There are several types of cellos from which a performer can choose depending on his needs and interests. As a cello costs a substantial amount of money, weighing the pros and cons of one cello over another saves time and money in the future. Children should play the largest cello suitable for their size; adults should always play a full-size cello unless they are very small.
Cellos come in several different sizes and are categorized into two main types: European and Suzuki. The European styles have more subtle changes to allow for a growing child to play comfortably at all stages. In general, if you are over 5 feet tall you should use a standard-sized cello. Consulting a sizing chart will help you to find a cello that fits based on your age and height; however, in the end, there are several factors that go into choosing a cello -- the length of your arms will make a difference, as will the size of your torso.
Carbon cellos cost less than standard wooden cellos, and have many additional benefits; besides their sleek, modern look, carbon instruments do not have the same sensitivity to temperature changes. Made completely out of carbon-based materials -- the same material used on parts of the space shuttle -- they are lighter than wooden cellos and much more resilient to damage; any cellist that has accidentally dropped her instrument knows the devastating amount of damage that such a fall can cause. Carbon cellos come in the standard sizes of traditional wooden cellos.
Some electric cellos -- called "called semi-acoustic" -- use a combination of electric and acoustic methods of producing sound, while others are completely electric. A standard (acoustic) cello has a chamber that allows the sound to resonate and therefore does not need to be amplified; it can produce plenty of sound on its own. Electric cellos require an amplifier to process the vibrations and make them loud enough to be heard by the audience; semi-acoustic cellos have a small chamber that allows the sound to resonate before being picked up by an electric pickup, which then acts as a converter that takes the vibrations and processes them into audible sounds.
Traditional cellos are made out of wood. The top part of the cello is generally made of a softer wood which helps to mellow the instrument's tone. Spruce is often used for the top of the cello, and a harder wood -- such as maple, willow or even poplar -- to construct the backs and ribs of the cello. The neck of the cello is also usually made of maple.
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