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The Best Cellos for Music Lovers

Cellos, also known as violoncellos, are mainstay string instruments found in bands and orchestras of all levels, from beginners to professionals. They have four strings, are strummed with a bow, and are in the same family as violins and violas. They’re known for their large size and height, as well as for being one of only two string instruments played standing upright instead of held in the arms or between the chin and shoulder. Cellos make excellent solo instruments as well as parts of orchestras and other ensembles. If you’re a cello player looking for a new instrument or you’re just starting to learn to play one, consider the following recommendations.

What Should You Consider in a Cello?

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Height: Most people don’t realize that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to cellos. The right cello for you is going to depend on your age, height, and arm length. The cello won’t do you any good if you can’t reach it properly, after all. A full cello will almost always be the right choice for most adults, but kids and teenagers will have to start with a 3/4, 1/2, or smaller instrument. If you’re buying for your child, be sure to check their height against the provided sizing charts beforehand.
  • Acoustic vs. Electric: Acoustic cellos are the standard, but some musicians prefer electric cellos’ amplified sound. Standard acoustic cellos can be played anywhere since you don’t have to worry about plugging them in, and they don’t require the extra equipment (like an amp or batteries) that an electric cello does. They have the classical string instrument sound that some musicians find hard to achieve on electric cellos. Electric cellos are much lighter and almost always narrower, so they’re easier to transport and position while playing. There are also five- and six-string electric cellos for an extended range of notes, which most acoustic cellos will lack. Consider which factors are more important to you and your music.
  • Beginner vs. Advanced: Many beginner cellos will be smaller with kids in mind, though there are full-sized beginner cellos, too. The biggest difference is in the materials. Since beginners are learning basics, certain parts of the cello see more repetitive motions and thus need to be equipped to deal with more friction. These parts, namely the pegs and fingerboards, tend to be made of more durable wood like maple on beginner cellos. On advanced- and intermediate-level cellos, these same parts are usually made of ebony instead. Beginner cellos also tend to be machine-made and less expensive since they’re more transitory, while more advanced instruments tend to be at least partially handcrafted.

Top Choice: Mendini By Cecilio Cello Kit

This quintessential, pristine-sounding acoustic cello is suitable for both beginners and experienced players. This model comes in 1/4, 3/4, and full-sized options, so you can buy it for adults, teens, and children alike. (You can refer to the accompanying sizing table to help determine which size you should buy depending on the musician’s age if you need some guidance.) The classic design is mostly maple wood with a crack-proof spruce top and an elegant, natural finish. You can buy it in its natural reddish-brown color or in black, purple, or blue. Besides the cello itself, you receive a padded carrying case with pockets and adjustable backpack straps, a wooden bow, a cake of rosin, and a spare set of alloy steel cello strings.

Top Choice

Cecilio Cello Instrument – Mendini Full Size Cellos for Kids & Adults w/ Bow, Case and Stringsac

A classic cello with a pristine sound that is suitable for kids and adults alike.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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