I will always miss the days when I first learned new instruments. Across my long music career, I have tried out just about every classical instrument there is, and it’s been a glorious experience. I’ve always found a particular interest in stringed instruments, especially the cello.
Deciding to learn and purchase your first cello can be incredibly exciting. It’s new and unexplored territory, and I bet you can’t wait to get your hands on it and begin practicing. However, before you do this, you will need to ensure that you are prepared with all the necessary accessories!
You’ll have to consider cello rosin, a cello stand, and most importantly, a cello chair! It’s just another thing to worry about, but it’s very much necessary. Don’t worry, though, because I know all about the criteria for picking an excellent cello chair, and I’m going to share my knowledge with you. Read on to find out more!
Is it Necessary to Own a Cello Chair?
Before we take a look at what makes a high-quality cello chair, you might be wondering whether it is necessary to own a cello chair. In my opinion, the simple answer is a resounding yes.
Whilst it is true that the cello can be played both standing and sitting, it is far more common to play sitting on a cello chair. In many formal environments (such as within an orchestra), you will be expected to sit whilst playing, and therefore you will need to get used to this positioning.
Furthermore, some people believe that a cello chair purchase is not necessary, as their orchestra or cello teacher already provides them with one. That’s great, but what about practicing at home? What about if you attend a concert, and the cello chair is uncomfortable for performing on?
It’s always best to have your own cello chair so that you can tackle these scenarios, ensuring that you always have the comfort of sitting whilst playing. I find practicing on a cello chair an absolute must. I could never pull off the standing technique, I don’t find it comfortable, and I certainly don’t have the endurance to do so.
So, what exactly should you be looking for in a cello chair? Let’s take a look!
The Criteria for an Excellent Cello Chair
I can always remember bringing my cello chair to my first cello concert and some of my musician friends laughing at me. They told me that it was a waste of effort and that I could have just used the cello chair provided by the venue. I honestly could not disagree more. Every cello chair is different and different people require different qualities from their chairs.
There are many parameters that you should look for within a cello chair, and they can be broken down into the following categories:
Let’s take a look at each of these categories individually.
This first factor is arguably the most important thing to look for in a cello chair. During long concerts and practice sessions, you will spend prolonged periods sitting at your chair, and this is not going to be a pleasant experience unless it is comfortable!
Some of the following concepts (such as adjustability and stability) massively contribute to the comfort of a cello chair, and we’ll investigate them separately. However, two specific properties exclusively contribute to comfort – the material of the cushion and the shape of it.
Firstly, cello chairs are made of different materials. Some are plastic, and I have never been fond of these. Some people like them, so it’s just my taste, but I have never been able to sit comfortably on them for any longer than 10 minutes. I also find that my body slides about on them. I much prefer the grip of a soft cushion.
Cello chair cushions come in a variety of materials, from plastic variants to leather and felt. I have always chosen soft fabrics personally, but the shape of the cushion is arguably more important than the material.
I would massively recommend that you search for a wedged cushion. This is a raised cushion with a slight incline that puts you in a heightened performance position that is optimal for performance.
Wedged cushions will often be designed with grooves that facilitate perfect comfort for sitting. Think of it as memory foam, but for your butt! I couldn’t recommend this more, it might be a little bit more expensive, but it is worth every cent.
I mentioned earlier that adjustability contributes massively to comfort, and for this reason, I would say that it is the second most important thing to look for in a cello chair. Whilst adjustability will not affect the feel of sitting on the cello cushion. It will affect how comfortable it is to hold your cello and maintain your posture.
There are two adjustability properties that I would recommend you look out for – height and the backrest. Some cello chairs don’t even include a backrest, and I would watch out for this.
I have always found backrests essential in maintaining a good cello posture, but perhaps that says more about my core strength and back posture than anything else.
It’s always great when a cello chair has an adjustable ergonomic backrest design. This way, you can ensure that it fits your back perfectly and supports your spine.
However, I would say that aside from having a backrest, height adjustability is more important. This will involve being able to extend either the legs or the frame of the chair, thus increasing or decreasing the height that you sit at.
It can make a massive difference to how you hold your cello, with some people not being able to comfortably navigate the fingerboard due to height restrictions. Get yourself a cello chair that has both adjustable legs and a backrest, and you can be sure that you are always comfortable when performing.
The final factor to look for in terms of comfort is the stability of the chair. This is important in any chair, not just cello chairs – how are you supposed to sit comfortably if the chair keeps wobbling around?
I will always remember the pains of having to use the provided cello chair at my music school. It was similar to a drum stool, and the cushion did not fit properly with the mainframe. It was always squeaking and wobbly with my movements, and to make things worse, the legs were wobbly too.
Always ensure that the legs of your cello chair are stable. This might involve investigating the frame itself if they are joined together, or it may involve checking that the legs have adjustable tips (to facilitate stability on an uneven surface).
Trust me, if you cheap out on a cello chair and end up with something wobbly, it’s going to make practicing a very frustrating experience. That wobbly chair that I used to have to use at school almost put me off learning the instrument entirely. I thought it was something wrong with me! However, as soon as I purchased my chair, everything changed!
The last property that I always look for in a cello chair is accessibility. This one is pretty simple, but it’s equally important – choose a chair that is easy to transport and set up.
I always thought that this was a normal feature of a cello chair, my first chair was foldable and lightweight, so I had no problems bringing it to school or a concert. However, that all changed later in life when an orchestra conductor showed me his new cello chair. It was so heavy and couldn’t be folded.
I honestly have no idea how people deal with chairs like this. Taking it on public transport or loading it into a car would be an absolute nightmare. Make sure that your cello chair can be folded or at least dismantled. Otherwise you may get frustrated every time you have to perform somewhere!
My Top Recommendations for Cello Chairs
That just about covers everything that I look for in a cello chair, except the price of course. Price is an important factor as different cellists will have different budgets, but luckily they are generally pretty cheap. I’d always recommend going for a pricier option, as this will generally say a lot about the stability and overall comfort of the chair.
Without further ado, I have decided to put together a small list of the best cello chairs that I would recommend. Whilst I am a fan of soft fold-up chairs, I have made sure to cover all different types of chairs in case your preference is different from mine.
Let’s start things off with my favorite on this list, the Vivo ADJUSTRITE. The clue is in the name here – this is a very comfortable cello chair, complete with adjustable legs, a soft backrest, a wedged fabric cushion, and easy folding. If you read my criteria earlier, you’ll know that this ticks all of the boxes for me.
This chair is very similar to the first chair I ever bought, so I recently bought one as a replacement. For me, it’s perfect, but I must say that it is more expensive than the average cello chair, with a price tag of around $250. It’s worth every cent, though!
- Legs are individually adjustable in 1″ increments, making them ideal for any height and even for unstable surfaces
- Lightweight and foldable, making it easy to transport
- Includes a comfortable soft wedge cushion
- Expensive in comparison to lower-range cello chairs
Wenger NOTA Posture Chair
I mentioned earlier that I’m not fond of plastic cello chairs. I always feel like my body slips around in them! However, not everyone is like this, and I have many friends that own this Wenger NOTA cello chair and have been satisfied with it.
Both the seat and backrest are designed with ergonomics in mind, promoting excellent balanced weight distribution and posture.
It’s a solid chair that encourages good posture, breathing, and comfort which is arguably the most important thing about a cello chair, but it is unfortunately not adjustable nor foldable. This has always been a deal-breaker for me, but I must say that it is priced very fairly at around $125.
- Ergonomically designed for posture and comfort
- Backrest promotes natural breathing during cello performance
- Designed for even weight distribution
- Good mid-range price of $125
- No adjustability
- Cannot be folded
- Made from plastic, which some people do not like
YAMAHA PKBB1 X-Style Bench
Next, I wanted to provide a cheaper alternative for any cellists on a budget, and I chose the YAMAHA PKBB1 X-Style Bench. This chair is incredibly popular, I have seen it being used by many different music schools and concert halls by cellists, guitarists, pianists, and others.
It’s lightweight and adjustable, making it highly accessible, and the price is incredibly low for the quality at around $40!
However, the chair has no backrest and has not been designed with a cellist’s posture in mind. I’ve used it a few times and the leather cushion is surprisingly comfortable, but I need my backrest. Regardless, it’s a great budget choice, and I have seen many cellists that are satisfied with it.
- Lightweight and adjustable
- Extremely affordable at around $40
- Comfortable leather cushioning
- No backrest
- Designed generally for musicians, not specifically for cellist
MECO Stakmore Music Back Folding Chair
The final cello chair that I would like to recommend is the Stakmore Music Back Folding Chair. I love the look of this chair, I tested it a couple of months ago but haven’t had a chance to buy one yet. It’s made out of a wooden frame and a soft fabric upholstered seat, and the backrest has been finely crafted to integrate a beautiful music clef into the aesthetic.
It’s also foldable, but it’s a little bit heavier than the average chair, making it a little less accessible.
Overall though, I love the design of this cello chair. I think it would look perfect in my music study room, both practically and visually. Finally, this chair can be purchased as a set of two for just $140, which is a bargain, but I have never actually seen that chair sold separately, which feels a bit unnecessary if you only need one.
- Gorgeous wood and fabric design
- Aesthetically pleasing musical clef backrest
- Generally looks cozier and more home-friendly than most cello chairs
- Excellent price of $140 for a set of two
- A bit too heavy for my liking
- Cannot be adjusted
- Designed for musicians in general, not specifically for cellists
- Can only be bought as a set of two
Testing Cello Chairs in Music Stores
Before we finish things up with an FAQ, I thought that I would take a moment to give you one major piece of advice – always test cello chairs in music stores when possible!
If you head to a music store near you, there will almost always be a strings department in which they showcase cello chairs. There will be expert staff that will let you test as many cello chairs out as you would like, helping you choose one that fits the requirements that you need.
The main reason that I am suggesting this is that there is simply no way to truly know whether a cello chair will fit you unless you test it out. Pictures, dimensions, and feature breakdowns are useful, but these can often be misleading if you have not had an opportunity to test them out for yourself.
I have purchased multiple cello chairs online over my many years as a cellist, and whilst online purchases generally come at bargain prices in comparison to in-store purchases, I once accidentally bought a cello that simply was not what I expected.
Watch out for this – always test out cello chairs in a music store, and only then should you make a decision to purchase one online.
Throughout this cello chair guide, I’ve covered a huge amount of information, investigating everything from the criteria of a good cello chair to my recommendations. If you have any unanswered questions left, I hope that the following FAQ will help answer them!
Answer: When choosing a cello chair, you should look for something that has a fine balance of comfort, stability, adjustability, and accessibility.
Answer: You will know if a cello chair is appropriate for you if it is comfortable to use for long durations, accommodates your body type, and can be easily transported to cello practice and concerts.
Answer: Cello chairs are generally quite cheap, ranging from $40 to $250, but I would recommend that you splash out on a more expensive model to ensure the quality is of the highest standard.
Answer: I much prefer soft fabric cello chairs as I cannot get comfortable on plastic chairs, but this is all down to preference and you should test out both to see which you prefer.
I hope that this guide to buying the best cello chair has been useful to you! It can be a little bit intimidating when you see the sheer amount of chairs on the market, but consider printing out this guide and referencing it in music stores to help make the process easier.
I am very happy with my Vivo ADJUSTRITE and would highly recommend it, particularly if you like soft fabric chairs. It has provided me with everything that I need to endure long concerts comfortably, and I couldn’t imagine switching back to a plastic chair.
Always test different cello chairs in-store, and always aim to find something that fits your budget whilst providing stability, comfort, adjustability, and accessibility.
There’s nothing worse than finally making that purchase, only to discover upon arrival that you do not like the feel of it, or that you cannot fold it up and transport it to concert practice easily.
I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you find a cello chair that you are as happy with as I am with mine!