July 31, 2015
Cello Strings & Accessories: An Introduction
If you just purchased your child their first cello, there are a few essential accessories that’ll make their playing better, their practicing easier, and their overall experience more enjoyable. Provided your child doesn’t lose or damage them in any way, many of the accessories on this list should last for a very long time. From a spare set of strings to a high-quality cello bow, the below is a list of essential accessories your child will need in order to pick up the cello and play.
Although rosin isn’t often thought of as an accessory, it is something your child will need in order to produce sound with their cello. Sold as a solid cake or block of tree sap, rosin coats the hairs of the bow allowing the bow to grip the strings and produce sound. As you shop for rosin, you’ll notice that there are different brands, colors, and hardnesses of rosin. Although there isn’t any substantial difference between light and dark rosins, lighter-colored rosins tend to be harder and less sticky. There is no “best” rosin on the market and it’s cheap enough for you to purchase a few different kinds for your child for them to try out and choose their favorite. Note: don’t let your child over-rosin their bow- if their cello bow produces clouds of rosin dust, they’re likely applying too much. Remind them to wipe off any rosin dust from their cello after each use.
A good bow can make your child’s cello sound richer, smoother, and can actually improve its projection. The weight of a bow can vary from 65 to over 80 grams, with heavier bows producing more sound than lighter bows. With that in mind, heavier bows require more effort to use and can be difficult to play. If your child is on the smaller side, consider purchasing a lighter bow- it might not produce the same sound as a heavier bow, but your child won’t be complaining about its weight. In most cases, finding the right cello bow for your child is a matter of personal preference. A bow should fit your child’s playing style and, if you’re purchasing a cello bow for a beginner, there’s no reason to spend money on a top-of-the-line cello bow.
Whether you live in an apartment or don’t want to deal with scheduling your child’s practice times around the sleeping habits of everyone else in the home, a practice mute is likely an accessory you’ll need. Mutes dampen the volume of a cello by sliding over the bridge and eliminating loud overtones. The most distinct variations between the different utes on the market is the material they’re constructed from: some are made from rubber, while others are made out of metal. They both perform the same function and provide comparable performance, so deciding between a metal or rubber mute is ultimately up to your child.
Hard Cello Case
While a hard cello case may be expensive, it’ll do a better job at protecting your child’s cello than a soft gig bag. If your child practices extra caution, they can get away with using a soft case for a little while, but experts and professionals across the board recommend hard cases as they provide the optimum level of protection.While shopping for cello cases, keep an eye out for suspension cases- these cases isolate the cello from the walls of the case, and are the preferred choice for amateurs and professionals alike. A good case can be expensive, but the initial investment is far less expensive than fixing or replacing a broken or damaged cello.
If your home has hardwood floors or if your child will play their cello in different locations, investing in a quality endpin strap or stop, sometimes referred to as Rockstops, is a good idea. Essentially, a stop provides the cello with a solid grounding spot so it doesn’t slip or move during play. Endpin stops are a disc or block with a material on the bottom that grips to the floor, with a hole at the bottom that the endpin rests on. If your child plays on carpet or if you’d prefer not to use an endpin stop, an endpin strap tethers to a chair instead of resting on the floor. In both cases, the length is fully adjustable.
Finally, a spare set of strings is a must for all cello players- not just those who are barely starting out. To avoid the hassle of having to jump into your car and speed to the local music store in order to make it there before they close every time your child breaks a string, have a spare set of cello strings available. Inevitably, your child’s strings will break at an inconvenient time — before a performance or in the middle of a group practice session — so having a spare set of strings can help prevent embarrassment. Similar to guitar strings, there are two types of cello strings: nylon and steel. Speak with your child’s cello teacher about which string choice is best for your child and their cello.
Need to buy a cello, too? Check out our Cello Buying Guide.
Want more info about the cello? Check out this video: