If you fancy skipping the cello reviews, we’ve found that the best cello available is the Yamaha SVC-110SK. Yamaha is a well-known and reliable brand, so your instrument will be top-botch.
A brilliant cellist needs an instrument to match their brilliance. It needs to be elegant, reliable, and have all the right features needed to produce the best sound. We selected our top choices based on these factors as well as reputable brands, customer reviews, overall sound, quality, and materials used.
The current best cellos are:
- Yamaha SVC-110SK Silent Electric Cello
- Lykos 4/4 Acoustic Cello
- D’Luca Meister Handmade Ebony Fitted Cello
- D Z Strad Cello Model 600
- D Z Strad Handmade Student Cello
Reviews of the Best Cellos
Best Electric Cello
Made by Yamaha, this electric skeletal beauty will give you the enormous sound or the silent practice a regular cello can’t offer.
“Silent” on an instrument like this means it’s much quieter than a regular cello, even when that regular cello has a bridge mute on. You can still hear the sound, but it won’t disturb the neighbors if you practice at night. But, you may wake up your household—especially with those piercing high notes!
There’s a space for an auxiliary line-in or a headphones line out to bash the sounds through an amp or headphones. Note that with headphones, you’ll drown out around 90 percent of the instrument’s noise. Even so, the cello gives a realistic acoustic sound, and you’ll be amazed by the amount of depth it exudes during play.
The built-in reverb with three presets allow you to play with your sound to achieve a non-acoustic feel. You can also turn off the reverb, or adjust the sound via the three presets.
You can also pretend you’re playing with a band, as the cello can easily connect to a laptop. Then, you can control the volume of your laptop’s sound on the cello itself! Play along to the music to learn or to practice when your band/orchestra isn’t around.
There’s one thing to be aware of, though—the cello’s position along your body may be somewhat different. The bridge is higher than on the average cello, so you’ll need to raise your bow arm when playing. If you’d rather lower your other hand, you can shorten the endpin.
Players have found comfortable positioning in having the pegs on your neck and the chest rest on the abdomen. But it’ll take some wiggling to find your fit.
Best Budget Cello
For a cello most beginners and students would love, here’s a basic cello by Lykos. It’s not fancy like D Z Strad’s or electric like Yamaha’s, but it does the job.
Something unique about this instrument is that it’s not made of traditional tonewoods. If the instrument’s construction is solid, this shouldn’t influence the tone.
There’s some maple in there, which is a bonus on the tonewood side. However, the main wood used is basswood, which is also known as “linden.” It’s a lightweight wood, so your instrument won’t weigh you down. This light weight should also help the sound bounce around and escape easily.
The different wood won’t make the cello look any different, though. It’s painted and varnished for a natural, traditional look in shades of brown. Alternatively, you can get it in blue—a bright color for someone with a fun personality to show off.
A case, bow, and rosin all come with your cello. This is convenient for new players, as is the price. This isn’t a cello that’ll set you back much money, so it’s an excellent choice for a musician on a budget.
Best Cello for Beginners
This D’Luca cello is made specifically small, making it perfect for kids. Despite its small size, it packs all the sound and the quality of a full-size cello. It has a hefty weight, though, so you may need some assistance when standing it in place or storing the instrument.
Being suitable for beginners doesn’t mean it doesn’t look the part—the spruce top, maple makes up the back piece and sides, and the fittings are ebony. These are standard materials, but they combine to build a solid instrument.
It produces an excellent sound without much effort, which is perfect as a beginner cello. It needs to be said, though, this is a tricky one to set up and tune, which is most likely due to a stiff construction — so if there’s another cellist in the family, they’ll be busy.
Once it’s set up and tuned for the first time, the tuning is easy. The young player will be able to tune it alone after a learning curve, and will soon become the expert they strive to be.
The cello comes with a durable nylon case for safety and storage and a Mongolian horsehair rosewood bow. Rosewood is commonly used in bows and is a known tonewood; however, knowledge of the bow’s wood isn’t always provided, so this is confirmation that you’re buying a high-quality cello kit.
And of course, if you’re an adult wanting to play this smaller cello, feel free. It’s not just for kids! The best players can often play their instruments in smaller sizes as their party trick.
In the end, it’s the sound that matters. But for learners, you need to have a properly sized cello, so make sure this one isn’t too big or small for your child!
Best for Pro Players
D Z Strad is offering an absolutely gorgeous cello that’s constructed out of selected flamed maple, hand-carved artistically top to bottom. Maple is an excellent tonewood for string instrument construction, offering a warm and rich tone.
The fittings are likely made from ebony. It’s unspecified, but the other D Z Strad cello later in this review boasts an ebony fingerboard and fittings.
The cello was handmade by prize-winning luthiers, so it’s an example of deluxe luxury. If someone can win a prize for their craft, you know they must be at the top of their game. If a single cello is less than perfect, it could damage their carefully-carved reputation.
This is not the cello for someone to play once a month and leave to gather dust. It’s costly, and it’s worth it. Would you rather a cello made by a prize winner or one made from Bob, the carpenter who lives next to the music store?
It’s a cello you need to take care of, and to disregard it would be a waste of everyone’s time and money. But if you give it the attention and play-time it deserves, it’ll provide you with a round, even tone, and a smooth sound.
The cello also comes with all the extras you need to play. The bow, case, strings, and rosin all match the cello in quality — D Z Strad, the top producer of elegant antique cellos, would never let it be otherwise.
Something else D Z Strad has made sure of with this cello, in particular, is its availability to all. It comes in all the most common sizes — 4/4, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4. If you’re one of those players who likes to show off playing undersized cellos, this is for you.
Or if your child is a true prodigy, it’s perfect for them. Just make sure they respect the instrument! At this price and quality, it’s a crime not to.
Best for Intermediate Players
If you liked the look of the D Z Strad cello but can’t afford it, how about this one? Like the last one, it comes in 4/4, 3/4. 1/2 and 1/4 — with the added option of 1/8. A beautiful, dependable cello for all ages, and it’s not as fancy as the last, so intermediate players can jump right in.
Once again, D Z Strad provides you with a case, bow, strings, and rosin. So you’re all set to play without buying any extras elsewhere.
The cello was carved by experts. In terms of wood: the spruce top, maple for the sides and back, and the fittings and fingerboard are ebony. These are the three main types of wood used in string instruments, so this one clearly appeals to that high-quality standard set by the masses.
It’s finished in a deep red varnish, so it looks pretty as well as sounds it. It offers you a clear, warm, resonant tone when you play that every cellist needs.
This cello is still one to be respected. It may not be hand-crafted by the prize-winning luthiers, but it’s still from the same exquisite company. Again, this is an instrument for serious players, not hobbyists — but you don’t need to be at a professional level yet to enjoy it!
One could say this is the best student cello. Slightly too good for beginners, but anything beyond can play happily.
Best Cello Brands
Name an instrument. Yamaha probably has one or two. This reputable brand is a Japanese multinational corporation, best known for its pianos and keyboards, but it sells everything from percussion to strings.
When you buy from Yamama, you know you’re getting your instrument from a company that knows its stuff. From acoustic to digital, instruments to apps, specialty, and recording equipment, you’re covered. Just don’t go trying to play your Yamaha cello on a Yamaha motorbike!
Yamaha is a company well-immersed in the digital age. So, when you buy an electric instrument from it, you can safely assume it’s the best it can be.
Unfortunately, not much is known about Lykos as a brand. However, Lykos appears to make an array of stunning cellos, both electric and acoustic. They often come in colors such as black and white.
Hopefully, Lykos will gain some recognition, and we’ll learn more about the company in the future.
D’Luca is an admirable brand when it comes to kids. It specifically manufactures products for kids with additional needs, enhancing their motor skills and helping them to have fun through music. For this alone, we’re immediately drawn to D’Luca.
There’s also a section on their site called “D’Luca Kids,” which is incredible. Not every instrument maker would make sure to include children so prominently. If that’s something you admire, this company is to be looked upon fondly.
D Z Strad
D Z Strad is well-known to produce some of the finest antique string instruments in existence. This is reflected in the high value of some of its cello models—we’re talking up to $20,000! Don’t worry though, the model we’ve recommended is nowhere near, though, but it’s an example of the type of market D Z Strad operates in.
We consider this as a reflection on the broad market that D Z Strad appeals to—both beginner and market. While some cellists jump from brand to brand throughout their career, others start with a beginner D Z Strad and scale up the range as and when they can afford to do so.
Key Features to Look for in Cellos
We consider the following as key features to focus on when shopping for best cellos:
- Acoustic vs. Electric.
Not just any old tree can be cut down and made into an instrument. Tonewoods are selected by experienced luthiers, who are experts in repairing and building string instruments, like cellos and their bows.
When sound is made, especially in an instrument, it needs something to help it resonate to create the right tonewood! There’s a reason the same strings sound different on different wooden cellos, and it’s all down to the type of wood.
Some woods will make your sound rich and mellow as they absorb and reflect the tone. Some will make your sound hard and sharp. Dense woods are key here since they reflect sound, allowing our ears to hear as much of the original sound as possible.
Luthiers have such exceptional knowledge that they know exactly what an instrument will sound like once constructed, which is primarily driven by the wood. The best-quality woods will drive the highest quality sounds that are pleasant to listen to.
Some of the more common woods used in cellos are:
Maple is a tough, durable wood that grants you quality. The material is strong, letting sound vibrate inside and against it quickly. It surrounds the soundwaves with its magnificent casing and produces a rich, resonant sound.
As well as being an audibly pleasing wood, it’s also visually beautiful. Maple often has an ink-like pattern, which can give your instrument some personality and elegance.
The D’Luca cello and both D Z Strad cellos contain maple.
Spruce is a stiff wood that’s not overly heavy, which makes spruce cellos easy to play. A stiff wood is usually thick and hefty, but not spruce. This is also good for its sound — thinner wood gives the sound plenty of room to bounce around and resonate.
Spruce has been used in instruments for a long time, and any reliable luthier will use it. For an example of it used in quality instruments, check out the D’Luca cello.
Ebony is commonly used for cello tuning pegs. This wood is so sought after for its quality that it’s now in short supply around the world.
Ebony is a strong wood that’s as high in quality as it is popular. It’s true it’s usually used for fittings rather than the instrument’s neck or body, but every inch of the instrument matters.
The cellos we’ve reviewed are nearly all full-sized at 4/4 and are for experienced players or adult beginners. The D’Luca cello is actually 1/4, the smallest common quarter size — this one is perfect for young children. Although, there are even smaller sizes out there, such as with the D Z Strad Student Cello we’ve featured — 1/8!
Pay close attention to the size of the cello listed when buying online. It’s too easy to let your focus go to other areas, and suddenly, you have a mini cello sculpture and not the actual instrument.
These instruments are measured by the length of their back, so take these dimensions into account with your height and strength.
The most common sizes are:
- 4/4, full size: 30+ inches.
- 2/4, three-quarter size: 26–27.25 inches.
- 1/2, half size: 23–26 inches.
- 1/4, quarter size: 20–23 inches.
Most pre-stringed cellos don’t specify what brand or material the strings are, which is why many cellists automatically restring straight away.
Any string made with aluminum, titanium or chromium is a safe bet. These tend to be wrapped around a synthetic material or make up the entire string.
Acoustic vs. Electric
Electric cellos stand out because they can give you the best of both the electric and acoustic worlds; you just need that amp for the electric sound. Acoustic cellos limit you to solely the acoustic sound.
Most of us automatically think of and lean toward an acoustic cello, but an electric cello can be more versatile and convenient. An electric cello can be played with headphones so you won’t wake up the neighbors in the early hours, so if you’re into late-night practice, opt for an electric model.
However, an acoustic cello doesn’t need an amp, headphones, or battery supply. So if you don’t want to carry those or can’t afford them, an acoustic cello is a solid choice for you.
The Best Cello
The best cello is Yamaha’s electric cello. It’s a great starter cello that you can keep well into your pro-play days, with that nifty laptop connectivity feature. They may not supply the headphones, amp, or batteries, but those aren’t hard to come by.
Of course, not everyone will want an electric cello. But if you don’t touch that reverb, it sounds exactly like an acoustic so long as you have an amp nearby.
If you’d rather a real acoustic and are on a budget, go for Lykos’ cello. It’s affordable, comes in an array of colors, and it strays from the expected while remaining strong. Who knows, maybe you playing this cello will set a new standard for the woods used in instrument making. That should help get ebony out of danger.