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A beginner's guide to the cello

What is a cello?

The cello, otherwise known as the violincello, is a bowed string instrument and the second largest member of the violin family. In appearance it looks very similar to the violin and creates sound in the same fashion, but due to being many times bigger, it is played in a vertical manner, with the strings facing away from the player's body and the bottom resting on the floor through a tailpin, which is designed to prevent the instrument from slipping.

What cellos are available on the market?

There are a variety of cellos available for those looking to learn the instrument, with one of the cheapest the 4/4 Size Cello with Case for £175. Made from Canadian spruce top, with a Canadian maple back and sides, bridge, neck and an ebonised fingerboard, the instrument is considered to be ideal for beginners due to how easy it is play and the rich and even tone it offers. The bow is made from brazil wood and one of its biggest selling points is the featherweight hard case that comes with it. Equipped with wheels, a strap and a pocket for holding music, the case alone would typically retail for around £109.

For beginners seeking a superior starter instrument, there is the Deluxe 4/4 Cello with Case for £299.95. This cello offers improved projection over the standard model, as well as added depth to the rich tone. Hand carved and packaged with a pernambuco bow, the instrument is designed for those who either wish to begin learning on a higher quality cello or those seeking an instrument with which they can progress through their grades.

Of an even higher quality is the Archer 4/4 Cello with Fibreglass Case for £449. Professionally hand carved from selected Canadian spruce, it has been made to not only sound good but look great too. Suited for intermediate players looking to develop their sound with an instrument capable of creating big, rich and full-bodied sounds, the Archer is also seen as a good value model for advanced players seeking an instrument that punches above its weight.

Like the violin, electric versions of the cello are also available, such as the 4/4 Size Electric Cello for £379.95. The instrument is ideal for practicing as it can be played using headphones, making it almost silent. It can also be attached to an amp for live performances and is capable of creating warm and subtle tones.

Choosing the right size cello

As with all instruments from the string family, choosing the right size is important as a cello that is too small or too large for its user will be more difficult to play. Choices are usually determined based on age, height or body length.

  • 1/4 size: typically suited to five to seven-year-olds, below four feet in height and with a body length of around 20 to 23 inches.

  • 1/2 size: for seven to 11-year-olds between four and four and half feet tall with a body size of approximately 26 to 27.5 inches.

  • 3/4 size: is for the 11 to 15 age bracket, usually between four and half feet and five feet in height and 26 and 27.5 inches in body length.

  • 4/4 or Full size: for adults and those taller than five feet, with a body size of 30 inches or above.

Getting started with the cello

Everything that is needed to start playing the cello is available in the Deluxe 4/4 Size Cello with Accessory Pack product for £319. As well as the cello, bow and case, the pack includes a spare set of strings, rosin for bow lubrication, a maintenance and cleaning kit and a music stand.

Other items that beginners often find useful include the Ultimate Beginners Cello DVD and the Cello / Double Bass Stand.

Posted on 20 Mar 2009 09:00 to category : Tips and advice

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