Cello Buyers Guide

March 25, 2016

This is a real quick rundown on what to look for in your first cello.

  • All solid woods. 
    Look for a solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides. Try to avoid cellos that use laminated woods. Laminated means plywood. A good rule is that if it does not specifically say "SOLID WOOD" it is likely laminated.

  • Ebony fingerboard. 
    You really need an ebony fingerboard. Ebony is a wood that is nearly hard as rock. It resists wear and warpage and is the ONLY good choice of wood for a fingerboard. Watch out for Cellos that use "Ebonite". This is not ebony. Ebonite basically means dyed black to look like ebony.

  • Ebony fittings such as tuning pegs: 
    Tuning pegs can be Ebony or Boxwood. It is not unheard of to use good quality rosewood; however, the rosewood commonly used is very low quality and not acceptable. Choose a cello with Ebony or boxwood, nothing else.

  • Case 
    A cello is very fragile. A hard-case is well worth the money, and is almost mandatory.

  • Cello Bow 
    Most bows are of at least adequate quality. Look for Brazilwood on lower grade cellos. Pernambuco or Graphite on a high-end cello.

  • Drop-shipped Cellos 
    A dropship is when the seller has the instrument shipped directly to you from the supplier. Look for cellos that are shipped by the shop that sells them. If it is shipped directly from the supplier, they are rarely setup correctly.

  • Cello Setup. 
    It is important that the cello be properly setup. If it is not, it will not stay in tune, will not sound its best, and will be difficult to play. It is easy to save $100 on the purchase price, and end up spending 2-3 times that later when you have to have work done to it.

  • Cello Prices. 
    This can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. There are many options and price ranges. If you can not afford the $500 range (or more), it may be better to rent or consider a different instrument. We never like to discourage someone who can not afford an expensive instrument, but the Cello is one of the cases where even the lowest grade instruments are very expensive. If you drop down below $300, you will get something that is only ok to learn the basic fingerings on. It will need to be upgraded quickly. These are not the best investment. In the long run, they cost more than a better cello.

    Feel free to ask us for help. Folkmusician specializes in acoustic instruments such as the cello.

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