Are you stuck thinking about where to get a cello or parts for a repair? Come on in, shop online and check out our featured products! The cello (plural cellos or celli) is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of music instruments, which also includes the violin, viola and the contrabass.
The word derives from the Italian ‘violoncello’. The word derives ultimately from vitula, meaning a stringed instrument. A person who plays a cello is called a cellist. The cello is used as a solo instrument, in chamber music, in a string orchestra and as a member of the string section of an orchestra. It is the second largest bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, the double bass being the largest.
Cellos were derived from other mid-to-large sized bowed instruments in the 16th century, such as the viola da gamba, and the generally smaller and squarer viola da braccio, and such instruments were made by members of the Amati family of luthiers. The invention of wire-wrapped strings in Bologna gave the cello greater versatility. By the 18th century the cello had largely replaced other mid-sized bowed instruments.
The cello is typically made from wood (such as spruce, maple, poplar and willow), although other materials like carbon fibre or aluminum may be used. The parts of a cello are:
endpin or tail spike
Cellos are part of the standard symphony orchestra, which usually includes eight to twelve players. The cello section, in standard orchestral seating, is located on stage left (the audience’s right) in the front, opposite the first violin section. However, some orchestras and conductors prefer switching the positioning of the viola and cello sections. The principal cellist is the section leader, determining bowings for the section in conjunction with other string principals, and playing solos. Principal players always sit closest to the audience.
Photo credit: anl.gov