Best Cello Brand Review in 2017
The time has come. After a long struggle pitting your talents and experience on the cello against that beat up renter, you have come out on top. You've had good times together, but both of you knew that if you worked hard, one day the both of you would need to part ways. You have finally reached a point where you need a new cello, your own cello, a cello that won't hold you back with a warped neck and sub-par sound. Read on, and we will review the best cello brands available today to help you make your decision.
Things To Consider
Before we get to the cello brands, we're going to talk a little bit about what to look for in a cello, how it should play and sound, and some common things to avoid.
A cello's wood is perhaps the most important aspect of the instrument. Enter any music store, and you'll be able to pick out the better from the worse cellos instinctually. The best cellos have a beautiful, natural grain. The worst, however, will have been coated in a lacquer to hide the pattern of the plywood used below.
Without the right wood, it simply won't produce a high quality sound. Cello makers usually conclude that the best combination in a cello is a spruce top, maple sides and back, and an ebony neck. Some, however offer other combinations, most commonly poplar and beech sides and backing. The bridge and tailpiece should also be high quality wood.
Laminate cellos simply do not sound anywhere near as good as spruce and maple models. You can tell if your cello is made of plywood by looking through the sound holes on either side of the bridge. If you see layers instead of an unbroken piece of wood, you better believe it's made of a laminate.
When it comes to the grain, looks are not deceiving. One of the best indicators of the quality of wood is the feature in the grain known as the 'flame' patterns. These are the bars of light and dark wood visible under the varnish that change color as you turn the instrument in the light. The more dense the flame on the sides and back of the cello, the higher the quality.
The best sounding cellos in the world are between 100 and 200 years old (or even older). As wood ages, it acquires a better tone. Because this article discusses cello brands, we're talking new cellos. Not all new cellos, however, are made of new wood. The best manufacturers will use aged or even recycled maple and spruce for their bodies. Others luthiers will treat their wood with a combination of pressure, steaming, chemical exposure, and whatever else the instrument maker has up his sleeve to make the wood replicate an aged version of itself.
The best cellos are handmade. If any cello brand offers machine manufactured instruments, understand that these instruments will not perform to anywhere near the same standards as a hand crafted instrument.
You may be thinking that this quality leads to inconsistencies amongst cellos. You are partially correct. But this is what makes a good cello. Any experienced luthier will be able to reproduce almost exactly the same cello over and over again, but between every instrument, there will be a slight variation, a little peculiarity that makes a cello stand out and sound better because of it.
One thing to look for in the construction of any cello is the purfling. This is the carved pattern along the edge of the body, and it resembles a routed table or other kind of edge-decorated furniture. This feature is very important, it will protect the cello from cracking and help it withstand any trauma it sustains. Cheaper models will merely paint a line here to mimic what better models do with a hammer and chisel.
Now you're aware of some basic points regarding your next cello. If you have any more specific questions, make sure to ask a professional. Now, let's get to the best cello brands.
Five Best Cello Brands
While most string companies will have a few different models available, Eastman Strings has dozens. Whether you are a beginner looking to rent, or an accomplished cellist after your own instrument, Eastman's huge variety should sate whatever appetite you bring to cello playing. All of their products are 100% handmade the old fashioned way, with chisels, knives, and scrapers.
Qian Ni, a flutist from Beijing, started the company in 1992. While the cello was not his first instrument, he was committed to creating instruments in the same manner of the master European luthiers. The two instrument crafters he brought to his Beijing workshop over thirty years ago still manage the shop today.
Eastman stringed instruments are crafted with excellent wood. The most basic student model, the Samuel Eastman VC80, has a spruce top with maple sides and back, and ebony fittings. Note that the beginner models do not come with an ebony fingerboard.
Each cello is named after the respective luthier who lent his style to the instrument in the first place. Each model will be a little different, and it will come with different woods. Upper scale models offer different types of wood, such as poplar instead of maple for the sides and backing.
D Z Strad
D Z Strad is an American strings company based out of White Plains, NY. All their products are made in the U.S. and ship internationally. In terms of cellos, they have a good range of 13 different models from student to expert.
Their student model comes in ¼-4/4 sizes making it great for young people of any stature. One red flag, however, is that they do not mention what wood they use for the body of this cello in their product description. The fingerboard is ebony, but if they body is made out of a laminate, that high quality fingerboard won't save the sound.
On the other hand, the online image appears to show spruce grain on top and maple flaming on the back. This effect can be recreated, and the jury is still out.
The beginner model goes for between $900-$1200, but upper models then move from $2,150 all the way to $15,000. We believe that these cellos are all high quality products and great to play.
It appears that D Z Strad has simply dropped the ball when it comes to providing information for their cellos online. Upscale models do not even have as much information as the beginner cellos. Unless D Z Strad is scamming cello players worldwide—which we highly doubt—they offer a great line of instruments.
Their brazil wood bows are also very reasonable. Some companies will charge hundreds of dollars for a quality bow, but with a D Z Strad, it comes included with the price of the cello.
Many cellists remain loyal to this company, which should be a testament to their quality. People have reported no trouble shipping them across country. If you're looking for a great U.S.-made cello, these guys are definitely a good choice.
Named after St. Cecelia, the patron saint of musicians, Cecilio tends towards the beginner side of the spectrum regarding cellos, but they offer a few great intermediate products as well.
The CCO-600, their top level brand, has a spruce top with—you guessed it—maple sides and back. Everything is hand carved, the purfling is hand chiseled, and the oil finish they've chosen has a bright, antique look to it. For the fingerboard and fittings, they have, course, chosen ebony. There is not much to complain about with this cello, and it compares quite competitively against other instruments of its caliber.
When you get down to their student models, they still use spruce and maple for the top and back/sides of the body respectively. Considering the price, this is simply remarkable. Student models come in a variety of different colors.
They differ in the fingerboard and fittings, which they construct out of rosewood. Because ebony has been chosen so often for all kinds of ornamental pieces, furniture, and instruments, the wood has grown scarce. Rosewood is a good alternative: it's grain is not quite as thick and hard as ebony, but it comes very close, and it also grows more plentifully.
The tailpiece of the lower student models is made out of a metal alloy. If you are just beginning on the cello, that's just fine, but once you begin to hone your sound, it will certainly hold you back. Just a step up from the beginner models, the CCO-300 solves this with a rosewood tailpiece to match its fingerboard and fittings.
If you are looking for an incredible, high end cello, you should not choose Cecilio. If, however, you are playing more casually, or even studying in university and beginning to perform, you should be able to find the right fit with this company. They're not the best cello company, but they're certainly not the worst.
Compared to Cecilio, Merano strings are even more on the beginner side of the spectrum. Their cellos come in sizes ¼-4/4, and every model they offer is under $500. In their names, they distinguish between handcrafted and machine made cellos.
Their basic cello appears to be machine made, but it's also quite cheap, and it still uses spruce and maple for the body. Flaming is not apparent on the back, however, and we have to question its quality. You are definitely getting what you pay for. The tailpiece is a metal alloy, and the fingerboard is 'ebonized,' i.e. not ebony.
Their handcrafted models come in a wide variety of colors and feature better constructions and materials used. Their top model has a hand carved spruce top, flamed maple sides and back, and ebony fingerboard, tailpiece, and fittings. For under $500, that's pretty great, and you should get a decent sound out of it. Merano, however, markets its products primarily to beginners. You won't be able to get the same quality as with other brands mentioned.
The Ammoon student cello offers an interesting take on the instrument. In terms of their choice of wood, this instrument is quite unconventional: the body, sides, and back are made of basswood, while the neck, fingerboard, and fittings are maple.
It doesn't say what the tailpiece is made of and it's hard to tell if it's the same stained maple as the fingerboard or some kind of metal alloy. It does, however, come with a maple bow strung with natural horse hair, which is a huge plus.
This cello is specifically for advancing students, but with a pretty competitive cost, it's definitely worth a try. Your sound will certainly be more unique than other traditional cellos, and it might just suit your taste. We recommend this cello for players looking for a unique sound, perhaps to accompany a performing band in more contemporary music genres. In a symphony or orchestra setting, you might be out of place with this Ammoon model.
Now that we have reviewed five cello brands, it is time to pick our winner. Based on their high standards of quality, huge range of products, and commitment to continuity, we have to choose Eastman Strings as the best cello brand. With Eastman, you'll be able to find any shape, style, or quality of newly made cellos available. They are simply the best. We are looking forward to adding more brands to this article including Yamaha and Cremona. Stay tuned!
Do not let the fact that they are made in China fool you; these products are hand crafted and some of the finest cellos on the market today.