There are several considerations that should go into choosing a violin bow: the material the bowstick is made of — brazilwood, carbon fiber, or pernambuco — weight, bow hair, and so on. But one attribute that is sometimes overlooked, especially for younger, developing violinists, is the size — specifically the length of the bow. When gripping the right size, you can easily play with each part of the bow, which includes the tip, midsection and the frog.

Two deciding factors should inform your decision when choosing what size violin bow you need: playing experience and your physical size.

How Bow Length Impacts Stiffness

The length of a violin bow is key to more than just comfort, it actually affects playstyle. In fact, the shorter the bow, the stiffer it tends to be. This is significant, as many accomplished violinists will not want to play a bow with much stiffness. However, that attribute may seem ideal to a young, developing violinist.

Stiffer bows are easier to control. So while the developing musician, in comparison to the advanced player, may not be able to produce a sound with as much depth or range of expression with their shorter bow, they are better able to track and command their bow when it’s shorter and therefore stiffer. Then, as they grow and gain experience, they can switch to a longer violin bow.

How Physical Size Impacts Bow Length

Just like with the violin itself, If you are a 6-foot adult you ought to be playing with a different size violin and bow than a 4-foot child.

Violins come in eight standard sizes, which in order of smallest to largest are: 1/16; 1/10; 1/8; 1/4; 1/2; 3/4; 7/8; and full size, or 4/4. To give you a size comparison, a 1/16 violin is 14.5 inches in length overall, whereas a 4/4 violin is 23.5 inches long. Most teenagers and nearly all adults should play using the 4/4 size.

Violin bows also come in eight sizes, though the vast majority of adults should be playing with a full-size, 4/4 bow.

The eight standard violin bow sizes are:

  • 1/16: 16.75 inches
  • 10/10: 17.5 inches
  • 1/8: 19.25 inches
  • 1/4: 22.5 inches
  • 1/2: 24.5 inches
  • 3/4: 27 inches
  • 4/4: 29.5 inches

Elevate Your Performance with CodaBow

For developing violinists, CodaBow is proud to offer a range of full-size, carbon fiber bow choices. For beginners, we feature the Prodigy, which provides on-string forgiveness and comfort that’s designed to help learners build confidence while ramping up their playing skills. We also have award-winning advanced and master-level bows, ensuring everyone, regardless of their skill level, is able to give their best performance.

If you aren’t sure which option is best, we offer an in-home trial program. Request your seven-day trial to sample bows in the comfort of your home, ensuring you find the right one to meet your preferences. Or if you prefer, visit your local CodaBow dealer.

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