Craig Cowing

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  1. I like this discovery a lot. I totally agree. For decades my only cello was a nice Mirecort cello that originally belonged to my grandfather. I still have it although it needs some significant work. Once I freed myself from the ties to this one cello only I opened myself to all sorts of wonderful experiences. I now have several cellos and I love them all for different reasons.
  2. Yo Yo Ma has Jaqueline DuPre's Davidov Stradivarius cello and it is not his main performance instrument. Apparently she found it a difficult instrument to play, and I have seen statements to that effect from him.
  3. I wipe down my strings after every rehearsal or performance with a soft cloth. That way, serious buildup never becomes an issue.
  4. Possibly, but why would you want to go to the trouble? If you took it to a luthier they might just tell you the easiest thing is to replace the fingerboard. If it isn't a necessary expense why bother?
  5. I play cello in a community orchestra. A couple of years ago my only cello, a ca. 1890ish Mirecourt JT-L cello, had a major issue. The repair was going to be expensive so I splurged on a Chinese 5 string cello on Amazon for $400. Then I thought it might be fun to try a fractional cello, so I bought a 1/4 Eastman cello on Facebook Marketplace. I refitted it as a small baroque violoncello piccolo (still 4 string). Then I bought a 1/8 cello and have it strung as a vertical viola. Last year I bought a couple of very old cellos from a luthier downsizing his stock of unrestored instruments, and bought an 1836 New England church bass that I just finished restoring, and a mid-late 18th century German cello. Currently I am playing the German cello as my main instrument because I've been playing the 5 string one for a couple of years and I don't want to forget how to play on 4 strings. The fractional cellos come out once in a while just for fun. Bottom line? Depending on space, if you can do it I think it's a healthy thing to have more than one instrument. It makes you more versatile. I think of my chest of cellos (to adapt a commonly used phrase to refer to a collection of viols) as my friends. No, I don't give them names or refer to them as "he" or "she," but they are companions on the journey.
  6. I'm 5'7" and I always try to have the C peg at my ear. Here the end pin is the moving part. Adjust that to fit and you're good.
  7. Sometimes I have found that if the loose end of the string in the pegbox is touching another string it can buzz.
  8. Any musical instrument that is worth playing is going to be difficult at first. What would be the point if it weren't?
  9. I bought a Yinfente 5 string cello last year on Amazon. Ok, everyone groan now. It has a nice sound. This instrument has a really good clear tone and a good volume. It is responsive when played. I play mostly in a community orchestra in which there are about 5 or 6 cellos counting me. I've been playing for about 35 out of the last 50 years and have used a family instrument, which sadly has reached the point that it needs a significant amount of work that I can't afford right now. So, I decided to buy a student instrument, and thought a five string cello would be fun. There are caveats with this cello, though. 1. Get some good strings. The strings that come with the cello are awful. They're heavy and sound cheap. I bought a set of La Bella Helicore strings which set me back $126 and they were worth every bit. They are lighter in build but the tone is superior and you lose nothing in volume. 2. Mine came with a regular bridge for a four string cello. It's too narrow. I bought a bass viola da gamba bridge on eBay and fitted it to the instrument and the width is just right now. 3. The "gut" piece that holds the tailpiece is plastic. The threads strip. Spring for one made of aircraft cable that has metal threads. Otherwise the threads will strip and you'll have an explosion as I did. I couldn't keep it in tune, and finally the threads gave way and it exploded. 4. This isn't really a caveat, but just a thought. You can string this instrument to have either a high E or a low F. I quickly decided that I would rather have a high E for the tenor and treble clef. Any cello player knows that once you get into the upper range on the A string you have very little to go on for benchmarks. The low F could be useful for hitting the low notes along with the basses, but that struck me as less advantageous. I have seen comments online that a five string cello is going to have less volume because of the extra string, but I have not found that to be the case. With the Helicore strings the high E has a wonderfully clear and sweet sound and lacks nothing in volume. The overall volume of the cello does not suffer either. This prejudice, I believe, is simply that--a prejudice based on assumptions rather than experience. Granted, this is not a Stradivarius or Amati but I can't afford those anyway. For a middle aged guy who finds playing in a community orchestra with friends is a good escape from the trials of life, this is a very good instrument.
  10. The community orchestra I play in is the Cheshire Symphony Orchestra based in Cheshire, Connecticut. No, it isn't a big orchestra but our conductor, Dr. Hilarie Clark Moore, does a great job. She also conducts the New London (CT) Symphony Orchestra.
  11. No. No. Dear God, No.
  12. I don't know what the crest is made of but I can just imagine it buzzing on one particular note.
  13. Wendela and Peter Moes, husband and wife, here in Connecticut. Yo Yo Ma owns one of their cellos to give an idea of the quality of their work. Way out of my league price-wise but I'm proud to have them here in my home state.
  14. As an amateur, it strikes me that the choice of strings is a significant factor. I have several cellos of various vintages, and my current main instrument (late 18th century German, possibly Mittenwald) cello has Helicore strings, physically light but high functioning for volume and quality of tone, work really well. It's roughly 7/8 in size, basically an 18th century "ladies" cello. I love it. I find that the stress on my left hand is less, which is important to me since I have tendon issues in both thumbs and wear braces every rehearsal in the community orchestra I play in.