How to Buy a Cello: A Comprehensive Guide
When buying a cello, it is essential to consider the best fit for you. Cellos come in different sizes, and each person is the other. You also need to think about the sound of the cello and what kind of strings it has. There are many different brands of cellos, and each one sounds slightly different. You need to decide which brand is right for you.
Should I Even Buy a Cello?
The first question you need to ask yourself when you are thinking about buying a cello is whether it is the right thing for you. So that you should make an informed decision, our “Should I Rent or Buy a Cello?” guide is provided. A summary of the costs connected with renting and purchasing cellos.
Another question you might ask yourself is if the cello is the right instrument for you. It is an important question because the cello is an expensive purchase.
There are different types of cellos for players at varying levels of their learning journey. Many students start by renting cellos to practice until they are ready to own one. Cellos can be divided into three categories:
- Student Cellos: Beginner cello students are constantly working on the basics of playing, such as tone production, fingering, and bowing. To make it easier for these students, maple (dyed black to look like ebony) is sometimes used for the pegs and fingerboards. This material is more resistant to wear and tear. Student cellos are mostly machine-made so that the tone remains consistent. They are pretty affordable, ranging from $200 to $2,500.
- Intermediate to Advanced Cellos: An intermediate cello has better sound than a beginner’s cello. There are more dynamics, and the projection is stronger. The fingerboards and pegs are fashioned from ebony. Most of the instrument is handcrafted. Prices range from $500 – $10,000.
- Professional Cellos: Cellos made with high-quality wood and crafted very well have a rich tone and can play very loudly or softly, depending on what is needed. These cellos are often considered masterpieces and can cost anywhere from $10,000 to even more.
Usually, the quality of a cello is related to how much it costs. Cellos that cost less than a few hundred dollars are often not very playable. In contrast, the more expensive ones usually sound better. There are exceptions, and sometimes a cello’s price depends on the maker’s reputation.
How to Choose the Right Cello
Ask Your Teacher
The best way to learn what type of cello you should get is to talk to your music teacher. Music teachers know their students better than anyone else and can recommend the best kind of cello for you. They have a lot of experience and can give you good advice.
The second piece of advice is to go to a violin shop and try their cellos. Cellos are not as famous as violins, so you might not have a lot of choices when it comes to brands. Make sure you read our guide on the best cello brands before knowing what to look for.
The selection of instruments at general music shops is usually not very good. However, the choice will be much better at a good violin shop. Make sure to try out any instrument you are considering buying before purchasing it, especially if you are buying it online. You need to test the instrument’s size, projection, and resonance to see if it is right for you.
Here are other factors for consideration:
- The size of the cello influences its sound. Cellos come in a variety of sizes, 1/16 to 4/4. The bigger the cello, the more tone it produces; the cellist will sound more mature.
- The height of the ribs and the circumference of the upper bout. The neck and the string or scale length contribute to the instrument’s size and playability. Comfort is more crucial than size because if a cellist feels uncomfortable while playing, she will not perform effectively.
- Four things affect the sound of a cello: responsiveness, resonance, tone, and projection. A cello’s sound is mellow and darker. In an orchestra, the cellist must ensure she can be heard above the other instruments. That is why projection is essential. All these sound elements will affect a player’s performance, which is why choosing a cello in person rather than over the Internet, or investing in a higher quality cello, is necessary.
- On the other hand, having a solid C string is nice, but don’t forget about the other strings. Make sure that there is consistency in sound quality across all four strings. It also appears that shorter strings are more comfortable to play on. However, longer ones may provide a more powerful sound. It depends on what the gamer values the most.
- The performance of the bow can be affected by its quality and weight. Make sure to test out different bows before buying one to find the best one for you.
To evaluate the cellos, test them by playing scales and different passages (both fast and slow ones). Check the tone of other cellos. Which one sounds best? Is it simple to navigate the fingerboard? Ask someone else to play the cello while you listen from the room. Does the sound project well?
Quality of the Material
The quality of the cello’s material affects both its sound and price. Cheaper woods from America and China usually have a brighter sound. In contrast, the warmer and sweeter tones of more-expensive European woods are preferred by many. The “flame,” or as some say, “tiger stripe,” on the back, sides, and scroll of the cello affects its price more than the top spruce grain.
Many people want a cello with a lot of “flame” because it looks beautiful and makes a better sound than cellos without much flame. A well-made cello will have the center crease on the back hidden by the flame. It is one way to identify quality workmanship quickly.
Where to Buy a Cello
You don’t need to buy an expensive cello. Many good-quality instruments are less expensive. The most important thing is to buy from a store with a good return policy that lets you try out their instruments. You can also ask a teacher for recommendations. If you don’t have other options, you can try buying from second-hand stores, luthiers, or online retailers like Amazon or eBay.
Should You Rent or Buy a Cello?
Suppose you’re shopping for a student cello. In that case, you’ll undoubtedly be drawn to renting one rather than buying one with a long-term commitment. You’d have to worry about reselling if the kid doesn’t continue playing. However, there are several compelling reasons why purchasing a cello over renting is often a better option:
- Renting a cello can be expensive. If you rent a cello for $30 a month, you will spend $360 in one year. About $200 may get a brand-new or gently used cello. If the music shop offers rental credits, you might be able to use them to buy the cello at the end of the contract. But it is usually cheaper to buy the cello outright.
- If you want to trade in your cello for a bigger or better one, many music shops will give you a discount on the new cello if you trade in the old one.
- A good beginner’s instrument that is cared for well will usually keep its value. You can trade it in for a better quality instrument later.
- Some cellos are better quality and may be worth more money over time. It is because their sound gets better as they age.
- When renting an instrument, it may not be in optimal condition. It may have some scratches or nicks on it. The strings and bow might also be used. And if the instrument sustains any damage, you are responsible for repairing it.
What Else Do I Need?
If you buy a cello, you will need some accessories too. Check out our Buying a Cello Checklist guide for a complete list.
- Case: To store your cello, you need a strong case that can protect the instrument. You’ll need an even stronger case if the cello is for a student. Most beginner cello outfits come with a soft case. Still, if you want extra protection, Amazon has some great hard cello cases.
- Rosin: Rosin is applied to your bow and used to create friction between your bow and cello. This friction is necessary for your cello to make any sound.
- Bow: To get the best sound from your cello, it is essential to use the right bow. You should choose a bow that sounds good and is also affordable. Our guide can help you find the perfect bow for your needs.
- Rock Stop: If you want to, you can use the rock stop to keep your cello from slipping.
- Extra Strings: Cello strings sometimes break. It’s a good idea to keep an extra pair of strings in your case just in case. You can read our review of the best cello strings to find the right ones for you.
Protecting Your Investment
Once you’ve chosen the cello you want, it’s essential to protect it from loss, damage, and theft. Replacing a cello can be very expensive, so it’s necessary to have insurance for your instrument. You can learn more about buying insurance for your cello by reading our guide.
THIS GUIDE IS SEPARATED INTO THREE PARTS: