The cello (or violoncello) is a popular member of the violin family of string instruments commonly used in orchestras, chamber music groups such as string quartets, solo performances and can be heard in many genres of music.
There are plenty of options for the student, intermediate and professional cellists. This isn't only true of individual instruments but also of solo cello makers and larger cello brands.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of an instrument, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgement. In this article, I'll share my take on the top cello brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the cellos
- Longevity of the cellos
- Variety of cellos available
- Accessibility of the cellos (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The top 11 best cello brands are:
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best cello brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable cello, and a link to their official website.
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• Best Microphones For Miking Cello
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Although Eastman Strings is a fairly new company to the world, the know-how and tradition that makes each Eastman Strings instrument a work of art comes straight from the German tradition of 17th Century luthiers.
Indeed, what started as a one-man endeavour was able to grow to worldwide distribution status because of the same passion and obsession for detail that made violins famous in the 1600s lives inside every Eastman Cello ever to leave the factory.
The last decades are just the tip of the iceberg for this company manufacturing state-of-the-art instruments for centuries.
Notable cello: Eastman Master VC906 (link to check the price at The Violin Center)
This handcrafted cello is the perfect companion for any seasoned player with a Bosnian spruce top, maple ribs, and Bosnian maple back. Indeed, the natural resonance of the hand-picked woods, the gold-coloured oil varnish, and the ebony fingerboard make this a resonant, soulful, deep-sounding instrument with the typical edge of maple at its best. The genuinely hand-inlaid purfling is the finishing touch to make this a true work of art.
Eastman Strings was founded in 1992 by Qian Ni. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Pomona, California, USA.
Official website: eastmanstrings.com
Eastman is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Starting with only high hopes and a small violin shop in Windsor, Canada, Samuel Shen could have never foreseen all that was coming in his direction. By 1993, he channelled all the knowledge from his Suzhou ancestors as master woodworkers and opened his first production facility.
Back in the land of his origins, he recruited some of the finest in their profession to make the most remarkable stringed instruments in the world. Picking a handcrafted cello by Shen should come with a warning: you might not be able to put it down.
Notable cello: Shen Montagnana SC1000 (link to check the price at CSC Products)
The highest-tier in the Shen family of instruments is this loud and proud cello perfect for orchestras or symphonic bands because of its volume and tone.
In the same vein, the adventurous jazz player looking for an instrument to take into unknown musical lands and back safely from sonic adventures will find this to be a privileged vessel. This is because, besides the impeccable craftsmanship, this cello is made of handpicked spruce and maple with a select ebony fingerboard that gives it uncanny sound and comfort. If it fits your budget, you have to give it a try.
Samuel Shen Musical Instruments was founded by Samuel in 1989. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Suzhou, China.
Distributor website: cscproducts.com
Shen is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
D Z Strad
Offering models for every step of the musical journey from a rich, varied, well-crafted catalogue, this brand made a name for itself, selling good-quality instruments in all tiers. Moreover, they have a strong commitment to musician development, offering not only instruments but also lessons and teachers. Likewise, they have a trade-in and a renting policy allowing musicians to play and record instruments they might never be able to afford.
DZ Strad can be your go-to choice to hone your craft, trading in your old cello and going up to the next step. If you are looking for a brand that is 100% musician-centred and cares about your journey, try a DZ Strad today.
Notable cello: D Z Strad Cello Model 1100 (link to check the price at D Z Strad)
The Model 1100 represents the pinnacle of DZ Strad's craftsmanship and sound made entirely by hand, utilizing selected Italian spruce for the top and hand-picked Chinese maple for the back. Moreover, it is made following the Italian tradition, and you can request yours in the Amati, Montagnana, Strad, and Guadinini styles.
Finally, the selected, naturally-aged tonewoods, along with the antiqued varnish, make this a great-sounding instrument that can give you joy for decades.
DZ Strad was founded in 2017. The workshop and retail headquarters are currently located in White Plains, New York, USA.
Official website: dzstrad.com
D Z Strad is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Deeply rooted in the European tradition of master builders, Knilling's founder set out to create the best instrument he could utilizing only the best materials. Nowadays, a century later, the same commitment to excellence fuels not only the craftsmanship of every piece but also the commitment to innovation.
Moreover, Knilling offers outstanding longevity making each instrument a true, long-lasting investment. Finally, the Custom Shop division takes orders from all over the world, shaping dreams into fine violins and cellos. Whichever tier of instrument you're looking for, you can trust Knillng with your money.
Notable cello: Knilling 182F Nicolo Gabrieli Concert Model Cello (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
The tonewood to make every Nicolo Gabrieli instrument is hand-picked in Bosnia, Romania, and Germany to ensure the very best tonal quality. The use of this wood, known as indigenous spruce and maple, dates back to the days of Stradivari, the master luthier of all times. Furthermore, to ensure the availability of such a prized tonewood, Knilling controls every aspect of production, from harvesting the trees to the loft seasoning of the tonewood. With such a great material to work with, Knilling's century-old tradition and impeccable craftsmanship turn every Nicolo Gabrieli cello into a work of musical art.
Knilling was founded in 1922 by Bernard Kornblum. Currently, the company's headquarters are in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Official website: knilling.com
Knilling is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Although the company was born in 1922, its tradition goes back several centuries to the master luthiers in the western part of the Czech Republic. Thus, the know-how and leverage that make every Strunal Cello leaving the factory a one-of-a-kind wonder are centuries-old.
Nowadays, blending state-of-the-art facilities with handmade, classical productions, it is not odd to spot a Strunal cello on the most-demanding stages around the world. If you want the best of the Czech tradition in a modern instrument, checking Strunal out is a must.
Notable cello: Strunal Geneva Violoncello (link to check the price at Strunal Schönbach)
Designed especially for advanced students and professionals, the Maestro line by Strunal represents the best in their craft. This particular model features a hand-picked selected spruce top with 3-d like strongly-flamed maple back, sides, and neck. Speaking of which, the ebony fretboard, endpin, and trimmings with Parisian eye make it even more unique.
Finally, the French-type bridge and ebony tailpiece with 4 adjusters make it as beautiful as accurate tuning-wise. If you need an amazing instrument that won't break the bank, you have to check this cello out.
Strunal was founded as a joint-stock company in 1922. Its current corporate structure, though, dates back to 1992. The company's headquarters is in Luby, Czech Republic.
Official website: onas.strunalschonbach.com
After fleeing from the Czech Republic in the sixties, Helmut Illner brought along the knowledge of the master luthiers from his home country. Upon establishing in Germany, he blended that know-how and experience with the centuries-old tradition and German precision. As a result, his instruments became the best-kept secret among classical players in Europe.
Due to the high demand at his workshop, he decided to fund SIR Strings and bring his creations to the next level regarding distribution and sales. He is still the only luthier to win the Manchester International Cello Festival “Best of Sound Award” two years in a row, in 1992 and 1993.
SIR Strings offer uncanny quality in craftsmanship and sound. If you want the best, you have to try one out.
Notable cello: SIR-AA/CE (link to check it out at SIR Strings)
Representing the top of the line of SIR Strings, this cello is entirely made by hand, utilizing top-notch European tonewood naturally dried for over 15 years. Moreover, the stunning flamed maple used in the neck and back makes it a 3-d work of art.
In the same vein, the German bow and French bridge give it the perfect mix of flawless intonation and impeccable playability you could expect of an instrument of this category. It ships from the factory with Thomastik Austria strings which can highlight the nuances of this perfectly-made instrument.
SIR Strings was founded by Helmut Illner in the late eighties. The company's headquarters are in Erlanger, Germany.
Official website: string-sir.com
Although the company was founded halfway through the 20th century, Doughty's family tradition in music goes back to the 19th century. Indeed, Edward Chapman Doughty founded the first family business selling top-notch strings and music sheets in South London in 1895.
After the success of making strings and taking the knowledge of trying countless prototypes in countless instruments, the family decided to create the type of instrument that could honour their strings. As a result, the broad line of cellos offered by Stentor includes affordable yet great-sounding student models as well as professional-oriented models.
Wherever you are in your music journey, you can trust Stentor's century-old craftsmanship and leverage with your money.
Notable cello: Stentor Arcadia Cello (link to check the price at Gear4Music)
The Stentor Arcadia represents the best Stentor can make in terms of cellos. It is entirely carved out of hand-picked, naturally-aged, solid tonewoods; selected spruce for the top and figured maple for the back, ribs, and neck. Likewise, the neck and the pegs are made of top-quality ebony.
Furthermore, every Arcadia is entirely made by hand in a workshop within the Stentor factory, where the hand-applied shellac varnish enhances the natural beauty of each particular instrument. They ship with Pirasto strings professionally set up by a master luthier.
Stentor was founded in the early sixties by Michael Chapman Doughty. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Reigate, England, United Kingdom.
Official website: stentor-music.com
Stentor is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Jay Ifshin, a master violin maker and owner of Ifshin Violins, was frustrated because he couldn't get any affordable, consistent, good-sounding violins and cellos to sell at his Berkley shop. Thus, he joined forces with Haide Lin, his shop foreman, a master luthier trained in Guangzhou, China.
Using their collection of rare pieces made by master builders in Italy and France during the 18th and 19th centuries, they created a solid line of reliable instruments that soon outdid the needs of the Berkley shop. Nowadays, Jay Haide violins and cellos can be purchased and enjoyed worldwide.
Notable cello: Jay Haide L'ancienne Statue Model Cello (link to check the price at Sam's Strings Violin Shop)
The L'ancienne line of cellos by Jay Haide represents the highest quality standards for the brand. Within that line, the new addition is the handmade Statue Model, a cello that is entirely crafted by the hands of expert luthiers using naturally-aged European tonewood.
Blending the know-how and experience of master builders with the natural resonance of the best woods in the world gave, as a result, some of the richest, beautifully-layered instruments oozing musical harmonics that Jay Haide has ever made.
If you want the best, you have to try one of these out before deciding on your next cello.
Jay Haide was founded by Jay Ifshin and Haide Lin in 1992. Currently, the company's headquarters are in El Cerrito, California, USA.
Official website: jayhaide.com
Jay Haide is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Cremona's traditional violin craftsmanship was declared an “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO in 2012. This tradition goes back to the 16th century and has shaped much of what we know today as classical and bowed instruments; for example, the world-famous Stradivarius were made there.
Taking from that centuries-old tradition but intending to serve musicians of all levels, Cremona put together a rich, varied catalogue that offers student models as well as handmade, professional pieces. Still, despite their price tag, all instruments made by Cremona bear the same commitment to excellence that made the master luthiers in the past the best in the world.
Notable cello: Cremona SC-500 Premier Artist Cello Outfit (link to check the price on Amazon)
Having an instrument made with a close-grained solid spruce top and flamed solid maple at this price point is good news. The fact that the entire piece is hand-carved makes it a serious choice for players of all skills.
But that's not all; the classy red-brown finish of the varnish, the padded gig bag, and the J. LaSalle LB-13C bow complete an amazing combo ready to take your playing to the next level. Finally, every SC-500 ships with D'Addario Prelude strings.
Cremona was founded in the early eighties by Richard Keldsen. Currently, the company's headquarters are in South San Francisco, California, USA.
Official website: cremonaviolins.com.cn
Cremona is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Antonio Strad has been part of San Antonio's musical culture from the day it was founded. Moreover, they have been a member of the Violin Society of America for over 20 years. As part of the community, they fulfill their commitment by offering quality instruments for all budgets.
Adding to that, and due to Guolian and Mary's decades of playing, Antonio Strad's creations are quality instruments that will stay in tune and perform under any circumstance. Furthermore, they are made based on the couple's personal collection of Stradivarius, Lupot, and Guarneri violins and cellos available for rent at their shop.
If you want quality and affordability from a musician-based and musician-oriented company, you have to try an Antonio Strad before buying anything else.
Notable cello: Antonio Strad Arnold Kaiser Cello (link to check the price at Antonio Strad Violin)
The depth and nuances of this cello set it apart from the instruments you'll find in this price range. This powerful, dark tone comes from the 10-year naturally-aged spruce top, and solid figured maple back and sides.
The real ebony fittings, fretboard, tuners, and tailpiece enhance the natural harmonics of the tonewood, making this a vibrant, resonant, handmade instrument. It is professionally set up before shipping by master luthiers at Antonio Strad Texas, the same hands that set up Stradivarius models before renting them.
Antonio Strad was founded in 1994 by Guolian Zhou and Mary Zhang. The shop and company headquarters are currently in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Official website: stradviolin.com
Antonio Strad is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Yamaha is, perhaps, the finest representative of the centuries-old Japanese instrument-making tradition. Moreover, the Yamaha logo is the synonym of quality craftsmanship, obsessive attention to detail, and superb sound wherever you find it.
Such is the case with pianos that can be found in most concert halls around the world and with cellos, which bear the Yamaha signature quality to the last inch.
Furthermore, Yamaha is known worldwide for blending Japanese tradition with state-of-the-art technology. Thus, if you are looking for innovation, reliability, superb sound, and superior craftsmanship with the backup of one of the world's largest companies, you have to give Yamaha cellos a chance.
Notable cello: Yamaha Silent Cello SVC-210 (link to check the price on Amazon)
No other company but Yamaha could create such a ground-breaking instrument for the modern musician. Indeed, this silent cello is great to play and is easy to carry around too, which can be one of the biggest drawbacks for cello players on the move.
Among the many features, you can add colour, ambient, effects, and EQ to make this instrument sound exactly as you want it. No other cello in the market can offer as much as this Yamaha in a portable package that includes headphones and a case. Check out this video to hear how it sounds.
Yamaha was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887. Currently, the company's headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Official website: yamaha.com
Yamaha is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
- NS Design
- Lykos (budget)
- Merano (beginner)