August 21, 2010

Saturday Strings: Violin Sizes

Mr. Huthmaker and I had an informative discussion at my last visit to Huthmaker Violin Shop. For every century that the violin as we know it has been crafted, it has standardly come in one size up until the early 1900's. Japan was the first country to begin making violins in smaller sizes so that children could play. They used Manchurian Maple for the construction and would label the inside with "Nppo". Mr. Shinichi Suzuki began teaching his method around the 1940's to children as young as 3 years old.

Although the Japanese were the first to begin making violins of smaller sizes, the Germans and French also caught on at a later date. Each of these three countries would make these smaller violins respective of their own standards. A violin considered to be 1/2 size would be different in Japan, France and Germany! Some violins are made even to 1/32 size! So from smallest to largest you could reference 1/32, 1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 4/4 (or full) size. And because each of these countries measure the smaller sizes differently, there is the potential for up to 21 sizes for smaller violins! Amazing!

See Wikipedia for a little more explanation.

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