Written by the KK Music team
Learning how to play a new instrument is an exciting opportunity that will likely spark a lifelong love of music and creativity in beginners and children. The sound of the cello is very easily recognized, and is renowned for having the range most similar to the human voice. The cello is also one of the largest instruments in the string family, and it’s said that there are many cognitive and developmental benefits from playing it.
There are many development benefits to getting your child into music and learning an instrument at a young age, and the cello is a great place to get them started.
Whether you or your child are a beginner, amateur, or student, there are a few things you should know before investing in your first cello. To help you navigate this important purchase, we’ve created a complete beginner’s guide on everything you need to know and consider before making your cello purchase.
What exactly is a cello?
If you’re brand new to the cello, you might have a few questions about what it looks like, its size, and how it differs from other instruments. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
The cello is the tenor and bass instrument of the violin family, and is constructed of the same components as the violin, with the only difference being its size. The cello is said to be the second largest stringed instrument behind the double bass.
Every individual cello is composed of dozens of different parts, each with their own specific function. To make things easier for you, we’ve highlighted the 3 most important components of the cello and how they work.
Basic Anatomy of the Cello
The body of the cello contains the top (usually made of spruce wood), the bottom (usually made of maple wood), and the ribs (also usually made of maple wood). F-holes are typically carved into the top of the cello on either side of the four strings. The body of the cello is the heaviest and most prominent part of the instrument.
The neck of the cello is the long, slim piece of wood (typically maple wood) that extends upward from the body of the cello. The strings also extend up the neck from the body, and this is where the fingerboard exists for the cellist to create different pitches and sounds.
The peghead of the cello is located at the top of the neck near the fingerboard. The peghead contains knobs that can be altered to maintain tuning of the instrument.
What to Consider Before Purchasing a Cello
1. Cello Size
As we’ve mentioned before, the cello is one of the largest instruments in the string family, and in any instrument family for that matter. So, because it’s not a handheld instrument or a universal fit for everyone, it’s very important to consider the size of your cello, and the young musician that will be playing it.
Cello sizes are measured in quarters, and we’ve broken down our size recommendations by age for you here:
- Ages 6 and below: Size 1/4 Recommended
- Ages 7-11 years: Size 1/2 Recommended
- Age 8-12 years: Size 3/4 Recommended
- Age 12 years+: Size 4/4 (Full Size) Recommended
Cello prices have an extremely large range, with most quality student cellos ranging from around $300-$400, and some professional cellos coming in at over $10,000. You may be wondering what the reasoning is behind these prices, but cellos are made up of relatively rare materials including high-quality woods that produce the beautiful and melodic sounds that the cello is so famously known for.
As a cellist advances their practice and mastery of the instrument, they will likely find more value in the increased quality of their instrument, but we strongly recommend starting off with a student cello for beginners and children.
From taking your cello to school, to lessons, to practice, or wherever else your little one might be off to that day, portability is key for their first cello. Most student cellos are built to be lightweight enough for kids to conveniently carry and take with them wherever they’re off to. The Cecilio student cellos all come with a padded lightweight soft carrying case for easy transport, and it even includes an over-the-shoulder strap, making it hands-free.
4. Electric vs Traditional Cello
The last thing you might want to consider is whether to buy your child a traditional cello or an electric cello. Now, you may not have even realized that the electric cello was an option (or that it existed), but there are some distinctions that we should go over.
Playing both the traditional and electric cello requires the same bowing back and forth movements, but the electric cello relies on electronic amplification to create its sound, and is typically a bit easier to learn. If you choose to go this route, we recommend the Cecilio Electric Cello for students. Like their traditional cello, it also comes with a soft, padded carrying case and an included pair of headphones for quiet playing. Yes, you read that right, headphones!Shop Electric Cellos Shop Traditional Cellos
Is Learning How to Play Cello Hard?
Many beginning musicians and students wonder how hard it is to learn cello, and how long it will take to master. The answer is that learning how to play the cello is not extremely difficult, but it does require time, effort, and dedication.
A student who commits to taking cello lessons and practicing beyond their first year has the potential to develop into a talented amateur, and with the right dedication can eventually make their way to a professional career. The cello can be a lifelong skill and passion, and it’s best to get started as early as possible. So, if you’re hoping for your young one to be the next Yo-Yo Ma, or Luigi Boccherini, you’ve come to the right place.
Buying Your First Cello
Now that you know all the basics of the instrument and what to look for when buying a cello, you should feel good about making a purchase. Just remember to consider size, price, portability, and style of instrument, and you’ll be good to go.
Contributing Writer: Amanda Medved