Cello for sale London

The cello is typically made from carved wood, although other materials such as carbon fibre or aluminium may be used. A traditional cello has a spruce top, with maple for the back, sides, and neck. Other woods, such as poplar or willow, are sometimes used for the back and sides. Less expensive cellos frequently have tops and backs made of laminated wood. Laminated cellos are widely used in elementary and secondary school orchestras and youth orchestras, because they are much more durable than carved wood cellos (i.e., they are less likely to crack if bumped or dropped) and they are much less expensive.

The top and back are traditionally hand-carved, though less expensive cellos are often machine-produced. The sides, or ribs, are made by heating the wood and bending it around forms. The cello body has a wide top bout, narrow middle formed by two C-bouts, and wide bottom bout, with the bridge and F holes just below the middle. The top and back of the cello has decorative border inlay known as purfling. While purfling is attractive, it is also functional: if the instrument is struck, the purfling can prevent cracking of the wood. A crack may form at the rim of the instrument, but spreads no further. Without purfling, cracks can spread up or down the top or back. Playing, traveling and the weather all affect the cello and can increase a crack if purfling is not in place. Less expensive instruments typically have painted purfling.

Alternative materials

Cello manufacturer Luis & Clark constructs cellos from carbon fibre. Carbon fibre instruments are particularly suitable for outdoor playing because of the strength of the material and its resistance to humidity and temperature fluctuations. Luis & Clark has produced over 1000 cellos, some of which are owned by cellists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Josephine van Lier. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Aluminium Company of America (Alcoa) as well as German luthier G.A. Pfretzschner produced an unknown number of aluminium cellos (in addition to aluminium double basses and violins).

Neck, fingerboard, pegbox, and scroll

Above the main body is the carved neck. The neck has a curved cross-section on its underside, which is where the player’s thumb runs along the neck during playing. The neck which leads to a pegbox and the scroll. The neck, pegbox, and scroll are normally carved out of a single piece of wood, usually maple. The fingerboard is glued to the neck and extends over the body of the instrument. The fingerboard is given a curved shape, matching the curve on the bridge. Both the fingerboard and bridge need to be curved so that the performer can bow individual strings. If the cello were to have a flat fingerboard and bridge, as with a typical guitar, the performer would only be able to bow the “outer” two strings or bow all the strings. The performer would not be able to play the “inner” two strings alone.

The nut is a raised piece of wood, fitted where the fingerboard meets the pegbox, in which the strings rest in shallow slots or grooves to keep them the correct distance apart. The pegbox houses four tapered tuning pegs, one for each string. The pegs are used to tune the cello by either tightening or loosening the string. The pegs are called “friction pegs”, because they maintain their position by friction. The scroll is a traditional ornamental part of the cello and a feature of all other members of the violin family. Ebony is usually used for the tuning pegs, fingerboard, and nut, but other hardwoods, such as boxwood or rosewood, can be used. Black fittings on low-cost instruments are often made from inexpensive wood that has been blackened or “ebonized” to look like ebony, which is much harder and more expensive. Ebonised parts such as tuning pegs may crack or split, and the black surface of the fingerboard will eventually wear down to reveal the lighter wood underneath.


Historically, cello strings had cores made out of catgut, which, despite its name is made from sheep or goat intestines which are dried out. Most modern strings used in the 2010s are wound with metallic materials like aluminium, titanium and chromium. Cellists may mix different types of strings on their instruments. The pitches of the open strings are C, G, D, and A (black note heads in the playing range figure above), unless alternative tuning (scordatura) is specified by the composer. Some composers ask that the low C be tuned down to a B♭ or B so that the performer can play a different low note on the lowest open string.

Tailpiece and endpin

The tailpiece and endpin are found in the lower part of the cello. The tailpiece is the part of the cello to which the “ball ends” of the strings are attached by passing them through holes. The tailpiece is attached to the bottom of the cello. The tailpiece is traditionally made of ebony or another hard wood, but can also be made of plastic or steel on lower-cost instruments. It attaches the strings to the lower end of the cello, and can have one or more fine tuners. The fine tuners are used to make smaller adjustments to the pitch of the string. The fine tuners can increase the tension of each string (raising the pitch) or decrease the tension of the string (lowering the pitch). When the performer is putting on a new string, the fine tuner for that string is normally reset to a middle position, and then the peg is turned to bring the string up to pitch. The fine turners are used for subtle, minor adjustments to pitch, such as tuning a cello to the oboe’s 440 Hz A note or to tune the cello to a piano.

The endpin or spike is made of wood, metal or rigid carbon fibre and supports the cello in playing position. The endpin can be retracted into the hollow body of the instrument when the cello is being transported in its case. This makes the cello easier to move about. When the performer wishes to play the cello, the endpin is pulled out to lengthen it. The endpin is locked into the player’s preferred length with a screw mechanism. The adjustable nature of endpins enables performers of different ages and body sizes to adjust the endpin length to suit them. In the Baroque period the cello was held between the calves, as there was no endpin at that time. The endpin was “introduced by Adrien Servais c. 1845 to give the instrument greater stability”. Modern endpins are retractable and adjustable; older ones were removed when not in use. (The word “endpin” sometimes also refers to the button of wood located at this place in all instruments in the violin family, but this is usually called “tailpin”.) The sharp tip of the cello’s endpin is sometimes capped with a rubber tip that protects the tip from dulling and prevents the cello from slipping on the floor. Many cellists use a rubber pad with a metal cup to keep the tip from slipping on the floor. A number of accessories to keep the endpin from slipping; these include ropes which attach to the chair leg and other devices.

Bridge and f-holes

The bridge holds the strings above the cello and transfers their vibrations to the top of the instrument and the soundpost inside (see below). The bridge is not glued, but rather held in place by the tension of the strings. The bridge is usually positioned by the cross point of the “f-hole” (i.e., where the horizontal line occurs in the “f”). The f-holes, named for their shape, are located on either side of the bridge, and allow air to move in and out of the instrument as part of the sound-production process. The f-holes also act as access points to the interior of the cello for repairs or maintenance. Sometimes a small length of rubber hose containing a water-soaked sponge, called a Dampit, is inserted through the f-holes, and serves as a humidifier. This keeps the wood components of the cello from drying out.

Internal features

Internally, the cello has two important features: a bass bar, which is glued to the underside of the top of the instrument, and a round wooden sound post, a solid wooden cylinder which is wedged between the top and bottom plates. The bass bar, found under the bass foot of the bridge, serves to support the cello’s top and distribute the vibrations from the strings to the body of the instrument. The sound post, found under the treble side of the bridge, connects the back and front of the cello. Like the bridge, the sound post is not glued, but is kept in place by the tensions of the bridge and strings. Together, the bass bar and sound post transfer the strings’ vibrations to the top (front) of the instrument (and to a lesser extent the back), acting as a diaphragm to produce the instrument’s sound.


Cellos are constructed and repaired using hide glue, which is strong but reversible, allowing for disassembly when needed. Tops may be glued on with diluted glue, since some repairs call for the removal of the top. Theoretically, hide glue is weaker than the body’s wood, so as the top or back shrinks side-to-side, the glue holding it lets go, so the plate does not crack. Cellists repairing cracks in their cello do not use regular wood glue, because it cannot be steamed open when a repair has to be made by a luthier.


Traditionally, bows are made from pernambuco or brazilwood. Both come from the same species of tree (Caesalpinia echinata), but pernambuco, used for higher-quality bows, is the heartwood of the tree and is darker in colour than brazilwood (which is sometimes stained to compensate). Pernambuco is a heavy, resinous wood with great elasticity, which makes it an ideal wood for instrument bows. Horsehair is stretched out between the two ends of the bow. The taut horsehair is drawn over the strings to produce the cello’s characteristic tone. A small knob is twisted to increase or decrease the tension of the horsehair. The tension on the bow is released when the instrument is not being used. The amount of tension a cellist puts on the bow hair depends on the preferences of the player, the style of music being played, and for students, the preferences of their teacher.

Bows are also made from other materials, such as carbon-fibre—stronger than wood—and fiberglass (often used to make inexpensive, lower-quality student bows). An average cello bow is 73 cm (29 in) long (shorter than a violin or viola bow) 3 cm (1.2 in) high (from the frog to the stick) and 1.5 cm (0.59 in) wide. The frog of a cello bow typically has a rounded corner like that of a viola bow, but is wider. A cello bow is roughly 10 g (0.35 oz) heavier than a viola bow, which in turn is roughly 10 g (0.35 oz) heavier than a violin bow.

Bow hair is traditionally horsehair, though synthetic hair, in varying colours, is also used. Prior to playing, the musician tightens the bow by turning a screw to pull the frog (the part of the bow under the hand) back, and increase the tension of the hair. Rosin is applied by the player to make the hairs sticky. Bows need to be re-haired periodically. Baroque style (1600–1750) cello bows were much thicker and were formed with a larger outward arch when compared to modern cello bows. The inward arch of a modern cello bow produces greater tension, which in turn gives off a louder sound.

The cello bow has also been used to play electric guitars. Jimmy Page pioneered its application on tracks such as “Dazed and Confused”. The post-rock Icelandic band Sigur Rós’s lead singer often plays a guitar using a cello bow.

In 1989, the German cellist Michael Bach began developing a curved bow, encouraged by John Cage, Dieter Schnebel, Mstislav Rostropovich and Luigi Colani: and since then many pieces have been composed especially for it. This curved bow (BACH Bow) is a convex curved bow which, unlike the ordinary bow, renders possible polyphonic playing on the various strings of the instrument. The solo repertoire for violin and cello by J. S. Bach the BACH Bow is particularly suited to it: and it was developed with this in mind, polyphonic playing being required, as well as monophonic.


Physical aspects

When a string is bowed or plucked, it vibrates and moves the air around it, producing sound waves. Because the string is quite thin, not much air is moved by the string itself, and consequently if the string was not mounted on a hollow body, the sound would be weak. In acoustic stringed instruments such as the cello, this lack of volume is solved by mounting the vibrating string on a larger hollow wooden body. The vibrations are transmitted to the larger body, which can move more air and produce a louder sound. Different designs of the instrument produce variations in the instrument’s vibrational patterns and thus changes the character of the sound produced.  A string’s fundamental pitch can be adjusted by changing its stiffness, which depends on tension and length. Tightening a string stiffens it by increasing both the outward forces along its length and the net forces it experiences during a distortion. A cello can be tuned by adjusting the tension of its strings, by turning the tuning pegs mounted on its pegbox, and tension adjusters (fine tuners) on the tail piece.


A string’s length also affects its fundamental pitch. Shortening a string stiffens it by increasing its curvature during a distortion and subjecting it to larger net forces. Shortening the string also reduces its mass, but does not alter the mass per unit length, and it is the latter ratio rather than the total mass which governs the frequency. The string vibrates in a standing wave whose speed of propagation is given by √T/m, where T is the tension and m is the mass per unit length; there is a node at either end of the vibrating length, and thus the vibrating length l is half a wavelength. Since the frequency of any wave is equal to the speed divided by the wavelength, we have frequency = 1/2l × √T/m. (Note that some writers, including Muncaster (cited below) use the Greek letter μ in place of m.) Thus, shortening a string increases the frequency, and thus the pitch. Because of this effect, you can raise and change the pitch of a string by pressing it against the fingerboard in the cello’s neck and effectively shortening it. Likewise strings with less mass per unit length, if under the same tension, will have a higher frequency and thus higher pitch than more massive strings. This is a prime reason why the different strings on all string instruments have different fundamental pitches, with the lightest strings having the highest pitches.

A played note of E or F♯ has a frequency which is often very close to the natural resonating frequency of the body of the instrument, and if the problem is not addressed this can set the body into near resonance. This may cause an unpleasant sudden amplification of this pitch, and additionally a loud beating sound results from the interference produced between these nearby frequencies; this is known as the “wolf tone” because it is an unpleasant growling sound. The wood resonance appears to be split into two frequencies by the driving force of the sounding string. These two periodic resonances beat with each other. This wolf tone must be eliminated or significantly reduced for the cello to play the nearby notes with a pleasant tone. This can be accomplished by modifying the cello front plate, attaching a wolf eliminator (a metal cylinder or a rubber cylinder encased in metal), or moving the sound post.

Spectrogram of a D chord arpeggiated on the cello. Yellow bands at the same level indicate the same harmonics excited by the bowing of different notes. Notes played from left to right: D–F♯–A–F♯–D.

When a string is bowed or plucked to produce a note, the fundamental note is accompanied by higher frequency overtones. Each sound has a particular recipe of frequencies that combine to make the total sound.

Playing technique

Cello technique

A cellist

Playing the cello is done while seated with the instrument supported on the floor by the endpin. The left-hand fingertips stop the strings on the fingerboard, determining the pitch of the fingered note. The right-hand plucks or bows the strings to sound the notes. The left-hand fingertips stop the strings along their length, determining the pitch of each fingered note. Stopping the string closer to the bridge results in higher-pitched sound, because the vibrating string length has been shortened. In the neck positions (which use just less than half of the fingerboard, nearest the top of the instrument), the thumb rests on the back of the neck; in thumb position (a general name for notes on the remainder of the fingerboard) the thumb usually rests alongside the fingers on the string and the side of the thumb is used to play notes. The fingers are normally held curved with each knuckle bent, with the fingertips in contact with the string. If a finger is required on two (or more) strings at once to play perfect fifths (in double stops or chords) it is used flat. In slower, or more expressive playing, the contact point can move slightly away from the nail to the pad of the finger, allowing a fuller vibrato.

Vibrato is a small oscillation in the pitch of a note, usually considered expressive. Harmonics played on the cello fall into two classes; natural and artificial. Natural harmonics are produced by lightly touching (but not depressing) the string with the finger at certain places, and then bowing (or, rarely, plucking) the string. For example, the halfway point of the string will produce a harmonic that is one octave above the unfingered (open) string. Natural harmonics only produce notes that are part of the harmonic series on a particular string. Artificial harmonics (also called false harmonics or stopped harmonics), in which the player depresses the string fully with one finger while touching the same string lightly with another finger, can produce any note above middle C. Glissando (Italian for “sliding”) is an effect played by sliding the finger up or down the fingerboard without releasing the string. This causes the pitch to rise and fall smoothly, without separate, discernible steps.

In cello playing, the bow is much like the breath of a wind instrument player. Arguably, it is the major determinant in the expressiveness of the playing. The right hand holds the bow and controls the duration and character of the notes. The bow is drawn across the strings roughly halfway between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge, in a direction perpendicular to the strings. The bow is held with all five fingers of the right hand, the thumb opposite the fingers and closer to the cellist’s body. Tone production and volume of sound depend on a combination of several factors. The three most important ones are: bow speed, weight applied to the string, and point of contact of the bow hair with the string.

Double stops involve the playing of two notes at the same time. Two strings are fingered simultaneously, and the bow is drawn so as to sound them both at once. In pizzicato playing, the string is plucked directly with the fingers or thumb. Pizzicato is often abbreviated as “Pizz.”. Position of the hand is slightly over the finger board and away from the bridge.

A player using the col legno technique strikes or rubs the strings with the wood of the bow rather than the hair. In spiccato playing, the strings are not “drawn” by the bow hair but struck by it, while still retaining some horizontal motion, to generate a more percussive, crisp sound. In staccato, the player moves the bow a small distance and stops it on the string, making a short sound, the rest of the written duration being taken up by silence. Legato is a technique where the notes are smoothly connected without accents or breaks. It is noted by a slur (curved line) above or below – depending on their position on the staff – the notes of the passage that is to be played legato.

Sul ponticello (“on the bridge”) refers to bowing closer to the bridge, while sul tasto (“on the fingerboard”) calls for bowing nearer the end of the fingerboard. Sul tasto produces a more flute-like sound, with more emphasis on the fundamental frequency of the note, and softer overtones.


Standard-sized cellos are referred to as “full-size” or ” 4⁄4″ but are also made in smaller (fractional) sizes (e.g. 7⁄8, 3⁄4, 1⁄2, 1⁄4, 1⁄8, 1⁄10, 1⁄16). The smaller cellos are identical to standard cellos in construction, range, and usage, but are simply scaled-down for the benefit of children and shorter adults.

Cellos in sizes larger than 4⁄4 do exist, and cellists with unusually large hands may require such a non-standard instrument. Cellos made before approximately 1700 tended to be considerably larger than those made and commonly played today. Around 1680, changes in string-making technology made it possible to play lower-pitched notes on shorter strings. The cellos of Stradivari, for example, can be clearly divided into two models: the style made before 1702, characterized by larger instruments (of which only three exist in their original size and configuration), and the style made during and after 1707, when Stradivari began making smaller cellos. This later model is the design most commonly used by modern luthiers. The scale length of a 4⁄4 cello is about 70 cm (27 1⁄2 in). The new size offered fuller tonal projection and greater range of expression. The instrument in this form was able to contribute to more pieces musically and offered the possibility of greater physical dexterity for the player to develop technique.

Approximate dimensions for 44 size cello Average size
Approximate width horizontally from A peg to C peg ends 16.0 cm (6.3 in)
Back length excluding half-round where neck joins 75.4 cm (29.7 in)
Upper bouts (shoulders) 34.0 cm (13.4 in)
Lower bouts (hips) 43.9 cm (17.3 in)
Bridge height 8.9 cm (3.5 in)
Rib depth at shoulders including edges of front and back 12.4 cm (4.9 in)
Rib depth at hips including edges 12.7 cm (5.0 in)
Distance beneath fingerboard to surface of belly at neck join 2.3 cm (0.9 in)
Bridge to back total depth 26.7 cm (10.5 in)
Overall height excluding end pin 120.9 cm (47.6 in)
End pin unit and spike 5.6 cm (2.2 in)



There are many accessories for the cello.

Cases are used to protect the cello and bow (or multiple bows).

Rosin is applied to bow hairs to increase the “bite” of the bow on the strings.

Rosin, made from conifer resin, is applied to the bow hairs to increase the effectiveness of the friction, grip or bite, and allow proper sound production. Rosin may have additives to modify the friction such as beeswax, gold, silver or tin. Commonly, rosins are classified as either Dark or Light.

Endpin stops or straps (tradenames include Rockstop and Black Hole) keep the cello from sliding if the endpin does not have a rubber piece on the end, or if a floor is particularly slippery.

Wolf tone eliminators are placed on cello strings between the tailpiece and the bridge to eliminate acoustic anomalies known as wolf tones or “wolfs”.

Mutes are used to change the sound of the cello by reducing overtones and to reduce the amount of noise produced by the instrument by preventing the bridge vibrating as much.

A brass wolf tone eliminator typically placed on the G string (second string from the left) of a cello, between the bridge and the tailpiece. (The black rubber piece on the D string (third from the left) is a mute.)

Metronomes provide a steady tempo by sounding out a certain number of beats per minute.

Instrument makers

Main article: Luthier

Cellos are made by luthiers, specialists in building and repairing stringed instruments, ranging from guitars to violins. The following luthiers are notable for the cellos they have produced:

Nicolò Amati and others in the Amati family

Nicolò Gagliano

Matteo Goffriller

Giovanni Battista Guadagnini

Giuseppe Guarneri

Charles Mennégand

Domenico Montagnana

Giovanni Battista Rogeri

Francesco Ruggieri

Stefano Scarampella

Antonio Stradivari

David Tecchler

Carlo Giuseppe Testore

Jean Baptiste Vuillaume

Thanks to Wikipedia