1. Should I rent or purchase an instrument for my child?

If your child is committed to playing the instrument long-term, purchasing is your best option. Purchasing allows you to choose an instrument of higher quality, giving your child a better tool from the start. You have a wider range of instruments from which to choose at a variety of different price points. Additionally, we offer full trade-in value for most instruments purchased at our shop (minus a reconditioning fee).

Renting is recommended for children not yet fully committed to learning the instrument, or those that are simply “trying it out.” Also, if your child is growing quite quickly, it is recommended to rent an instrument so that they may easily exchange sizes without accruing extra expenses.

2. I am worried that the quality of the rental instrument will be sub-par for my student. Are your rental instruments any good?

Yes, we rent out high-quality student instruments that are in our second or third price tier (better than our lowest priced instruments). Before our instruments and bows are rented, they are set-up, adjusted, and cleaned by our top in-house luthiers so they sound their very best. These are not internet instruments out-of-the-box.

3. My child is just a beginner, why not get the cheapest instrument I can find?

Learning a string instrument is fun, but it is also a serious endeavor. Beginners need all the help they can get, and it is especially important to obtain an instrument that meets the standards of music educators. Many of the cheap internet violins (or pink, purple, blue violins, etc.) are not properly made or set-up, displaying fake fittings and low quality fingerboards, incorrectly carved bridges, plywood bodies, etc. These factors lead to poor playability and tonal quality. Most of the time, due to poor workmanship and materials, repairs for these instruments will greatly exceed the cost of the instrument itself and little can be done for the tonal quality of these instruments. At LAVS, we have professional musicians and expert violin makers on site to help you select the best instrument. Playing a stringed instrument is an exciting and challenging endeavor, so we want to make sure that all students have proper instruments that support their efforts. Don’t train for a marathon in flip-flops.

4. Is there a minimum length of time for a rental?

Yes, we have a minimum three-month commitment. You pay for the first three months up front; then after that, the rental continues month-to-month.

5. Is there a limit to how long I can rent an instrument?

No, you may rent as long as you would like. However, you can only accrue rental credit for up to 15 months (see below).

6. Is there any deposit necessary?

No, but we do need to have on file either an active credit card or your bank account information via a voided check (for ACH automatic payment) as well as your state ID. This will be the card/account that is automatically charged for your month-to-month payments.

7. Am I just throwing money away by renting instead of buying?

No, definitely not. 100% of each month’s basic rental fee accrues for up to 15 months and can be put towards the purchase of an instrument or bow in our shop.

8. Isn’t that the same as your Rent-to-Own program?

No. In most rent-to-own programs you are buying the instrument you are renting. At Los Angeles Violin Shop, our rental instruments are separate from the instruments we sell. When you decide it is time to buy, you can select any instrument in our shop at our regular retail prices.

9. My child takes music classes during the school year, but we take a family vacation in the summer and the child won’t be practicing; can we return the instrument at the end of school year and re-rent it in the fall?

You can, but you would lose all the Rental Credit you had accrued, and would begin at zero when you re-rent in the fall.

Our suggested plan of action would be to carry on renting through the summer. The instrument may sit idle for a few weeks, but it would be there when the child wants to play it, and you would continue accruing rental credit.

10. If my child grows while renting, can we exchange the instrument we rented for a larger size?

Yes, and there is no fee to exchange for bigger-sized instruments.

11. Do you offer insurance?

Yes, we do! It is included in the price of the rental. Not only does it cover accidental damage and theft, but it also covers normal wear and tear that even the most carefully attended instruments are subject to. With the protection plan, you are not liable for normal wear and tear. Without it, you are.

12. When the time comes, how do we terminate the rental?

Simply return the instrument to our shop. If you have the Protection Plan and your rental payments are current, returning the instrument is all you have to do. You will not be charged a cleaning and polishing fee at the end of your rental. We will inform you of how much rental credit you have, and you will have the option to use that credit to purchase an instrument.

If you do not have the Protection Plan, the instrument will be inspected, the cleaning fee charged, and you may owe for restoring the instrument to rental condition.

Finally, if you are not current with your rental payments, you will have to bring the account current.

13. Can I use my rental credit to pay wear and tear charges or to bring rental payments current?

Unfortunately, no.

14. How do I know what size instrument my child needs?

Stringed instruments come in fractional sizes to meet the needs of children who are still growing. If your child has yet to reach adult height, it is very important to obtain the correct size instrument. Many beginners will struggle on instruments that are too large, and this may lead to posture problems and frustration. Since the size is not dependent on age or height it is necessary to see the child in order to size him or her. (If there is any doubt as to the proper size instrument, it is better to choose the smaller size).For most parents with children participating in school programs, the orchestra teacher can size your child to the appropriate instrument. The best option is to visit our shop where our knowledgeable staff would be more than happy to assist you with proper sizing.

Select by Arm Length

Arm length is often a determining factor in determining the correct size instrument. However, finger length and general comfort is also taken into consideration. If you cannot come into the shop or have a teacher size the student, we offer general rules of thumb based on arm length below. However, keep in mind that these suggestions and charts represent the average and are no substitute for an actual sizing assessment in person.

First, the student must be able to hold the instrument in playing position and stretch the left arm out to comfortably cup the scroll with the left hand. If you cannot measure using the instrument itself, you can also use a yardstick.

Have your child stand with his or her left arm outstretched to the side– not reaching, but not bent either. Using a yardstick or tape measure, measure from the sternal notch (at the base of the neck) to the wrist. This indicates the most comfortable size instrument for that child. Measure also to the middle of the palm. This indicates the largest instrument that child should try to play.

Fractional Violins:

Player Arm Length Usual age Violin Size ~Violin Length ~Bow Length
23+ inches 12 to adult 4/4 23-1/2″
591 mm
735 mm
22 – 24 inches 9 to 11 3/4 21-3/4″
554 mm
675 mm
20 – 23 inches 6 to 10 1/2 20-3/4″
520 mm
615 mm
17 – 21 inches 5 to 7 1/4 18-3/4″
478 mm
550 mm
16 – 18 inches 3 to 6 1/8 18″
441 mm
485 mm

Note: instrument sizes vary by manufacturer and country of origin

You can also measure from the side of the neck instead of from the sternum. This is usually about 2 inches shorter than measuring from the sternum.

Either way, this is a very rough estimate. Your child’s posture, arm length, length of fingers, length of neck, etc. all affect the size of the violin.  Also, fractional instruments are not standardized in the same way as full-sized instruments. In the end, the appropriate size will only become evident when your child is trying to finger the notes on a real violin.


Violas are larger than violins. Measure as directed for a violin (see above), but use the sternum to mid-palm measurement. A 14-inch viola is about the same length as a 4/4 violin.

Child-sized Violas:

Player Arm Length Viola Body Length
24-1/2 to 25-1/2 inches 15-inch
23 to 24-1/2 inches 14-inch
21-1/2 to 23 inches 13-inch
20 to 21-1/2 inches 12-inch

There is no standard adult size for violas. Most adults play an instrument with a body length between 16 and 16-1/2 inches, though neither 15-1/2 inch nor 17-inch violas are that uncommon.

Adult-sized Violas:

Player Arm Length Viola Body Length
25-1/2 to 26-1/4 inches 15-1/2-inch
26-1/4 to 27 inches 16-inch
27 to 28 inches 16-1/2-inch
28+ inches 17-inch



The player should sit up straight on a chair with knees bent at 90-degrees, and feet flat on the floor. The cello is laid against the left shoulder, with the endpin extended so that the cello body rests against the sternum, the lower bout contacts the left knee, and the C-peg (the lowest pitch string) is near the left ear. The left hand should be able to easily reach all parts of the fingerboard.

Cellos can be roughly sized by the player’s age. Slightly more accuracy is obtained when using the player’s height; however, since body proportions are the most important factor here, there is in the end no substitute for trying out actual instruments.

Fractional Cellos:

Player Height Usual age Cello Size
5+ feet 15 to adult 4/4
4-1/2 to 5 feet 11 to 15 3/4
4 to 4-1/2 7 to 11 1/2
below 4 feet 5 to 7 1/4
below 4 feet 4 to 6 1/8