Purchasing a new cello can be a difficult process, regardless of what level you are at. Perhaps you are a new learner looking to find a high-quality beginners cello, or maybe you are an intermediate cellist looking to find an upgrade. Regardless of what you are looking for, it’s always important to choose a cello brand that has a great reputation for delivering high-quality products.
Throughout my long music career, I’ve tried out many different cello brands, and I cannot think of a better name than Eastman Strings’ cellos. They have served my students and me very well over the years; they are a company that has gone above and beyond the norm.
Whether this is your first time hearing about Eastman Strings’ cellos or you’ve already decided you’d like to buy one of their cellos, this is the guide for you. I’ll be taking a look at what makes their cellos so good and my top picks from their catalogue, so read on to find out my thoughts.
Eastman Strings: A Quick Overview
Before we get started with discussing the cellos that Eastman Strings produce, let’s take a moment to talk about the company. Eastman Strings is a Beijing-based instrument company that specializes in a variety of stringed instruments such as cellos, violins, violas, in addition to guitars and woodwind instruments.
They are well known for producing instruments with a focus on high quality; this means that there is no factory assembly line, with every instrument being hand-carved by professional luthiers. Whilst the company certainly represents a higher quality cello brand, this does not mean that they are only for seasoned cellists. The company’s website provides options for young students, adult beginners, intermediates, and experts alike.
The company has a seriously good reputation with their cellos being owned by the likes of Chris Murphy, Ada Pasternak, Joe Kwon, and of course myself! However, you might be wondering, what makes these cellos so critically acclaimed? It’s a great question; let’s get stuck into it.
Eastman Cellos: What Makes them so Good?
So, with such a huge variety of cello brands on the market, why exactly should you go for Eastman Strings? You’re right to be sceptical; I would always recommend that you maintain this attitude when you discover a new brand of instruments. However, I’ve got a ton of experience playing these cellos and would be happy to help clear the air. Let’s take a look.
Perhaps the most important element that you must consider when choosing a cello is the quality of the instrument’s craftsmanship. This should specifically be compared to the price of the cello, with expensive cellos generally representing a higher level of craftsmanship.
Eastman Strings are well known for producing some very high-quality instruments. Every instrument is designed with the finest cuts of wood that have been aged accordingly to promote perfect resonance and longevity, eventually being handcrafted by their team of professional luthiers.
This is not something that every cello brand cares about. Many cello brands mass produce their instruments in a factory, using cheap material alternatives (such as hardwood or spruce instead of ebony fingerboards). I’ve always loved the fact that Eastman Strings are not willing to compromise on the quality of their instruments, and whilst some have some finer hand-crafted details, they are have been built with care.
Everything I just mentioned about quality all sounds wonderful, but surely this makes Eastman cellos extremely expensive? Well, whilst the company certainly is not a low-budget option, I think you will be pretty surprised at the price of their cellos considering how high quality they are.
With most high-quality cello brands, you can expect to pay $5,000 or more for a high-quality, hand-crafted cello with ebony fittings. However, whilst Eastman Strings do provide some premium products that hit this price point, you can generally find their cellos for between $1,500 and $2,000.
For anybody who is not familiar with the world of cellos, this may seem like a lot of money, but when you take into consideration that each cello is hand-crafted and designed with premium wood, you’ll begin to realize that it’s a very reasonable price.
Sure, $1,000 is a lot to spend on one of Eastman Strings’ student cellos, but it’s certainly worth considering if you have the cash to splash. If not, I would recommend that you consider Eastman Strings as a brand of choice for upgrading your cello. Once you’ve levelled up from a student cellist and you’re ready to save up for something high-quality that will last you a long time, you won’t find a much better value cello than Eastman Strings.
It’s undeniable that the strongest element of Eastman Strings’ cellos is the fact that they provide high quality and affordable instruments, but there’s something that I have always appreciated even more – their enormous product range and variety of sizes.
I remember when I was first looking to purchase a cello, I could never find a brand that worked for me. My parents took me to visit some premium luthiers in London, but the prices were extortionate despite the high cello quality, and the beginner cello brands on the market were just cheap and badly designed.
The internet wasn’t around back then, so I couldn’t find Eastman cellos, but if I had, it would have been exactly what I needed.
Eastman provides an insane variety of products – from budget student cellos to more premium professional instruments; they’ve got a budget and a quality for every type of cellist. From finely crafted wooden cellos to lightweight carbon fibre electric alternatives, they provide a cello for every purpose. It’s a level of purchase flexibility that I simply have never seen at any other cello brand.
Finally, I’ll briefly mention the sizing. Just about every cello on the Eastman Strings website can be purchased in a variety of sizes. This means that the beginner range cellos exist in adult sizes and not just for children, and some of the professional series of cellos come in child sizes too.
I love this, as it doesn’t make any assumptions on what skill level you should be at any given age. Everyone is welcome, and there is a cello for each person – that’s all that matters to me.
Accessories and Warranties
Before I get started on my list of the four best Eastman Strings cellos’ that I have come across, I wanted to mention one final thing that I think makes the brand stand out – their accessories and warranties. You’ve probably already thought about this; there’s nothing worse than getting all excited about learning a new instrument, only to discover that you now need to pay more money to buy essential accessories and insurance for your cello!
It’s a frustrating experience that can be avoided by a bit of research, but I’ve always loved the fact that Eastman Strings prepare for this situation. Every cello comes with a warranty, and the company has a stellar reputation for staying true to its word.
I, unfortunately, had a problem within one month of my Eastman warranty ending, yet they still took the instrument in for repair, totally free. That’s exactly the kind of service I seek in a cello brand.
The company also provides options for outfits (i.e. bundles of accessories that come with the instrument), in addition to the purchase of individual accessories. Eastman specializes particularly in making bows and cases, but some purchases included other bundled products such as rosin or spare strings.
I have to say that it would be nice to see Eastman provide more outfit options, particularly when it comes to their student range of cellos, but to be fair to them, they sell all of this stuff separately, and I think that is sufficient.
My Top Eastman Cello Picks
Now that we’ve investigated the excellent reputation of Eastman Cellos and why exactly they are so critically acclaimed, you might be wondering where to begin. It’s all very well saying that Eastman Strings is a solid brand, but they have so many cellos to offer that it’s difficult to choose.
Well, I’ve provided the following three recommendations for Eastman Cellos that I have used, and I’ve ensured that I’ve covered a range of experience levels. Let’s see which cellos I chose!
Samuel Eastman VC80
The first Eastman cello that I would recommend on this list is the Samuel Eastman VC80 – this is Eastman’s answer to any cellist who is a beginner and doesn’t want to break the bank but is still interested in spending around $1,000 for an excellent quality cello that will last them for years.
Despite the instrument being aimed towards a beginner cellist audience, the craftwork is stunning. As opposed to many other beginner cellos, the Samuel Eastman VC80 has ebony fittings (with no cheap maple compromises), excellent resonance, and is set up by professional luthiers.
These are benefits that are usually only expected from advanced cellos, so to have them featured on a beginner model is quite something.
However, the biggest benefit to this cello is, of course, the fact that it can accommodate just about any body type. It doesn’t come in 1/16 (the rarest cello size), but it does come in every other size, and this makes it a suitable instrument for anyone over the age of six.
I’ve always recommended this cello to beginner students who are willing to spend a bit of cash, and I will continue to do so until something better appears (if it ever does!)
- A very high-quality cello for a beginner model
- It comes with ebony fittings when most beginners cellos use cheaper alternatives
- It comes in all sizes between 1/8 and 4/4
- Whilst it is excellent value for money, $1,000 is often considered to be too much to spend on a first cello
- It does not come in 1/16 size
Eastman Master Series Stradivarius Cello Outfit
I mentioned earlier how I love it when cellos come as an outfit, meaning that they come bundled with everything that you need to start playing. Whilst many Eastman cellos are sold separately from their accessories, they do stock some outfits, such as this Eastman Master Series Stradivarius.
This falls under their “advanced” category, sitting nicely between a beginner and a premium expert cello. You can’t go wrong with this instrument; it’s of a similar quality to the previously mentioned Samuel, with wonderful projection, resonance, and ease-of-play.
However, the main thing that makes this instrument stand out from the Samuel is the bundle, which pairs it with a bow, a hard case, spare strings, and rosin! It even comes with a 3-year warranty, meaning if anything bad happens to your cello in the next few years, Eastman will take care of it!
- Excellent value for money considering the bundle at around $2,500
- High-quality ebony fittings, plating, resonance, and amplification
- I’m a massive fan of the bundled hard case; it has multiple compartments making it excellent for accessory storage
- It’s not much higher quality than the Samuel, so it can be confusing as to why you are paying extra
- Only available in 4/4, so it’s not suitable for advanced child cellists
Eastman Albert Nevel VC601+
For my final Eastman cello recommendation, I’ve decided to go for the Eastman Albert Nevel VC601+. Take a look at some images of this cello online, and you’ll instantly see something special about it – it has an electric signal output!
I love the fact that Eastman has combined their quality wood and craftsmanship with solid pickups and electric amplification, it prepares you for any cello scenario, be it classical or jazz, and this makes it a clear winner for me.
The instrument is made from German spruce and maple as opposed to carbon fibre which is commonly used for electric cellos. I’m a big fan of that, but there’s even more to it – the instrument is hand-inlaid with purfling to protect the instrument from expanding or contracting due to temperature changes, and the resonance complexity of the German wood is simply stunning.
For me, this instrument ticks all the boxes – it’s electric, it’s made of fine-quality wood, and it’s designed to be used for a long time. What more could you want?
- An electric cello, allowing you to amplify the instrument as loud as necessary
- Traditional wooden design despite the electric signal
- Ideal for experimenting with contemporary cello effects pedals
- Hand-laid inlays for optimum wood longevity
- One of the most expensive options at around $4,000, primarily due to the electric signal
- Many fans of electric cellos prefer the lightweight and sturdy nature of carbon fibre, not wood
Wow, I sure have covered a lot throughout this guide to the best Eastman cellos. From the history of the brand to the qualities that make them stand out and my recommendations, you should be leaving this article with a whole new understanding regarding these high-quality cellos. Before we finish up, let’s round things out with a quick FAQ to address any of those final burning questions.
Answer: Eastman Strings’ cellos are of a higher quality than most brands due to being set up and carved by hand by professional luthiers, using aged and naturally treated ebony.
Answer: The sizes that Eastman cellos are available in depends on the variety; student cellos are generally available in all sizes between 1/8 and 4/4, whereas some advanced and professional cellos are only available in 4/4.
Answer: The price of an Eastman cello depends on the variety, with student cellos being sold for around $1,000 and professional cellos being sold for between $2,500 and $5,000.
Answer: Eastman Strings has an excellent reputation when it comes to their cellos, particularly in terms of design and build quality, value for money, and customer service.
I hope you have learned a lot from this guide! I will always remember the first time I heard about Eastman Strings, discovering a company that not only built excellent quality cellos but provided options for all different skill levels and sizes of cellists! I just wish that I had discovered them earlier as I was stuck trying to navigate the frustrations of beginner cello brands, but I got there eventually.
I could not recommend the Eastman Albert Nevel VC601+ enough, as long as you are not a beginner. This is one of the finest Eastman cellos (and any cello for that matter) that I have played, and I particularly love it due to its stunning electric amplification.
I also love the fact that it’s still made of wood despite being an electric cello, a quality that is becoming increasingly rare due to being replaced with carbon fibre.
However, don’t take my word for it. Have a long and hard think about what level you are as a cellist and what your budget is, and take a look at the huge range of cellos available on the Eastman Strings website. I’m sure that you’ll find something that will work for you, there is something for everyone!
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