Finding the Right Size Cello

Girl [11] practicing cello after school
Stephen Simpson/Iconica/Getty Images

Finding the right sized cello for you or your child doesn't have to be tricky. There are various sizes of cellos available, to fit the size of most potential players. Whether you're renting a cello or buying a new or used one, be sure to look for one that is the right size for your shape.

Cellos are sized by the length of the back, from the full-sized cello with a back length of 30 inches or more intended for adults five foot tall or taller, to 1/8 cellos sized for the body lengths of children between 4 and 6 years old.

Bear in mind that different manufacturers make cello sizes at slightly different lengths, but they will fall within a few inches. 

If you fall between two different sizes, you’ll likely be more comfortable with the smaller instrument. The best guideline is to visit a music store to try one out, but the following table should help you get within a good range. 

By Your Age:

  • 1/8 size—4 to 6 years old
  • 1/4 size—5 to 7 years old
  • 1/2 size—7 to 11 years old
  • 3/4 size—11 to 15 years old
  • 4/4 size—15 and above

By Your Height:

  • 1/8 to 1/4 size—below 4 feet
  • 1/2 size—4 to 4 1/2 feet
  • 3/4 size—4 1/2 to 5 feet
  • 4/4 size—5 feet and above

By the Cello's Back Length:

  • 1/8 size—17.75 to 20 inches
  • 1/4 size—20 to 23 inches
  • 1/2 size—23 to 26 inches
  • 3/4 size—26 to 27.25 inches
  • 7/8 size—27.25 to 30 inches
  • 4/4 size—30 inches and above

How a Cello Should Fit Your Body 

When you're in the music store, pick the size that comes closest to your best fit.

Find a straight chair and sit up straight: be sure your feet are touching the floor. Set the endpin of the cello to around 12 inches in length. Let the cello rest against your chest at about a 45-degree angle. The top of the cello must rest at the center of your chest, and the C string peg must be near your left ear.