Which electric cello is best?
The cello is a stringed, acoustic instrument that has remained relatively unchanged since its inception in the 16th century. However, technology has caught up to the cello over the last century, with electric versions becoming relatively recent.
Today’s electric cellos offer a similar experience to playing an acoustic instrument but have a few major differences that put them in a class of their own. For those looking to purchase the best electric cello to explore the instrument’s unique characteristics, the Stagg ECL 4/4 BK Electric Cello provides the full experience in a small, high-quality package.
What to consider before you buy an electric cello
Why buy an electric cello?
Electric cellos are considerably smaller than acoustic versions. They are therefore easier to store, travel with and play. Electric cellos make it easier for musicians to practice quietly and are less delicate than large wooden instruments that require attention to humidity and temperature. Electric cellos also allow cellists to expand their musical horizons via amplification and audio effects not possible with an acoustic instrument.
Types of electric cellos
- Standard electric cellos: These cellos often have slim, striking body designs. Their audio output can be amplified, distorted or affected in the same ways one might manipulate the signal coming from an electric guitar.
- Acoustic/electric: Like an acoustic guitar, these cellos can be played either acoustically or via amplification. They are largely identical in appearance to models that are strictly acoustic but provide the player with a lot of sonic flexibility.
- Silent cellos: This term often broadly applies to all electric cellos, although models that are specifically referred to as “silent” will include a headphone jack. This allows the user to hear what they are practicing without disturbing others.
If you perform live in a traditional trio, quartet or orchestra, an electric cello may not be the best option for you. While electric cellos can sound like their acoustic alternatives while amplified, the additional equipment required to be heard may be an inconvenience if you perform with other musicians whose instruments are not amplified. Electric cellos are best suited for practice, performances where amplification will be readily accessible or in musical situations where experimentation is encouraged.
What to look for in a quality electric cello
Most electric cellos will be made out of wood, although metal and other materials are available. The material your cello is made out of will have an effect not just on its weight but also the resonance of its strings.
While traditional cellos are not fretted, some electric models include them as a visual guide during loud performances to stay in tune. If you plan to play your electric cello with a rock band or in any other loud scenario, a model with a fretted neck will provide additional peace of mind.
While all electric cellos can be plugged into an amplifier or PA system, some also include a built-in jack that allows you to play quietly with nothing but your instrument and your favorite headphones. If silent practice is important to you, select an electric cello with this feature.
Points of contact
Electric cellos do not have the thick, wide bodies that acoustic models do. As a result, they can be uncomfortable to use for those coming from a background playing traditional cello. If the familiar feel of playing a cello is a requirement for your needs, select an electric cello that retains the same points of contact that you would feel while playing a large acoustic model. Many electric cellos have rests and arms that can fold out to approximate the areas in which your body would come into contact with an acoustic instrument.
A major advantage that electric cellos have is their portability when compared to acoustic cellos. Electric cellos are long, narrow instruments that take up little space. Models that include points of contact typically fold up for even easier travel.
How much you can expect to spend on an electric cello
Expect to spend at least $350-$400 on a basic electric cello. Professional models from premium brands can be thousands of dollars.
Electric cello FAQ
What kind of musicians use electric cellos?
A. Classical musicians use electric cellos for practice, but you will likely never see one in a traditional orchestra. However, electric cellos are growing in popularity with musicians who play jazz, rock or improvisational music.
Can an electric cello sound like an acoustic cello?
A. Musicians can be fickle when it comes to how an instrument is supposed to sound. While many feel that there is no substitute for the sound and warmth of a traditional cello, others are finding that electric cellos can sound close enough to stand in for many situations.
What kind of amplifier do you need for an electric cello?
A. This is largely up to your discretion and depends on the kind of sound you are looking to achieve. For a more standard cello sound, choose an amplifier that does not include effects like distortion and is designed to provide the cleanest sound possible. For those looking to experiment with their cello, virtually any amplifier will do as long as it satisfies your creative needs.
What’s the best electric cello to buy?
Top electric cello
What you need to know: This ultra-compact electric cello provides great sound in a small, sleek package.
What you’ll love: This cello features collapsible contact points to approximate the feel of holding a full-size instrument. It comes with a padded storage bag, comes in two colors and is made of solid maple.
What you should consider: The contact points on this model may not be comfortable for all users.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top electric cello for the money
What you need to know: This electric cello comes with all the accessories you need for both silent practice and connecting to an amplifier.
What you’ll love: This kit includes a bow, rosin, headphones and a cable that allows you to plug the instrument into an amplifier or PA system. A carrying bag is included.
What you should consider: This electric cello’s body design does not allow it to fold down any smaller than it already is.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This professional electric cello from Yamaha provides unparalleled sound and build quality.
What you’ll love: Yamaha is an international leader in the manufacturing of musical instruments, and this electric cello showcases their reputation for both class and forward thinking. It features a full-size frame for a traditional feel, built-in audio effects, a headphone jack and a Piezo pickup.
What you should consider: This high price of this instrument puts it out of reach for most users and caters solely to professional musicians.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Electric cello tips
The ability to directly process the signal coming from your cello allows you to experiment with different amplifiers, software effects and even guitar effect pedals. Forge into new sonic territory with some experimentation.
Maintain proper form
While electric cellos are built to approximate the feel of a traditional instrument, they aren’t identical. Be sure not to develop bad posture or habits while practicing on an electric cello that will adversely affect your ability to comfortably play an acoustic model.
Keep it safe
Musical instruments are financial investments. Keep your electric cello in a padded soft or hard case while not in use or while traveling.
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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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