I started at age 44, and performed at my first recital about 4 months after starting. I do have a B.M. in classical piano and about 30 years of rock guitar experience; being able to read music fluently helps a lot and the years of playing guitar also made a difference. I did rent a student cello at first and got absolutely nowhere. I then bought an NS Design 5-string electric cello - the thing is all neck, no body. It also has dot markers for every note. Because I can literally see where I'm going to next, I've been able to bypass a lot of the traditional stuff, like memorizing positions. I also haven't had to bother with thumb techniques at all, and I've set my string height very low - about what you'd see on an electric guitar. I sometimes get a bit of rattle from the C string (C and G are the typical Thomastik Spirocore tungstens), but I've found that with a lot of solo cello repertoire, I'm not using the C string very much. In short, I've made a lot of progress, but the instrument I chose helped a LOT - hitting notes at the 2nd octave on the A or E string is easy because my hand position is identical to playing notes in 1st position. However, it still takes daily practice - I'm putting in about 2 hours a day, which is a far cry from my conservatory years but I've got a job, wife, kid, other hobbies, a rock band...there are only so many hours in a day! The dots get me close but my intonation can still be very much off if I don't get my fingerings deeply memorized into my muscles (at which point having dot markers doesn't help anyways). I'm coming to terms with the bow and am probably ready to invest in a solid pernambuco bow; I've played with a few before and my carbon fiber bow (which cost hundreds) doesn't hold a candle to a $2000 pernambuco. It's going to take years to get fluent with the bow and I still work out more challenging fingerings playing pizzicato first. Add in learning how to control a wide, slow, expressive vibrato, and it'll be a lifetime project to master the thing. oh, I should add - I can now manage a traditional acoustic cello, sky-high string action and all. but it's a pain in the ass. starting on guitar btw is no different - people buy a cheap "beginner" acoustic with painfully stiff strings a mile off the fingerboard and then wonder why guitar is so hard to "learn". There is a tremendous amount of finger strength to build up, on top of learning the dexterity of left-hand fingering - why make it unnecessarily difficult at the outset?I started at age 44, and performed at my first recital about 4 months after starting. I do have a B.M. in classical piano and about 30 years of rock guitar experience; being able to read music fluently helps a lot and the years of playing guitar also made a difference. I did rent a student cello at first and got absolutely nowhere. I then bought an NS Design 5-string electric cello - the thing is all neck, no body. It also has dot markers for every note. Because I can literally see where I'm going to next, I've been able to bypass a lot of the traditional stuff, like memorizing positions. I also haven't had to bother with thumb techniques at all, and I've set my string height very low - about what you'd see on an electric guitar. I sometimes get a bit of rattle from the C string (C and G are the typical Thomastik Spirocore tungstens), but I've found that with a lot of solo cello repertoire, I'm not using the C string very much. In short, I've made a lot of progress, but the instrument I chose helped a LOT - hitting notes at the 2nd octave on the A or E string is easy because my hand position is identical to playing notes in 1st position. However, it still takes daily practice - I'm putting in about 2 hours a day, which is a far cry from my conservatory years but I've got a job, wife, kid, other hobbies, a rock band...there are only so many hours in a day! The dots get me close but my intonation can still be very much off if I don't get my fingerings deeply memorized into my muscles (at which point having dot markers doesn't help anyways). I'm coming to terms with the bow and am probably ready to invest in a solid pernambuco bow; I've played with a few before and my carbon fiber bow (which cost hundreds) doesn't hold a candle to a $2000 pernambuco. It's going to take years to get fluent with the bow and I still work out more challenging fingerings playing pizzicato first. Add in learning how to control a wide, slow, expressive vibrato, and it'll be a lifetime project to master the thing. oh, I should add - I can now manage a traditional acoustic cello, sky-high string action and all. but it's a pain in the ass. starting on guitar btw is no different - people buy a cheap "beginner" acoustic with painfully stiff strings a mile off the fingerboard and then wonder why guitar is so hard to "learn". There is a tremendous amount of finger strength to build up, on top of learning the dexterity of left-hand fingering - why make it unnecessarily difficult at the outset?