How To Choose a Cello

Choosing a Cello at Zelia Ltd. Edgware, London.




1. Choose a cello with a string length of no more than 696mm, unless you are a giant.

2. Small hands need a slightly shorter string length: 673mm and upwards.

3. An old cello for sale should be fully restored: ask if the bass bar has been changed.

4. Any thin sounding notes, half-way up the A string, indicate the wrong shape of bass bar.

5. Don’t worry about a wolf – it can be tamed - see our video.

6. Avoid a cello with sinkage or twisting on the front, or a repair at the base of the neck.

7. Remember that if a cello has a label, it could have been stuck in by anybody.

8. Don’t use your old bow when upgrading to a better cello; try it with a classier bow.

9. Test a cello in a hall, rather than just in a room.

10. A different set-up can change the sound of a cello, but beware of too much tension.


How to Find the Right Size Cello -
Advice from Quality Cello Retailers Zelia Ltd in London


Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cello


What Kind of Sound Do You Want?

Brilliant and powerful - can be heard against a grand piano or orchestra.
Warm and sweet - quality of sound before quantity.


Is It In Good Condition?

Have any cracks been well restored?
Is there a soundpost crack or other bad cracks in the back?
Is there any woodworm damage?
Is there any sinkage or twisting of the table? If there is, a new bass bar may be needed.
Is there any repair in the neck?
Is the neck set at the correct angle? Check this by measuring the total height of the bridge. The nearer 9cm the better. More than 9.3cm is too high - less than 8.5cm is too low.

Watch our video on choosing an old cello.

Is It Authentic?

Don't expect the label to be necessarily correct. The instrument may be a copy of that maker's work, or the label may have been inserted for attempted financial gain, possibly a long time ago.


How Easy Is It To Play?

Try it in different rooms and in a big hall.
It should have a clear sound that is even on all four strings.
The tone should not be shrill or dull, although cellos (especially new ones) can improve with playing, they should sound well from the beginning.


New Cellos

Well-made new cellos can have strength and quality of sound. During the first year of use the tone will further improve, especially if it is played frequently.
New instruments need more adjustment than old ones. Neglect of this may be responsible for the idea, sometimes expressed, that their sound can deteriorate.
However, it is true that some new instruments are made thinly in an effort to make them easier to play. This can usually be detected by sinkage in the table.
The solution is to choose a maker with a good track record.


How To Test a Cello


For assistance with selecting the cello that is right for you,
call me on 020 8958 4456.
I'll be happy to help.


Also see our cellos for sale page if you are considering buying a cello.



"A responsive instrument helps us to free our musical imagination
and express depth of emotion and dynamic range."



Share this site on:
Share on Facebook Facebook   twitter   Bookmark with StumbleUpon stumbleupon