How do I measure the vibrating string length

To choose the right strings and the correspondingly correct string tensions, you need to know the vibrating string length of your instrument, so that you do not overload or underload your instrument’s soundboard. In the event of overload or underload, the physical shape of the instrument, together with the sound and character of the strings, can suffer. Only by choosing a string tension appropriate to the instrument can optimal sound and haptic characteristics be developed for musician and tool.


The vibrating string length of a string instrument is the distance from the inside edge of the bridge to the inside edge of the saddle.


The vibrating string length varies from instrument to instrument:

  • For violins, the vibrating string lengths are between 32.5 cm and 32.8 cm on average. 
  • For violas, there are no clear standards, relationships between body lengths and vibrating string lengths can vary. It is possible to have a small body with a longer vibrating string length or a large body with a shorter vibrating string length. However, on average, the vibrating string lengths for violas are between 37 cm and 38 cm. 
  • Cellos have vibrating strings lengths of around 70 cm. Thomastik-Infeld also uses 70 cm as the vibrating string length for cello strings in its catalog. 
  • Similar to violas, the sizes and proportions are much less standardized for double basses. The current standard size is the 3/4 size, which corresponds to a vibrating string length of 103-106 cm. For a 4/4 double bass, a vibrating string length of 106-110 cm is usual, but there are also instruments outside these standards. 

A summary of the vibrating string lengths:
Violin: 32.5 cm - 32.8 cm
Viola: 37cm - 38 cm
Cello: 69 cm - 70 cm
3/4 bass: 103 cm - 106 cm
4/4 bass: 106 cm - 110 cm




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