If you are in the market for purchasing a new cello, you may feel a little bit overwhelmed. I can relate – I’ve been playing the instrument for well over a decade now, so I don’t have to deal with this anymore. Still, I can certainly remember the pains of the process back when I started. There were so many factors to consider – what brand should I choose, which accessories were necessary, how often should I practice, and how much should I be spending on the cello itself?
This is a great question – it can be quite confusing to know how much a cello costs due to the great variety of cellos on the market. Don’t panic, though, because I’ve decided to put together the following guide, which aims to explain exactly that. Read on to learn more about how much you should consider spending on a cello, what features you should look for, and what factors contribute to cheap and expensive cellos.
Bottom Line Up Front
The price of cellos varies greatly depending on the quality of wood, the history behind its production, manufacturing, and tonal qualities. However, beginner cellos such as the Cecilio CCO-100 can be found for as low as $100, whilst professional cellos such as the D Z Strad Model 250 will more likely cost around $3,000.
Consider Your Budget
Before we start investigating some of the common price ranges of cellos, I want to make something absolutely clear – finances should never get in the way of learning the cello. Sure, it’s undeniable that you are going to have to invest some money into learning the cello, as even the cheapest cellos are sold for around $100. Still, you should not feel bad or demotivated if you cannot afford an expensive cello.
There are cellos available in just about every price range you can imagine. You could get a weekend job, save twenty bucks a week for five weeks, and get yourself a basic cello started kit. However, you could also save up to 80% of your earnings a lifetime. Even then, you wouldn’t be able to afford the most expensive cellos.
This is why it is essential to consider your budget. The question shouldn’t be “how much does a cello cost?” because it can cost as little or as much as you want to spend. Ultimately, it all comes down to your experience level, how much money you have put aside to learn the instrument, and how certain you are that you are going to enjoy playing it if you are a beginner.
If you are a beginner, I would completely advise against spending a large amount of money on your first cello – after all, what if you don’t even enjoy playing the instrument!? Beginner cellos should do exactly what they say on the tin; they should be used by beginners to begin learning the instrument.
Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that a ton of the best cello brands out there offer financing options. If you don’t currently have the finances to purchase a beginner cello but know that you can save up for it within a few months, you can access the instrument straight away. You might have to pay a little interest on your payment, but at least it means that you can start learning straight away.
Overall, please don’t get demotivated when you see the high price of fancy cellos. If you are a beginner, you don’t even need to think about this yet. Even if you are a professional cellist with years of experience, you still don’t need to spend more than $1,000 on a cello. Sure, it might sound a bit better if you do, but the difference is marginal. Ultimately, you should always remember the phrase, “it’s not the tools you have, but it’s how you use them.”
Whilst it is true that there are cello pricing options to fit every budget, sometimes you just want to try a product without buying it outright. Perhaps you’d like to try out a beginner cello for a month to see how you get on, or maybe you’d like to rent an expensive upgrade cello for a few months to see if it is worth the plunge.
Luckily, there are tons of opportunities out there for cello rentals. Sure, this will typically cost more money in the long run, but it can be an excellent option for testing out a product in the short term. This is especially the case when renting higher quality cellos, such as those produced by companies like Eastman Strings or Cremona.
This is because these cellos, which will be leased out to rental companies such as Shar Music or Johnson Strings, will be professionally set up before being sent for rental. This means that not only will you get an opportunity to test a high-quality cello out at a fraction of the purchasing price, but you can be assured that it will be set up and ready to go straight out of the case.
Overall, renting isn’t for everyone, especially if you are looking to save money in the long term. However, it can be an excellent short-term option that could massively aid in your eventual purchasing decision.
Different Cello Price Ranges
Now that I’ve got my little monologue about budgeting, let’s dive into how much cellos generally cost. As I have already mentioned, this varies greatly, so I’ve split this section into four subsections – beginner, intermediate, professional, and vintage cellos.
It should go without saying that beginner and intermediate cellos are the most common instruments that you will want to concern yourself with, closely followed by professionals if you have a lot of experience. However, I would be highly surprised if anyone reading this is going to be in the market for one of those sweet vintage cellos, but you never know!
Beginner Cellos ($)
The first and perhaps the most important price category on this list is that of beginner cellos. If you have no experience with the instrument and are considering purchasing your first cello, this is absolutely where you should start. Much like any other instrument or hobby, there are expensive beginner cellos too. Still, generally, they are significantly cheaper than intermediate and pro cellos. Prices vary greatly, particularly when considering second-hand and refurbished instruments. Still, they usually fall into the price range of $100 to $500.
So, what makes beginner cellos so cheap? Well, there are two key factors – firstly, they are generally made of wood that is considered inferior at resonating frequencies. This doesn’t mean that it will not sound correct but instead means that it may be less rich to the ear and a little bit quieter. They will also rarely have fancy ebony fittings like more expensive cellos, using cheap wood or even synthetic materials.
The other major factor is that beginner cellos are almost always manufactured in bulk within a production factory. This is in contrast to expensive cellos that instead are crafted by luthiers to ensure that every quality is perfect. It is undeniable that factory-built cellos have a certain sadness to them, taking the life out of a cello to some degree. However, this once again should not concern beginners – they will still be perfectly useable.
One final thing to consider regarding the price of beginner cellos is a positive point – they almost always come as an outfit, meaning that they will be bundled with a bow, strings, and often other accessories such as cello cases, stands, rosin, music books, or a tuner.
The most important thing to remember about beginner cellos is they are more than enough to learn the instrument. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a stunning cello to learn with; anything will do as long as it works correctly. Years down the line, you can certainly consider saving up a ton of money for a sweet cello upgrade, but for now, I would recommend that you don’t spend any more than $500.
Intermediate Cellos – ($$)
The next price range in the world of cellos is for intermediate cellos. I will always remember the excitement of shopping for my first cello upgrade. Perhaps you are feeling this excitement as you read this. These cellos are often purchased once somebody has spent a year or two learning the instrument with a beginner cello, slowly growing out of the rudimentary tonal quality and craving something richer that can last them for many future concerts.
This kind of cello generally ranges from around $500 up to around $2000. This price range is significantly larger than that of beginner cellos because when intermediate cellists want to upgrade, it’s common that they wish to splash out. After all, a cello upgrade is supposed to last for many years longer than a beginner cello, so why not save up for the full $2000? This is all well and good, but everyone is on different budgets, and you will still notice a huge difference between a $500 and $100 cello.
So, what are the key differences here? Well, most of these relate to what beginner cellos are missing – intermediate cellos will often (but not always) have ebony fittings and will be built out of more ‘noble’ wood such as spruce and solid maple. They will also often be handcrafted by luthiers, especially within the $1500 to $2000 mark. Even in the $500 – $1500 range, it is likely that they will at least be set up by hand instead of coming straight out of the factory.
Overall, intermediate cellos are generally of better quality than beginner cellos, having a richer and more resonant tone due to using fancier woods, having additional character due to being manually set up, and sometimes even being handcrafted by a luthier. They come in various price ranges due to the idea of an ‘upgrade’ being broad. Still, they are generally affordable, even for low budgets.
Professional Cellos – ($$$)
It’s now time to take things up a notch with professional cellos. I think you might be seriously surprised about the price of these. Professional cellos are those that are considered to be of a high enough quality to meet appropriate standards for concert performance. I’m not talking about school concerts or your local orchestra, but for prestigious concerts with world-renowned performers.
Whilst the criteria for beginner and intermediate cellos can range depending on the budget, professional cellos will always meet several quality checks. Ebony fittings are a must, handcrafted and manually setup manufacturing is essential, and an overall high level of care will have been put into the instrument. I’m talking about aged wood that has been stored in controlled environments to facilitate optimal resonance and longevity and other fine details that bring out the character of the instrument.
The cost of such a cello can still vary greatly – we’re talking anything from $2,000 for meeting the general quality standards up to around $20,000 for the most premium professional cellos. The high end here is generally due to meticulous care being put into the craftsmanship, often resulting in extremely rich overtones, beautiful resonance, and noticeably pristine amplification. However, when a cello is this expensive, they are generally bordering on the final category of vintage cellos.
Vintage Cellos – ($$$$$)
The final price range of cellos falls under the name ‘vintage.’ As I mentioned earlier on in the guide, I would be amazed if anyone reading this is in the market for one. I’ve been playing the instrument for over a decade, yet I am still yet to meet anyone who owns a cello that could be considered vintage. There’s a good reason for this – they are costly. They are usually considered to be more like antiques as opposed to instruments to be performed with.
You could be talking anything from $20,000 to a mind-boggling $20 million for a vintage cello! If you think that the last price sounds completely unrealistic, trust me – people have paid that, and we’ll be taking a look at the details of that sale soon.
So, why such a large price range? Well, the most important contributing factor to a million-dollar cello is the history behind it. They will almost always be over 200 years old and will have been crafted by a pioneer luthier with a stellar reputation. They will also have been preserved at a pristine quality and may have never been played. In contrast, some may have been played many times, but the famous previous owners are what makes the cello so expensive.
Vintage cellos aren’t usually available for any old punter to purchase. Believe it or not, some vintage cellos within the price range of $20,000 to $500,000 can be added to an online shopping basket with a click of a button, sold specifically on vintage violin websites. However, anything above that price range will instead be sold through a much more exclusive and formal process, such as at a Dutch auction. I always like to keep up to date with these as it’s super fascinating to me, but I could never afford one!
Top 4 Cellos Across Every Price Range
Now that we’ve taken a detailed look into how much cellos cost across various price ranges, I’ve decided to put together a quick summary of one cello within each price range. Whether you’re a beginner on a budget or a world-famous millionaire cellist looking to break the bank, I’ve made sure that there is something on this list for you!
Cecilio CCO-100 – $
To start this list of cellos off, I decided to begin with the lowest price range, choosing the delightful Cecilio CCO-100. This cello is one of the most popular cellos I have encountered in music schools, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, it’s incredibly cheap, despite Cecilio being well renowned for crafting good quality beginner cellos. Secondly, the low price tag includes almost every accessory you could need, from a bow, case, and stand to rosin, spare strings, and even a tuner!
Sure, it’s undeniable that the quality of this cello isn’t going to be incredible, considering its low price. You won’t find any ebony fittings, hand craftmanship, or any fancy resonance. Still, the cello is going to be good enough for you to learn and practice. This cello wasn’t about when I started learning, but I sure wish it was an ideal beginner’s instrument that doesn’t break the bank.
- A very cheap price
- Comes with all the accessories a beginner could need
- Cecilio is a well-known beginners brand
- The cheap price is due to the cello being entry level
- Resonance, amplification, and tone are not particularly great
Gewa Allegro VC1 Cello – $$
I wanted to list the next cello as the Gewa Allegro VC1, a 7/8 cello ideal for any small adult or teenager looking to upgrade from a beginner to an intermediate cello. The immediate downfall of this product is the size – it is only available in 7/8, meaning it will be too small for most adults, but Gewa has full-sized alternatives. With that being said, I don’t have many more bad things to say about this cello.
It features a spruce top with a maple back, and sides are facilitating gorgeous tones for the price, ebony fittings such as pegs and fingerboards, and a hand varnished finish giving it a sleek aesthetic. The only major downfall aside from the size is that it is factory-made, although it is still manually set up. It’s a very decent upgrade cello that any intermediate player should be happy to perform with!
- Excellent value for money
- Ebony fingerboard and tuning pegs
- Gorgeous tonewoods made from spruce and maple
- Beautiful hand varnished finish
- Manufactured in a factory, as opposed to being handmade
D Z Strad Cello Model 250 – $$$
This wouldn’t be a list of my top cello recommendations if I didn’t include D Z Strad, a personal favorite brand of mine, especially when it comes to professional-grade cellos. It was hard to choose a favorite, but I decided on the Model 250. While this cello is undeniably the most expensive commercial product on this listing, the price is well deserved. It’s similarly composed with features like the Gewa VC1, including spruce top and maple back and sides, ebony fittings, and a beautiful amber spirit varnish.
However, what makes this cello stand out is that it is fully hand-carved, allowing the instrument to produce a rich, clear, warm, and resonant tone that is unmatched by cellos of a lower price. The tonewoods have even been naturally dried and ventilated for over 10 years to ensure optimal longevity! Stunning.
- Fully hand-carved
- Maple and spruce tonewoods that have been ventilated and naturally dried over 10 years
- Gorgeous ebony fittings
- As high quality as you can get without spending silly money
- The price is starting to break the bank and is unaffordable to the majority of cellists
Duport Stradivarius – $$$$
I told you that I’d be providing more details about the world’s most expensive $20,000,000 cello, so if you’ve read this far, here it is! Can you imagine paying that for an instrument? Believe it or not, the Nippon Music Foundation bought this Duport Stradivarius cello in 2008 for that price, largely due to it being hand-carved by the famous luthier Antonio Stradivari in 1711 – that’s over 300 years ago!
The cello was also played by Jean-Louis Duport and Napoleon Bonaparte, eventually being owned and played by Mstislav Rostropovich until 2007. Fun fact about this delightful instrument – while high prices typically suggest excellent quality, this cello bears a significant dent resulting from Napoleon Bonaparte kicking the instrument! Who knew that such aggression could pay off so much!?
- Over 300 years old!
- Bears a historical dent from Napoleon Bonaparte’s boot
- Hand-crafted by the famous luthier Antonio Stradivari
- Cost the Nippon Music Foundation an eye-watering $20,000,000
- Even if you had the cash, the cello is sadly no longer for sale
Before we finish things up, I have decided to include a quick FAQ to answer any final burning questions. I hope that they can allow you to leave this article with the information that you need!
Answer: Beginner cellos generally cost between $100 and $500.
Answer: The price of professional cellos varies but generally costs around $2,000, reaching up to $20,000 for some models!
Answer: The most expensive cello ever made was the Duport Stradivarius, being sold in 2008 for a staggering $20,000,000!
Answer: Cello prices constantly change, but one of the best and cheapest beginner cellos is the Cecilio CCO-100 due to its relatively decent quality and bundled accessories.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how much cellos cost as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing it! Cellos ultimately vary significantly in price, from $100 beginner models to $20,000 professional models, all the way up to $20,000,000 vintage auctions!
Regardless of what experience level you are, always remember that it’s not the tools you have but how you use them. Sure, everyone dreams of owning a premium cello someday. However, if you don’t yet have the budget for that, you can still enjoy thriving as a cellist just as much on a $100 cello. Good luck!
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