Recommended For: Beginner
Cecilio is once again our number one viola brand as they were in 2016. They produce quality instruments at a fraction of the cost of other big-name players and all of their instruments are hand-made, even the less than $200 CVA-400. Because of this, Cecilio is one of the most well-known student viola brands in the world.
Cecilio violas are made out of hand-carved solid tonewoods in the traditional fashion: spruce top, flamed maple sides and back, and inlaid purfling. The chin rests are made of boxwood, traditionally a feature only available on higher-end models.
The main shortcoming of Cecilio violas is that their fingerboards are made of maple instead of ebony. Ebony fingerboards are sturdier than maple since ebony is a hardwood which means ebony fingerboards can withstand the repeated pressure of fingers tapping on them. Of course, removing the ebony fingerboards makes for a lower-cost viola, but you may need to take your viola in for repairs more often.
These viola outfits are also very generous. Most Cecilio outfits come with a quality brazilwood bow with unbleached Mongolian horsehair. They also come with boxwood pegs, chinrest, and tailpiece (with four fine tuners).
Given the value you get for the price, the Cecilio viola brand gets our highest vote, but if you are an advanced player, we recommend buying a higher-end viola below.
You can read our other Cecilio reviews on these pages: Cecilio CVA-400 review and Cecilio CVA-500 review.