Best 7/8 Cello Guide

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7/8 cellos can be tough to find. Most cello sizing tables don’t even include 7/8 cellos, as cello manufacturers assume that any student who wants to replace a 3/4 cello will go straight to a full size model. But many times cello teachers and fellow players pressure smaller musicians into cellos that are too big. This makes difficult passages harder than they need to be and can lead to tendonitis and carpal tunnel issues.

While smaller cellos are used primarily by young players, many adult cellists find 7/8 cellos more comfortable than a full-size model. Though many believe a smaller cello must always have an inferior tone against a full-size, the best 7/8 cellos will rival any full-size instrument.

Whether you need a  cello for a growing student or as a more ergonomically friendly alternative to your current full-sized cello, there’s a cello out there that meets your needs. And I’m here to help you find the best 7/8 cello.

Pain should not be an inevitable part of cello playing, and a very small change in cello size can bring you big dividends. Moving to a 7/8 cello for practice or performance can make rehearsals more comfortable and take the agony out of difficult passages.

Bottom Line Up Front: Eastman Pietro Lombardi Model 502 is my top pick for best 7/8 cellos because of the capabilities of this instrument. Considering the price range for this instrument, there isn’t any type of performance this cello wouldn’t be well-suited for.

woman playing on cello

How I Chose the Best 7/8 Cellos

Here are some of the things I took into consideration when ranking the best 7/8 cellos.


Most smaller cellos are intended for younger, less advanced students. A 7/8 cello may be the best choice for cellists across the playing spectrum.

A working cellist putting in hours of daily practice might need a 7/8 cello more than a similarly-framed occasional cellist who doesn’t rehearse long enough or often enough to strain joints. Hence I looked for 7/8 cellos for both students and advanced cellists.


The cheapest cellos on the market do not come in 7/8 sizes. The least expensive cello on this list will set you back over $1,000. Because 7/8 is a specialty size, you have a smaller selection of instruments. I wanted to make sure that you get your money’s worth.

Every cello on this list punches above its price tag. Getting a 7/8 cello is an investment in your musical career. The cellos I recommend are solid investments that will serve you well in practice and performance.


The selection of 7/8 cellos may not be as large as one might wish, but the build quality is generally excellent. All the cellos listed have the amenities you expect from a high-quality cello.

Inlaid purfling, ebony fingerboards, carved spruce tops, and bodies made with solid wood are things you should look for in every cello but which are rarely found on the junk instruments we call CSOs (Cello Shaped Objects). Every cello listed will serve you for years and hold resale value should you decide to upgrade.

Top Pick: Eastman Pietro Lombardi Model 502

Eastman has an excellent selection of 7/8 cellos in its catalog at levels from student to professional. While Eastman’s Jonathan Li VC503 is a stunningly beautiful cello with amazing intonation, I feel Eastman’s Pietro Lombardi 502 offers the best price to value ratio for most advanced cellists.

The Lombardi 502 will take you through the conservatory and shine in performances of all genres and venues. Though a bit less breathtaking in appearance, the Lombardi 502 has Eastman’s much-loved warm resonance and easy playing action and will be the last instrument most cellists will ever need.

Best Beginner 7/8 Cello: Gliga Genial-2 Nitro Cello

Gliga Nitro-2 7/8 Cello

Gliga may be the best luthiers you’ve never heard of! This Romanian instrument company uses Eastern European wood and craftsmanship to produce instruments with Old World style and classical sound at a price you won’t believe.  At just over $1,000 the Genial-2 is a high-quality student cello that will last a lifetime, with features you normally find only on more expensive instruments.

The Genial-2 is entirely handmade with wood from the Carpathian forests of Transylvania, with a warm, dark, and mellow sound that would make Dracula smile.  Romanians call the valley where Gliga harvests woods “Italian Valley,” as Italian luthiers used to travel to the region in search of dense, resonant tonewoods for their finest instruments.

The Genial-2 is built to serve up to Grade 5 on the ABRSM scale for Practical Cello, but will work long afterwards as an emergency cello, practice instrument, or heirloom you pass down to your musically-inclined child.

The Genial-2 uses a sprayed on varnish instead of the hand-applied varnish used on Gliga’s more advanced lines. If you buy your Gliga direct online you will want to take it to a professional luthier to make sure everything is properly aligned and in place after its journey.  And if you’re an adult beginner who likes this cello but might want to move to a more advanced instrument, Gliga also offers 7/8 cellos at higher tiers.


  • Carpathian woods that are normally used only in top-level cellos
  • Gliga offers 7/8 cellos at higher tiers as well
  • One of the best student cellos on the market


  • Does not come with bow, case, or extras


  • PATTERN: Stradivari
  • MODEL: Genial 2-Nitro
  • SIZE: 7/8
  • BACK TYPE: Two Piece Back
  • PURFLING TYPE: Inlaid Purfling
  • TOP WOOD: Solid Carpathian Resonance Spruce
  • BACK WOOD: Solid Carpathian Maple
  • SIDES WOOD: Solid Carpathian Maple
  • NECK WOOD: Solid Carpathian Maple
  • ACCESSORIES: Solid Ebony

Best Step-Up 7/8 Cello: Eastman Andreas Eastman VC200

Andreas Eastman VC200

Eastman takes three of the five slots on this list. It’s not that I’m partial to Eastman, though I would argue Eastman is the finest mass-market cello producer in the industry today. It’s just that Eastman offers such a wide variety of 7/8 cellos.

Where many cello manufacturers treat 7/8 cellos as an afterthought or ignore them altogether, Eastman makes real efforts to provide ergonomically friendly 7/8 instruments to players at every ability level.

The VC200 is one of the most popular advanced student cellos today.  A beginner can practice on this instrument knowing that it’s tutor-approved.  If you are struggling with difficult passages, you will know that the issue lies with your technique and not your instrument.

And while you will might want to move up beyond the VC200 as you move from intermediate to advanced cellist, the VC200 will be a joy to play through the long hours of practice it takes to get there and hold its resale value if you decide you need a professional instrument.

You can buy the VC200 on its own, or many resellers offer the VC200 as part of a complete outfit that includes bow, rosin, and a case. If you already own a cello, you may have those accessories on hand.  The VC200 has a clear, detailed sound that will highlight your flaws and responsiveness that will make it easy to correct them.


  • A well-regarded student cello your instructor will certainly be familiar with
  • All Eastman cellos come with a lifetime warranty against defects
  • Many resellers offer the VC200 as part of a complete outfit


  • You may want to upgrade as you master more advanced and challenging material


  • Finish: Shaded Spirit Varnish
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Top: European or Chinese Spruce
  • Ribs: Maple
  • Back: European or Chinese Spruce
  • Purfling: Genuine Hand-inlaid
  • Bridge: Despiau 1 Tree
  • Fittings: Ebony with Composite Tailpiece
  • Available Patterns: Stradivari, Montagnana
  • Available Sizes: 4/4 – 1/8

Best Intermediate 7/8 Cello: Fiddlerman Artist 7/8 Cello Kit

Fiddlerman Artist Cello Outfit

Pierre and Michael Holstein, the father and son duo behind Fiddlershop, have been offering affordable instruments and customer care that goes above and beyond. Their Fiddlerman Artist cello outfit includes everything you need to play straight out of the shipping box.

Along with your new cello you also get a carbon fiber cello bow strung with Siberian horsehair, Holstein premium rosin, a digital tuner, a practice mute, and D’Addario Helicore strings.  And if that weren’t enough, Fiddlershop also throws in a Fiddlerman CC4100 cello case. Not bad for under $1,800!

The Fiddlerman Artist has a softer focus and a more romantic sound than some of the other cellos on our list. It could be a great instrument for ambient, jazz, or chamber music. That softness and warmth makes the Fiddlerman Artist a flattering instrument. This can be encouraging for aspiring musicians, but it can also make them lazy.

A more detailed cello might be in order for serious musicians who will regularly be playing technically demanding music.  But if you just want to sound good and keep your listeners entertained, the Fiddlerman Artist may be the only cello you ever need.


  • Exceeds all Suzuki and MENC (Music Educators National Conference) standards
  • String height precisely measured for easy, comfortable playability
  • Superb customer service


  • Warm, flattering tone may lead you to overlook imperfections in technique


  • Solid hand-carved, figured spruce and maple tonewoods
  • 100% ebony fingerboard, pegs & fittings
  • Quality hand-carved maple bridge
  • Hand-rubbed, oil/spirit-based finish (no thick lacquer)
  • Antiqued wood – dried a minimum of 7 years
  • Installed D’Addario Helicore Strings
  • Available in sizes: 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, 4/4

Best Advanced 7/8 Cello: Eastman Pietro Lombardi Model VC502

Lombardi VC502

Since 1994 Chinese luthier Qian Ni has been building string instruments in the style of German master workshops. While they first became famous for their highly regarded student strings, Eastman has gained increasing respect for the exceptional sound of their professional-quality instruments.

Eastman also offers a good variety of 7/8 cellos at all levels.  The VC502 is part of Eastman’s “Advanced” line, and is built for advanced students and working musicians.

The Pietro Lombardi has a darker, romantic tone well suited to string quartets and intimate settings. It blends well in orchestral arrangements, but you may want a more powerfully-voiced cello like the Jonathan Li VC503 below if you are doing a lot of lead performances in noisy settings. (In practice, you could just attach a pickup and amplify the performance at most big weddings if you aren’t already doing so).

The antiqued spirit varnish looks beautiful and keeps the dark-voiced VC503 from sounding soupy like it might with a more pliable oil varnish.

The VC502 has no tolerance for sloppy technique. The Lombardi cello is painfully accurate and will spotlight both your triumphs and failures. Play well and the VC502 will sound like the voice of angels. Play poorly and everybody in the recital hall will know you haven’t been doing your bowing exercises.

(The good news is that the VC502’s easy action makes tough passages more comfortable and lets you practice until you get it right). If you are up to its standards, the VC502 will more than live up to yours.


  • Rich, velvety tone and precise action
  • Aged wood gives vintage sound in a modern cello
  • Intimate warmth well suited for chamber acoustic performances


  • The VC502’s precision and accuracy will highlight both bad and good technique


  • Finish: Antiqued Spirit Varnish
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Top: European or Chinese Spruce
  • Ribs: Maple
  • Back: European or Chinese Maple
  • Purfling: Genuine Hand-inlaid
  • Bridge: Despiau 2 Tree
  • Fittings: Ebony with Wittner Tailpiece
  • Available Patterns: Stradivari
  • Available Sizes: 4/4 – 7/8

Best Professional 7/8 Cello: Eastman Jonathan Li Model VC503

Jonathan Li VC503

The Jonathan Li VC503 cello represents the pinnacle of what Eastman can accomplish, which is a very steep pinnacle indeed! At just under $10,000 the VC503 is not cheap. But for your money you get an instrument that in both its appearance and its sound can go toe-to-toe with cellos costing five times as much.

Eastman uses only the most brightly flamed Bosnian maple on the Jonathan Li cello. The flamed backs are beautiful and in the right light look like candlelight trapped in the artisan-applied oil varnish. But there are also good acoustic reasons for using flamed maple backs.

The flamed pattern represents density differences in the wood which give the cello added harmonic complexity and resonance. The lighter, less dense boxwood fittings give the Li a more open sound and the aged wood produces a warm tone we normally associate with vintage instruments.

The Li VC503 has a thick, powerful tone that has even more of the VC502’s maple-syrup sweetness with a bit of added volume. The VC503 also comes in a wider-bodied Montagnana model which will give you even more of that rich, warm Eastman sound. If you’re at the top of your career – or you want to get there – the VC503 is a showpiece instrument that won’t leave your joints aching.


  • A high-end cello that holds its own against much more expensive instruments
  • A showpiece cello that will stand out in an ensemble
  • The highest-grade cello Eastman offers


  • Expensive


  • Finish: Oil Varnish
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Top: Bosnian Spruce
  • Ribs:  Maple
  • Back: Bosnian Maple
  • Purfling: Genuine Hand-inlaid
  • Bridge: Despiau 2 Tree
  • Fittings: Boxwood with Wittner Tailpiece
  • Available Patterns: Stradivari, Montagnana
  • Available Sizes: 4/4 – 7/8


Question: How are cellos sized?

Answer: Contrary to what you might think, a 1/8 cello is not 1/8 the size of a standard 4/4 cello. Cellos are sized by the length of their backs as follows:

  • 1/8: 17.75 – 20 inches
  • 1/4: 20-23 inches
  • 1/2: 23 – 26 inches
  • 3/4: 26 – 27.25 inches
  • 7/8: 27.25 – 30 inches
  • 4/4: 30 inches and above

There are many theories as to why violinists and cello makers use this confusing system. One discussion board full of string players gave the issue consideration and concluded that a 3/4 instrument had 92.5% the volume of a full-sized instrument, a 1/2 instrument had 92.5% the volume of a 3/4, and so on down the line.

Question: How do I know if my cello is properly sized?

Answer: Measure the length of your outstretched arm from the middle of your upward-facing palm to the side of your neck.  Compare your measurements against this chart.

Height Arm Length Cello Size
3 feet and under Under 16 inches 1/10
3 to 3.5 feet 16-18 inches 1/8
3.5 to 4 feet 18-20 inches 1/4
4 to 4.5 feet 20-22 inches 1/2
4.5 to five feet 22-24 inches 3/4
5 feet or taller 24+ inches 4/4 (full size)

These are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. If you find yourself between sizes, you should generally choose the smaller cello. A cello that feels a little bit awkward when you’ve been playing it for a minute or two may feel like a torture rack after an hour of tough practice. If you are an adult with smaller hands, you will probably feel more comfortable playing a 7/8 or even a 3/4 cello.

Question: Why would I want a smaller cello?

Answer: If you find you are playing less cello lately because of hand or shoulder pain, you should try a smaller cello and see if you find it more comfortable to play.  If you are between sizes, you may want to buy the larger one with the idea that it has superior tone. But any marginal sonic benefits you might get from a slightly larger cello will soon be lost as your playing becomes unnecessarily difficult on your oversized instrument.  You are much more likely to rehearse regularly if your cello does not leave you in pain after hours of playing.


So which 7/8 cello is the best for you?

For most serious cellists in the 7/8 market, the Eastman Pietro Lombardi Model VC502 will be the best 7/8 cello. The Lombardi VC502 is a professional instrument that will be suitable for almost every occasion at an exceptional price. If you’re a professional cellist who needs a 7/8 instrument, the VC502 may be the best $5,000 you ever spent.

For beginners, the Gliga Genial-2 Nitro cello is the best 7/8 cello on this list. Gliga is a luthier you should get to know, and the Genial-2 is a great introduction to this Romanian company’s student line.

Professionals looking for a showpiece 7/8 instrument definitely need to consider Eastman’s Jonathan Li VC503. The Li VC503 is one of the finest and certainly one of the most stunningly beautiful cellos Eastman Strings produces. This cello isn’t just suited for the orchestra pit, but will keep the audience enraptured from center stage.

Whatever 7/8 instrument you choose, here’s to many productive and comfortable years on a cello that fits! Happy playing!

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