Learn How To Put Fingerboard Tapes On Your Violin

Why Do People Use Fingerboard Tapes?

Photo credits Anna Ames

In this video, I'll show you how to put fingerboard tapes on your violin.  For a beginner, its important to know where to place your fingers for each of the notes because the fingerboard doesn't have any indication of where the notes are and it will be very frustrating to try to find them without a guide of some kind.  Most people use tapes for the first year or two of playing.  After that time, you should have developed ear skills and muscle memory that will let you know where the notes are without tapes.

[usernotice ]

Know Your Violin Size

To put tapes in the right spots, you need to know what size your violin is.  There are many sizes for young students, called "fractional sizes" up to full size for taller kids and adults.  There is usually a label inside the instrument that includes the size.  It will be listed as a fraction, like 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, or 4/4, which is just a strange way of saying "full size."

What You Need

All you need is a pencil, a ruler, and the tapes.  We suggest using StringClub fingerboard tapes that you can order on Amazon.  They are the best for a couple reasons.  I've seen students with various kinds of stickers on the fingerboard, like dots or other small stickers that only go in the middle of the fingerboard.  The problem with that is that the sticker doesn't go all the way across the width of the fingerboard, meaning that on the outer strings the student has to guess a bit about where the note is.

Considering Tapes for your violin? Buying our StringClub Violin Fingerboard Tapes sold on Amazon helps to support the website and allows us to continue to provide excited and unique content on the web.

Buy on Amazon Now

Our fingerboard tapes go all the way across the fingerboard, making it 100% clear where the note is.  Also, it is good to use these because you can feel where the edges of the tapes are, so you can find the spot just by feel instead of having to look.  That is good because a lot of the time your eyes will be busy reading music or looking at a conductor in an orchestra.  To feel where the note is, just slide the finger back and forth a bit and you'll sense exactly where to place the finger without needing to look.

Measure It Out

If you have StringClub fingerboard tapes, you can use the measuring card included to mark the correct spots on the fingerboard. 

Measuring card positioned correctly on fingerboard


Otherwise, look below for the measurements for your size of instrument, then measure it out from the nut.  That's the raised up ebony part where the string crosses over into the peg box.  Make sure you measure from the inside of the nut, on the side of the fingerboard, not the side that goes into the pegbox.


You will have to hold the ruler over the nut unless the ruler starts measuring from its edge.  



In this video, I'm putting tapes on a full size violin, so I'll make my first mark at 1 3/8 inches or 35 millimeters.  Put the ruler at the edge of the nut and measure out 1 3/8 inches or 35 millimeters.  Make a small mark with the pencil.  Continue to measure forward to 2 5/8 inches or 66 millimeters and make the 2nd spot.  The 3rd spot is at 3 1/8 inches or 80 millimeters.  The final mark should be made at 4 1/8 inches or 106 millimeters.


Place the Stickers on the Fingerboard

Peel the back off the tape and slide it under all four strings.  If its hard to get it under all of them, you can feed it under the strings by the bridge.  Make sure the tape is perfectly level, not slanting to one side or the other.         

Check With Tuner

Check the tuning to see how you did.  I use a tuner to see if the marks are at the right spot.  After tuning the A string precisely, when I play on the A string with my first finger on the first tape, it should show that I am playing B.  The tuner should show that the note B is in tune.  The second finger should be a C#.  The third finger should be a D.  The 4th finger should be an E.  If the tuner shows that one or more of the tapes does not make the correct pitch, feel free to move it slightly so the tuner shows it in tune.  There are many small factors that can make a pitch higher or lower including the set up of your violin, your playing technique, and the sensitivity of your tuner.

Measurement for the common sizes:

Full Size Violin (4/4)

Tape 1 = 35mm or 1 3/8 inches

Tape 2 = 66mm or 2 5/8 inches

Tape 3 = 80mm or 3 1/8 inches

Tape 4 = 106mm or 4 1/8 inches


3/4 Violin

Tape 1 = 32mm or 1 1/4 inches

Tape 2 = 61mm or 2 3/8 inches

Tape 3 = 75 mm or 2 7/8 inches

Tape 4 = 100 mm or 3 7/8 inches


1/2 Violin

Tape 1 = 28mm or 1 1/8 inches

Tape 2 = 54mm or 2 1/8 inches

Tape 3 = 68mm or 2 5/8 inches

Tape 4 = 91mm or 3 5/8 inches


1/4 Violin

Tape 1 = 25mm or 1 inch

Tape 2 = 48mm or 1 7/8 inches

Tape 3 = 60mm or 2 3/8 inches

Tape 4 = 79mm or 3 1/8 inches