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Choosing Your First Cello

Choosing Your First Cello

 Deciding on what cello to buy first is a difficult task. As a cello teacher, “How do I chose my first cello?” is often the first question a new student asks when they first contact me about lessons.

 What can seem like a dizzying array of options of different cellos online is actually quite simple to navigate once you take into account a few simple steps. I’m going to outline these steps here and try to shed some light on exactly how to go about choosing your first cello and help you to decide what cello is best for you as a beginner.

What Size?

Size for adults over 5 foot tall, I recommend a full size cello. For younger players you can use this chart to know what size to get. 

Price Matters

Cellos do not come cheap so choosing your first cello must not be a decision made likely. Thankfully most retailers are happy for your to try out an instrument and bring it back. But as a beginner it can be impossible to know what it is you are looking for when trying to decide if it’s a good cello or not! Also, it may not alway be an option to try it out if buying online. This is why I always tell my students this golden rule when buying a cello. This Is a hard truth to swallow so lets get this out of the way first. Never spend less than $500 dollars! Yes I know this is a lot of money and I’m sure a few people reading this will let out a large sigh but let me explain why this is so important by sharing a few truths about buying a cello.

Is The Cello Resell-able?

If you are serious about buying your first cello you should know that it will be a waste of your money to spend less than $500 dollars. There are many cellos for sale online for this price but will you find them in a reputable instrument shop or being sold at an instrument makers workshop? No! A cello is a truly beautiful and magnificent piece of engineering and the parts that make it up and the skill to put it together simply cannot be reasonably bought at this price.

 In contrast, a guitar or a violin’s components can be manufactured for a reduced price due to their smaller size and their larger scales of production (ie. there is just a freaking load of guitars and violins in the world compared to cellos!). This is one of the reasons though to get into cello playing, it is a special instrument precisely because, unlike a guitar or a violin, you can’t find one dusty in the corner somewhere of everyone’s attic!

Now you know why, it’s up to you to start saving, less than $500 just isn’t going to cut it. Luckily, once we get to this price bracket there are a lot of very nice options for beginner cellos. Investing in one of these quality instruments will mean that your instrument will retain its value. This is something about cellos that make them different then almost any other object you can buy. A quality instrument does not lose its value! In fact, many believe that instruments will increase in value as they are ‘played in’ and their sound matures.

When you are no longer a beginner and want to progress on to a better instrument, your $500 plus cello will be able to be sold on for much the same price. The cello you were delighted to get at a bargain for $399 however will be ready for the trash bin!

 So, you are probably thinking “ok, over $500 but how much over?”. Well there are a couple of great options at this price which I will give links to below but in general the closer you are to $1000 the better the instrument. Again, you will be able to resell a quality instrument for much the same price.

Use Your Cello Loving Ears!

 As a beginner cellist, you may not be able to play the instrument to test it yourself but as a cello fan, you will be able to know what cello sounds good to you. For this step you will need to get the help of a cello teacher or a cellist friend to play the instrument for you. This is the best way for you to judge whether this cello sounds the way you want. If you don’t have someone to ask, you can listen to the instruments be played online by professional cellists. This way you can make up your mind which beginner cello you like the sound of the best by listening and using your discerning cello lover ears!

 Change the strings

Finally, most cellos when they come new arrive with strings that don’t give the rich mellow tone that the cello is known for, but sound more like a somewhat distressed cat. You might mistakenly think this is the fault of the new cello but more times than not this sound is due to cheap strings. A new set of strings can make a huge difference to the sound of the instrument, particularly to the higher 2 strings which can sound very unpleasant and shrill with bad strings.

 Luckily this is an easy issue to fix and a good set of strings can be gotten relatively cheaply while making a huge difference to the sound of the instrument. As a rule, money spent on strings will make a much bigger impact on the sound of your cello than paying more for a better cello and will cost a fraction of the price.

 I hope these tips have helped you to choose your first cello. Here are three cellos which I think are excellent beginner cellos.

 Change the strings

Finally, most cellos when they come new arrive with strings that don’t give the rich mellow tone that the cello is known for, but sound more like a somewhat distressed cat. You might mistakenly think this is the fault of the new cello but more times than not this sound is due to cheap strings. A new set of strings can make a huge difference to the sound of the instrument, particularly to the higher 2 strings which can sound very unpleasant and shrill with bad strings.

 Luckily this is an easy issue to fix and a good set of strings can be gotten relatively cheaply while making a huge difference to the sound of the instrument. As a rule, money spent on strings will make a much bigger impact on the sound of your cello than paying more for a better cello and will cost a fraction of the price.

 I hope these tips have helped you to choose your first cello. Here are three cellos which I think are excellent beginner cellos.

https://www.thomann.de/ie/hidersine_studenti_cello_set_4_4.htm?sid=b1fa599e1bd4123f2a7cadeb0668e08f

 

https://www.thomann.de/ie/gewa_pure_celloset_hw_4_4.htm

 

https://www.thomann.de/ie/roth_junius_rjce_4_4_student_cello_set.htm

 

 If you would like to see more you can check our my article on ‘Best cellos under $1000’

 

Finally, picking out your first cello you might be so excited about getting their lovely new instrument that you forget about picking up the essential additional accessories needed to get you started. Everybody knows you need a bow, pegs and a bridge to even call it a cello, but there are a few other things that will make a big difference when beginning to play the cello that you don’t want to be without. See my article on ‘Essential Cello Accessories” to find out what is best to pick up when buying your first cello.

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