Monday, November 5, 2007


Two cellos are safely at home.

It arrived in one piece!

Customs did give me some minor grief at the border when they searched our entire car. At least they did let me handle the cellos. The Jay-Haide cello is very heavily "antiqued" to make it look 300 years old, so the customs officer didn't quite believe me when I told her it was brand new! They looked inside with a flashlight, to check the actual year it was made, but probably also to check for drugs or so. They also researched the cellos, to make sure that I told them the truth about the price. After all; I could have brought home a $400,000 cello, right?
We have driven 6600 kilometres in 9 days, and stayed only in the San Francisco Bay area!

The first bow strokes...

The Carruthers cello is my new big love!!
It is absolutely amazing. I briefly pulled my bow across the string when I came home, but sat down seriously on Sunday and played it all day.

I was a little nervous:
  • Would it still be as great as I thought it was when I played it in Santa Rosa?
  • Is it really better than my Mirecourt?
  • Is it better than (or at least equal to) my Luis and Clark?
  • Would it like my Roy Quade bow?
I am happy to say: YES!!!

It is so easy to play. It is powerful, yet warm. It projects so easy. It is a great match for the bow.

I really drove down to San Francisco for the baroque cello.
While I was there anyway, I figured, I should try some "contemporary" cellos.
The purpose of trying all of these cellos (and I played about 45 of them while in the San Francisco Bay area!) was:
  • to see if my Mirecourt is a good instrument in its price range.
  • to see if the Luis and Clark instruments are indeed so much better than most instruments up to about $50,000
  • to justify for myself that perhaps playing the carbon fibre cello was all right, so to stop feeling guilty about not playing the Mirecourt.
To answer those questions:
  • The carbon fibre cellos are competitive, and they are much cheaper.
  • My Mirecourt is a very nice instrument.
None of the 45 or so instruments that I played spoke to me. Sure, they were nice, some were very nice, but so is my Mirecourt and I was not playing it.

But the Carruthers... now that is a different instrument alltogether!
I fell in love with it after the first bow stroke.

This morning I took it to my string quartet rehearsal. I was a little nervous again, because they all like the carbon so much. They have found it easier to play with than the Mirecourt.
Their advice? "You'd be crazy not to buy this cello!"


The difference with the carbon fibre cello? That instrument sounds like it always has a built in re-verb. That makes it sound like you are always in a big concert hall.
The Carruthers is as big (or perhaps bigger) in tone, but much warmer and without the "echo". And the bass of this cello is un-equalled!
What I have missed on the carbon fibre cello is fine colouring, and subtle soft playing. It is great for playing big and it is easy.
This Carruthers cello will do whatever I ask it to do. And I have only played it for two days!

Andy Carruthers said before I left with his cello: "please don't tell me if you find the carbon fibre is better than mine; make up another excuse, but don't tell me when it is better!". He can breathe easy: his cello is far superiour than any cello I have played!

Playing the Carruthers. To the side are: Jay-Haide, baroque cello of a colleague, Luis and Clark, Mirecourt.

My Mirecourt? I had some good laughs with it yesterday. As I played it against the Carruthers, he was cranky and difficult. But at the end of the day, when I wanted to record the instruments to listen on a distance, it sang like it hadn't in a while. I laughed and remembered that this is so typical for him: he is a moody cello.

Playing the Mirecourt.

Our violist this morning had an interesting comment about the Carruthers. He said: "this instruments really likes you". That made me feel good!
Perhaps the Mirecourt is just too moody for me? It may be different in the hands of someone else. And once again: it is a very nice cello. Of all the instruments I played, the Mirecourt is still nicer than most!

Needless to say I am exhausted and excited. It is such a personal and emotional journey! The Mirecourt has been such a friend for almost 19 years, yet I hadn't played it in two years. I felt guilty about that! As I had mentioned before: I have no personal bond with the Luis and Clark; while I really like what I can do with it, it is very replaceable. My husband always jokes that the carbon makes his life easier, since I am not so "paranoid" about it. He can put it in the car without me worrying. He is even allowed to carry it!
The Carruthers cello is great. I am really happy that I know who made it too. It makes even more personal. And he is such a nice man!

Having such a strong connection again with an instrument is great. A colleague who recently sold a cello and bought another one said that letting go of the old instrument was like getting out of a bad relationship, where you didn't realize that it was bad until you were out of it. I think I know what he meant!

The Luis and Clark, the Carruthers, the Mirecourt, the Jay-Haide

I have not yet spent much time with the baroque cello, but the hour or so that I played it I found it beautiful! Rich and warm.
I have commissioned Jay-Haide to build me a piccolo cello as well. It will take about 3 months. I will be curious how it turns out!

Now: back to the practice room: I will be playing Bach!


  1. So much excitement, so much fun! I'm glad you found your voice. And thanks for posting the photos - I'll show them to my husband when he is making complaining noises about the size of my cello stable. At least I'm not the only one!

  2. I grieve that the Carruthers'had to go home to Santa Rosa. I should have like to have head you play the Bach on it. I should like to hear that some one as passionate as you will get a hold of it. It obviously needs to be played and not to remain silent in it's workshop. Perhaps I should write a fable about you, it and your blog story. I wonder what Ruggeri would have made of Carruthers,his cello and and your flirtation with it. I have become a Ruggeri groupy. There is one in the Oxford area which sends vibrations down the spine and it is a joy to hear and to look upon at a concert.

  3. What a wonderful journey you are having, greatly appreciate the info and photos on the Baroque bow's and all of the photos! I greatly enjoy your playing and if you ever visit the midwest, I'll love to hear you play!