How To Buy Your First Cello.
How to buy your first cello
So, you've decided to take the plunge and buy a cello. Congratulations: it's a beautiful-sounding instrument, and you'll have a blast learning to play it.
(Well, sort of. The best phrase we can think of for the early days of learning an instrument is ‘rewarding torture’).
Anyway, it's important to make sure that you buy an instrument that suits a beginner. Cellos aren’t cheap, so getting the right one is a big deal. If you don’t, you’re liable to end up with an instrument that’s more annoying than inspirational!
Here, then, are our tips on picking out a good cello:
Don’t fear asking for advice.
If you've got a tutor in mind already, then pick their brains about finding a good instrument. Any experienced tutor will have seen thousands of different instruments in their time, so will know which brands to look at and which ones to avoid. As with anything, there’s no substitute for experience.
Don't set it up yourself.
If you find yourself in the company of a shop owner or salesman who tries to convince you that setting up a guitar is worth doing yourself: run! Setting up a cello is NOT a beginner task. Whilst it can be done at home, that’s normally by more experienced players. Take the DIY approach and you could end up legitimately damaging the instrument: not good if you’ve just spent several hundred pounds on it.
Don't cut corners (if you can avoid it).
It's a fairly acceptable rule that smaller, independent specialist shops will be more expensive. However, with that price comes in-depth knowledge that you'll never get when shopping on eBay or Amazon. A smaller specialist shop should also be able to set up the instrument so that it’ll be nice and comfortable for a beginner player.
If you’re being offered a cheaper model, don’t hand your cash over without research
If you've got your eye on a cheaper cello, check elsewhere to see if anyone else stocks the same brand. If you find the brand in all of the cheaper stores, run the other way! Bargain basement outlets rely on quantity rather than quality and will try to just re-sell the cheapest instruments they can. Again, ask anyone who really knows their stuff whether or not they’ve heard of the brand you’re looking at before you buy.
Watch out for these tell-tale sales signs of salesmen:
‘Worth considerably more’ is an old sales trick whereby the salesman quotes an RRP that's conjured out of thin air, in order to make the instrument seem like a bargain.
‘Ideal for beginners and advanced players’. Again, largely nonsense. If an instrument's genuinely a beginner instrument, then that's OK, but you won't hear a cellist in a symphony orchestra using it.
‘Beautifully finished’. If an instrument really is beautifully finished, you’ll be able to tell by looking at it: it’s pretty self-evident!
‘Ebonised fingerboard and tuning pegs’. Ebony is a respected wood, but ‘ebonised’ simply means that a cheaper wood has been stained to look like ebony. Not good!