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How Big Is A Cello?

Laura Lavigne
June 6, 2022
How Big Is A Cello?

Children and adults can buy different-sized cellos. Age, height, and finger spread can help you choose the proper cello size.

Cello dimensions

Cellos are sized by their backs. Similar to brass and woodwind instruments, like the clarinet or saxophone, and stringed instruments, like the violin or viola, cellos come in numerous sizes. 

Country-specific cello sizes. Japanese and Romanian cellos are smaller than American ones. Since musical instruments are not "one-size-fits-all," it is important to discover the ideal measurements to help students, especially younger ones, establish good technique.

The full-size cello, or 4/4 size, has a back length of 30 inches or more; the 7/8 size cello is 27 to 30 inches. Five smaller cellos range from 34 (26 to 27.25 inches) to 110. (17.75 to 20 inches). Cellists must consider their age, height, and arm measurements when picking an instrument. Choosing the right cello size involves:

Age

Age can help you choose the right cello size. Four- to six-year-olds can play a 110 cello. For older youngsters, add a year to the baseline age for each cello size: 1/8 for ages 5 to 7, 1/4 for 7 to 9, etc. Female cellists sometimes use the smaller adult size (78), appropriate for teenagers 15 and up. Most adults use 4/4.

Arm Length

Arm length determines the ideal cello size for adults and children. Extend your left arm straight, without bending or overextending. Next, measure from your neck to your wrist or palm, or from your left shoulder to your middle finger; 24 inches or more requires a 4/4 or full-size cello, while 16 inches or more is appropriate for a 110 cello.

Finger Spread

Spread your fingers to measure the cello's finger span. Full-size cellos require a six-inch spread from the index finger to the little finger, while 110 cellos are just three inches.

Height

Height is another accurate cello measurement. Three feet is ideal for the 110, but five feet or taller requires a full-size cello. Choosing a smaller cello if you are between sizes.

Seat

If you can not take any physical measurements, measure the cello while seated. Sit in a chair with a straight back, feet on the floor, and knees at 90 degrees. Set the cello's endpin to 12 inches, and hold it as you would when playing: your sternum should rest against the upper rim, and the lower bout corner should touch your left knee. 

The cello's neck should be near your left shoulder and the C string's tuning peg near your left ear. Left-hand fingerboard use should be easy. The cello is the proper size if this position and height are comfortable.

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