I love the cello and would love to someday be able to play Bach's cello suites. It has such a warm sound. But 1 thing deters me from going straight into learning the cello, the price of it. I looked up how much a cello costs and I found out that a cello, even a beginner's cello, costs about $1000 without taking the bow into consideration.

I have heard of some people taking a bass guitar and using a violin bow to have a makeshift cello. But at most this would give you a 1/4 size, not ideal for an adult beginner.

But that price of $1000 for just the cello itself is really deterring me from going straight into learning the cello. I can't afford $1000, not even if it is for a cello. Sure, I could find it much cheaper on Amazon for the same quality but that would probably still be several hundred dollars in price. Not exactly an affordable instrument.

So I'm thinking of learning the violin once I get mine repaired and then once I get really good at the violin, transitioning to the cello. This would give me time to get the money I need to afford a cello. But should I do this or just go straight into learning the cello no matter how expensive it is?

  • 1
    Try to get a used cello instead (e.g. from a learner, who abandoned playing). The cheap new instruments are more often than not a waste of money. Renting, as suggested below, is also far better. A bad instrument might spoil the whole approach of making music by making it too hard and strill produce mediocre results.
    – guidot
    Oct 11, 2018 at 7:18
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    Sceptical about bowing a bass guitar! A viola may be a decent half-way point.
    – Tim
    Oct 11, 2018 at 8:30
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    @Tim but .. but.... Led Zeppelin! :-) Oct 11, 2018 at 12:50

4 Answers 4


As a music instructor, I always advise against a person purchasing their first instrument. It's impossible to know for sure how well you will enjoy playing that specific instrument, whether the time investment of practice fits into your life, etc.

So my advice is, if you like the cello, find a local music shop to rent one from. A monthly rental fee should be very affordable, and while you're doing that you can be simultaneously evaluating if you're enjoying it, and saving for your own instrument (many rental shops allow you to put some of your rental payments as equity toward a purchase, although you'd want to research whether they're charging a fair value for those instruments).


To answer the "start with a different instrument" part: Don't, unless you want to be able to play both in the future. While you'll learn a little about bowing and fingering techniques, the bow length, weight, angle, pressure are all dramatically different between violin and cello.

  • Good points in this answer. I've tried both violin and cello just for fun. Huge difference, especially with intonation due to the different sizes. It's very hard to get your fingers placed correctly on violin and play in tune compared to cello. Or at least the audible difference is more noticeable on violin. Oct 11, 2018 at 16:39
  • Well the main reason I am thinking of starting with the violin first is well 1) I already have a violin, it just needs repaired. 2) I know the tuning of the violin. 3) I have perfect pitch. I developed that during my 10 years of piano playing. So I would know right away if my fingering is wrong. 4) The cello is an expensive instrument so being an advanced violinist as well as a pianist would probably raise enough money for me to get a cello. 5) I would know which strings work best for me for a particular note and while it might be about equal on the violin, there might still be a difference.
    – Caters
    Oct 11, 2018 at 18:16

I recommend learning the cello if that is what you want to do. Renting a cello would work very well. If you want to learn the violin too, you can go ahead and learn it too, it's not a bad idea.

As with the bass guitar and the violin bow idea... that is a bit questionable not gonna lie.


Purchase prices like that are peanuts compared to the amount you'll sink into lessons before being able to do the cello suites justice. At any rate, music schools and music teachers are the first address for knowing where to rent or buy a learner's instrument. And when desiring to play cello in a classic manner, not taking lessons is not really a viable option.

At any rate, if you already have a headstart on violin, you will likely sooner reach the stage on violin where people are putting money into your case, and as a learning musician, you'll need all the money you can get, even if you want to use it for buying and learning to play a cello.

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