- Looking to get into cello but are overwhelmed by the number of options?
- Wondering if a cheap cello is even worth it?
- We go over 7 of the best beginner cellos to help you buy better.
- Also, check out our guide to the types of cellos.
Since the 1500s, countless works of classical music have been written for the cello.
Being the string instrument closest to the range and timbre of the human voice, the iconic instrument has an esteemed role as both a solo instrument and as part of a full orchestra.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best cellos for beginners, focusing on entry-level cellos that sound surprisingly good, considering their price range.
- If you’re a first-time buyer, we recommend checking out our guide to what cello size you need.
What Is The Best Cello For Beginners?
If you’ve just begun your journey to learn the cello, and aren’t ready to make a significant investment, our first recommendation is the Cecilio CCO-100.
Found within the $200 range, it does a beautiful job serving as your first cello.
If you can stretch your budget beyond that, the Cremona SC-130 is a great value option, built of high-quality tonewood, and includes Prelude strings.
With that out of the way, these are our top candidates for the best cellos for beginners.
Each has been carefully selected based on the following criteria:
- Quality materials and craftsmanship
- Good value regarding sound quality for the price.
- Features to suit a novice, such as beginner-friendly strings and fretboards.
1. Cremona SC-130
The Cremona SC-130 features genuine ebony fittings and all-solid hand-carved tonewoods for the finest possible tone, and a better sounding and more reliable instrument.
- Projects excellent sound
- Quality materials
If it suits your budget, for under $1,000, the SC-130 is a fantastic offering.
Cremona cellos are made of select tonewoods; hand-carved maple, spruce, and ebony.
- Top: Hand-carved solid spruce
- Back and Sides: Hand-carved solid maple
- Neck: Oiled solid maple
- Fingerboard: Polished ebony
- Fittings: Ebony
- Tailpiece: Composite with four built-in fine-tuners
- Pegs: Ebony and Bridge: Cremona 2-Star aged maple
While the parts are made in China, the instruments are assembled in California, which provides extra assurance concerning quality control.
That said, it is always best practice to hire a luthier to refine the bridge, soundpost placement, and general setup.
This will ensure you get the most out of your investment.
Cremona cellos come with Prelude strings, perfectly suited for a starter cellist.
You can consider an additional investment of approximately $125 to $200 for top-tier strings, as they go a long way toward unlocking your new cello’s best sound.
In addition, these instruments also come with a Pernambuco bow.
Considering the instrument’s price, this is an excellent quality offering (AB-112C round bow with horsehair).
Factoring in all the above, the SC-130 is our recommendation for those who want to take up the cello.
Even without investing further in quality strings and a luthier setup, the Cremona SC-130 projects a refined sound.
We do recommend spending a little on strings and setup, as this will enhance the sound well beyond the price range.
2. Cecilio CCO-100 (Best Value)
Cecilio cellos have a crack-proof spruce top; maple back, neck, and sides with a beautiful natural finish. An elegant classical instrument that produces a pristine sound.
- Great for students
- Varies between $300-$800
Some of the best-selling cellos on Amazon are from the brand Cecilio.
Numerous models are available, and even the budget CCO-100 (around $350), is made of respectable materials.
These instruments are handcrafted from traditional tonewoods with spruce tops, flamed maple sides and backs, and inlaid purfling.
The further up the price range you go (the CCO-600 model runs about $800 at the writing of this article), the better the materials and the more refined the instrument’s finish.
Cecilio cellos come with a soft case or a hard case (depending on the model and the price), and a bow made of Brazilwood.
A significant disadvantage that we must highlight is that the fingerboard (unlike Cremona cellos) is not made of ebony.
Ebony is more durable and remains in better condition for longer, however, the Cecilio fingerboards are constructed of maple.
While this is not unexpected within this price range, it is something to bear in mind when purchasing a CCO-110.
3. Stentor Cellos
Based in the United Kingdom, Stentor entry-level cellos come with soft cases that are reinforced and sturdier than other soft case offerings.
As with the instruments reviewed above, Stentor cellos are made of traditional solid tonewoods.
They are comprised of solid ebony fingerboard and pegs, with maple sides and back fittings. The top is made of spruce.
Based in the United Kingdom, Stentor manufactures its instruments in China and performs a quality check in the UK before shipping them to buyers.
Stentor entry-level cellos, many in their ‘Student’ series, fall within the $500 to $900 range.
They come with soft cases that are reinforced and sturdier than other soft case offerings.
4. Primavera Cellos
A fine return for the price tag, Primavera cellos include some features that distinguish them from other entry-level instruments.
- Value for money
- Hand-carved maple
- Distuingasble features
While they may be a bit more expensive than other student offerings, ranging from $500 to $1000, these instruments boast a fine return for the price tag.
You’ll find hand-carved maple and spruce with inlaid purfling, plus the fingerboard, pegs, and fittings are made out of carved ebony.
Primavera cellos include some features that distinguish them from other entry-level instruments.
To reduce their manufacturing costs, they incorporate a metal alloy tailpiece with four fine tuners, rather than the standard solid wood tailpiece.
While this might be an unconventional decision, plenty of seasoned players will tell you they hardly notice the difference, and not something which will impact an aspiring cellist.
The cases these cellos ship with are considerably lower-quality than other offerings in this list of recommendations.
This may not be the deciding factor in choosing which instrument to invest in but should remain a consideration for beginners who plan on traveling with their instruments.
Should you find yourself often traveling with your cello, then it might be worth buying a suitable case to protect your investment.
A superb option for those just beginning their cello ventures, many Merano cellos are just over $200, making them a solid student cello option.
- Great for beginners
Many Merano cellos are just over $200, making them a solid student cello option.
They appeal to those who are at the beginning of their journey or haven’t decided on their long-term commitment to playing the cello.
These cellos are not made of solid wood, and their accessories are not very high quality.
That said, we have highlighted the Merano because it is a good option for beginners.
A Merano, especially if ordered online, will likely require a setup to be playable.
Purchasing higher-quality strings will also make a considerable difference to the overall sound of this budget instrument.
You will need to consider your budget to see whether it is worth investing in these upgrades.
The sound quality would be worth it, however, you may end up spending more on the upgrades than you did on the cello itself.
6. Cecilio CECO-3DW
Whether you're practicing, recording in the studio, or performing on stage, the Cecilio electric cello outfit offers excellent functionality and style.
- Headphone input
Cecilio also provides beginners with a fantastic entry-level electric cello.
They have two models on offer at the time of writing: the CECO-3DW, which costs around $350, and the slightly more upmarket Cecilio CECO-2BK, which costs around $400.
There are many advantages to choosing an electric cello.
As with most electric cellos, you can plug your headphones directly into the instrument and rehearse even the most energetic passages quietly.
Electric cellos are also less prone to weather damage, making them a great choice for outdoor events and spaces with unstable temperatures.
They often take up less space than acoustic cellos, and one can play with loud ensembles (drums, electric guitar, etc.) without worrying about being heard.
Cecilio electric cellos come with ebony fingerboards and mother-of-pearl inlays, which are remarkable features for such inexpensive offerings.
These features alone put this range amongst the best-valued electric cellos for beginners.
Even if they do not come with perfect strings, these can be replaced without too significant an investment.
We recommend spending at least $120 on a decent set of strings to make these entry-level cellos shine.
7. Yinfente Electric Acoustic Cello
The Yinfente Electric Acoustic Cello is a quality, affordable cello that can provide a lot of functionality for both beginners and professionals.
- Acoustic-electric hybrid
- Built-in microphone
- Beautiful build
Occupying the middle ground between acoustic and electric offerings, Yinfente makes cellos in the region of $400.
These provide excellent options for those who require the acoustic cello sound, but also need the amplification that an electric cello offers.
This instrument’s versatility is among the best electric cellos for beginners.
Made of solid maple wood, the Yinfente Electric-Acoustic Cello has ebony accessories and comes with a soft case, bow, and rosin.
Its standout feature is the built-in pickup, a great option for those who like to play live.
The cello can be connected directly to an amplifier or mixer without the hassle of microphones on stage.
With an acoustic-electric cello, you get the beauty of an acoustic instrument combined with the convenience and flexibility of an amplified instrument.
How Much Should A Beginner Spend On A Cello?
This depends on your circumstances. Those not wishing to risk too much on their initial investment would typically be investing between $200 and $1000.
If you want to upgrade later on, consider selling your cello and put that money towards your next purchase.
Are Cheap Cellos Worth It?
This article is partly intended to evidence why you do not need to spend thousands of dollars to own a great instrument.
A cello designed for students can still be a quality long-term instrument.
Ultimately, it all comes down to build quality, choice of materials, and the quality of the individual parts (fingerboard, nut, tailpiece).
So, if you don’t have the option to spend a lot of money at the beginning, or if you are not sure yet that the cello will be your long-term instrument, we recommend not spending too much money.
Instead, review one of the cheaper options that still features high-quality materials.
If you fall in love with another instrument, you will likely be able to sell your beginner cello so long as it is playable and well cared for.
Then, you can invest in a more expensive cello of higher quality.
Some cellos, like the Cremona or the Cecilio, can be excellent instruments once paired with high-quality sets of strings.
Beginners must start their journey with instruments that fit their physical proportions.
Retailers who sell 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and other fractional instruments often provide a size guide and offer fittings to ensure their cellos suit the student.
How Do I Choose The Right Size
Here’s a rough guide you can use:
- 3-5 years old – 1/10 scale
- 5-6 years old – 1/8 scale
- 6-7 years old – 1/4 scale
- 8-10 years old – 1/2 scale
- 11-13 years old – 3/4 scale
- 14+ years old – full-size cello
Beyond these approximate measurements, it is always crucial that the cello fits one’s body.
This depends on the cellist’s height, arm’s length, and the size of their hands and fingers.
A cello. that is larger or smaller than it should be, can lead to awkward and unnatural postures that increase the chance of fatigue and even injury.
For more information on this, you can check out our article What Size Cello You Need? (Considerations, Size Guides & More).
To those of you who are looking for your first cello, this is an exciting time in your musical journey, and we hope this guide inspires you to select your first instrument. Good luck with your search!
To the more experienced cellists, did we miss any instruments you would recommend to beginners? Be sure to let us know in the comments.