Top 5 Cellos For Beginners

Top 5 Cellos For Beginners

13 minutes

Buying your first cello is an exciting prospect, but there’s quite a lot of information you need to get started! What are the best cello brands for a budding cellist? What should I look for in a beginner cello starter kit? And what is the best cello brand? We will cover all of these things in this article, as we take you through the top 5 cellos for beginners.

Things to consider when buying a beginner’s cello

Size

With instruments coming in many different sizes, you are probably wondering “how do I know what size cello to buy?” This is a perfectly valid and important question!

Choosing the correct size instrument is an important step that must be considered carefully. There are essentially 3 main categories:

  1. The Standard Full Size
    A full size cello has a back length of approximately 76cm. This size is suitable for the vast majority of adults and is what you will see professionals playing.
  2. Fractional Sizes
    Fractional sizes such as ¾ , ½, ¼, ⅛ , 1/10 and even 1/16, are great for children. These sizes allow children as young as three the opportunity to play the cello in a way that promotes a good technique, proper set up and won’t leave them feeling frustrated that they can’t reach all of the notes.
  3. The ⅞ Size

    Many cellists would refer to this as the all important 7/8 size. This size is designed to be slightly smaller than the standard full size, but without losing any of the power.

If you are purchasing an instrument for a child, and therefore looking at fractional cellos, please check out our other guide called “What Size Cello Does My Child Need”, for more detailed information and specific sizing charts.

Type of Cello

There are three different types of cello, characterised by their main material: traditional wooden cellos, electric cellos and carbon fibre cellos.

Wooden cellos are the most popular and are the ones most commonly recommended for beginners as they come in a wide range of sizes and prices.

Electric and carbon fibre cellos are only really suitable for intermediate to advanced players who require this type of cello for a specific reason: such as playing outdoors often, or requiring amplification.

Electric Cello Review
Wooden Cello vs Electric Cello
Carbon Fibre Cello Review
Carbon Fibre Cello

If you are just starting out, your best option would be to choose a traditional wooden cello as this will provide you with the most flexibility to explore different genres of music. You can always move on to a different type of cello later.

Cello material & quality of the build

It may come as a surprise, but cellos aren’t made out of just any wood. Professionally made instruments should be made out of spruce (for the top) and maple (for the sides, back and neck). A lower quality of wood, such as laminated wood, might be more durable and cheaper, but does not produce the same quality of sound as a single piece of spruce or maple.

Top Tip
Cello Spruce Top
An easy way to assess the quality of the spruce top of the cello...

…is to look at the grain of the wood. A good quality cello will have a tighter grain in the middle, underneath the fingerboard, bridge and tailpiece, which will become gradually wider towards the edges of the cello.

Cello Maple Flame
To assess quality of the maple parts...

…look at the “flame”, (stripes in the wood), the horizontal bar of contrasting light and dark under the varnish in the wood itself.  When relating flame to the quality, the more densely flamed the back, sides, and neck are, the more expensive the wood.

As the wood ages and experiences different temperatures and humidities, it adapts to the shape of the cello as well as maturing. This allows for greater responsiveness and possibility of subtleties, and means that cellos can appreciate in value.

Although mostly aesthetic, the colour of a cello could be a factor in determining quality. Varnish is used to treat the wood, and whilst a solid block of colour might look very tidy, it actually indicates that a LOT of varnish has been used. Too much varnish can become very heavy and actually hinder sound production and quality.

Ebony is a hardwood, and as such, an ebony fingerboard will not wear away over time. Ebony is commonly used for the pegs and tailpiece as well, although plastic can be used on cheaper instruments. Good quality ebony will have a tight grain, and may even appear smooth.

Another tell tale sign of a good quality instrument is inlaid purfling. Purfling is the double black line around the very edge of the cello. Some manufacturers cheat, by painting this on; however true inlaid purfling is important as it prevents the cello from cracking if it gets knocked.

Don't forget to check for...
any cracks, chips or split seams on the cello. When you buy a cello it should be in good working order and even the smallest crack can grow and become a major problem later on; so make sure to check that it is in a good general condition.
important

Bow quality and weight

Most cello bows are made out of Pernambuco, which is a type of wood from Brazil.

A bow should be heavy enough that it produces a powerful, rich sound, but also light enough that it does not cause the player any pain whilst holding it.

Bows should not have any cracks in the stick, and they should be straight – ie. when you look straight down the length of the stick, it should not bulge to one side.

Cello brands

There are several well known brands of beginner string instruments. These brands are trusted due to their long lasting instruments, consistent quality and durability. These include:

 1. Stentor – Stentor is one of the biggest manufacturers of string instruments in the world, with exports to more than 30 countries. They began trading in 1895 and since the 1960s, more than one million young musicians have begun their musical careers with a Stentor.

Their student cellos are reliable, sturdy and consistent. The company does offer some more advanced models, but they are most well-known for their entry level instruments which make up the core of many schools and local hub instrument loan schemes instrument.

2. Primavera – Primavera have been designing and manufacturing instruments since 1995 with an aim to revolutionise student string instruments. All Primavera instruments have been designed especially for primary school level teaching and come highly recommended by many teachers and schools.

3. Hidersine – Hidersine have been in operation for 130 years, and although they are primarily known for their rosins, they also produce arange of excellent cellos for students of all skill levels, from absolute beginners to advanced students. Their Vivente and Piacenza cellos are perfect for a student cellist looking to upgrade from a beginner instrument.

BONUS BRAND

Although predominantly they are an online music store selling all brands, Gear4music actually have their own brand of cello and have 62 different options!  As an ‘own brand’, they are incredibly cost effective (in fact the cheapest of all the above) – but crucially, you won’t suffer on quality.  The reviews of these cellos are incredible, and I’d be happy to recommend one to any of my beginner students.

TOP 5 BEGINNER CELLOS

STENTOR STUDENT

ONE

STENTOR
STENTOR Student Cello Outfit
$ 490
/ £360
  • Level: Complete Beginner
  • Included: cello, wooden bow and soft padded case
7.0/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  7.0/10

PROS

CONS

PRIMAVERA 100

TWO

PRIMAVERA
Primavera 100 Cello Outfit
$ 680
/ £500
  • Level: Beginner
  • Included: cello, wooden bow and soft padded case
7.8/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  7.8/10

PROS

CONS

HINDERSINE VIVENTE

THREE

HIDERSINE
Hidersine Vivente Cello Outfit
$ 800
/£600
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Included: cello, wooden bow and soft padded case
9.8/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.8/10

PROS

CONS

ARCHER 500

FOUR

ARCHER
Archer 500 Series
$ 500
/ £400
  • Level: Upper beginner
  • Included: Stand, Strings, Endpin Stop, Tuner and Cloth
8.8/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  8.8/10

PROS

CONS

GEAR4MUSIC

FIVE

Gear4Music
Student Cello Series - all sizes
$ 400
/ £285
  • Level: Beginner
  • Included: Stand, Cloth, Strings, Endpin Stop and Tuner
5.5/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  5.5/10

PROS

CONS

Accessories for your cello

CELLO CASE

Most student cello outfits will come with a padded bag included in the price. These are great for providing a lightweight way to carry your cello. But they don’t always offer the best protection.

Here are some alternative suggestions:

GEWA
Gewa Cello Gig Bag
$ 173
/£150
  • Level: Upper Beginner
  • Included: 1 padded bag
8.5/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  8.5/10

PROS

CONS

HIDERSINE SEMI-RIGID
Hidersine Semi-Rigid Cello Case
$ 265
/ £192
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Included: 1 semi rigid case
9.1/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.1/10

PROS

CONS

BAM Classic
BAM 1001 classic cello case
$ 195
/ £141
  • Level: Upper Intermediate
  • Type: ABS Outer Shell
9.5/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.5/10

PROS

CONS

Rosin

Rosin is a solid form of tree resin and is used on the hair of the bow to help provide more grip when bowing across the string. Rosins can come from many different types of tree, have a different colour, produce a different sound and even smell different!

Cello rosin is usually a dark red colour, whereas violin/viola rosin often looks orange or gold, and double bass rosin looks almost completely black!

Rosin is an essential piece of kit that you will need to keep with you at all times!

D'Addario Kaplan

The best rosin on the market
$ 11
/£8
  • BONUS: It comes with a premium case
  • BONUS: Case designed for one-handed use
10/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  10/10
PROS
CONS

Spike Holder / Endpin stopper

An essential piece of equipment unique to cello and double bass players is the spike holder or endpin stopper. There is nothing worse than your spike slipping across the floor mid-performance!

To solve this problem, there are several inventions, some which work better than others, but all are better than nothing!

BLACK HOLE
Black Hole Cello Endpin Stop
$ 11
/£8
  • Level: All levels
  • No Need For: Belts and Strings Around Chair Legs
6.8/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  6.8/10
PROS
CONS
rayzm cello non-skid
Rayzm Cello End-Pin Stopper Strap
$ 20
/£14
  • Best feature: 4 stop holes help cellist quickly adjust to a proper playing position.
  • Made of: Solid maple wood, the bottom side is covered with 3 mm thick EVA
9.8/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.8/10
PROS
CONS

Spare Strings

When you buy a cello it will come with a set of strings already fitted. But it’s always a good idea to have a spare set, just in case one snaps! You might also want to upgrade from the standard factory strings, to something a bit better.

Some strings have a synthetic core made out of Perlon or Kevlar; these strings are very quick to respond and powerful.

Other strings are made of gut (sheep’s intestine), wrapped in metal. These strings have an enormous range of colours and a rich tone, but they don’t retain their pitch very well! These strings are favoured by early music specialists as they are authentic but these musicians are constantly having to retune their instrument!

But the vast majority of strings available to purchase have a steel core, are strong, powerful and produce a wide range of sound colours.

Strings come in a variety of tensions, making them more or less easy to play, and many are also available in different sizes.

Here are a two sets of strings that I’d be happy to recommend to anyone:

D’ADDARIO
Prelude Cello Strings - Set
$ 82
/£62
  • Level: Upper Beginner
  • Included: All 4 strings
9.2/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.2/10
PROS
CONS
D’ADDARIO
Helicore Cello Strings - Set
$ 175
/£128
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Included: All 4 strings
9.6/10
The TedScore™ is our unique system of scoring products. The professional musician who wrote this article combine many things, from the product build, manufacturer's reputation through to feedback from other users, to create our famous TedScore™.
The TedScore™:  9.6/10
PROS
CONS
Rental & loan schemes
Top 5 Cellos for beginners
Play The Cello
Top 5 Cellos for beginners
Cello Trio
Top 5 Cellos for beginners
Cello Heads

One of the most common questions asked by those wanting to start out on the cello, is whether to buy or rent a cello. The answer depends on a few key aspects: how you are learning, how committed you are, how advanced you already are.

If you are learning through a school or local music service, it may be possible to borrow a cello. Many schools and music services have an instrument loan scheme where you can borrow an instrument free of charge or for a small annual fee.

For children these schemes are excellent as they are an easy way to ensure that they always have access to an instrument of the correct size.It doesn’t make much sense to buy something so expensive, that they will only outgrow later!. Their teacher will be able to advise when it is time for them to move up a size, and this can then be put in place very quickly.

If you are an adult beginner or learning with a private teacher. Whilst it may be possible to rent a cello from a local music shop, these schemes are rare. You are most likely going to need to own your own cello.

Most shops offer a trial scheme where you pay a deposit and can take the cello home to try for around 30 days. At the end of the trial you can then buy the cello outright, or some shops may offer a rent to buy scheme which means you can spread out the cost.

Gear4music for instance run a fantastic scheme of a 2-year warranty & 30-day money-back guarantee for all their products, giving you chance to buy and trust the brand.

Try it first!
Even if you are certain that you want to buy your own cello, do take advantage of the trial schemes. Take the instrument to your teacher, play it for a few weeks and see how it feels. If you are not happy with it, you can always return it and choose a different one.
PRO TIP!

Top 5 cellos for beginners
Summary

Buying a cello can seem like a complicated process, but once you know what type of cello you’re looking for, the size and your budget; you will find that everything else becomes a lot easier.

If you can, talk to your teacher for their advice, before heading out to the shops. Don’t forget to try lots of different instruments and take advantage of any trial periods!

Making music should be fun, so don’t let the stress of buying an instrument deter you from following your passion!

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