The cello is quite a specialist instrument to learn, and getting started isn’t always that simple, especially if you are coming from a background that isn’t particularly musical, it can be very hard to make the correct decision. In this guide, we’ve listed some of the best beginner cellos, along with full reviews so you can decide if they might be suitable for you. On top of this, we have a full buying guide to help you to fully understand the ins and outs of finding the best cello for your needs. Every beginner is slightly different, so ensure you have thought about all the different features and functionality you will need from your cello.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks..
Size of the Cello
Size is one of the most important things about choosing a cello. While some of the models are much smaller than being full-sized, and are designed for children, the best size to buy for adults is usually either a 3/4 or 4/4. The sizes of classical instruments like cellos are usually written in this way, either as a fraction of 4 or 16. Did you know you can get a 1/16 cello?
Most people eventually end up on a full-sized cello, by which we mean a 4/4 size. For teenagers who are looking to learn how to play, or beginner cello players with smaller hands and a relatively small build, a 3/4 size might be an option. Some of the best cello brands have options in a number of different sizes, so you can opt for the best one for you or for your child.
Tonewood and Other Materials
Like pretty much any acoustic instrument, so much of the sound quality coming from a student cello will come from the tonewood and the materials used. The manufacture of the instruments tends to be pretty similar and most cellos have a fairly uniform design, however, the type of wood and the quality of that wood can make a big difference.
Cellos are usually made from maple on the back and sides, and the top is often made from spruce. This gives a signature sound of a cello! The other materials, like fingerboard and pegs, are often made from different materials such as ebony and rosewood. These materials are popular among cello manufacturers but you will notice that they are similar to acoustic guitars in some ways, which can also have a spruce top and ebony fingerboard in certain instances.
You might not get the very best tonewoods in a beginner cello, but you should still be on the lookout for something that has plenty of quality, as these are not cheap instruments.
Case and Accessories
When you are buying a beginner cello you need to make sure you have considered everything you need to get started, not just the instrument itself.
It is a huge bonus if you can find a good cello outfit that includes a case. If you are going to be taking your cello out and about with you to practices and performances, you need to keep it protected, and a good quality case is one way to ensure that little bumps, while it is being carried in the trunk, don’t affect the high quality finish of your instrument, or even cause more damage. Don’t take any risks with cellos, as like every other instrument they aren’t immune to this sort of damage.
A bow is another important accessory to consider. You can’t play your cello without one, so we hesitate to call it an accessory. It’s truly vital.
The bow needs to be designed in a specific way. A lot of the models now are made out of either a Brazilian wood, or even carbon fiber, as these give the combination of flexibility and rigidity that is needed for bows that can reliably be used to bow cellos. The hair used will often come from a horse that has been raised somewhere cold, and Mongolian horse hair is often seen as the best. You may or may not get a bow with your cello when you buy it, it depends on the beginner cello package you opt for. It’s definitely worth checking that the quality is up to scratch, though. Otherwise, you will simply have to replace your bow a short time after playing.
Other accessories that are useful when it comes to buying cellos include a stand, which provides somewhere to put the cello and know it is not going to get knocked constantly, or not be secure in its position. A tuner is also vital, you can use online tuners but they are not as reliable and can’t detect the pitch of your instrument so you are trusting a lot to your ears this way.
Strings For Your Beginner Cello
You may be starting to see just how many different aspect of design and materials go into making a great sound, and the strings need to be top quality if you are going to get the desired tone from your cello. We understand that with student cello models, you may not get the elite strings used by professionals, but that doesn’t mean you can settle for just anything.
Strings are something you can replace, which means that as you improve you can get better strings to give you a bit more range and a rounded cello sound. Some cellos even include spare strings so if you get a breakage you can get them replaced easily.
Rosin is another key consideration, and you should get some rosin with your beginner cello. Rosin helps the hair to create friction and to give a tone with decent projection. Standard rosins do a decent job, but like strings, you can eventually look to upgrade or change to suit the way you play your cello. A darker rosin would potentially give you a deeper tone as they are sticky and help with friction in low vibrations.
The cost of a cello is a huge consideration. A cello price can vary an incredible amount. At the very budget end of the market you might be able to pick something up for a few hundred dollars, or even less, but a cellos price can be far more than this, in fact it is not unusual to see antique or high-end cellos for sale for tens of thousands of dollars. Naturally, at this end of the market, the prices of cellos are not going to be aimed at beginners. So how much would you expect to spend to get something that is high quality, suitable for a beginner and that comes with everything you need?
There’s a bit of competition on the market, and you can get a decent cello for around $500-600. If you are able to spend a little bit more on an instrument then it is more likely you’ll get one that can last you more years. $1,000 is a reasonable budget. If you need to spend less then you aren’t totally out of options. In our list of the best cello options we have included some cheaper cellos that give you all you need to get started without breaking the bank.
Cello prices can be offputting and prohibitive for some people, but luckily we do live in an age where there are options for pretty much anyone. You won’t be getting the very best for a few hundred bucks, but you can get started, at least.
Electric Cellos vs Acoustic
This is not something that would have been a discussion 10-20 years ago. An electric cello was incredibly rare, but more and more cello brands are starting to provide these electric options. What’s the appeal? Are they an option for a cello beginner?
While an electric cello might feel like a novelty when compared to a beautiful hand carved acoustic model, they’re really not out of the question for those who are looking to get started. We’d go so far as to say some of the best beginner models are electric. They’re relatively affordable for the manufacturers to produce, and they have the same dimensions in terms of the strings and playable area, so if you do ever graduate to playing an acoustic cello then it isn’t too difficult to make this change.
Electric cellos are easy to tune and open up some new possibilities in terms of what you can do with the sound, as you can connect to an amplifier or PA system much more easily. They’re actually pretty convenient when compared to a lot of acoustic cellos, as they are even easy to put in a case and take from place to place.
It’s a good choice to have, and though the decision on acoustic vs electric cellos boils down to each individual, it is nice to know that both can do a good job. These are no novelty, and top musical instrument manufacturers like Yamaha produce electric cellos.
Is Violin or Cello Easier to Learn?
This is a very common question. For many people, it is a toss-up between learning the violin and learning the cello, so which is easier? There is no simple answer, unfortunately. A lot of beginners find cello a lot more natural in terms of hand positions. The violin can feel awkward to hold, and take a lot of getting used to just because of the way they are made. However, the cello can sometimes be difficult to play if you are getting to the point where you want to play quickly. A violin is good for playing fast, choppy rhythms, whereas a cello isn’t really made for this.
Unfortunately, nobody can really answer this question for you. The best violin or the best cello for beginners may both provide challenges, but both are achievable.
Best Beginner Cello Options – Our Reviews
On to the reviews of the best cellos for beginners. In the section below, we’ve covered many of the best models on the market, and featured cellos at a variety of different price tags to ensure there is something for everyone. High quality doesn’t have to mean spending thousands, and the best cello for you might be an affordable make and model.
1. D Z Strad Handmade Student Cello Model 101 – Best Student Cello
If you are looking for a model that will serve you well as a beginner but also have a professional feel to it, and allow you to use it in live or studio environments, the DZ Strad model 101 might be an option for you. It’s not cheap, and you will pay far more for this than some of the very cheapest cellos, but the brand has an incredible reputation, and the D Z Strad models out there are truly high quality.
This cello has a reputation for being easy to play. It is described by the manufacturer as being “dependable” and we would really struggle to disagree. The spruce and maple bring a great projection and a rounded tone which is great for all styles of playing. It feels nice on the hands and has some great fittings, too. There is a genuine, quality ebony fingerboard and hand-carved tuning pegs, along with tailpiece and chinrest.
This is a full cello outfit, as you might expect for the price tag. It features the cello itself, as well as a decent-quality case, bow, spare Prelude strings, and all-purpose rosin.
- Comes with the accessories you need to get started.
- Very good quality for a student cello.
- Excellent fittings including carved tuning pegs.
- Quite expensive for some beginners.
- Being hypercritical, the case could be higher quality.
The D Z Strad brand boasts that many teachers of cello are loyal to them above other cello brands. For the price tag this is an incredible instrument.
2. Cecilio Student Cello Outfit - CCO 100 – Best Affordable Option
As a beginner, looking for something that is affordable can be very frustrating, and finding the best cello for your needs at a low price is very tough, but the Cecilio CCO 100 aims to make playing cello possible for everyone with an affordable instrument. This may not be one of the elite cello brands, but they have managed to make a good instrument at a great price, the Cecilio CCO 100.
This cello is available in a variety of sizes, from 1/4 up to the full-size 4/4 design. Like a lot of affordable instruments, it has a spruce top, and this is combined with maple back, neck, and sides, which is pretty standard for affordable cellos. It has an alloy tailpiece and hardwood fingerboard, though these could be a little bit higher quality in an ideal world, for the money, they certainly do the job without detracting from the sound quality.
The manufacturers have also guaranteed the build quality by offering a one year warranty, which covers your Cecilio CCO 100 against any defects that can be traced to the manufacture of the instrument.
As well as the actual student cello included, there are many accessories. In fact, you get everything you need to get started except learning materials, all for a pretty impressive price. There is a small stand, a bow which is made out of Brazilwood, a lightweight carry case, similar to that you might see a guitar carried in, and a rosin cake.
- Very good value for money.
- Comes with all you need to start playing including bow.
- Impressive projection.
- Sound quality is good, but not elite level.
- The spruce finish looks a little cheap.
It’s an affordable cello, and there will always be an element of getting what you pay for when you choose the best beginner cello, but this is a very important option as it can provide a cheaper way for people to get started playing the cello, and that can only be a good thing.
3. Yinfente Electric Acoustic Cello 4/4 – Best Electric Acoustic Model
We’ve already talked a little about the comparison between electric and acoustic models of cello, and with the Yinfente, you can get the benefits of both. It can be easily connected to amps and PA systems but it can also be played while busking or in an environment where you don’t have an electric power supply.
The construction of this cello features a lot of spruce wood. The wood has all been air-dried for a decade, which is impressive for a cheaper cello brand. It’s got some pretty good fittings, with a fingerboard and tailpiece made out of hardwood (ebony). There’s also a maple bridge. The inbuilt passive electrics means you don’t have to use batteries to connect to an amplifier or PA system, and the amplified sound is pretty true to the cello sound we’ve come to expect.
This cello outfit is also brilliant for beginner cello players because of the accessories that are included, which are pretty good quality when you consider the price and make it easy to get started. It has a thick padded gig bag for your cello, spare strings, a Brazilwood bow, and a rosin cake, so you’re ready to play as soon as this arrives at your door.
- Good value for money.
- Comes with a system of electrics included for amplification.
- Accessories included with a padded gig bag.
- The finish could be a little nicer, it has a bit of a glossy sheen.
- The amplified sound is not 100% true to the acoustic.
Having the extra benefit of an electric and acoustic model makes this a great beginner cello. It’s easy to tune and amplify but can also be played when there is no system to amplify in place.
4. D'Luca MC100 - 4/4 Meister Student Cello 4/4 Package – Best Student Cello Outfit Under $500
The D’Luca MC100 provides real quality without costing too much money. For a price tag of under $500, it manages to give you a fantastic student cello with plenty of accessories, too. We’ve reviewed the 4/4 student cello in their range, but there are also cellos in different sizes and all seem to be just as well made. D’Luca provide the MC100 in a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 4/4 size, all of which can be an option for people of different ages and sizes.
For the affordable price, there’s a lot to like about the design and this is incredibly well-built, with a Rosewood fingerboard, pegs, and other fittings, to complement a maple design on the back and sides. As with a lot of the best cello options for beginners, the accessories play a huge part, too. With this cello, you get a portable stand, a quality padded gig bag, and a spare set of strings. There is also a clip-on tuner, high-quality cello bow featuring real horsehair, and a rosin cake. All of this comes included when you buy the D’Luca MC100.
- Very high quality instrument under $500 in price.
- It comes with excellent accessories.
- Traditional maple wood construction.
- The included strings aren’t great quality.
Okay, so you might want to replace the strings, and this cello is not quite up there with the elite products costing thousands of dollars, but for the money you will struggle to find a better beginner cello, and the accessories make it even better value, as it comes with a great bow and even a gig bag and tuner.
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The Eastar has the amazing benefit of a finger guide, something not many of the other cello models on this list have included. A finger guide for a beginner can make life much easier, on an instrument where you need to use your judgment as it doesn’t have frets to show you exactly where your fingers need to be positioned.
The other thing that really jumps out when looking at the Eastar EVC-1 is the finish of the instrument. Though this is a relatively affordable cello, it has a very expensive feel to it. The beautiful matt natural finish has, in our opinion, a much nicer and classier look than some of the glossy shines on the cheaper cellos out there.
The body is made out of maple with a spruce top, as is pretty standard for a lot of these instruments. The EVC-1 is totally handmade, too. With “muscovite points” helping students to find the right positions. The fingerboard is made out of unusual pearwood.
The included bow is fantastic, too. The Brazilian wood and Mongolian horsehair combination is arguably the best for getting a traditional cello sound, but the included bow is just passable when it comes to quality. A bow isn’t the only accessory included, there are three different rosins, a Cello bridge, extra strings, and a stand. To top it all off, the manufacturers even offer six-month protection via a warranty.
- Beautiful instrument with a really nice, professional finish to it.
- Comes with quality accessories.
- The finger guide makes it easier for beginner players.
- You may need to upgrade to a better bow and strings.
The finger guide makes it one of the best options for beginners, and can make your life a lot easier. The value on offer with this cello is clear to see, and it is one of the more beautiful cellos on the list, which is a nice bonus!
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6. Yamaha SVC-110SK Silent Electric Cello – Best Electric Cello for Beginners
It’s incredible how far electric cellos have come, and the truth is that they are a good option for beginners, even if you eventually wish to graduate to playing an acoustic cello. This model is one of the best, from a manufacturer that everyone in music has heard of.
This electric cello is designed not to stray too far from the feel and tone of an acoustic. It has similar materials, with spruce and maple used in the construction. It also has a resonating chamber to make it sound more professional. As you would expect from a Yamaha instrument this is a well-made piece of kit. It should last you a number of years if treated right. The on-board preamp is very well-built and suitable for use in any studio or live environment. There is even an inbuilt reverb to allow you to make the most out of your instrument and create an amazing tone. This helps to compensate for the “electric” nature of the sound, too.
This also offers a sleek gig bag, which looks cool and fits in very small spaces, which is very good for those who are constantly taking their cello out and about with them.
- Exceptional Yamaha build quality.
- The onboard preamp and reverb are clear and high fidelity.
- Easily portable.
- Very expensive for a beginner cello.
If you are happy to pay a little more for the quality we know is on offer with Yamaha, then this model can be suitable for you, especially if you are on the lookout for an electric cello. The price is offputting for some, but rest assured that you are getting a quality instrument if you do opt for the Yamaha SVC-110SK Silent Electric Cello.
7. Aliyes Handmade Professional Solid Wood Electric Cello 4/4 Full Size – Affordable Electric Cello for Beginners
A quick look at Yamaha electric cellos can leave you wincing when looking at the price. They’re great instruments but they aren’t cheap. This means a lot of people end up looking at alternatives, and the Aliyes provide possibly the best affordable beginner cello which has an electric design. This means you get all the benefits such as silent practice and easy amplification, but don’t have to part with thousands of dollars.
There are a lot of cool designs for these cellos, which isn’t the main criteria but it is certainly a great little added extra, especially for people who are a bit younger and looking for something that stands out. The “shadow” system of electric pickups is great, it is low noise and does a very good job of clearly providing an amplified sound.
The designs may not be traditional, but they have an interesting plywood design with a maple neck and ebony fittings. The aluminum and stainless steel endpins and tailpieces are also an interesting addition. There’s no doubt that this is something very different to the other cellos on this list, but it still allows you to learn and play live with a gorgeous tone.
This has the benefits of electronics, meaning silent practice, and it even comes with an aux cable to connect other audio devices. Other accessories include a soft bag, bow, spare bridge and spare strings.
- Good value for an electric cello.
- Comes with quality accessories and a gig bag.
- One year manufacturer warranty.
- Excellent inbuilt electrics.
- It requires a 9V battery to generate a tone, which isn’t a big deal usually but it is easy to forget to carry a spare.
- Not made of traditional tonewoods.
This cello gives a good, solid basis for your tone. Though it isn’t made of traditional materials and the fingerboard and pegs feel a bit different, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a suitable cello for getting started and it gives you the platform to move onto a different, acoustic cello in the future if you wish.
You can see from our list that there is a huge amount of variation on the market. The best cello for one person’s needs might be different to another person’s needs. However, our guide has created a full list of options for student cello players, from multiple cello brands including established brands like Yamaha and Cecilio, and some more quirky options. The important thing is understanding what you need, including accessories, and making your decision based on requirements and budget.