I'm a recording newbie trying to record a cello track and the mic is freakin' out. When I play pizzicato it's not nearly as bad but when a play with the bow virtually everything is clipping even when I move the mic across the room and the volume down. I'm using an old audio technica DR-VX1. This is just to experiment with music recording/production. I'm pretty lo-fi and the mic works fairly well with the acoustic and ukulele stuff I already have recorded. Is it a problem with the mic or is it just impossible.
It is definitely possible, have you turned the gain down? Try getting someone else to play the instrument so you can move the mic around yourself with some headphones on and find where it sounds best.
Yeah, you're gonna need to turn the gain down. I'd recommend moving the mic away as well. A lot of a Cellos sound is gonna come from the room.
Derpy Derp Derp Herp Derp
Cello's and git fiddles are actually stupidly loud when you use that bow, like, twice as loud as a good acoustic guitar, so try NOT pointing the mic directly at the strings or sound hole, rather, point it at the fretboard.

I'd say, keep the mic about 4 feet away, that's about the distance I normally see them when they are recording instruments like that. Or they have a condenser mic that's right under the bridge.
Yah, point it at the fretboard!

Except that cellos are fretless...

That's the right idea, though. Pick up some of the sound of the fingers moving around, some of the noises associated with moving the bow around. That's all part of the sound that is lost if you bury a mic in the sound hole.

...sound hole. Is that a technical term? Surely we could say it in Latin and make is sound fancy. That's what scientists do!

Materia alba = white stuff!
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Don't cellos have f holes?

Regardless, keep away from them as the lower frequencies will play havoc. Watch the gain and try 2 mics placed at different spots in the room. MOve them until you get to a spot where the clipping is not present.

BTW... is it the lower end of the spectrum (bass) that's clipping? if so, eq prior to recording or even after to get it out of there. You should be able to modify the wave file too. After recording editing is too easy.