Regardless of which type you’re talking about, the cello has not stopped growing in recent years due to its enormous versatility!
Within the family of stringed instruments (to which the violin, viola, and bass also belong), most cellos are copies of those built by Cremona a few hundred years ago, but with slightly different sounds and playing characteristics depending on the manufacturer.
There are different types of cellos: large, small, acoustic, electric, wood, carbon fiber, classical and baroque. The differences are sometimes subtle, sometimes substantial.
So let’s take a look at what types of cellos exist, which one is best for you, and the music you make!
Types Of Cellos & Their Uses
First of all, the most common cellos, the ones you see in orchestras, chamber ensembles and generally in music stores, are acoustic cellos.
That is, they are made of wood and if they are well made, they sound great.
But, of course, within them there are differences. You can find acoustic cellos of different sizes: the standard size, 4/4, is about 48 inches, or 122cm. Smaller sizes are available, often used by children beginning to study.
In that case, generally, measures that represent 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, ¼, 1/8, and 1/10, with respect to the original measures are used.
On the other hand, the prices of acoustic cellos vary greatly. Wood and workmanship are the two factors that cause these prices to change.
While the most accessible instruments are made in factories and built with low-quality woods, the most expensive cellos are made by luthiers.
A luthier is an expert in the construction of this type of instrument, using top quality woods.
So what prices are we talking about here? Well, a cello for a beginner who does not want to risk making a very large investment, can go approximately from $500 to $1500.
This instrument, as we said before, is made in a factory with low quality woods, and will not sound as good as a more expensive model.
A cello for intermediate to experienced players requires an investment of up to $3000.
It is possible (but not guaranteed) that this type of cello is made by a luthier, making it much better than factory produced cellos.
Carbon Fiber Cellos
These cellos are a bit more difficult to find, but they have gained some popularity in recent times.
The difference is, of course, that they are not made of wood, but instead of carbon fiber.
This means they do not need cornices, which are the indentations found on the sides of the cello, and which are used for support.
As this is a very strong material (much less fragile than wood), cornices are simply not necessary with these types of cellos.
The sound is somewhat different, possibly not as rich as an instrument made by a luthier, but with good strings and a good bow, you can achieve at least a decent sound!
Studio-quality on-board preamp and built-in reverb
Made of Spruce and Maple with Geared tuning pegs
Electric cellos are an excellent choice for playing not in orchestras or chamber music, but in bands with other amplified instruments (like electric guitars).
Having an electric cello also means you can experiment with different pedals and amps for a unique sound!
A rarity, to say the least, but one that is becoming less and less rare!
Recently, many cellists have been placing special orders to luthiers to make a cello with an extra string.
The particularity is that there is a key choice to be made regarding if the added string will be lower or higher pitched. It all depends on if you prefer to play lower or higher notes!
One possibility is to add a lower string (which is usually a B note), and thus have the possibility of getting closer to the bass register.
On the other hand, if one chooses to add a higher string (usually an E note), the cello “steps” a little more on the viola’s register, giving you access to higher notes.
Usually, playing high notes on a cello is very physically demanding on the player, so an extra high string makes this much less taxing.
The baroque cello differed in form only slightly from the modern cello: it had a shorter and slightly more upright neck, a shorter fingerboard, a shorter and thinner bass-bar, a thinner sound post, a lower and differently shaped bridge, and usually no end-pin.
Although the modern cello is by far the most widely used, many opt for the baroque cello when studying music from that period.
In fact, many musicians and enthusiasts consider the most extraordinary works composed for the instrument to be the Suites for solo cello by Johan Sebastian Bach.