There’s nothing that matches the excitement of starting a new hobby. Your passion is at its peak, and you’re ready to sink in as much time and effort as needed to see progress. That’s especially true when you’re starting to learn a new musical instrument like the cello.
If you don’t have previous experience with the instrument, you might find yourself overwhelmed with all the choices that come with different specifications and price points. Admittedly, buying a cello is an investment that you’ll want to treasure for the foreseeable future, which makes your purchase decision even more critical.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered with our picks of the best cellos and brands that offer a healthy variety of options for players at all skill levels. We’ve also prioritized build quality and affordability to help you find the best cello that puts you on the right track to pursue your music dream.
At a Glance:
- Mendini By Cecilio – Best Overall
- Eastar EVC-1 – Best Beginner Cello
- Cecilio CCO-500 – Best Under $500
- Cecilio Size 4/4 CCO-100 – Budget Pick
- Cremona SC-165 – 1/4 Size Pick
- Cecilio CCO-600 – Top With Travel Case
- D Z Strad – Best for Intermediate Players
The 7 Best Cellos in 2021:
Without any further ado, let’s dive into our top cello picks that have something for everyone. Whether you’re a skilled cello player looking for an upgrade or a beginner looking for an accessible way to pick the instrument and start playing, we’ve got you covered.
1. Mendini By Cecilio – Best Overall
Cecilio has perfected the formula of a student cello, making itself the best cello brand for beginner and intermediate players who want to have their own instrument rather than keep renting one. Even their cheapest stringed instruments are still hand-crafted, ensuring that the brand’s fine craftsmanship is preserved across the board.
There’s no better way to experience all that Cecilia cellos are all about other than the Mendini set. It doesn’t only pack the cello itself but also a bunch of useful accessories to ensure you have all that you need to get started.
The Mendini kit comes with a padded, soft carrying case that makes carrying your cello around less of a chore, thanks to its adjustable back straps. You also get a high-quality Brazilwood bow that delivers a rich sound. An extra set of strings is also included to help get right back into your music and skip the frustration of a broken string.
Let’s switch gears to the star of the show: the Mendini cello itself. Just like other Cecilio instruments, the cello is made of quality materials. The crack-proof spruce top combines elegance and durability, and along with the maple neck and back, you’ve got yourself an exceptional piece of woodwork.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Mendini cello comes in different sizes that suit both kids and adults. This ensures the cellos are easy to play, no matter what your hand size or height is.
Yet, keep in mind that a full-sized cello will always have better acoustic performance than a smaller one. Nevertheless, the main selling point of a beginner instrument is accessibility, so don’t feel pressured to pick the full-sized model if it doesn’t feel comfortable enough in your hands.
- Beginner-friendly cello
- Comes with cello accessories like a stand and a rosin cake
- Different sizes are suitable for different age groups
- Great build quality
- The alloy steel strings may not last as long as other sets
- The bridge isn’t installed out of the box
If you’re looking for a starter kit that comes with all the essential accessories that you need to start playing, the Mendini cello by Cecilio has got you covered. Its price point and build quality deliver just the right combination to make the Mendini cello an easy recommendation for a student.
2. Eastar EVC-1 – Best Beginner Cello
Though Cecilio cellos are a viable option for students, we figured we can include an even more accessible model that’s designed specifically to walk you through the whole learning process, the Eastar EVC-1.
Its accessibility becomes clear right at first glance as you spot the imprinted guides on the fingerboard. That way, you can easily memorize the points where your fingers need to rest, making the learning process more efficient.
When it comes to the included bow, the Brasilia wood bow feels surprisingly decent in hand. Not to mention, the unbleached Mongolian horsehair maintains a reliable contact with the strings, making your notes sound rich and punchy.
Cello manufacturers, especially at the more affordable end of the market, don’t usually include the best bows. However, this isn’t the case here with your Eastar EVC-1 Cello. If you want to have even more control over your bow movement, we recommend you opt for one of the carbon fiber bows down the line.
As for build quality, the Eastar EVC-1 is made of hand-carved maple wood that comes in an elegant matte finish, a welcome change of pace as opposed to the glossy one that dominates the market. So if you’re looking for a cello that doesn’t turn into a fingerprint magnet after a few minutes of handling it, the Eastar EVC-1 is the way to go.
It’s worth noting that we weren’t as impressed with the included bridge. The wood is thinned out way too much, and the bridge itself is too high for our taste. You might be better off with a replacement bridge that is a bit sturdier.
Finally, we weren’t blown away by the strings either. They sound a bit metallic and aren’t loud enough if you’re using the included bow. Nevertheless, none of these complaints are deal-breakers by any means.
As a beginner, you won’t even notice much of our nitpicking. We’re just trying to inform you about what areas can be upgraded as you become a more skilled cello player. Still, what’s at display here is a well-rounded beginner cello that will keep you happy for a long time.
- Comes with imprinted guides on the fingerboard
- Decent cello bow out-of-the-box
- Comes with a set of accessories, including rosin, stand, and an adjustable support rod at the bottom of the cello
- The strings’ sound signature is a bit metallic
- The included bow doesn’t produce the loudest sound when paired with the cello’s standard strings
Eastar EVC-1 delivers on all the fundamentals that make a great beginner cello. However, it sets itself apart from Cecilia’s offerings by catering for the absolute beginner population. This becomes much evident throughout the cello’s whole design language, as clear by the imprinted guides on the fingerboard.
3. Cecilio CCO-500 – Best Under $500
If you’re looking for an affordable intermediate cello brand, you’re in luck, as Cecilio has just the right model for you. The CCO-500 is one of the best picks for intermediate cellists, as it arguably delivers the same sound quality as some of the much more expensive cellos on the market.
To unleash the full potential of the CCO-500, the included Brazilwood Octagonal bow might leave something to be desired. Though the unbleached genuine Mongolian hair is top-notch, its sound might not get as loud as you might want, especially if you’re playing at a concert hall.
In terms of build quality, Cecilio goes all in! It delivers a classical look and feel that marks the best acoustic cellos. This fantastic cello has a hand-carved solid spruce top that pops thanks to its high-luster varnish. Combine this with the flamed maple neck, back and sides, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful instrument that’s a marvel to look at.
The same attention to detail goes into the construction of the four fine tuners. The nickel-plated tuners are precise and easy to adjust, allowing you to always get great sound quality out of your cello. In addition, the pegs and fingerboard have ebony fittings that maintain the elegant look that Cecilio cellos are known for.
Just like other cellos featured on our list, the CCO-500 comes with a generous variety of accessories. A hard and soft case are included, making it easier to commute with your cello. You also get a bridge, a cello stand, and an extra set of strings to add to your gig bag.
The package won’t be complete without high-quality cello rosin that delivers just the right amount of friction between the bows and the strings for a resonant, rich sound, would it? Well, that’s what you get.
Finally, the icing on top comes in the form of a one-year warranty provided by Cecilio against the manufacturer’s defects. This way, you can rest assured that your cello is built to last and your hard-earned cash is in the right place.
- Best intermediate cello that’s also beginner-friendly
- The bow comes with genuine horsehair
- All the basic accessories are included in the box
- The soft and hard cello bag makes it easier t0 travel with your instrument
- Comes with a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects
- The cello bridge needs to be installed, which can be a bit challenging for beginners
The Cecilio CCO-500 comes with the looks of a professional cello but at a much more affordable price point. So if you’re an intermediate cello student looking for an instrument that ticks all the right boxes, Cecilio has the acoustic cello just for you.
4. Cecilio Size 4/4 CCO-100 – Budget Pick
Cecilio cuts some corners on its CCO-500 model to deliver a very similar package in the form of the CCO-100 that’s more tailored for beginners on a tight budget. This doesn’t mean that the cello maker is compromising on the build quality – at all. Actually, the CCO-100 blends maple and spruce to deliver the iconic Cecilio look that musicians have come to expect over the years.
Cecilio knows that instrument handling is one of the most challenging aspects of playing the cello for beginner students. That’s why the CCO-100 comes with a maple neck, back, and sides, making it less slippery and giving you more control. In addition, the top makes use of crack-proof spruce, allowing your cello to take a beating with no issues.
Furthermore, the built-in fine tuners retain the same level of precision seen with the CCO-500. That’s excellent news for beginners, as they navigate their way around tuning the strings every now and then till their ears and fingers are programmed to perceive just the right tone.
It won’t be a Cecilio cello without the comprehensive list of accessories, including a portable cello stand, rosin cake, and extra strings. The CCO-100 also comes with a soft cello case with an adjustable strap to ensure maximum comfort while traveling.
- One of the best cellos for beginners
- Comes with a metal alloy tailpiece with integrated fine tuners
- Offers a durable, crack-proof spruce top
- Comes with a lightweight case
- The cello sound is good for a student, but lack-luster for advanced players
- You need to install the cello bridge yourself, which can be tricky for a beginner
Cecilio offers a wide variety of cellos at different price points to ensure musicians with different skill levels and budgets find the right model that suits their needs. The CCO-100 shares the same fundamentals of the CCO-500 but manages to make the right cuts to deliver a more affordable package aimed for beginners.
5. Cremona SC-165 – 1/4 Size Pick
By nature, cellos are large instruments that aren’t always easy to carry around from one point to another. For the most part, cello makers intend the 4/4 size for adults, while the more manageable 1/4 is meant for children. Cremona doesn’t sell its traditional cello in the 4/4 size; instead, you can pick between the 1/4 and ½.
Many argue that the 1/4 size makes great beginner cellos, as it gives players more control, allowing them to focus on perfecting their bow technique rather than constantly struggling with keeping the instrument from falling over.
The SC-165 cello outfit doubles down on build quality. Cremona’s string instruments follow the MENC standards, which cover aspects like the spacing and height of the strings to deliver the perfect intonation. Such a design choice delivers a classical instrument that doesn’t require frequent tuning, making it accessible for people with different musical experiences.
And to ensure utmost comfort while playing, the SC-165 cello outfits come with composite tailpieces that make the instruments sturdy on the ground and prevent any accidental slippage. Furthermore, the SC-165 cellos are made of maple, spruce in addition t0 rosewood pegs.
We’ve already touched on how the string placement plays an important role in the cello’s accuracy, but it doesn’t end just at that! The ebony fingerboard and the oiled neck adds to the well-balanced nature of the SC-165 cello outfits.
Finally, just like other cello brands on our list, Cremona ships its instrument without the bridge locked in place. The best cello brands follow this strategy to ensure the strings don’t get damaged while shipping.
You can find lots of videos online on how to properly fit the cello bridge in place. Nevertheless, you can always visit your local music store and ask them to help you out.
- The cello features a 1/4 size that makes it suitable for beginners
- Delivers a quality sound thanks to its precisely-spaced cello strings
- Comes with Swiss-style pegs
- Ships with superior strings out-of-the-box
- Relatively expensive compared to other beginner instruments
- Follows the footsteps of other cello brands by not fitting the cello bridge in place
Cremona designed its SC-165 to cater for aspiring musicians looking for beginner cellos that don’t feel overwhelming while learning the basics. The 1/4 size helps keep the cello grounded to help you focus all your attention on striking the right cords and mastering your bow handling.
6. Cecilio CCO-600 – Top With Travel Case
We keep coming back to Cecilio repeatedly, which shows how it cemented itself as one of the best cello brands on the market. By now, you should’ve picked their naming conventions, and you can easily guess that the CCO-600 is a step above its CCO-500 predecessor.
The first upgrade comes in the form of the cello bag. The CCO-600 ships in a deluxe ABS, hard-shell case that’s built like a tank! You won’t have to worry about your cello attaining nicks or bumps while carrying it around. The case is designed to maintain the pristine, day-one look of your cello even after countless rounds at the tank of your car.
Though such a case is quite heavy, Cecilio packs in another soft, padded bag with your CCO-600 purchase. This means you always have the choice between ultimate protection or lightweight.
When it comes to the included accessories, Cecilio is as generous as ever! You get a wood stick bow with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair. During our tests, the Brazilwood bow proved to be reliable, giving you fantastic sound without much string tweaking needed on your side.
The accessories kit won’t be complete without a cello stand, rosin, a bridge, and, of course, an extra set of strings. Cecilio has set the benchmark for delivering a complete package that allows musicians to start playing right away, which still applies here with the CCO-600.
The cello also comes with a pre-installed solid wood tailpiece with mother of pearl inlaid to maintain a steady footing while playing.
Furthermore, the CCO-600 cellos are made of a hand-carved, fine-grain spruce top with flamed maple back & sides. The woodwork continues to impress us even after spending much time with the cello, thanks to the unique hand oil rubbed finish that makes the CCO-600 a marvel to look at.
- Great for intermediate and advanced students
- Comes with a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects
- Relatively heavy, weighing 29 pounds
- Leans towards the expensive end of the spectrum
If you’re not working under a tight budget, Cecilio has a model that takes everything good about the CCO-500 and pushes it to the next level. The CCO-600 ships with an ABS case that favors maximum durability. Finally, if the color and finish of your cello are big selling points to you, the CCO-600 won’t disappoint with its hand-rubbed oil finish and inlaid purfling.
7. D Z Strad – Best for Intermediate Players
We’ll wrap up our list with a cello brand that aspires to grab the attention of intermediate cello students. D Z Strad sets itself apart from the competition by sticking to traditional woodwork, aiming to capture the beauty and elegance of the first hand-made cellos. Such fine instruments are made using Italian tonewoods that require drying outside for up to 20 years!
Unlike other offerings from Cecilio, D Z Strad requires a bit of an investment on your side since its entry price might be a bit steep for a beginner student. However, the cello features and build quality combined offer a comprehensive package that delivers the best value for intermediate and advanced players.
It’s also worth noting that the D Z Strad is the intermediate cello of choice for many private music teachers, including the one and only Suzuki. This is because it comes with high-quality strings that are known to deliver warm and round tones. But, that’s not all, as the cello is also comfortable to handle, allowing you to play for hours at a time without getting tired.
When it comes to build quality, the D Z Strad doesn’t disappoint. The cello comes with a comfortable chin-rest that’s made of beautiful wood, in addition to a genuine ebony fingerboard that allows you to slide your fingers with ease and precision.
It also features maple back and sides, hard-carved pegs, and tailpiece. Such exceptional craftsmanship is highlighted by the varnish finish that gives the D Z Strad a shiny, stunning look.
D Z Strad borrows a page from Cecilio’s playbook and delivers a complete set of accessories. The cello outfit includes the cello itself, in addition to a case, rosin, prelude strings, and a well-balanced bow.
- The included hardwood bow delivers excellent performance
- The cello outfit offers the best value as it packages all the needed accessories to get you started
- Backed by famous private teachers like Suzuki
- Falls on the pricey end of the spectrum
- The included four strings leave much to be desired in terms of sound quality
D Z Strad has made a name for itself as one of the best cello brands dedicated for intermediate players. The high price tag keeps it from becoming a widely adopted intermediate cello. However, the traditional woodwork alone justifies the price, making it one of the most elegant choices for musicians who care about how their instruments look and feel.
Factors Best Cellos Buying Guide & FAQs
Now that we’ve covered the best cello brands you should consider, let’s have a deeper look into the criteria upon which each entry managed to secure a spot on our list. In other words, we’ll highlight the most important factors to bear in mind before buying a cello to help you make a more informed purchase decision and tackle some frequently asked questions.
Cellos come in different sizes to suit people with different builds and hand sizes. Generally speaking, the 1/4 size is the preferred choice for a child, while adults should usually opt for the 4/4 size.
If you have a music store in your neighborhood, you can always pay a visit to check which size is the right one for you. If not, online retailers include a detailed table, allowing you to have a rough estimate of how much each cello size measures.
It’s also worth noting that some brands only make cellos in one size, while others provide different options for you to choose from. For instance, Cremona SC-165 only comes in the 1/2 and the 1/4 variations and doesn’t offer a 4/4 size.
Depending on your skill level and musical experience, you’ll find yourself looking at a specific tier of cellos. For instance, professional musicians can have different considerations when it comes to sound signature, string types, and bow materials.
On the other hand, beginners won’t notice much of a difference and should make their choice based on accessibility and affordability.
Finally, electric cellos are on a whole different spectrum than regular acoustic cellos. Our picks are mainly for those considering an acoustic cello with a classical design.
Your cello’s build quality won’t only influence its durability and appearance but also how it sounds and feels in the hands. For instance, copper-plated tuners are less slippery and more precise, allowing you to adjust your cello’s strings in no time.
Naturally, your budget is always the final determinant that governs any purchase decision. People looking for a budget pick will be happy with what the Cecilio CCO-100 has to offer. On the other hand, professionals looking for an upgrade won’t mind paying a premium to get the sound and build quality they desire.
Should You Rent a Cello Instead of Buying One?
People looking for a student cello might be enticed to go the renting route instead. However, we recommend against that, as renting a cello won’t give you a real incentive to take your music hobby seriously. Furthermore, there are plenty of affordable cellos on the market that will always offer a better long-term value than renting your instrument for each class.
How to Take Care of a Cello
After your practice session, use a soft cloth to wipe the rosin off the strings. You’ll also need to store your cello in its dedicated case, as such musical instruments are sensitive to humidity and can get damaged by variations in temperature.
By now, you should have a solid idea about which cello is the one for you. We’ve made sure to include a wide variety of the best cellos at different price ranges to ensure you get an excellent instrument no matter what budget you’re working with.
If you’re a beginner looking for the most accessible cello, the Eastar EVC-1 is an easy recommendation, thanks to its imprinted guides on the fingerboard.
People on a tight budget will get the most bang for their buck with the Cecilio Size 4/4 CCO-100. It nails all the basics and delivers an overall, well-rounded package without many compromises.
On the other hand, musicians looking for the most elegant cello will appreciate the Italian tonewoods of the D Z Strad. However, they’ll have to pay a premium for the best build quality.
Finally, musicians who are always on the road and need a cello with a durable case will be happy with the Cecilio CCO-600. It comes with a deluxe ABS case, in addition to another soft, padded one as part of the cello outfit package.
Now that you know what to look for when buying a new cello, we’re sure you’ll land just on the right one that suits your needs and puts you on the right track to realize your music dream.