Many cellists choose to start by renting their instrument rather than buying it immediately, but at some point you may find that you want to own your own instrument. However, in case you've never owned a cello before, the process of buying one may seem expensive and complicated, but fear not. You can invest in a cello that will last you for many years if you first determine whether or not you should buy a cello, go to a music store, choose cellos to test, evaluate a cello properly, and intelligently buy a cello online.
Method 1 of 5: Visit a Music Store
Step 1. Find a string instrument store
You can either check the phone book, use a search engine with keywords like "string instrument stores near me," or ask other musicians or your teacher for advice. However, you should try to find some local music stores that you can easily visit. If you live in a very rural area or a small town where there are few or no stores like these, you may be tempted to go online to buy. However, ideally you will want to see and test any instrument you want to buy first.
Be careful that the store you go to has a good selection of cellos in various price ranges (for both students and professionals) that you can try
Step 2. Go to various locations
Take your time and visit several stores if possible. There is nothing wrong with going to various venues to compare prices and be sure that there is no excellent undiscovered cello just around the corner. You should not rush to make a decision, especially for such a large investment.
Find out what kind of policies they have. Is it possible to rent with purchase option? If you change your mind, do they have a change policy? Do they allow you to finance it or do they make payment plans? If so, you should find out additional details about these policies
Step 3. Avoid going alone
You may consider this to be a decision you can make on your own, but you should bring your teacher or another trusted expert with you to the store. You will want this person to examine the cellos with you, listen to you play them, and also taste them so that you can be sure that you are choosing a good cello. You could overlook some things that the person does not miss.
Step 4. Be careful with commission fees
Most students are not aware of this practice, but the tradition within the industry is that stores often give teachers a commission based on sales. This is important to you because the commission will almost certainly be based on the amount of money the instrument costs. This could have an effect on what your teacher advises you about choosing a particular store or brand.
- There is nothing inherently illegal or immoral about this practice, but you still deserve to know exactly what you will pay with your money. Especially if you don't have a lot of money, talk to your teacher to find out if they usually ask for a commission rate and, if so, if they would be willing to waive it.
- Before heading to the store, call ahead to find out if they participate in a commission rate program.
- You can request that the store provide you with a written statement that no money or instruments were exchanged for a commission so that you can be sure that everything was carried out ethically.
Step 5. Find out the prices
The time to find out the prices is only after you have physically examined the cellos thoroughly but before trying anything and starting to get very attached to an instrument. On the low end of a good cello, you could pay $ 2000 and about $ 5000 on the high end for a beginner or student instrument.
- Instruments at the low end of the cost range will generally be manufactured in the store, so there is less attention to detail and a large or small part of the work will have been done by machines on an assembly line.
- Some parts (for example, the top and back, which contribute considerably to the sound) will still be handcrafted.
- Instruments at the low end of the scale are often considered good for newer cellists because the sound is designed to "stand out."
Step 6. Try to get a discount
Every penny you can save counts, especially when it comes to an instrument priced in the thousands of dollars. In case the store does not participate in the commission fees and your teacher does not expect to receive one, you could ask if it is possible that the store will give you a 10% discount.
Step 7. Purchase additional supplies
When you've made up your mind, you will need to purchase some additional cello items as most cellos do not come with an additional bow, strings, rosin, or pegs. You will also need to replace these items from time to time as they will wear out with regular use. If it's not included, you may also need to purchase a hard case to protect your cello from possible damage.
- For the most part, cellists find it unnecessary to stock up on additional supplies. Usually having an extra string or two on hand inside the case is enough.
- If this is your first cello, you may also need to buy a tuning fork or electric tuner.
- Also, beginning students may need a music stand, especially if they intend to learn to read sheet music.
Method 2 of 5: Choosing Cellos to Test
Step 1. Choose various instruments to inspect
It's important that everything about your new cello looks, feels, and most of all, sounds attractive to you. If you try just one and assume it's perfect for you, you might be missing out on something better. As you progress, avoid paying attention or consulting (still) about the price or brand of the instruments. Instead, ask your accompanying expert what they think of the sound, and try to pick a few that you would like to physically test later after you've thoroughly inspected all of them.
Ask your chosen teacher or expert to inspect the cellos as well
Step 2. Avoid choosing cellos solely by brand
You may be tempted to approach the purchase of a cello as you might buy clothes (find the perfect brand and stick with it), but this is probably not the best way to go. You may need to avoid some brands, but most of the ones you'll find in a store should be generally reliable. Talk to experts you trust and ask other cellists (whom you may know from orchestra or classes) about the brands they would recommend, although you should try to experiment with a range of cellos from different brands.
Step 3. Make sure it is the correct size
The size of the cello you will need is based primarily on height. Cellists 1.5 ft (1.50 m) and up should generally be able to use a full-size cello, while cellists between 1.2 and 1.4 m (4 to 4 1/2 ft) tall they should look for a cello half the size. People between these two heights are likely to be more comfortable with the smaller cello.
- Due to the price of a cello, you may need to consider whether or not it is very likely that you will continue to grow. For the most part, girls reach physical maturity around the age of 15, and boys around the age of 16-17, and until then you may continue to grow.
- You can determine if a cello is the correct size for you by sitting in a chair where you can comfortably rest your feet on the floor. Be careful to keep your back straight. Pull the strut out to a length of 1 foot (30 cm) and rest the instrument against your chest at a 45-degree angle. The top of your chest should reach the center of your chest, and the peg of the C string should be near your left ear.
Step 4. Test it
In most stores there will be a quiet area where you can try a cello, although some stores will also allow you to take the cello out of the store to try it in other areas. If the latter is allowed, take advantage of it and test the cello in spaces where you usually go to play (at home, where you take classes or rehearsals, in the band or orchestra room) for additional tests.
- You should pay attention to consistent tone and playability whether the instrument is just below your ear or on the opposite side of a very large room. Unfortunately, this step does not have a science, so you should make the decision based on your own instincts and the advice of your mentor.
- An indication of a good quality cello is the presence of occasional false notes, in which the vibrations between the instrument and the string itself cancel each other out so rapidly and repetitively that the note stutters as it is produced.
Method 3 of 5: Evaluate the Physical Qualities of a Cello
Step 1. Examine the cello veneer
The varnish of a cello is more than just an aesthetic decision, as it has an effect on the way an instrument sounds and how that sound will continue to change over the years. If applied too heavily, the instrument will not be able to "open", which prevents a musician from producing notes that fully resonate and actually decay when played. In this case, less varnish is considered to be more.
The color of the varnish is a purely personal preference. There is no agreed hierarchy among musicians
Step 2. Check that the wood is of quality
The type of wood the cello is made of is important: the spruce tops and maple sides and bottoms will produce a good quality sound, while it is probably best to leave the laminated wood for the flooring. due to its poor ability to conduct sound.
Look for good grain. Ideally, the ebony parts should have very tight grain, so close to each other that it might actually appear completely uniform, and the spruce parts should have tight grain in the center that become wider near the upper arches
Step 3. Inspect the flame
A good dense flame (the horizontal bar of contrast under the varnish that is located on the wood itself) generally indicates the expense of the wood. Avoid wood that has an iridescent flame in which the light and dark bars change when the instrument is moved, as this indicates that the flame was created artificially.
Step 4. Check the fretboard and neck
These pieces are interconnected, so it makes sense to review them at the same time. Take care that the fingerboard feels smooth and free of dents, bubbles and holes, especially when playing. Do a test to make sure both components are uniform. Hold the scroll next to your chin and look down at the fretboard to make sure the light is even across the entire surface.
- A well-brushed fingerboard will have a ball at the midpoint of a string.
- The neck should be treated with an oil finish and not varnish.
Step 5. Look at the bridge
A bridge should be straight with a slight curve when viewed from the side, and your feet should fit exactly on the belly of the instrument. The cello strings should fit into the notches in the bridge, just deep enough to hold them securely without preventing them from vibrating. An ideal bridge will be made of maple, have tight grain and a high flame.
Step 6. Test the strings
Test the strings of the instrument to make sure you like them. In case you or your mentor don't think they are appropriate, ask to try a different outfit. Also, you should be careful that the strings are around 0.9mm from the fingerboard on the soprano side and between 1 and 1.4mm on the low side.
Step 7. Inspect the accessories
This refers to the pegs, struts, and tailpieces as a group. Less scrupulous sellers might sometimes try to disguise an inferior cello by using accessories that look sophisticated but are of poor quality.
- The tuners should not be too tight or loose so that they turn and stay in tune easily. They should not extend too far from the scroll and their ends should be glued to the head of the scroll.
- Struts come in sizes 18 to 20 inches (45 to 50 cm) and in a variety of metals. Be careful that yours adapts to your needs, stands firmly and retracts without any problem.
- Preferably, you should get a tailpiece made of ebony (plastic will resonate less than ebony or composites) and come with a built-in tuner (this reduces weight). However, the tailpiece should definitely be sized appropriately for the instrument.
Step 8. Observe the soul
To locate the soul, you must see through the efes. Make sure it is not cracked, has no splinters, and is positioned correctly. It should be about a finger's width from the bridge, just behind the right foot. It should not distort the shape of the efe, lean or dent the top of the cello.
Method 4 of 5: Buy Online
Step 1. Use a reputable mail order company
It is strongly suggested that you buy a cello that you have had a chance to examine and test yourself, but you can also buy it online. Find an online merchant that sells cellos (for example, Cellos2Go, LindaWest.com, StringWorks, or FineViolins.com). You should take care that at least one member of staff is a cello specialist.
Step 2. Search online cello communities
There are several online communities for buying and selling cellos, as well as just getting in touch with other cellists. There is a classifieds section on Cello.org, as well as on Uvcello.org and Usedviolins.com. There are also communities on Facebook that you can inspect (for example, Cello Community International). Please note that the hosts of these communities do not filter, authorize or ensure in any way the authenticity of the offers that are made.
Step 3. Don't use auction websites where possible
Auction websites are the last place to look for a musical instrument. It is much more likely that, if you do it through these websites, you will end up buying a misleading item and it will be a waste of money. In case, on one of these websites, you see a cello that you are absolutely interested in buying, ask someone with an experienced eye to look at the details of the ad and photos and help you ask questions of the sellers.
In many cases, the cheap cellos you might find on these websites are Chinese with arrangements that more experienced cellists will report as bad (poor quality strings, improperly made bridges, and cheap, heavy tailpieces). Also, ads may include words like "teacher", which is completely misleading
Step 4. Beware of extremely low prices
Regardless of whether you are buying from a store website or an auction advertisement, you need to be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. The exact amount seems to be in dispute ($ 700 or $ 1000), but the general consensus among experts is that the cheaper it is, the more likely you are to end up with a piece of junk that will have problems later on.
If the wood is not cured, the body could crack or peel off or the neck could separate from the body. Damages of this kind would make the instrument unplayable even after spending the extra money it will take to prepare the cello at a reputable shop, and you will have to pay more to fix it later (if it can even be fixed)
Step 5. Avoid judging an ad based on appearances
In general, you should look for a cello that is several years old and has already "opened up" its sound. However, it is not possible to determine if the product is actually older based on the photographs in the advertisement, since today the aging methods in almost all countries where cellos are made are good enough to to fool many fans. Scratches and dents can even be placed on the surface.
Step 6. Know what to look for in the descriptions
In case you insist on buying online, it is vitally important that you look for the necessary information to make the right decision. Find out when it was made, if it's laminated or varnished, and what woods it's made from (plywood or spruce and maple). You should avoid anything that is laminate, made of plywood, or is very new. In case you cannot find the information to make a good evaluation, contact the seller to find out more details.
- Some violin dealers and appraisers (for example, Celloconnection.com and Reuning.com) offer certificates of authenticity to buyers. Ask if the seller has one or ask for an appraisal if they claim to have a special manufacturer.
- You should never buy anything without knowing all the details. In case a seller does not want to be honest about any of these details, you should find another place to buy the cello.
Step 7. See if there are return policies and guarantees
Regardless of where you choose to buy a cello, be careful to verify their return policies in case the product is damaged en route or you determine after it arrives that it is not suitable for you. Also, you should find out if the seller makes any kind of guarantee.
Step 8. Buy your extra supplies
Just like shopping in a store, you will need to buy other products (for example, a bow, case, additional strings, etc.) for your instrument. You should not expect these products to be listed unless they are specifically listed in the advertisement on the website, especially if you are looking for the cheapest cellos you can get.
Step 9. Inspect the cello when it arrives
Once you receive the product, you should check to make sure that it has not been damaged during the journey. In the event that a part has come loose or came off during the instrument's shipment, be careful to ask someone with experience (for example, your teacher or a store) to replace it immediately. You should also make sure that the soul is in the correct position before attempting to play or adjust the strings of the instrument. Otherwise, you could ruin it.
Method 5 of 5: Determine if you should buy a cello
Step 1. Consider renting one for young children
No matter how skilled a very young musician is, he is not the ideal candidate to buy a cello from. Young children are known to experience very fast stretches - elementary school students will grow about 2.5 inches (6 cm) in just one year. Part of what determines which cello you should buy is your height, and fractional sized instruments are notoriously difficult to resell.
If you want to avoid having to buy a new cello again in the space of 6 months or a year, consider renting a cello instead for those who need something up to three-quarters in size
Step 2. Consider your skill level
Are you new to cello? Are you sure you intend to continue playing the instrument for years to come? Will playing the cello be a hobby for you or do you plan to pursue it professionally or even semi-professionally? In case you are unsure as to whether you will continue to play cello for many years and have no plans to follow it even if it is semi-professional, you may be better off renting a cello until you are sure.
Step 3. Consider your budget
Cellos cost a lot. For a good fractional cello, teachers advise their students not to spend less than $ 700. A good full-size cello for an adult will cost at least $ 2000. Anything that costs less than this will not be a good instrument and should be avoided. In case you cannot pay that much for a cello, the best alternative is to rent it.