Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New cellos

I am in San Fransisco and... I bought 2 cellos!

I first met with builder Andrew Carruthers in Santa Rosa. It was the first cello I played and... I fell in love! But I did not trust it. How could I: it was the first cello I tried after all!
I immediately connected with the instrument though. He had another cello, which I did not like at all.
I left him after playing the cello for quite a while. I had many more to try!

Next on my list was Ifshin in Berkely, for the baroque cellos. They had four instruments set up for me. Two had the Stradivari pattern and two a Montagnana pattern. They were all very different. I did not like the Strad instruments as much.

Generalizing, the Strads sound higher and lighter. The Montagnana's sound deeper in the bass and have lower overtones. For those of you who know me, it is pretty obvious which I liked better!

The two Montagnana's were very different, but one was significantly better. I decided to buy it. For that price I could not dream of owning an instrument this good!
I talked to the co-maker, Mr. Haide.

He knew I was going to bring the instrument into Canada and that it would probably suffer in the dry climate. (his sister lived in Edmonton, but he had never been there: "o no!, no!, no!; I just always bought her a ticket to come here. Too cold there, too cold").
Leave the cello with me, he advised. He would take the top off, dry the instrument and glue it back together, so that it will not go through such a rough transition.

He is also willing to build me a piccolo, as long as I tell him the specs.
As far as I know I want a 3/4 size baroque cello, wider neck, thicker/wider ribs (for more bass). I understand that there is some debate how large or small the body of a 3/4 is! I guess I need to figure that out first, but we are at least a step closer.

While I was there, I tried a dozen or so "regular" cellos in my price range. None that I liked at all.

A highlight of the trip was a visit with Bill Lazar from Lazar's Early Music in Sunnyvale. What a nice man! He has everything a person could want for early (medeval, renaissance and baroque) music. From the weirdest looking old wind instruments to an amazing collection of Viola da Gamba's (viols).
How unfortunate that he did not have a baroque cello that suited my needs. I would have really wished him my business!
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures as well while were there.

Another day of cello hunting followed. I must have played at least 40 cellos at different shops. I tried 21 in one shop only! Yes, sure they were nice, but... not like the Carruthers...! Could this be it?!?

I have decided to bring the Carruthers home... I am so excited and afraid at the same time. Will this be my new voice, my new identity?

Getting the instruments across the border may pose a slight challenge, but we will cross that bridge when we get there!

Well... decisions, decisions...! If anyone wants to buy a nice 1870 mirecourt cello...?!


  1. Mr. Haide is smart to be very cautious about shipping the cello north. I had a new cello from England that basically exploded last winter - over 12 cracks in less than 2 hours, and I'm only in Minnesota.

  2. I bought my Jay-Haide cello from Ifshin a year and a half ago. When I told them I lived in Alaska, they kept it for a few weeks to "fix it up" for our drier climate. I assume they did the same thing to mine that they're planning to do with yours.

    I've had no (physical) problems at all with it. I use dampits and a room humidifier, but still find its sound is very susceptible to sudden weather changes.