that is only 343 mm long.

May 30, 2007 at 05:20 PM · I did not realize that many del Gesu's copies are relatively small. I feel so uneducated in this area. I really appreciate your responses. Every time I go to a violin shop to try instruments for my students, I am ok. But when it comes to trying violins for me, I feel so intimidated and ignorant. I guess I need to relax about this and not feel like I have to make a decision right away:)

I think that Van Zandt violins are unfortunately out of my price range at the moment (we only recently moved to the west coast). I will look into Anton Krutz violins, thanks for the recommendation.


May 30, 2007 at 05:53 PM · Take a look at violinslover.com. They are a romanian company (Gliga) that makes very competitively priced violins at just about every size you can imagine. I have a Gama and love it. My teacher has commented on it's tone too. That's only a mid range violin they have. I wonder how much better their top end is!

May 30, 2007 at 06:10 PM · I'm pretty sure the price of Tim Johnson's violins is $8000.

May 31, 2007 at 09:37 PM · I play a female size I inherited from my Great-Grandmother - It's an Amati imitation, we think made by a French maker, Caussin.

Still over 100 years old, so not exactly modern sorry ^^

May 31, 2007 at 10:24 PM · Just one more vote of support for the Guarneri DG models. I know of one violin maker that simply won't make GDG models because people have confused them with 7/8 sized instruments (being that they are orginally smaller.)

June 1, 2007 at 04:42 AM · I play on a Hieronymous and Antonio Amati made in 1626. Back length is 13, 13/16 inches. I used to play on a Vuillaume which measured 14 1/16. The Amati projects better in a hall than the Vuillaume did and is much easier to play on. This proves that at in at least my case, size doesn't matter. There is a theory going around that instrument size increased because the makers traced the instruments with pencil to copy. Each tracing increased in size equivalent to the width of the pencil marking over several generations as each maker copied the last copy. It's an interesting concept.

June 1, 2007 at 09:38 PM · I just heard from a friend of mine by email. He suggested that it is the narrownes of the neck that makes these "smaller" instruments so playable. I must agree with his observation. What do you think?


June 2, 2007 at 02:22 PM · Can't disagree with it. A fat neck certainly makes an instrument feel clunky and ungainly, but too thin can be bad, too. Like Goldilocks, you're looking for "just right".

June 2, 2007 at 03:22 PM · Most modern violins, eg Italian and their Chinese imitations, seem to be about 355 or 356mm long (at back). Interestingly, average lengths seem to have decreased marginally in the last few decades, as many violins from the period say 1850 to 1970 are in the range 357 to 360. Even a well known Italian maker like Lucci made violins about 357/358 and my Mario Gadda (1996 but by a maker trained about 1950) is 358. Stradivari made some as long as 362, but I think his "classic" length was about 355 to 358.

I suspect one reason why if anything violins have tended to become a little shorter again since 1970 or so is the rapid growth in sales to Japan, Korea and China etc, where there are some quite petite players. It is noticeable that even modern Cremonese makers have tended to shorten their violins by a millimetre or two since 1960/70 - and they sell a lot of their violins to the Far East.

Also, there is more concern with historic authenticity, so for example many good Guarneri copies now are around 352-353mm (he made short violins), whereas French and German makers used to think they could improve on Guarneri by making their Guarneri "copies" anything up to 360mm. I have a Bohemian Guarneri model violin circa 1950 and it is 361, though in fact it doesn't sound at all bad - perhaps a little "dark" (whereas violins of about 355m length seem to be brighter).

Maybe you should commission a short Guarneri copy(!) as I think he made some as short as 350.


June 2, 2007 at 05:08 PM · Oliver,

It is nice that you have romantic notions about how instruments were made etc.

The reality is that makers have made many models.

In the 19th century, many French makers were making Guarneri copies that were larger than the actual proportions of the originals.

They had theories about that.

There are also great copies of Guarneri by Voller brothers, Vuillaume and many more that are also 352mm-354mm etc.

Makers have many models they work with throughout their career, and ofcourse a lot depends on who commissioned the fiddles.

It works this way today as it did long ago.

And yes, David VanZandt makes a very nice petite violin. Just contact him, and discuss what you need. Never know, you might be able to work something out.

http://www.vanzandtviolins.com) makes what he calls a 'petite' model, based on a Guarneri:

June 4, 2007 at 04:32 PM · Thank you Gennady

And there was me thinking the modern Cremonese makers are gallantly designing their violins to fit the petite arms and hands of Oriental ladies!

Anyway, interesting comments.

March 29, 2008 at 12:52 AM · If you think a "small" 350mm violin has a small sound, read this. I have heard this violin and it's got a BIG sound. But then it IS a GDG.


March 29, 2008 at 11:59 AM · Are you sure you want the ribs all that deep (35 milimeters)?

In Biddulph's book on Del Gesù there is a violin that is 349, and many are 352 long.

A good thing about small violins is that you can get some good ones in auctions since many dealers will not want them.

March 29, 2008 at 01:35 PM · Hi,

Just curious: you said your violin is "falling apart" on you. Do violins really fall apart to the point where they can't be repaired? I once saw a totally smashed cello (car accident) and the luthier was painstakingly putting it back together - piece by little piece!

March 29, 2008 at 01:37 PM · Also - I play on a small instrument: 350.85, UB-158.75, MB-111.13, LB-200.02. (Also my own measurements.) I would love to find one just a tad narrower. Mine is an 18th century Meisel. I don't know what your price range is but I'm still hunting for a spare instrument - relatively inexpensive.

March 29, 2008 at 02:00 PM · A down sized full size? Would it be called.... a 4x4 Petit?

March 30, 2008 at 05:41 PM · I also play a nice, delicate instrument. It's a copy of a Guarneri, however, the maker is unknown and it's over 100 years old. You could perhaps try out different Guarneri copies. Or, if you really like the one you're playing and if you're willing to spend a bit, you could have one custom made with the measurements of your current instrument.

Also, I just tried out a violin from Claire Given's violin shop in Minneapolis. It was made there, it's called "The Perfect Storm" and it didn't seem terribly large or bulky. It had a very bright tone to it. Nice little instrument. Claire's is a great shop if you're looking for unique instruments.

March 31, 2008 at 12:58 PM · Katarina Abhuel, Cremona

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