7/8 violins: your questions answered!

Why buy a 7/8 size violin?

Having the correct size of instrument is vitally important. A violin that fits will be much more comfortable to play. A comfortable fit also enables the player to develop good technique as it reduces the need to stretch or contort.

When considering a violin for a growing child, it is tempting to miss out the 7/8 size in favour of a full-size instrument which they will not outgrow. There are plenty of young players who can go straight from a 3/4 violin to a 4/4; equally, there are many who outgrow their 3/4 but have not yet reached the size where a full size will be comfortable. Our part-exchange scheme was set up to ensure instruments can be easily traded in if outgrown.

What size are 7/8 violins?

These violins typically have a length of back of around 345mm. They are more specific in size, varying only slightly above and below that length of back. In contrast, full size violins fall into a very broad range, from around 350 mm all the way up to 365 mm.

Who are 7/8 violins for?

Although other fractional instruments are usually for young players, 7/8 size violins can be played by both children and adults. As mentioned above, it is a useful size to bridge the gap between a 3/4 and a 4/4 instrument for a young person, however this size is also a very good option for smaller adult players.

A 7/8 violin may also be useful for anyone who feels as though a full-size instrument is uncomfortable, perhaps due to an injury or pain. A useful test is the 4th finger stretch in 1st position: any tension or discomfort here is a good indicator that a 7/8 may be a more comfortable fit.

7/8 size violins can be found in the hands of the very best professional players: the Dutch violinist Berent Korfker has a lifetime loan of the 1702 Stradivari ‘King Maximillian Joseph’ which has a length of back of 347 mm.

How do 7/8th size violins sound?

These violins typically sound very similar to a full-size instrument. As a general rule, smaller fractional violins don’t sound as good as full-size instruments, however, 7/8th violins are much closer to the ideal full size design than their younger siblings.

Don’t forget, many fine Cremonese instruments are at the very smallest end of what we would consider to be full sized, particularly the instruments of Guarneri ‘del Gesù’. His instruments are often as small as 350mm, meaning that a typical 7/8 violin is only around 5 mm smaller than many a great Italian fiddle!

As with any instrument, it is all about quality! A good 7/8th violin will outplay a lesser full size any day, even without taking into consideration how much better the sound will be if the player is comfortable.

What 7/8 size violins do we have available?

We currently have two 7/8 size violins for sale. The first is labelled Barzoni and was made in Mirecourt for the London company Beare and Sons. This violin was made around 1920 and has a length of back of 345 mm.

The second is a Hawkes and Son Professor model violin made in Germany in 1923. This violin has a length of back of 349mm.

Do 7/8th violins need a special case or bow?

A full size bow is typically used with a 7/8 violin, although the player may well decide that a bow on the lighter end of the spectrum best suits their instrument. Very occasionally, someone struggling with the weight of a full size may choose to seek out a good 7/8ths or even 3/4 bow: these are harder to come by than full size bows.

We currently have a lovely little 7/8th violin bow available, made in Mirecourt around 1920. The bow weights 54 grams and is 712 mm in length.

A full-size case is a perfectly good fit for a 7/8 violin. Occasionally a duster might be used to pad the end very slightly. We are very happy to advise.

Further information

The Barzoni violin and the 7/8ths size violin bow are now live on our website. The other violin will be added to the site very soon. Do be in touch if we can provide any further information in the meantime.

You may also be interested to check out our post on measuring violin fit for more information about whether a 7/8th violin might be the right option for you.

7/8ths size violin labelled Barzoni