Cello facts


The cello, otherwise known as a violoncello, is a bowed instrument with four strings. It's a close cousin of the violin, viola, and double bass.

As well as being a solo instrument, the cello can be found playing a range of music in the symphony orchestra - from soaring tunes to grumbling basslines.

Cello history

It's thought cellos evolved in the 16th century from other similar instruments; instruments like the viola da gamba and the viol.

Range of notes played by a cello

Cello range notes

A cello can play from a low C, two octaves below middle C, known as C2, up to a high A, two octaves above its highest string. Each of the four strings is tuned a fifth apart, making up the notes C, G, D and A.


How to play the cello

Just like other members of the string family, cellos make a sound when the vibrations from the strings bounce around inside the instrument's wooden body. The bow, made from wood and horse hair, is pulled along the metal strings to create a sound - but the strings can also be plucked.

Did you know?

Cellos in the Baroque era used to be held between the performers' legs without any support. Nowadays, they come complete with a large metal spike, known as an endpin, which holds the cello up by digging in to the floor.

How to play the cello