Whilst purchasing a cello is without a doubt the most important step in beginning to learn the cello, there is a ton of other things that you need to consider. Many people get lost in the variety of strings, rosins, and available soft cases whilst forgetting one of the most important accessories – cello chairs.
When I first bought a cello, I had no idea about the importance of cello chairs. As a result, I ended up using a seriously uncomfortable chair that was available at my music school, and at one point, the discomfort became so unbearable that it put me off learning the instrument entirely.
I’m writing this guide in an attempt to prevent you from making the same mistakes. There is tons of information out there regarding how to find the best cello chair, and I’ve compiled it into one place to make the process as easy as possible. Read on to find out my thoughts!
Do You Even Need a Cello Chair?
One of the biggest mistakes that beginner cellists make is thinking that they don’t need a cello chair. Sure, they might understand the importance of comfort and posture when playing the cello, but they might be tempted to use their office chair or the uncomfortable option at their school just like I did, promising themselves to upgrade when they are ready.
I do not think that this is a good way to begin your cello journey. Sitting comfortably is going to be essential in giving you the endurance and passion for learning this instrument; you will spend tons of hours sitting on a cello chair, so it’s an important thing to consider at the start of your journey.
By having your own cello chair that fits your needs, you will be able to ensure that nothing is holding you back at the beginning of your journey. You will be able to bring your own chair to any practices or concert rehearsals, and knowing that you have this accessible in your own home will encourage you to practice more than you would otherwise.
Overall, it’s an absolute must. Don’t listen to anyone telling you that cello chairs are not essential and that you can simply sit on any old chair. Cello chairs are pretty cheap, and they provide you with the optimum seating for you to get to know your instrument; it’s the last thing you want to cheap out on!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s investigate exactly what you should be looking for in a high-quality cello chair.
The Four Essential Properties of a Cello Chair
It’s tempting to think that any cello chair will do – after all, they’re just seats, right? That’s not true at all – there are tons of different types of cello chairs out there, and you should ensure that you choose one that meets a set of criteria to maximize your comfort when practicing or performing.
From wobbly chairs to oversized chairs, I’ve encountered all sorts of cello chairs throughout my career as a cellist that are unusable. In every case, it’s because they failed on one of the following areas:
To fully understand the importance of each of these quality areas, let’s take a look at the specifics.
Perhaps the most important property of a cello chair is how stable they are. Imagine trying to master any hobby on a chair that has one leg which is slightly too short or a framework that keeps falling out of place. This would be incredibly frustrating, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it would put you off the hobby all together.
This applies to cello playing just as much as any other hobby. Some cello chairs out there are poorly designed, with metal frames becoming loose over time, screws being of low quality, and generally being a wobbly and unstable mess. This often comes with cheaper cello chairs, and you will want to avoid this at all costs!
You should ensure that every cello chair that you look at purchasing has excellent reviews in terms of stability. The type of frame should be considered and assessed for any potential problems in the future, and adjustability should be considered in the event of uneven flooring (more on this later).
The best thing that you can do to test this is simply to head to some music stores and try out a few cello chairs. Don’t just sit on them – move your posture around to identify any weak areas in their stability, and ask the salespersons if they have any cello chairs that are designed specifically for optimum stability. If you end up paying more for a cello chair that is stable and will never wobble, trust me – it’s going to be worth it.
Stability is incredibly important in a cello chair, but that’s not much good if the chair itself is uncomfortable to sit on. You will often have to sit at your chair for hours at a time during lengthy concert recitals, and if your butt starts to hurt after five minutes, you will wish that you learned a stand-up instrument like the double bass.
This is easily avoidable. You will need to figure out what is comfortable for you, as I have found that different people like different chair designs.
I’ve always preferred chairs built with soft cushions, but I have a ton of friends that prefer the slender frames of light-weight plastic chairs. It all comes down to preference, but if you don’t try out different types, you’ll never know which one is best for you.
Even though they are not for everyone, I would highly recommend you test soft-cushioned cello chairs first. Specifically, you should be looking for a model that facilitates wedged cushions (which you may need to purchase separately.
These will not only provide comfort for sitting but will also ensure that this can be achieved whilst maintaining the natural cello posture. Don’t cheap out on comfort – no amount of features, stability, or financial value is going to compensate for a cello chair that is not pleasant to sit on!
I briefly mentioned adjustability earlier, explaining that it can be a valuable property of a cello chair when it comes to optimizing stability when placed on uneven surfaces. However, stability isn’t the only reason adjustability is important – it means that you can customize your chair for any scenario, and it can be a serious make or break.
The first cello chair that I purchased seemed perfect when I first sat on it – it felt comfortable, stable, and I couldn’t wait to test it whilst holding my cello. However, as soon as I did this, I quickly found that the chair wasn’t tall enough, and I briskly crossed it off of my options list.
Luckily, the salesman at the cello store stopped me in my tracks – the chair legs were adjustable, meaning that I could increase the height of them to facilitate the size of my cello and my height. It was a game-changer that took a cello chair from being “so close yet so far” to absolutely perfect.
Some cello chairs even have adjustable backrests and other elements, such as the depth of the cello chair relative to the backrest. I have never found these bonus features strictly necessary, but it’s undeniable that they add another level of comfort, making a chair feel like it truly can fit your specific body type.
This last point might sound a bit odd, but it’s just as important as the previous factors. You are going to want to purchase a cello chair that can be folded and carried easily without having to ask a friend for help.
The reason for this is that you will likely find yourself transporting your cello to different locations for practices, recitals, and maybe even recording sessions. It’s undeniable that cellos are bulky instruments and can be difficult to transport, so the last thing you want to do is to add to this struggle by purchasing a huge and heavy cello chair.
I have never purchased a cello chair that wasn’t foldable. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be, having to take an unfoldable cello chair onto public transport, it would be incredibly impractical, and you’d get some strange looks whilst you were at it.
Get yourself something lightweight, compact, and foldable. It might be tempting to cheap out on this factor and grab any old chair that is comfortable and adjustable, but you might regret it when you finally get invited to audition at a prestigious music school!
Cello Chairs: My Top Picks
As you can probably tell, cello chairs have more properties than initially meet the eye. They need to be practical to use, stable, and, most importantly, comfortable. There are cheap cello chairs that compromise on these features, and there are more expensive models that tick all the boxes.
I would recommend that you put aside a decent amount of cash (around $150) to buy yourself a truly spectacular cello chair. However, there are plenty of options across many budget ranges, so let’s take a look at my top picks. I’ve tried my best to cover all of the different cello chair types, so there should be something to investigate regardless of what your taste is.
Wenger NOTA Posture Chair
Earlier in this guide, I commented that I’m not a fan of cello chairs that are made out of plastic. They’re just not for me, I find that my trousers do not grip them properly, and they can often be uncomfortable for my posture.
However, not everyone is like this – tons of cello students and teachers that I have met favor plastic chairs like the Wenger NOTA Posture Chair. It’s a chair designed with posture and ergonomics as the focus, ensuring that weight distribution is perfect for any body type.
A lot of people I know who have used this chair claim that it helps with their breathing too, and if you’ve already begun your cello journey, you’ll know that this is essential.
It’s an overall solid cello chair that costs around $125, and whilst this may seem pricey, it’s worth the investment if it works for you. Test out some plastic chairs for yourself, and if you like how they feel, the NOTA Posture chair is a great candidate.
- The chair frame is designed to promote even weight distribution
- The high price tag is a result of excellent design quality.
- Designed with ergonomics, posture, and comfort in mind
- The backrest is favored by many for aiding breathing when performing
- This chair is not adjustable in any way
- It cannot be folded, which can make it a pain to transport
- The plastic design is not for everybody
MECO Stakmore Music Back Folding Chair
Moving on to something that I find more comfortable, I wanted to list the MECO Stakmore Music Back Folding Chair. This cello chair is made out of wood, with an upholstered seat made from soft fabrics, and when combined with a backrest, I find it a super comfortable fit.
The chair is foldable, which is useful for transportation, but the wooden material results in it still being heavier than a typical cello chair. As long as this isn’t a problem to you, it could tick all of the boxes for cushioned chair lovers.
Whilst these features are undeniably the most important of the chair, and it would be rude not to mention the aesthetic appearance of it. The backrest is designed to look like a musical clef which I think is beautiful, and in general, the chair looks more like something that would fit in a living room or study as opposed to a music hall.
It’s pretty and practical, what more could you want?
- It can be purchased as a set of two for $140, and having a spare will save you the need of having to transport them
- The aesthetical appearance of the chair is beautiful
- It’s foldable, comfortable, and stable – that ticks all of the boxes!
- This chair cannot be adjusted in any way
- The wooden design makes it heavy and clunk to transport despite being foldable
- Whilst the set of two can be convenient for some, it’s a bit frustrating if you only want to purchase one.
YAMAHA PKBB1 X-Style Bench
Next is a very popular cello chair that I am not a fan of, the YAMAHA PKBB1 X-Style Bench. You will find this chair in just about any music school, it’s incredibly popular due to its compact size and low price tag, but I think it is a huge compromise on comfort and posture.
It’s a chair that has been designed for musicians in general, so it’s important to realize that the company hasn’t considered the posture of the cellist. There is no backrest, for example, which can make it difficult to maintain a straight back, and the small frame can make it problematic for different body types.
Regardless of my opinion, tons of cellists are perfectly happy with x-frame benches like this. It’s not for me, but it could be for you, so you should test it out before you make a judgment.
- Adjustable and easy to fold
- It only costs $40
- No backrest
- Designed for musicians, not for cellists
- I find the frame to be a bit flimsy and wobbly
I’ve saved the best for last, the Vivo ADJUSTRITE. I love this cello chair. I’ve tested all of the cello chairs on this list, and I am yet to find something as comfortable as this. Both the backrest and the wedged cushion are soft and comfortable, the legs are adjustable individually, it’s foldable, and it’s stable. That is the perfect cello chair for me.
It may not be perfect for you, but you should certainly try it out. It’s, unfortunately, the most expensive chair on this list at $250, but I truly think this is a small price to pay for something that I sit on for hours upon hours every day.
- Legs are individually adjustable in 1” increments, making them ideal for any height and even for unstable surfaces
- Lightweight and foldable, making it easy to transport
- Includes a comfortable soft wedge cushion
- Expensive in comparison to lower-range cello chairs
Test Cello Chairs Out in Music Stores
Before I wrap up this guide, I just wanted to reiterate a point that I have made several times already – you should always test out cello chairs in a music store!
Upon finding a bargain online or a chair that looks like it would work nicely for you, it’s tempting to make a spontaneous purchase and just go for it. Stop right there! Pictures and reviews can be deceiving, and after all, everyone is different. I might recommend the ADJUSTRITE over any other cello chair, but you might sit on it and find it horrible.
There are tons of music stores out there, and almost everyone will sell cello chairs. Turn up to the store, speak to a sales assistant, and ask them nicely if you can test their chairs. Trust me, it may be tempting to make a spontaneous decision, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you take a seat, and it just doesn’t feel right!
We’ve covered a lot of information throughout this guide, so let’s finish up by answering a few commonly asked questions:
Answer: Test cello chairs out in store! There is no better way to figure out if a chair fits you than to try and test its features.
Answer: When choosing a cello chair, you should look for something stable, adjustable, foldable, and, most importantly, comfortable.
Answer: Cello chairs cost between $40 and $300, but I would honestly recommend you aim towards the upper range, and this will generally indicate better quality, stability, and features.
Answer: This is all down to personal preference – I like fabric chairs and cannot stand using plastic chairs, but compare them for yourself to find the true answer.
Whilst cello chairs may seem like an insignificant part of your journey; I cannot recommend enough that you consider your options carefully. I cannot recommend the Vivo ADJUSTRITE enough – it is perfect for me both in terms of features and comfort, you should try it out.
However, I’m not telling you that it will be perfect for you too. Test some cello chairs out in a music store and find out for yourself what fits your preferences best. However, you should always look for something stable and adjustable – these are basic features, and every chair should include them, in my opinion.
I wish you all the best in finding the perfect cello chair! Choose carefully, and you could find something that sees you through hundreds and thousands of cello practice hours!
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