How to Buy a Cello For Beginners – Cello Buying Guide

Are you thinking of buying a cello? The cello, being one of the most famous string instruments, is an excellent instrument to learn for both children and adults.

Once you become a skilled cellist, you can join an orchestra and play the symphonies you dream of. But, it all starts with getting a quality instrument.

So, in this guide, we’ll give you insider tips on finding and purchasing the right cello. Now, let’s delve in.

How to Buy a Cello For Beginne

The Short Answer

To buy the right cello, here are five things you should do:

  • Consider your budget and skill level
  • Consider the string type and bow
  • Choose the right cello size
  • Observe the wood used for the cello
  • Test the cello

Now, let’s dig into each of these points.

Consider Your Budget and Skill Level

The first step to purchasing high-quality instruments is to know your skill level, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional.

If you’re just starting out and looking to purchase your first cello, then a beginner cello is a good fit. Such cellos cost anywhere from $200-$2500.

However, a cello priced less than $1,000 deserves extra scrutiny, especially if it’s a used one. If you go for a used cello, you might end up buying one that has cracks, unreliable tuning pegs, and are more prone to damage. Ultimately, we recommend going for a brand new cello. Some of the best cello brands include D’Luca, Merano, Cecilio, and Yamaha.

Consider Your Budget and Skill Level

After a couple of years of playing your beginner cello, you might want to upgrade to one that is more dynamic and better at projection: an intermediate cello. Although it could set you back anywhere from $500-$10,000, it’s worth the investment since it can last a lifetime. In addition, such cellos are intricately designed by a cello maker to produce the best sounds.

Finally, a professional cello is a good choice for people who are pros or those looking for a collector’s item. With excellent craftsmanship, these cellos produce rich, warm tones and can last for centuries. Plus, you can play a lot more tunes and project more with them.

String Type And Bow

The kind of string your cello comes with is an important aspect to consider. Just like guitars, cellos come with two kinds of strings: steel or nylon. A nylon-string device is great for players who place emphasis on flexibility, comfort, and durability. This is a good choice for beginners as they avoid getting too many blisters from the start.

In contrast, steel-stringed instruments are much harder to play. However, they have a quicker bow response and project much louder volumes. That’s why some intermediates and professionals prefer steel-stringed cellos.

How to Buy a Cello For Beginner : String Type And Bow

Also, you should look out for a good bow when purchasing a cello. Bows made from Brazilwood or Pernambuco are the most popular ones. Pernambuco is often preferred because it comes from the heart of a tree, making it of much higher quality.

You can also get bows made from carbon fiber or fiberglass, although they’re often of a lesser quality compared to the ones from wood. Whatever the case, choose a bow that you or the one you’re buying the cello for is comfortable playing. That’s what matters.

Choose the Right Cello Size

One key factor to consider when making a cello purchase is the size on offer. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cellos. Different age ranges require different sizes of instruments.

In general, cellos come in the following sizes:

  • 1/8
  • 1/4
  • 1/2
  • 3/4
  • 4/4

The 1/8 size cello, which is about 20 inches, is perfect as the first cello for children between 4-6 years. For those between 5-7 years, the 1/4 size cello is a perfect fit as it measures 20-23 inches and is designed for those below 4 feet.

Children between 7-11 would find the 1/2 size cello easier and more comfortable to use as its back length is from 23-26 inches. The 3/4 size cello, measuring around 26-27 inches, would be a great fit for kids in the early teenage years (11-15).

Finally, if you’re buying a cello for someone 15 years and above, opt for the 4/4 cello, which measures at least 30 inches in length. That way, you can be comfortable handling and playing the instrument.

Read more: 7 Best Cellos For Beginners – Buying guide

Observe the Wood Used for the Cello

Another vital question to ask yourself is the kind of wood used to manufacture the particular cello you’re considering. This is important because the materials used for your Cello can affect the quality of sound. So start by taking a close look at the kind of wood used.

For the top of a good cello, straight-gained spruce is often used. Because spruce is a robust material, it can handle the tension and strain from the strings, ensuring that your cello produces the best sounds. For best effect, manufacturers often use spruce that’s at least five years old.

For the back and neck of cellos, maple is commonly used as it ensures stability and a beautiful finish.

Observe the Wood Used for the Cello

For intricate parts like the tailpiece, fingers, endpin, and pegs, ebony is often the wood of choice. Although it’s dark, dense, and strong, it’s also light, ensuring that your cello is not too heavy at the top.

Other commonly used woods include poplar, willow, boxwood, and rosewood. Each of them has its unique characteristics.

Test the Cello

There are several ways to test your cello before making a final buying decision. For starters, check out if the cello size is a good fit for you or the one you’re buying for. As mentioned earlier, there are sizes that are good for specific age ranges. But still, you can do a quick check just to be sure.

To check if your cello is comfortable, sit erect on a chair and make sure your feet are touching the ground. Then, take the cello you’re considering buying, let it rest on your chest at about a 45-degree angle, and move the endpin to around 12 inches.

If the cello is the correct size, it’ll sit in the middle of your chest, and the C string’s C peg will be near your left ear. Try different cellos until you get one that fits this posture.

Test the Cello

Another key aspect to check is the sound quality of the instrument. Instead of playing music on a cello and guessing whether or not it sounds great, you should come up with a game plan.

This plan will be hard to follow if you’re purchasing a cello online. However, if you’re buying from your local violin shop, for instance, you can follow this template.

First, pick three or four that look appealing to you. Next, decide on a music piece to play on all of the cellos. What’s more, make sure you use the same bow on each cello as various bows can give off various sounds.

Once you get those sorted out, you can follow this strategy to test different cellos:

  • Play a few full bows to test the cello strings. Take note of the tension and sound of each string across all the cellos you’re testing.
  • Play a C major scale in three octaves. This helps you hear the entire range of all the strings and how the instrument sounds as a whole. To get an even better perspective, play the intro of a lyrical piece across a large range. For example, Brahms Sonata in E minor is an excellent choice if you can play it.
  • Play a softer piece like Bach’s and see how the cello performs with lighter bow strokes. Do you get a soft, woody, and round sound when you give it a go? If yes, then that’s a good sign.
  • Test the cello’s volume. You can use the intro of a concerto or showpiece to see how loud the instrument can get. This test comes in handy if you’re looking to play with an orchestra. You’ll need a cello that can project above other instruments.

With these steps, you’ll get a good idea of how good your cello is.

Final Thoughts

Buying a cello is an excellent idea. Once you own the instrument, you can practice consistently and hone your craft. Whichever cello brand you go with, make sure you consider factors like size, materials, cost, and your level of learning.

While each cello comes with a bow or a case, you might need to buy cello accessories like a cello stand, sheet music, and extra strings to get the most out of it.