Updated: May 10, 2015

Cello Reviews and Buying Guide:

Investing In a Great Cello: What Do You Need to Know? - If you ever doubt that the cello can produce some of the most beautiful sounds in the world, you only need to listen to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 (see below); you'll be convinced, and you'll want to start playing! The cello has a very light sound that is featured in music as diverse as Bach to the Beatles. It is one of the more challenging instruments to play - you'll appreciate those beautiful cello pieces so much more when you play yourself. All you need is a patient teacher, determination, cello music, and a good cello. How do you buy one? What is best for your level of expertise? What should you be looking for? Is buying one better than renting? How much are these things anyway? Playing the cello is hard - but finding the answers to these questions is easy.

What to Look for in a Cello - Buying a cello can be intimidating. Not only is the instrument itself difficult to tackle (not to discourage the novice! It is well worth the effort!), the quality directly impacts the music you are able to make. With some instruments, you can get away with cheap starter models; this is partly true of the cello. Beginner models can be less expensive, but you are still going to have to pay to get the sound you want. Look for:

*Wood construction. Experts recommend that the sides and back be made from maple and the top of spruce. Hand-carved is best. A stamped, mass produced cello made from a material like plywood won't produce the true cello sounds and will affect the quality of your playing.
*Hand-glued. Again, mass produced cellos often have sloppy glue jobs. When it is glued properly, it allows you to take the cello apart if it needs to be repaired.
*The best materials for the fingerboards and turning pegs are rosewood or ebony, darker woods that minimize friction.
*Adjustable endpin.
*Properly placed soundpost and bridge.
*Size. Size depends on your height. If you are 5 feet or taller, a 4/4, or full size, cello is appropriate. For those 4.5 to 5 feet, a 3/4 is probably best, and those who are 4 to 4.5 feet often go with a 1/2 size. What if you are 4 feet 11.5 inches? Go with the smaller size for greater comfort.
*A bow. The best are made of brazilwood or pernambuco woods. Plastic versions are available, but a wood bow will last for years and help you elicit better sound from the strings.

You can get incredibly picky when it comes to cellos: the angle of the fingerboard, the placement of the nut, the height of the strings above the fingerboard. All of these may seem like minute details, but each effects the quality of sound and playability of the instrument. If possible, it is an excellent idea to get a teacher or cellist to test an instrument for you. It can be overwhelming if you are choosing your first cello, and they will have a good sense of what to look for.

Buying Vs. Renting - Given the high cost of a good quality cello, renting is the preferable route if you don't know if you are going to stick with this instrument. A starter cello can cost over $1000. You can find cheaper versions of them for a few hundred dollars, and truthfully, these should be fine to learn on, especially for children. But if you are really concerned about learning on an instrument that makes the right sound, going with the more expensive models is a must. Renting a cello can cost as little as $40 a month; renting for six months to see if you take to it is recommended, and some rental companies offer a rent-to-own program and free upgrades (which is good for growing children). You may not get outstanding quality with a rental, but it will be sufficient for beginning play and experimentation.

Buying Your Cello:

If you are beyond the renting phase and want to get a good quality cello to grow as a cellist, consider the Scott Cao Stradivari Davidoff Cello. Scott Cao is a famous and well-renowned luthier, and he is best known for his meticulous copies of the outstanding Stradivari violins and cellos. This model is a replica of the Davidoff cello that was crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1712; the original is now in the possession of Yo Yo Ma. You could do a lot worse than emulate this cellist! The Scott Cao 4/4 version features a fine to medium grain spruce top, inlaid purfling, which is the narrow binding on the edges of the top and bottom plates, 2 piece maple back, ebony fingerboard and pegs, Wittner tailpiece, Larsen strings, and an Aubert Mirecourt bridge. This is a beautiful cello that will see you through endless use. It is $2200 and does not include the bow. It is pricy, but you can grow as an artist and develop your own style and sound. Another option that costs a bit less is the Knilling Bucharest Model Carved 4/4 Cello Outfit, which reviews well with consumers from Amazon, Epinions, and AboutMusic said it offers "exceptional value and superior performance." The Knilling, which is a student model, features an even grain Bavarian spruce top, a seasoned European maple back, inlaid purfling, ebony nut, fingerboard, saddle, and tailpiece, maple bridge, D'Addario Prelude steelcore cello strings, padded nylon oxford cover, reinforced handle, Glasser fiberglass bow with fully lined ebonite frog, and genuine white horsehair. One happy reviewer said that he had the cello inspected by a luthier and it passed his rigorous quality standards. It costs $1600. Not cheap by any means, but it is a bit more budget-friendly than the Scott Cao. With cellos, it is not the brand that matters so much as the quality. Both of the models mentioned above have quality wood construction, including spruce tops and maple backs. They offer the quality that you need to begin your cello career on the right footing. Be choosy; take your time; and make sure that any cello you purchase can be returned without hassle. This is where reading consumer reviews comes in handy; they can and will tell you if the company gave them trouble about returning a product. Learning the cello is perhaps the most challenging task you'll undertake, and it is one that will provide incredible rewards now and in the future. When you have a good cello at your hands, you are that much closer to playing Cello Suite No. 1 flawlessly. View top rated cellos here.