How To Pick The Right Cello Size

It’s very important to pick the right cello size so that practicing and learning the instrument will be enjoyable.  The larger the cello means the larger the distance between fingered notes on the strings.  The wrong instrument will make it difficult to play comfortably using proper technique and hand positioning.

Cello sizes are notated as fractions.  The ones listed below are the most common, although, cellos can be made in many different size options.
     1/8 size,   1/4 size,   1/2 size,   3/4 size,   4/4 size

There are a few common methods used to determine the correct cello size for a student.

Using a Cello
This is a method to use if you have different sizes at your disposal that you want to try out.  First, you want to sit straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.  Release the end pin and rest the cello against your body in playing position.  While in this position, check for the following:

  1. Your left knee should be touching the curve below the lower bout.
  2. There should be a few inches of clearance between your shoulder and the neck of the cello.
  3. The C string peg should be near your left ear.
  4. The upper rim of the cello should be resting in the center of your chest (breast bone).

By Age
The age/size recommendations are based on the average heights and arm spans for each age group.
4-6 years old      —>  1/8 size
5-7 years old      —>  1/4 size
7-11 years old    —>  1/2 size
11-15 years old  —>  3/4 size
15 and Older      —>  4/4 size
Body  Measurements (arms/height)
I think that matching your specific height/span measurements is the more precise and best place to start. After consulting the charts below, the next step should be to try the suggested cello size in person to make sure that it really is the right fit for you.  These charts are from the website

Measurement charts show the most comfortable cello size based on three of your body measurements:  Height, Arm Length and Finger Span.  
Cello Height Measuring ChartCello Arm Length Measuring ChartCello Finger Span Measuring Chart

You may also find these links helpful:
Music Terms & Symbols For Cellists
Vibrato For Beginning Cellists
Parts of The Cello
Parts of The Bow
1st Position Cello Fingering Chart


I am a professional musician and music teacher.  For more information, please visit my website at  My music samples are available at Audrey’s Music Page.


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