The Complete Cello Sizing Guide

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The Complete Cello Sizing Guide

When selecting a cello, it is important to take the necessary steps to find the right instrument size. A proper cello size will allow players to easily reach the instrument's fingerboard. The size also determines the note separation. Cello manufacturers designate the instrument's size by fractions. For instance, a player can choose a 4/4, 3/4, or a 1/2 cello size.

Buying the Right Cello Size 

Professional teachers will measure their students to establish the ideal cello size. If a musician requires the instrument and does not have a professional to help them determine the proper cello size, then he or she should sit with their knees bent at a 90-degree angle. The cello's curve, which is under the lower bout corner, should touch the left knee. With a proper fit, the cello's upper rim will rest on the musician's breastbone while the lowest tuning peg will be by their left ear.
When a cellist plays a properly sized instrument, he or she can reach both sides of the fingerboard. Shoppers can use an alternate sizing method, which involves a fitting yardstick. The measuring device features instrument sizes and will accurately size a musician. An assistant should place the end of the yardstick against the player's neck and stretch it along his or her arm. Musicians should buy the cello size that is the closest to their palm on the yardstick.
General Cello Size Recommendations 

Cellists can purchase a cello based upon their age with sizes that range from 1/10 to 4/4. They must also select the right length for their bow.


With a 1/10-size cello, players will have an instrument with a total length of 29.5 inches. The size is ideal for children who are 4 or 5 years old. In addition, they'll need a bow that is 17.5 inches long.


Children who are 5 or 6 years old will need a 1/8-size cello, which measures 33.5 inches. The bow size should be 20.75 inches.


If children are 6 or 7 years old, then they can reach the fingerboard of a 1/4-size cello. The instrument is 38.5 inches long, and players will need a bow size of 23.75 inches.


With children who are 8 to 10 years old, parents should look for a cello size that is 1/2. The instrument will be 42 inches long, and players will require a bow size of 25.5 inches.


Cellos with a size listing of 3/4 will be 45 inches long. Professional cello teachers recommend the size for 11 to 13 year olds, and they should acquire a bow that is 27 inches long.


The 4/4 is a full-sized cello, and manufacturers make the instrument size for players who are from 14 years old to adults. The 4/4 cello is 48 inches long and requires a bow length of 28 inches.

Cello Buying Tips according To the Player's Height

Musicians can select the right cello size by measuring their height. For instance, performers who are 5-foot or taller should buy a 4/4-size instrument while players who measure 4-foot 6 inches to 5-foot should acquire a 3/4-size cello. Cellists who are 4-foot tall or shorter should purchase a 1/4-size instrument.

Buying a Cello by Measuring Arm Length 

Cellists can also buy the right cello size by using their arm length as this method may provide a more accurate instrument measurement. If a musician's arm length is 24 inches or longer, then they'll need a 4/4-size cello. Cellists with an arm length from 22 inches to 24 inches should buy a 3/4-size instrument while players whose arm length measures 20 to 22 inches will need a 1/2-size cello. With an 18 to 20-inch arm length, buy a 1/4-size instrument.

Selecting a Cello Size Based on Finger Span 

Cellists have another method for choosing the right instrument size, which is to calculate their finger span. When musicians measure their cello size by calculating the length of their fingers, they should measure from their index finger to their pinky. If the finger span is 6 inches or longer, then players should buy a 4/4-size cello while musicians with a finger span that measures from 5 inches to 6 inches should buy a 3/4-size instrument. Musicians with a finger span of 4 inches to 5 inches should buy a 1/2-size cello, and cellists with a finger length of 3 inches to 4 inches will need a 1/4-size instrument.

Additional Sizing Recommendations 

When a musician determines that he or she requires a 4/4, or full-size, cello, they should confirm the measurement by sitting with their knees separated 14 to 15 inches. They should then compute the space from the inside of their right knee to the middle of their left ear, which should be at least 30 inches.
If a cellist believes that he or she needs a 3/4 instrument size, then they should sit with their knees separated by about 13 1/2 to 14 inches to measure the distance from the inside of the right knee to the center of the left ear. The calculation should be from 27 1/2 to 30 inches.
When musicians estimate their cello size at 1/2, they can confirm the measurement by sitting with their knees parted from 12 to 13 inches. The distance from the inner section of their right knee to the center of their left ear should be from 25 1/2 to 27 1/2 inches.

Additional Measuring Tips 

While calculating the right instrument size, musicians should sit straight up in their chair with their feet resting on the floor. They should hold the cello and place the endpin at around 12 inches. The next step is to rest the cello back against their chest at a 45-degree angle.
The player's left hand should easily reach the space between the minor third of their first and fourth fingers, which is two half steps. If cellists are unable to span the distance or reach the top of the instrument's body, then they may need a smaller cello. Players may also need a smaller instrument if the scroll is too high.

How to Measure a Cello 

There are two types of cellos: the European Standard and the Suzuki Standard. After measuring the instrument, performers can convert the results into their preferred style.
When calculating the size of their cello, owners should begin with the tape measure at the back of the instrument on the top portion of the cello. The next step is to measure down the center section of the base. The cello owner should then run the measuring tape down the middle of the instrument's back to the base of the cello's wood section. They should not measure the metal stand set in the bottom of the cello. While measuring their instrument, owners may notice that the back of the wood curves. However, the arched wood is normal, and musicians should add the curving into their measurement.
The next step is to measure the top of the back section where the curve supports the string pegs. Cello owners should then run the tape down the back of the neck and add this measurement to the cello's body length calculation. To gain an accurate measurement, owners should also determine the cello's widest area and include the results with the instrument's other two measurements.
Buying a Cello on eBay 

As cellists begin shopping for their new instrument, they will find a large number of cellos for sale on eBay. From the homepage, shoppers can search for the cello size they need by typing the name into the search bar. Alternatively, they can also select the All Categories option from the homepage followed by Musical Instruments & Gear where they'll find a selection for String. Once they click on the String option, they can choose Cello.


Playing an improperly sized cello will make reaching certain notes difficult, especially if the instrument is too large for the musician. Adults should not have much trouble finding the right cello size; however, younger or smaller musicians may have to be extra diligent in selecting among sizes.

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