Shopping For a Cello

Where To Buy A Cello

Cellos for beginners can be found at both local or online stores that specialize in stringed instruments or at larger retail or online stores that carry a broad range of music and electronic gear.

See “Where To Buy Musical Instruments” for general buying advice on:

  • Buying in a Specialty Store vs. “Big Box” Stores
  • Buying Online vs. In-Person
  • Renting vs. Buying
  • Buying Used Instruments

How To Buy A Cello

Cello Sizes

Cellos are made in several different sizes to accommodate younger students with smaller fingers. A full-sized cello is 4/4, while the smallest size normally available is 1/16. In between, cellos are typically available in 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 7/8 sizes. (Note: These sizes do not indicate literal measurements. That is, a 3/4 size cello is not literally 3/4 the length of a full-sized cello.) At a local store, the salesperson can help you determine the right size. Online stores often have videos and other help resources via website or phone to help with this as well. The best option for giving advice on which size to choose, though, can be your own teacher if you have one.

Cello Cost

Cello prices vary widely, depending on the quality and age of the wood and the skill of the makers. Some less expensive cellos are made with laminate, which usually doesn’t produce as good a tone, but is more durable, which can be a plus for younger students. If considering a less expensive instrument, take into account the workmanship, playability and sound, as trying to learn on a poor quality instrument can be very frustrating for students. It is very important to have well-fitting tuning pegs that are easy to turn and then hold the string in tune. It is also important that the cello is set up properly so that the strings are at a proper height to avoid discomfort or buzzing of the strings.

Sample Cello Prices
Beginner Outfit

$500 – 600


$900 – 1,200



If you are buying your instrument from a specialty music store, inquire about a trade-in policy. When your student is ready for a larger or higher quality instrument, they will often give you a good portion of the original instrument price back when you trade it in.

Cello Accessories

In addition to the cello itself, a cellist will need a good bow and case. A tuner and metronome are also recommended, along with a music stand. The cellist will also need a chair that will allow proper posture. To keep the cello from sliding, the player places a rubber “donut” under the endpin on some floor surfaces. Also, a cellist will need a cake or block of rosin to rub on the hair of their bow to enable it to grip the strings and make sound.

Cello Bows

Bows can range in cost from approximately $50 – 200 for a beginner bow, to $300-700 for an intermediate and $900 -2500+ for an advanced player. In addition to traditional wooden ones, bows made from synthetic materials, ranging from fiberglass to carbon-fiber, are now available. These durable synthetic bows are a good alternative for younger players. Choice of bows becomes more important as the student advances and develops techniques that produce different sounds. Bows vary in weight and flexibility, allowing for differences in dynamics and tone. By the intermediate level, most players notice differences in bows and start to develop personal preferences.