A Sizing Guide for Cello

Like violins and violas, acoustic cellos come in different sizes to accommodate different players. Cellos are sized according to the length of the back of the instrument. Older teenagers and adults play full size, or 4/4, cellos. These are 30 inches in length or sometimes slightly longer depending on the manufacturer. Younger and/or shorter students will find the smaller cellos will fit better. The smallest size cello back is approximately 17.5 inches long.

To select the best size cello, you will need to measure the arm length and the height of the player. To measure the arm, have the student stand with their arm outstretched, palm facing up, and measure from the side of the neck to the middle of the palm. Then use this size chart to find a starting point for finding the best cello.


Cello Size

Cello Length


Arm Length



17.5 inches

3 feet and under

Under 16 inches

4-6 years


17.75 to 20 inches

3 to 3.5 feet

16-18 inches

5-7 years


20 to 23 inches

3.5 to 4 feet

18-20 inches

7-9 years


23 to 26 inches

4 to 4.5 feet

20-22 inches

9-11 years


26 to 27.25 inches

4.5 to five feet

22-24 inches

11-15 years

4/4 (full size)

30 inches and above

5 feet or taller

24 or more inches

15 to adult


How a Cello Should Fit the Player

It may be necessary to try different size cellos to determine which one comes closest to the best fit. Sit slightly forward in a straight chair with feet on the floor. Set the endpin of the cello to around 12 inches in length. Let the cello rest against the chest at about a 45-degree angle. The top of the cello should rest at the center of the chest, and the C string peg should be near the left ear. The left hand must be able to easily navigate the full length of the fingerboard. 

Comfort is the most important consideration when choosing an instrument. The player needs to be able to reach the necessary hand and finger positions and able to handle the bow easily while playing. Since we all come in different proportions, physical accessibility and comfort is a priority over matching size to age or height.

Everything Needs to Match

When you buy a cello, it will always come with strings. Many are packaged with a case and bow, but in the event that you are not purchasing a package, it is essential to match these items to the size of the cello. Cello strings typically last for about six months; when it’s time to buy new strings, you’ll need to make sure you select ones that fit your cello.

Choose the Right Cello for You

There is a cello to fit every player – no matter your age, size or playing style. Finding the correct fit will ensure the best results and provide years of playing enjoyment.

Buying a Cello at Woodwind & Brasswind

If you’re looking for advice and assistance shopping for celloscello accessories or other orchestral string accessories, our music experts are available to understand your needs and your budget. Call us at 800.348.5003.

Educators can take advantage of our best educator pricing by shopping on the Educator Website or calling our school music experts at 800.346.4448.