Yamaha SVC-210SK Silent Cello Review
Silent cellos are electric cellos that only produce an electrical output: there is no sound hole and no acoustic tone. They are ideal for practice, learning, or recording without disturbing those around you or interfering with your desired tone. The Yamaha SVC-201SK is an appealing electric cello that is worth a few minutes of time to review.
What To Consider When Buying A Silent Cello
Electric cellos are not nearly as reliant on the woods they are made of as their acoustic counterparts. Instead, they depend on their pickups and electronics to determine the sound. They can also vary by weight, size, special features, build quality, and other aspects. Choose one that fits your budget and your goals.
Yamaha is known for producing clean, versatile instruments that come with a few extra features to justify their slightly elevated price tags. The 210 is no exception. It has reverb effects, collapsible bouts, and, among other things, a small resonance chamber that helps it create a quiet analog tone. This isn't loud enough to perform with, but it makes a useful guide for players who are experienced with the acoustic side of things. In fact, this is an excellent transitional cello for a player who has experience but wants to try out playing electric. As mentioned above, with headphones it's a perfect practice instrument, especially considering that it is smaller and lighter than a full cello. As an intermediate cello it has a solid tone at a comparatively affordable price; advanced instruments have essentially no upper bound on how expensive they can be and beginner ones need to be replaced soon because their quality is too low for performance.
Features and Benefits
This is a cross halfway between a minimalist silent cello and an acoustic instrument. The resonance chamber is small, but visible, and it fits well into the shape and direction of other elements like the bouts. The dark woods give it a classic feel and the bouts are well-positioned to assist you in balancing the instrument.
The 210's sound is, in a word, even. Some pickups color the sound by emphasizing bass or treble, but the Yamaha-designed pickups in the 210 pass the tone right through at the proper resonance. That leaves them ready to use as a clean tone or you can easily modify them with effects, pedals, and amps. Speaking of effects, the oboard reverb is not that great, so it would be a good idea not to rely on it too much.
Yamaha could have stopped with just the build quality and the sound, but they went beyond that. The bouts are easy to collapse and fit into a hard case so that you can travel with the 210. It comes with a soft bag and a set of headphones, although you will want to upgrade these for the best listening experience. The option to accompany yourself with a CD or MP3 player is obsolete now that USB, Bluetooth, and other formats are more dominant.
Value for Money
The initial buy-in is high at $2770, but the quality of the instrument is good enough for it to last and not need much servicing or replacement. This is a long-term commitment, and you might well not have to buy another silent cello for many years.
Value for the Money
NS Designs NS NXT4
NS Designs is one of the leading brands in electric instruments. The NXT4 is one of their intermediate electric cellos. It's less expensive than the Yamaha, sacrificing the MP3 output and collapsible bouts to save money. The instrument allows for play sitting down or standing up, which is live-play friendly, and an optional strap for carrying or an endpin for a classic feel. It has an innovative polarized pickup that can switch between arco and pizzicato modes.
NS Design NXT4
Extras: Optional endpin and strap system, polarized pickups
Extras: Collapsible bouts
Yamaha also offers the SVC-110SK, a different instrument. It has active pickups which require AA batteries, but have more power and better depth as a result. It also has onboard reverb effects, a headphone jack, and an aux in port to allow for accompaniment. This is a recording-friendly instrument that also has a pleasant tone that sounds similar to an acoustic cello.
Extras: Active pickups, headphone jack, aux in, reverb
Extras: Collapsible bouts
Cecilio 4/4 CECO-4BK
The CECO-4BK from Cecilio is an introductory electric cello that comes with an array of beginner tools like a cord, headphones, bow, and soft bag. This instrument is a good choice for anyone who has never played cello before but is interested in learning, because it has everything you need in the box. The low price of $320 is a major draw, although that also means the quality of the sound is lower than the more advanced models.
Cecilio 4/4 CECO
Extras: Headphone jack, active pickups, soft case, bow
Extras: Collapsible bouts
The silent electric cello is perfect for practicing or for traveling light, and it can also perform in a very different role from a traditional cello by loading effects onto the signal. Either way, an intermediate model will cost in the thousands, so it is worth doing research to learn about your options. Yamaha and NS Designs control most of the market, but there are other, smaller companies that also produce good silent electric cellos.