Difference Between Violin and Cello

Violin vs Cello

As violin and cello look so much alike just as the euphonium and baritone, knowing the difference between violin and cello is a hard task for some. This article attempts to make the task easier. Learning to play a musical instrument could be an invigorating experience to just anybody with a passion to music, but the real question is about getting to know the musical instrument specifically. Musical instruments are categorized into several categories as, string, percussion, woodwind and brass. The string family consists of four instruments, violin, viola, cello and double bass. This article explores two instruments of the string family; violin and cello, presenting brief descriptions about each and highlighting differences between them. Violin and cello could be noticed, in many ways, similar by an average person, but the vigilant eye could notice many more detailed differences.

What is a Violin?

Violin, or otherwise known as a fiddle, is the smallest and the highest pitch producing musical instrument of the string family. This wooden instrument is manufactured in the hourglass shape with arching of its top and back and is played with a bow made of a hank of horsehair. The first appearance of the violin was noted in the early 16th century and it is said that the earliest violins were mostly plucked where the bowed violins were not invented back by then. This string instrument consists of four strings which were originally made of sheep gut but nowadays they are made of various synthetic material including steel. As the violin is the highest pitched string instrument, it has a range from the G below Middle C to a higher E7. The music on the violin is produced by drawing its bow across the strings. Violin is associated with both western and eastern types of music.

Difference Between Violin and Cello


What is a Cello?

A cello is the second largest of the string family with the double bass being the largest. It is formally known as a violoncello and was first developed in the early 16th century from the bass violin. Like the violin and any other string instrument, cello too is played with a bow, apparently a larger one. The shape of a cello too is similar to a violin with having an endpin at the end to rest the cello on the floor when it is being played by a cellist to support the weight of the instrument. Cello has a low pitch range starting with two octaves below the Middle C being the lowest note. A cello is played with the cellist being seated and the music on the cello too is produced by drawing its bow across the strings. Cello is not associated with eastern music but is largely associated with European classical music.


What are the differences between Violin and Cello?

• Violin and Cello differ in size: violin is the smallest in the string family while cello is the second largest.

• The pitch of the violin is higher than that of the cello. Violin is the highest pitched string instrument.

• Cello has an endpin to support the weight of the instrument when being played whereas violin has no endpin.

• The posture of playing the violin and the cello are different The violin is played by holding at the shoulder level high and thrusting to the chin. The cello is played with the cellist sitting on a chair or a stool and the cello been kept on the ground near the cellist.

• The violin’s lowest note is G below the Middle C where cello’s lowest note is the C two octaves below the Middle C.

• Due to the high pitch, violin associate the soprano range where the cello, with its low pitch, links to the tenor range.

• Violin is also played in eastern music while cello is restricted to western and classical music.

List of differences between the violin and the cello continues and judging by the above mentioned few differences of their sizes, structures, pitches, sound ranges and playing postures, it is comprehensive that violin and cello distinctly differ from each other.


Photos By: born1945(CC BY 2.0), nosha (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Further Reading:

  1. Difference Between Violin and Electric Violin
  2. Difference Between Violin and Guitar
  3. Difference Between Violin and Viola
  4. Difference Between Violin and Fiddle