Cellos can be expensive instruments, but the costs vary widely depending on the quality of craftsmanship used to make the cello. A higher-quality cello, usually handmade, costs more since its tone and sound quality are usually much better than cheaper, machine-made cellos.
Beginner cellos, generally factory-made and meant for beginner cellists, are usually average around $300-$400 and can be bought in music shops or online. Higher-end, professional-level cellos, which are usually handcrafted by master luthiers, can cost well over $10,000. In between are intermediate cellos which cover then $500-$10,000 range.
Many students start out by renting cellos for practice until they are ready buy one. This ensures that a cellist is serious about the instrument before they invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a new cello.
Essentially, cellos fall into three categories for pricing:
- Student or Beginner Cellos: Student cellos are designed for cello players just starting out who have played generally less than 2-3 years. They are generally mass-produced in factories so the costs remain low for parents and students who aren’t sure how long the student will continue playing the cello. Unlike more advanced cellos, these cellos have fingerboards and pegs that are made from maple (dyed black to resemble ebony) since these areas tend to be exposed to more friction from students who haven’t learned the right amount of pressure to use. Student cello prices range from $200 – $2,500.
- Intermediate to Advanced Cellos: Made with better craftsmanship, the sound of an intermediate cello is also much better. There are more dynamics and stronger projection. The pegs and fingerboards are usually crafted from ebony and the instruments are generally handmade. Intermediate and advanced cello prices range from $500 – $10,000.
- Professional Cellos: Professional-quality cellos exude a rich tone and wide dynamics that comes from master craftsmanship. Luthiers who make professional cellos generally spend many years practicing the art of making wooden instruments so that they sound the best that they can. Masterpieces like these are expensive. Professional cello prices go from $10,000 onwards.
Typically, how much one pays for a cello is how much one can expect from the quality. A cello priced at the extremely low hundreds tends to be “unplayable” while the more expensive ones can balance both playability and sound production better.
Of course, the price is not always merely an indication of product quality. Sometimes, it also incorporates the name of the cello maker. As a cello maker’s fame increases, so does the value of the instruments he crafts. The question of how much is a cello worth often depends on a variety of characteristics of that cello.