I'm just starting to play the viola and I went to the store on Monday and was sold a 16" one. I was told that the size was fine for me - I'm a 5.4 foot female and I only have small hands.
I took it home and have been trying to practise, but it's obvious that it's too big for me - I'm struggling to reach the G string and the C string is almost impossible! My wrist is hurting and the pain has been extending up my arm.
I phoned the store and explained my difficulties, but they said that the size was fine - I can hold the scroll in the palm of my hand, but my arm is completely straight and I've spoken to a Luthier and he said that the arm should be slightly bent when holding it in this way.
I think the store were just glad to have sold it as it had been in for quite a while. It's a nice instrument, but I can't do anything with it.
They told me to go back in with it and they'd try me out on some different sized "fiddles" (as he so eloquently phrased it)! I don't want a re-strung violin!!!!! I asked if they can get me a 14.5 or 15" viola, but they didn't want to commit themselves. I just have a feeling that they want to fob me off with a violin and set of viola strings.
I'm so upset now as I'm really enjoying learning (I've been learning on my son's school instrument) and I just want the right sized viola for me! I'm scared about what they're going to do on Monday when I return to the store. I can't go today as my son is sick.
What should I do?
Should I insist that they source me a proper sized viola or ask for my money back if they can't? Would a re-strung violin do the job or be inadequate?
I hate to say it, but I'd return it if you still can. Then go to a violin shop. The specialty shops may be off the beaten path or more expensive, but well worth the effort. They know what they're doing and really take the time to give you a good fit. You may find you want to do one of the rent-to-own policies if they're available. That way you can give it some time and you're not usually locked in if after a time the fit is not for you.
When I was fit for mine, it took a little while. And when I got to the one I have now, I knew immediately. I'm 5'10" with small hands. I have really long fingers. My viola is a 15.5". So, you see, it's not really easy to gauge by numbers. Someone who knows what they're doing can get you a good fit. If you don't have a good fit, you won't enjoy it and you won't play. And that would really be a shame. It's so beautiful. I really hope it all works out for you!
I would reccoment you get your money back whilst you can. I'm 5'10 with a 16.5 inch and that's just right so I reckon it is too small. I smaller one would be better. I purchased mone though my county music service, maybe you could try that?
It's more to do with the size of the hands and the length of the strings than a person's height - it's just that small people tend to have small hands. My viola teacher is smaller than me, but she manages to play a 16" with no problems. It's just a case of what's comfortable really.