Choosing the right instrument can be a very complex task. Whether you are someone who is at the beginning of learning or someone who has been playing the cello for some time, buying an instrument requires market research and determining your budget. As all of this can seem daunting, we’ve written an article to help you choose the brand that best suits your current needs.
Each instrument, whether hand-made or machine-made, is different and has unique sound characteristics. Therefore, choosing an instrument is a very personal choice and the best way is to try several different instruments and choose the one that gives us the best feeling and the most beautiful tone.
But if going to the store and trying out the instruments in person is not an option for you, our guide will help you choose the right instrument that you can order online.
These are the best cello brands on the market right now:
The best budget-friendly brand
If this is your first purchase of a cello and you do not want to spend a lot of money on it, this brand may be the right choice for you. This is not a hand-made instrument. It is actually a factory-made instrument, but the sound quality is quite satisfactory for the first few years of playing the cello.
If you are still not sure how much you will dedicate to playing in the future, this is a cost-savings option. By buying a very affordable instrument you avoid bigger costs at the start, and you get a solid quality instrument that comes with accessories such as a soft case, bow, rosin, and a spare string set.
For safety during transport, the instrument comes with the bridge removed so you will potentially need help setting up the instrument, but the bonus is that Cecillio provides you with a one-year warranty.
Cecilio’s most popular models are Mendini by Cecilio (Cecilio CCO-100 cello) and the Cecilio CCO-500 cello. Both instruments have a spruce top and the back material is maple.
- Very affordable price.
- Accessories included.
- Setting up the instrument before playing.
- The quality of the bow and strings can be questionable.
Another great starting point
Another budget-friendly brand is Cremona, stationed in California. Some parts for their instruments are made in China. The sound of the instruments is quite pleasant for this price range, but it is recommended to replace the strings on the instrument to make the tone quality better.
The brazilwood round horsehair bow is of good quality. The ebony fingerboard and tailpiece have 4 built-in fine tuners, which is a useful addition for beginners learning how to tune an instrument.
What sets their instruments apart is that they are made according to MENC standards (National Standards for Music Education), which means that the instruments arrive already set up and ready to play. Some of the models come with the Travelite TL-20 cello case, which is a great and safe choice when flying.
Our top recommendation would be the Cremona SC-130 Premier Novice Cello Outfit (ebony fittings and fingerboard, top material spruce, back material maple) especially for kids because it comes in 1/2 and 1/4 sizes.
- Good price-quality ratio.
- Tailpiece with fine tuners.
- Brazilwood bow.
- Strings are not that great quality.
Cello outfit is a fine option for beginners, but if your skill-level is a bit higher and want to invest money in a quality instrument that will serve you in a long run, the price you will pay will almost certainly be above $1,000.
3. Donato Salusti
The right choice for a quality start
Buying the first instrument can seem uncertain and frightening, especially if you want to buy something that offers more quality than the bargain options. Paul Perley Cellos offers a model that is specifically intended for those looking to invest about $1000 in quality first instrument, and that is the Donato Salusti Model A.
It is fully carved with ebony fittings, the tone it produces is warm and smooth. On the other hand it is large enough to play in an orchestra or ensemble.
The advantage of this small shop is that it is run by a couple who are both cellists, and Paul is a luthier expert who has been in business since 1988. If you ever decide to sell an instrument you can do the same in their shop, and you get a discount if you decide to buy some other model from the shop.
- Good quality wood, varnish and bridge.
- Fully carved.
- Ebony fittings.
- A carbon bow tends to bend after a while, so it may not be the best option.
4. D Z Strad
Quality craftsmanship brand
One of the most respected brands in the string instruments market is this D Z Strad. D Z Strad offers instruments that are handmade. The award-winning luthiers certainly deserve a special place on this list.
At first glance, you may be deceived by the price range of these instruments; D Z Strad is not exactly an affordable brand, with the cheapest model – the D Z Strad handmade Student Cello Model 101 costing around $1500. We can say that this is a great deal because of its handmade workmanship.
The price includes a bow, rosin, and cello case. A great choice for both advanced players and child prodigies because this model is available in several sizes – 4/4, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, so everyone can find what suits them.
The models that stand out are D Z Strad Student Cello Model 101 and D Z Strad Cello Model 250. They’re 100% handmade and 100% hand oil-varnished.
- Handmade instruments.
- Great visual appeal.
- Good quality extras.
- Brand prices are generally not very affordable, especially for beginners.
- Different strings can greatly improve the sound quality.
“Handcrafted. Built to stand out. Vibrant tone with singing sustain.” – are the words they use to present themselves. Founded in 1992 by Qian Ni, an accomplished flutist from Beijing, they focused on bringing back traditional methods.
Their instruments can be divided into different price categories: student, level up, advanced, professional. In addition to this, there is also a classification according to the different varnishes: high-gloss varnish, satin varnish, shaded spirit varnish.
Student cello models can be found for just over $2000, which includes a case and a carbon bow. Complemented by a good set of strings, these instruments will provide you with a bright and even tone.
One of their best-selling models is the Andreas Eastman VC305. This model is available in two patterns: Stradivari and Montagnana. The top is made of European or Chinese spruce, while back is made from European or Chinese maple, and the fingerboard is ebony with fittings that are Ebony with Wittner Tailpiece.
- Reliable instruments made to last.
- A wide range of model choices.
- Intended for advanced students and higher levels of playing.
6. String Works
The brand that deserves more attention
This is a family-run company, founded in Wisconsin and now headquartered in Geneva, Illinois. A fun fact is that they were the first to sell musical instruments of any kind on the web back in 1997. The founder is a musician (cello player), as are the rest of the employees. On average, they have 25 years of playing experience.
A full refund is available if you are not satisfied with the quality of the instrument, which gives additional security when purchasing. Some of the characteristics of their cellos are solid carved flamed maple back, sides, and neck, solid carved spruce top, solid highest quality ebony fingerboard and fittings.
What makes them stand out is that they provided the highest level of professional setup for each instrument, regardless of its price point. They typically spend an average of 5 to 7 hours setting up a cello.
One additional feature is custom setup. If you have special requests for tone, playability, string height, string length, or the type of bridge, they will make a full custom setup. You should note that the cost will vary based on the setup that you request.
- If you are not happy with your purchase they offer a refund option.
- They have a discount option if you are buying a cello outfit.
- Large number of satisfied users.
- Custom cello setup.
- Some models are quite popular, so there is a possibility that they will not be in stock at some moment.
What to avoid?
An electric cello is not the best option to buy as a first instrument. It is quite different from the classic instrument, which is a recommendation for the beginner level. If you have interests and affinities for playing other genres of music, the electric cello may be a good choice as a second instrument when you are familiar with the nature of playing.
Buying from unverified sources can be risky. Always try to find reliable sources that have good ratings from other users and that will help you if you have a dilemma when choosing.
Our general recommendation would be to buy an instrument from a luthier or local instrument store rather than buying from large suppliers.
If there is any problem with the instrument in the future, you will be able to solve it with someone already familiar with your instrument, and at the same time, you support smaller businesses that generally provide very good customer support.
For student cello reviews, check out our article on the best cellos for beginner students.