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The cello is a gorgeous instrument which dates back to the 16th century. It’s a string instrument which resonates sound by plucking or ‘sawing’ against the taught cords, and thereby creating a vibration through the cello body which echo’s beautifully in a room. For those not accustomed with this sound, it’s tone and vibrato are closest compared to the double base and it’s often mistaken for not being a member of the violin family, even though it is. If you’re looking for the closest example of a cellos sound, its tone is lower than that of a violin or viola, but slightly higher than the double bass. Our following buying guide further discusses sound and other specifics in an in-depth analysis focusing around the best cello.
As we dive into the market and compare 10 exceptional cellos and cello types, it’s important to us that you know about the features which were important in making comparisons and decisions for these top instruments. First and foremost, the size and weight of each cello played a very specific role in suitability for intermediate to beginner musicians; we also compared how the body and materials of each cello would affect its sound and playability – these body elements being the fingerboard, pegs, and tailpiece of every cello we studied. Each of these features briefly mentioned here, and other features we considered important, are listed and discussed further on in this article. Based on them, the Cecilio CCO-500 is our Editor’s Choice.
In making this buying guide and narrowing down the top cellos listed throughout, we consulted with manufacturers, musicians, and verified customers connected to each specific product or the artform itself. We asked their opinions about what made for a great instrument and a great sound and we compared the different materials and designs for the cello body, strings, and bows. Our following results are organized into a comprehensive chart for each cello – listing its features, description, pro’s/cons, and our overall rating – followed by a guide written to inform the buyer and expand on each feature of the common and not-so-common cello. With frequently asked questions answered at the end and our nominations of the top three cellos, it is our hope that the information in this guide improves your knowledge of this amazing instrument and assists you in purchasing the best cello.
Body and finish: hand-carved solid spruce top with flamed maple neck, back and sides
Tailpiece: ebony with mother of pearl inlaid and four nickel plated fine tuners
Suits for level: intermediate
More features: 1-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects, bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair
A fine instrument from Cecilio, this cello holds together very well (meaning you’ll never have the problem of pegs which slip). It’s hand-crafted with a dense spruce top and finely carved and sanded with a Maplewood back, sides, and neck. The look of this cello features darker burnished colors through a high luster varnished finish which pairs nicely with its professional ebony fingerboard, pegs, and tailpiece.
The tailpiece itself not only features the expert ebony look but is also inlaid with mother of pearl and unique nickel-plated fine tuners. These added elements strengthen the tailpiece – thereby better anchoring the tension of the strings – and they also allow for the finest manual tuning for sound better and purer than almost any other cello.
Like the professional design of a Stradivarius, if buffed, tuned, and otherwise taken care of, this cello’s will not only stand the test of time, but its sound will likewise improve throughout the years. It comes in all sizes for all ages and experience levels, provided with the lightweight form-fitting hard case, two bow holders, an extra soft carrying case, extra set of strings, black cello stand, and a brazilwood bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair.
More features: auxiliary volume control, 5 years manufacturer’s warranty
Clearly this isn’t the standard cello pictured when thinking about the instrument, however, it is an excellent investment for any mid-level to intermediate musician. So let’s learn more about this eye-catching instrument.
This cello itself features an alder wood body with a fine maple neck. This instrument can be played silently and offers an auxiliary volume control, it also has multiple reverb settings and geared tuners. It is equipped with a pro-level quarter-inch output jack so you can use any standard instrument cable. This ‘auxiliary out’ and ‘line in’ jack, also features support for headphones or the connection of a compact disc player. Meaning you can play along with your favorite recordings or practice silently in the middle of the night.
Unlike other cellos, this instruments base is more compact and offers lower removable leg supports. The fingerboard and tailpiece facets of this slender cello are ebony crafted for a fine professional look on any stage. Additionally, this cello gives the benefit of a competition-worthy 4/4 cello with less weight than the average instrument.
For the best volume in a concert hall or during a school recital, the independent volume control allows cello-play over any external audio source. This is a truly unique instrument which takes the design techniques of the earliest cello makers and pairs them with the modern machinations of the 21st century.
Body and finish: crack-proof spruce top with maple neck, back and sides, high-luster varnish
Tailpiece: alloy with 4 smooth fine tuners
Suits for level: student
More features: 1 year warranty against manufacturer’s defects, Brazil wood bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair
Our budget-pick for this list, this cello is suitable for student to mid-level musicians and matches its fine-quality materials and design with an affordable price for any beginning size or preference.
Available in the four standard sizes, the last being the full-standing 4/4 competition-worthy cello. The full instrument weighs 23lbs but comes with a phenomenal cello stand and the choice between two unique carrying cases.
It features a spruce top designed to be crack-proof (specifically made with the intended use by younger students) and a beautiful maple neck, back, and sides with a fine high-luster varnish finish. This is a unique instrument with maple pegs and maple fingerboard – rather than ebony – making it more cost efficient while still very stylish. The tailpiece is a mixed alloy design with 4 smooth fine-tuners.
As well, all parts offer a great 1-year warranty against manufacturer defects; a warranty which easily matches the initial purchase and great learning experience which will follow. This purchase also comes with an extra set of strings, medium-strength rosin, a free black cello stand, the choice of a soft or hard-shell case, and a Brazilian wood bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair.
Body and finish: handcarved solid spruce top, handcarved solid maple back, neck and sides, translucent warm brown finish with inlaid purfling
More features: A.Breton AB-110C quality wood bow with rosewood frog and unbleached white horsehair
Available in 5 different level sizes – from beginning student to intermediate savant – this instrument offers one of the best designs to own or compare against other lesser products. It features the standard solid spruce top with solid carved neck, sides, and back made entirely from Maplewood; however, each facet from the top down to the sides and back is entirely handcrafted, hand polished, and finished with a translucent golden-brown finish and inlaid purfling.
What makes this instrument most unique is its use of rosewood for the fingerboard, pegs, and tailpiece – where ebony would most traditionally be used, the added rosewood touch creates a delicate charm which few other cellos can boast. This instrument is professionally made, but also affordable.
Cremona’s novice collection is designed to minimize the cost deterrent for aspiring artists, and additionally, these instruments are guaranteed to produce maximum tonality and vibrato with every cord you play. Achieved by manufacturing of proper hand-graduated inner and outer contours around the cellos top and back, with hand-fitted bass bars and sound posts.
After playing an instrument so finely tuned, you’ll never want to go back to any machined instrument ever again. Additionally, this purchase comes with an interior padded softshell carrying case and a rosewood frog-bow with unbleached white horsehair.
Body and finish: hand-carved solid spruce top with maple neck, back & sides, high-luster varnish with inlaid purfling
Suits for level: beginner, student
More features: a Brazilwood bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair
This design from Cecilio features a hand-carved spruce top with maple integrated into the back, sides, and neck. It’s a full sized 4/4 cello, which means its upper rim should just rest against your chest in a 90-degree seated position.
The bridge is exceptionally carved and sanded and like the rest of the cello features a tasteful high-luster varnish. Unlike the more common ‘ebony’ style pegs and tailpiece, this unique instrument features boxwood, which gives the instrument more individuality and class. Upon delivery, the sound post needs little to no adjustments for quality tone and vibrato, however the bridge itself does require manual stringing – this is to avoid damage to the cello body during shipping.
The strings themselves come in two sets – one extra set for replacements – and produce a purity of sound which isn’t dulled down by the common stiffness seen in ‘prelude’ strings. Other than extra strings, this purchase also includes a black cello stand, two gray-black cases (one hard and one soft, depending on your preference), and a genuine brazil wood bow strung with unbleached Mongolian horsehair.
Due to its lack of ebony components, it’s a very affordable cello on the current instrument market, and any beginner or student would be lucky to own it.
Body and finish: solid hand carved maple back, sides, neck and top
Suits for level: student, intermediate
More features: ebony frog bow with Mongolian horsehair
A more expensive design, its because this cello is specific to the professional, to the competitor, and to the intermediate student. This is not just any instrument, it’s a precisely made and finely tuned tool which easily rivals some of the earlier and even more recent cello designs.
With a solid hand-carved body, you can expect that the inner contours of the top, sides, and back have been hand-graduated to provide the finest tonality and sustained pitch throughout any musicians-controlled vibrato. These body features are made from fine maple wood which encompass the back, sides, top, and neck of the cello. They are polished and finished in an unobtrusive lightwood varnish, which makes the ebony pegs, fingerboard, and tailpiece stand out beautifully on stage.
Additionally, this cello’s bridge is exceptionally carved and smoothed with sound enhancing inlaid purfling and a no-fuss sound post. Its price, though higher than a beginner cello, easily matches the ever-improving quality of its sound, where the frequencies of tones over time are guaranteed to season the wood.
It comes with a good-looking ebony wood frog-bow with genuine Mongolian horsehair.
Body and finish: spruce top, maple back neck and sides
Fingerboard: black hard wood
Pegs: black hard wood
Tailpiece: alloy tailpiece with 4 built-in fine tuners
Suits for level: beginner
More features: wood stick bow with genuine horsehair, lightweight case with plush lining included
This full-sized 4/4 cello is easily the best beginner cello for a teen to full grown adult at a learning level or a mid-level education. It’s made from more cost-efficient materials, but looks and performs nearly identically to a professional-level instrument.
It weighs 20lbs, though comes with a black cello stand and lightweight easy-carry case with plush protective lining. Outside of the case, this cello boasts a reinforced spruce top blended flawlessly into a maple carved neck, back, and sides. Pairing excellently with the lightwood brown look, both the fingerboard and pegs are crafted from gorgeous black hard wood which looks just as professional on stage as more expensive ebony components would. The tailpiece is equally as fine as the body of the instrument, crafted from strong alloy materials with 4 hand installed fine tuners for the purity of exact manual adjustment.
The basics are simplicity itself to learn on this cello, from Pachelbel’s Canon in D to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. This full-sized cello will rest nicely against your sternum with perfect reach to both ends of the fingerboard, not to mention it comes with professional starter strings, a telescopic music stand, dark rosin, a black cello stand, a metro tuner, hard shell carry case, and horsehair wood stick bow.
Suits for level: student, intermediate and professional
More features: 1/8″ output jack , 1 year warranty against manufacturer’s defects, lightweight carrying soft case included
An electric cello is similar to a silent cello – though they do have their differences which we discuss in the buying guide.
This finely made electric cello combines the earlier designs of full wood cellos with the artistic flourishes and electronic additions of modern art and the sound demands of the 21st century. Its hand carved structure is finely captured maple wood with a flamed maple neck; it features professional ebony pegs, an ebony fingerboard, and an ebony tailpiece with mother of pearl inlay and 4 detachable tuners.
To add to the flair of its dramatic modern design, it’s not only auxiliary capable with added headphone usability, but it comes in three different colors: white, black, and mahogany. All wood components are complete with a stylish metallic varnish matching their electric capabilities and modern charm.
Additionally, this purchase comes with a lightweight soft case, 1/8 output jack for nearly all audio outputs or inputs, included headphones, an included 9v alkaline battery, dark rosin, and a Brazilian wood bow with Mongolian horsehair.
It’s an electric cello most ideal for intermediate student and professional’s with previous experience on the traditional concert cello.
What makes it special?
Modern flowing design with three unique color options
Comes with lightweight soft case
1/8" output jack
1 year warranty against manufacturer's defects
What cons did we find?
May not meet certain competition criteria
Easier to master after having learning the acoustic cello
This purchase does not just include a finely made cello, but it comes with everything you or your student will need to get started: a portable cello stand, protective padded cello gig bag (for concerts, classes, and orchestra tours), a clip-on chromatic tuner, a mid-strength rosin cake for bow stickiness with increased vibrato, an extra set of strings, and a quality horsehair cello bow.
The cello itself offers a full maple design with a reinforced top and bridge, a red maple back and sides and neck. Pairing beautifully with this maple coloration – fully sanded and finished in a glowing redwood varnish – the pegs, fingerboard, and tailpiece are crafted from finely polished rosewood.
For an entire kit with an impressive design tailor made for the ambitious learning musician, this is a very affordable purchase with all the odds and ends to keep you playing nonstop into the foreseeable future.
Body and finish: spruce top, mahogany back and sides, oil-varnished
Pegs: hard-carved ebony
Tailpiece: hard-carved ebony
More features: Brazil wood frog bow with white horsehair
This model 101 cello is one of the professional models you’d see in concert; it is a top instrument with very traditional appointments. Its price point varies in opinion, but for a student or beginner, this cello is easily out of the reasonable range.
For its price, however, its features reveal influences of the early Stradivarius design: a fully carved spruce top with hand-carved mahogany back, neck, and sides. All finished in a deep red varnish with interior hand-graduating and outer perflating that creates a tone which is clear and resonant. As well, the Wittner-style composite tailpiece and pegs feature hand-carved ebony with a perfect fit and color contrast, along with an ebony fingerboard.
The setup for this cello includes D’Addario Prelude Strings over a rock maple bridge with a no-fuss light colored sound post. These strings may be too stiff for beginners to manage successfully; the rest of the outfit includes a soft padded-interior carry case, mid-strength rosin, and a brazilwood frog-bow with white horsehair.
This cello is American made in New York City, and its brand alone stands for a long tradition of cello craftsmanship along with a large number of other instruments in the violin family.
What do we love it for?
At lightweight 4/4 cello
American made from a trusted brand
Professional competition-wroth cello
What were we disappointed with?
Expensive for a beginner
Does not include extra strings
Does not come with resin
Things to Consider
The remainder of this buying guide is dedicated to explaining the customs and quirks of owning and playing the cello. Additionally, these remaining sections are designed to list and explain the unique features of not only the common hand-crafted cello, but also the modern inventions of silent and electric cellos. From specifics on the production of sound to the dynamics of good bow form, we hope this brief education helps you make a long-lasting decision.
Let’s learn some history
The earliest discovery of this complex instrument is thought to be back in the 16th century when Andrea Amati first stared making the instruments for Charles IX, the King of France. During this initial period of design and reproduction, not too many people played the cello, and the instrument was much too expensive for peasants and even many middle-class musicians. The cellos capabilities went largely unexplored and therefore didn’t gain popularity until the six famous cello suites composed by Bach in the early 18th century captivated the attention of commoner and king alike. Stradivarius, the famous cello maker, also began building and tweaking with his designs around this time (late 17th century to early 18th century). His designs set the bar for the standard size cello we now know, and along with the earliest Amati designs some of these cellos (as far back as the 16th century) are still played today.
In fact, Stradavarius and Amati cello’s have for the most part stood the test of time, and they are among the most expensive cellos in the world. Modern manufacturers do their best to model instruments after these famous cellos, not only to preserve the sacred art of the luthier’s craft, but because the sound of the Stradivarius and Amati cellos have only improved with age. And that is the test of a good instrument, one which beats hundreds of years and actually improves beyond the original quality of the first piece ever played upon it.
How to choose a cello
It is, or should be, necessary for you or an expert to measure yourself or a child before making a final decision on what size of cello to purchase. First off, remember that the cello is played in a sitting position, so this should also be the position at which you measure yourself or another. Sit down so that your knees are bent at direct 90-degree angles – not only is this proper competition form, but it will provide the best measurement. If you need to visit a store for this next part and sit with one of their cellos, or if you need to call up a friend and borrow their cello, then certainly do so! Seated, the instruments upper rim should comfortably rest on your sternum (or breastbone) with your left knee touching the curve of the cello’s lower corner. Next, the C string peg (in regards to the thickest string) should be very near your left ear, though the neck of the cello should be a few inches away from your shoulder.
This positioning is ideal for your left hand to reach both ends of the fingerboard, assuming your hand size naturally matches your height. Hand size is another factor which few don’t compensate for! If you have unnaturally small hands for your size, you might want to consider a smaller instrument; a larger instrument has the potential to throw your balance off completely and quite possibly induce tension in your left hand.
Always remember that your child is going to grow, and where you might be buying the perfect sized cello for them right now, it might be better to let them struggle at first with a larger cello which they will grow into. A common size chart is included below, and further on we have listed the three cello choices – classic, electric, and silent – which may also be variables in making the best choice for you or a loved one.
The acoustic or ‘classic’ cello represents the graceful and original styling of an art form and classic cello players keep that art from dying out by playing music on a cello which no other instrument could possibly produce the same. The sounds produced are fully echoic and natural, and offer sustained vibrato, sliding notes, controlled reverberation, but only to those who have trained and are skilled enough to reproduce these sounds. Without the full wooden bodies all integrated into a single design – no uncoupling or dismantling possible (other than the strings) – these hollow and haunting reverberating wood sounds could not be possible. Electric cellos do something similar, but many argue it has its differences and is not nearly as pure – or as wholly traditional – as a cello which features entirely hand-carved components: neck, sides, back, pegs, tailpiece, and fingerboard.
At first glance, you can already tell the difference between the Cecilio CECO-3DW Electric Cello and the other cellos on our list. It’s much slimmer because it doesn’t require as much echoic sound as a full-wooden bodied classic cello, and it also has the major difference of needed a battery to be powered and being auxiliary cord capable. The electric cello can be played over speakers with a purity of sound that would be distorted if you were just holding a microphone up to a regular cello. In fact, electric cellos typically have no resonating chamber at all – no hollowed center – and they produce their sound through electric amplification rather than acoustic. One of the advantages of choosing an electric over a classic is that you can produce a unique capacity for sound effects such as the ‘wah’, distortions, and chorus. Some of these cellos even have extra strings for an extended range.
The Yamaha SVC50SK is a great example of a silent cello – its lightweight, doesn’t require a resonating chamber (like the classic cello), but can really only be played over speakers (be plugged in) or into your headphones. Unlike the electric cello, which unplugged from speakers sounds about as loud as an unplugged electric guitar (meaning you’d hear it well in a room but not down the hall), the silent cello is about as loud as a whisper unless plugged in. This makes it easy to practice late at night or in quieter environments – though you could always plug in headphones – and once plugged into speakers, the silent cello has a built-in volume control so that you can play as loudly as you want for whatever size of room or concert you’re working. Like the electric cello, keep in mind that its best to learn your craft on a classic cello – this is because there are physical differences in the way these cello types are held and the amount of bow pressure you apply to a classic cello vs. an electric or silent cello.
How is the sound made?
In the case of the cello – and other instruments with a resonating chamber – vibrations are created and move through the air in order to make oscillating sound waves. Specifically, for sawing or plucking strings, the frequency at which a cellist plays alters how the sound waves translate into different tones for an audience to hear. The strings – traditionally made from aluminum, titanium, or a combination of elements – create the vibration which in turn resonates in the cello’s hollow chamber. The reason songs can be played this way on a wooden instrument is mainly to do with the thickness of each string being vibrated slowly or quickly, and the resonating pitch we then hear from the cello (very high to very deep).
The more you learn to play, the more techniques that will exist for your song-play – such as pressing a string against the fingerboard while playing in order to dampen (or shorten) the amount of vibration to create a deeper sound. Other techniques will, of course, rely fully on how the cellist implements their bow. With a bow and four strings, the cello can create a variety of sound with high or low pitches and longer or shorter notes. Additionally, the bow is capable of engaging a string far longer than a human finger ever could, and it is for this reason the cello is so famous for its longer notes and intense vibrato.
Fine tips on playing the instrument
Correct bow form isn’t just something people made up to make children uncomfortable during concerts and competitions, it is a necessity which will affect how the cello is played. Some fine tips for perfecting your form: always grab the bow by the frog (or the bit at the back of the bow) and never by the hair itself; remember that the oil from your fingers will hurt the horsehair drawn across a bow. Use a relaxed soft hand grip; no pressing of the thumb; and saw with the whole arm from shoulder blade to fingertip.
Tuning the bow: believe it or not, bow hair also needs to be tightened. The ideal tightness of your bow should not keep the bow stick-straight, but instead, allow it a bit of bend where the hair itself is the width of a pencil.
How to take good care of your cello
Correct cello storage will make all the difference! You want to keep this instrument safe – dropping it or knocking into it could create possible fractures in the wood which will affect the overall sound. Soft cases are great storage at home, but if you’re going on the road you should invest in a hard-shell case – and then keep these cases in areas which aren’t heavily trafficked portions of your home and which will keep your instrument dry at room temperature. Additionally, give your bow some slack before you store it because storing a taught bow can lead to damage over time. For cello sound and bow care itself, apply rosin as needed, but remember that this is not necessary every time your play and can create flaky buildup on your strings.
Know your goals
Many amateurs don’t have a set plan or goal before deciding to learn the cello, and this can often lead to an expensive instrument being rather neglected by its owner who never took the time to learn the cello and then improve upon the basic skills. Goals will propel your learning process along, even if your first goal is to work with an instructor once a week. Youtube really won’t cut it! If you want to learn the cello, find and pay a local cellist, student, or school instructor.
Decide where you want to play your cello – just at home for friends, out on the streets, in the school orchestra, with a band, or out in concert on your own. Deciding where you want to play will not only give you a ‘playability’ goal but may give you ideas for songs to practice and commit to memory. For instance, a cellist wanting to play on the streets will make song choices different from those of a competitive cellist playing Bach.
Features to consider while choosing a cello
The following features are important and necessary to the cello, they will affect your ability to play it, as well as its ability to play certain songs or handle certain conditions. You’ll have seen many of these features listed in the detailed descriptions above, and we hope to answer any and all of the questions you have about them.
Our guide mostly recognizes and promotes full-sized 4/4 cellos – the perfect size for an intermediate to beginner young adult or adult. However, many of the listed options also offer additional standard sizes for younger ages and different hand sizes. Remember that for the best play, you need to choose a cello that will fit your height. This said, don’t be surprised when most professional orchestras require the 4/4 instrument – this is because it produces the widest range of sounds orchestras are typically looking for. Looking for better specifics, please view the size chart and measuring advice listed above. For electric cellos specifically, you can usually expect these to be the full 4/4 size. Also, one of the classic cellos on our list with the most size options is the Cremona SC-100.
Materials and finish
The traditional cello design takes a spruce top and incorporates it with maple sides, back, and neck – take for instance the Merano Cello for beginners. Periodically you will see poplar used on the back and sides, and there is some preference on how this affects sound – though many agree different woods just influence the style rather than the tone. Be wary of laminated wooden cellos because these are generally very cheap and won’t produce the same sound quality as a full wood model. If any cello has ‘layers’ rather than one solid piece, then it uses a cheaper laminated design; the price will reflect this.
Pegs, fingerboards, and tailpiece. These are typically made out of a darker – mainly for style – and stronger wood because most of the pressure and tension is applied to these areas and they need to hold up against it. You’ll notice that ebony is the most typical material used for these facets. However, something can still be strong and stylish, like the Cecilio CCO-300 which uses boxwood for these components.
You may also see that carbon fiber materials are growing more popular – typically used to make boats and airplanes. It’s surprising, but carbon fiber instruments do seem to produce quality sound equal to the classic wooden cello, while also providing a more durable and lighter instrument body. If you decide to go this route, there are no carbon fiber cellos on our list, but for your specific goals know that they have been reported as strong instruments to play out on the streets (where hard elements are possible).
Electric cellos are, of course, in a class all their own. Don’t expect them to produce the rich sound that traditional materials can create, but also know that they’re fantastic for certain venues and songs. They are incredibly quiet and use a mixture of wooden materials with metal and plastic composites.
Cello pegs need to stand up against the tension of the taut strings they tune, which means they need to be made from strong hardwood materials – though there are less flattering metal pegs which are sometimes used. Typically, these will be made out of ebony and will need very infrequent replacement over the years.
The fingerboard, also known as the fretboard (on fretted instruments) is one of the most important components of all string instruments. On the cello, it is a thin long strip of wood which is either laminated or finished up to the neck; the strings run along this fingerboard between the nut and the bridge, and its here that a musician presses down on the strings will bowing (or plucking) to change the vibrating length and pitch of each cord. This is also called ‘stopping’ the strings. An easy fingerboard which will increase a beginners’ learning curve belongs to the Merano Cello.
The tailpiece is traditionally made of ebony or sometimes stronger hardwoods and alloys like steel. It attaches the cello string to the lower end of the cello and often has one or more fine tuners which are used to increase the tension of each cello string. By tightening these fine tuners, you raise the pitch, and by loosening them you lower it. The Cecilio CCO-500 has four nickel plated fine tuners which improve the pitch and pair it with an excellent full-bodied design.
Typically, cello strings are all-metal or wound metal over a specific core, the difference is that the first (all-metal) tend to have a bright more echoing sound, whereas strings with a core sound fuller and richer in tone. You may want to quickly change the strings on your cello, no matter what those strings are made from or how they’re designed. This is because manufacturers normally make their own strings or ship in strings from the cheapest source, and they don’t have to tell you the brand or material of each string. Picking a trustworthy brand and stringing an instrument yourself will have an immediate effect on the sound of your cello. There are many different types of cello strings, though the most popular brands are Pirastro, Thomastik-Infeld, and Larsen. Keep in mind that strings also come in different gauges and widths, and the more experienced you become, the more you might want to mix and match strings – many professionals do this. For the best results, you should consider something similar to the D Z Strad Cello Model 101 which uses D’Addario Prelude Strings. Or listen to artists you love and find out what brands they use.
Although we realize that all the options on our list are cello and bow purchases, experts suggest that you shouldn’t purchase a bow until you’ve chosen a cello. This is because bows respond differently to different instruments. However, with that in mind, many of these manufacturers – such as the Cecilio brand – do extensive testing before pairing the perfect bow with each of their cellos. Do some research and find out if you want your own custom bow, but until then the bow which comes with purchase should work for basic training and smaller performances. A rule of thumb for buying your own bow: its cost will generally be 20-35% of your cellos total cost.
Rosin is made out of resin gathered from pine and other coniferous trees, which you then apply to the horsehair on your bow before playing. This coating on your bow makes it stickier and therefore provides more friction and vibration against each string. Rosin helps give you a heavier but more controlled sound. Rosin strengths vary and can normally be purchased as darker or medium-strength. The strength typically depends on your preference.
The endpin is the little bit of metal extending from the cellos bottom. For the most ideal comfort level, look for adjustable end pins which can move up and down to increase or decrease the height of your cello.
Soft cases are great storage at home or in school, but if you’re going on the road you should invest in a hard-shell case. Most of the models on our list feature either both cases together or a choice of one or the other. Cases can also easily be purchased separately later on, though make sure you get the right size for your instrument.
Does appearance matter?
For the beginner appearance really shouldn’t be the most important thing – although you’ll probably be more inclined to play a unique instrument than you might a regular one. For professionals, appearance may now be very important to you, but understand that functionality (or sound and playability) always comes before appearance. It is the beauty of the music which will most impress a person; the beauty of the instrument (at least in looks) is the second value.
Some useful accessories
The bow and bridge will either improve your instrument or dampen its potential. For things such as adding a specific bow or bridge to your instrument, consult a local luthier or professional cellist. These professionals will always have advice and options you can try out in order to find the cello accessories that you like. Other easily advised accessories to have: a cello stand for your home, extra strings, and an electric clip-on tuner.
Your ideal warranty should be a year or more that offers full protection against any unlikely manufacturing defects or additional damages during shipping. Some cellos can be very expensive, and for a $500.00 cello a year warranty is perfect. For any cello $1,000.00 or more, consider asking the manufacturer if they provide a longer warranty.
Yes, this is very possible, however be warned that it’s difficult to see what an instrument has been through at first glance. There can often be structural damage just below the surface, or the cello might need all new strings, pegs, varnishing, tailpiece, and other implements which have warn down and will cost you in the long run.
Remember that a cellos vibrato naturally goes flatter than the original pitch, so if it sounds just barely flat to your ear than its probably correct. Additionally, more rosin on your bow will increase its friction against the strings which will allow for deeper and more controlled vibrato so long as you never vibrate sharper or towards the floor. Correct vibrato requires your elbow to stay stationary while your arm merely rotates to move your palm. You might also consider playing with the pads of your fingers, rather than your fingertips.
Based on the combinations of their sound, design, materials, and cost these are the top three models which we consider nearly equal candidates for being the best cello.
Cecilio CCO-500. This cello is not only stylishly made, but with materials that will stand the test of time and improve the instruments overall sound through seasoned aging. It features all hand carved facets, four nickel-platted fine tuners, and many additional features other cellos on the cluttered market could never boast.
Yamaha SVC50SK. The silent-style electric cello offers a gorgeous mix of modern design based on the original principals and traditions of cello play. For any intermediate artist looking to branch into this complicated but beautiful unique sound of electronic cello play, this is the instrument for you. It will make any concert interesting, and has a whole range of undiscovered notes and noises a classic cello could never create.
Cecilio CCO-100. Our budget-pick for this list, this cello is designed from hardy wood materials that are specifically made to be crack proof for younger students and typically careless teenagers. However, this cello also offers a professional-level bridge and nearly a full starter kit for the beginner level to mid-level student. There are even some intermediate level cellists who would feel right at home using this instrument.