A Sizing Guide for Cello

Like violins and violas, acoustic cellos come in different sizes to accommodate different players. Cellos are sized according to the length of the back of the instrument. Older teenagers and adults play full size, or 4/4, cellos. These are 30 inches in length or sometimes slightly longer depending on the manufacturer. Younger and/or shorter students will find the smaller cellos will fit better. The smallest size cello back is approximately 17.5 inches long.

To select the best size cello, you will need to measure the arm length and the height of the player. To measure the arm, have the student stand with their arm outstretched, palm facing up, and measure from the side of the neck to the middle of the palm. Then use this size chart to find a starting point for finding the best cello.

Cello Size Cello Length Height Arm Length Age
10-Jan 17.5 inches 3 feet and under Under 16 inches 4-6 years
8-Jan 17.75 to 20 inches 3 to 3.5 feet 16-18 inches 5-7 years
4-Jan 20 to 23 inches 3.5 to 4 feet 18-20 inches 7-9 years
2-Jan 23 to 26 inches 4 to 4.5 feet 20-22 inches 9-11 years
4-Mar 26 to 27.25 inches 4.5 to five feet 22-24 inches 11-15 years
4/4 (full size) 30 inches and above 5 feet or taller 24 or more inches 15 to adult

How a Cello Should Fit the Player

It may be necessary to try different size cellos to determine which one comes closest to the best fit. Sit slightly forward in a straight chair with feet on the floor. Set the endpin of the cello to around 12 inches in length. Let the cello rest against the chest at about a 45-degree angle. The top of the cello should rest at the center of the chest, and the C string peg should be near the left ear. The left hand must be able to easily navigate the full length of the fingerboard.

Comfort is the most important consideration when choosing an instrument. The player needs to be able to reach the necessary hand and finger positions and able to handle the bow easily while playing. Since we all come in different proportions, physical accessibility and comfort is a priority over matching size to age or height.

Everything Needs to Match

When you buy a cello, it will always come with strings. Many are packaged with a case and bow, but in the event that you are not purchasing a package, it is essential to match these items to the size of the cello. Cello strings typically last for about six months; when it’s time to buy new strings, you’ll need to make sure you select ones that fit your cello.

Choose the Right Cello for You

There is a cello to fit every player – no matter your age, size or playing style. Finding the correct fit will ensure the best results and provide years of playing enjoyment.

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