What To Look For In A New Violin, Viola, Cello
As for violin, viola or cello brands, the finest "beginner's" violins, violas or cellos are hand made by individuals all over the world. The best could cost thousands of dollars. Also, two cellos made by the same maker can vary in quality depending on the pattern, wood or numerous other factors. Of course, if you have the resources, you can buy a "professional's" violin, viola or cello for tens of thousands of dollars. I wouldn't recommend that even if you could. An instrument has to feel right to the player, it might be difficult for a beginner to know what feels right.
I'm finding that some of the instruments sold on eBay from China are good for beginners. A few things to look for though. If you buy a Chinese or any starter violin, viola or cello, make sure you get one with an ebony fingerboard and ebony pegs (not ebonite or ebonized). I recently bought a cello for $360. It will need to be set up by a knowledgeable person (luthier) by fitting the bridge, adjusting the sound post and putting on better quality strings. The repairman may have to adjust the tuning pegs, they tend to slip on these new instruments. Figure on adding $200 - $400 for this service.
One cello I found is the Cecilio CC0-400. It has all the basic components. I have purchased several of these and have been not only satisfied, but actually impressed. Inlaid purfling (which not only plays an aesthetic role, it reinforces the edge of the instrument's top and back), ebony fingerboard and ebony pegs. If you decide to buy one of these, you will have to spend a little more to get it set up. An beginner's instrument like this should be adequate for at least a couple of years.
Many people will tell you not to buy a violin, viola or cello from Ebay. Generally this is true, I've known professional musicians who have been burned. I've haven't had any problems with the company from which I've bought my cellos. I also have no relationship with this company (I don't make a commission from them). I only know this model cello and for my beginning students, it is more than adequate. Contact me here if you want a direct link to an Ebay auction or advice on what work needs to be done to set up the instrument.
If you have any questions, or want me to look at a cello you found locally or online, let me know by contacting me here. Make sure you send a link to the page where you found the cello.