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Looking for a Scott Cao Cello in Switzerland


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My daughter is playing a 7/8 sized Scott Cao cello from a local

luthier. I'm not sure which of his cellos this one is (there is no

label), but she's delighted with the cello. She started with a

3/4-sized Scott Cao labelled STC-500, and was very happy with it as


If we had been interested in buying (which we weren't for a less

than 4/4), the STC-500 would have cost about $3,200. The one she

has now (or a 4/4 sized one) would be a bit above $5,000. As far as

I can tell, these prices a considerably higher than what the same

cello would cost in the US - at least from what I have seen on the


I do not in any way mean to impugn the luthier on this! I believe

that he is honest, competent - and pays considerably more himself.

However, since my mother lives in the US and will be visiting this

summer, it seems perfectly reasonable to have an online purchase

sent to her there and have her bring the cello when she comes. The

difference in price ought quite easily to make up for whatever

adjustments prove necessary here.

Would you agree with this line of thinking? Particularly, would you

agree that the Scott Cao workshop lines - say an STC-750 - are

standardized enough that we're not undertaking a foolish risk by

buying sight unseen? And if so, where would you particularly advise

making the purchase? www.swstrings.com seems like a reasonable

place to start.

Thanks for any tips,

Mike Gray

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I'd like you to consider supporting you're local luthier. You'll

want him around to look after you're cello for the future


Are you planning to buy the cello a seat on the plane, or put in

baggage? If you were thinking of just putting it in baggage, and

something happens, taking the damaged cello to the luthier to fix,

after not buying it from him in the first place, feels very much

like a kick to the teeth to the luthier.

swstrings won't be hurt buy not selling another cello, I would

imagine the loss of sale would affect you're local much more


For me it would be a decision based not on how much money I could

save, but rather how much value do I put on having a local luthier

available when I need him/her.

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Always buy an instrument that you or your daughter can try it first and likes it, not going by the fact

that somebody likes it or but a different instrument by the same shop. I have not heard any thing bad from anyone about Scott Cao, the risk is not high.

However, I would not think it is a good idea to ship at a long distance just for the sake of saving the money.

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You know - and just for the record - I'm all for supporting the

local guys. And if my local luthier had either a rent to buy

program or a trade up program, I would go ahead and do it - but he

doesn't have either.

As it is, I'm going to be living on intern pay and academic grants

for the next two years, and I'm burning frightening amounts of

money on guitars, guitar lessons and boys choir camps for my son-

and  recorders (she's been begging for a tenor recorder for a

year now), recorder lessons and cello lessons for my daughter.

My wife and I don't own a car so we can have more money for all of

this - but I can't swing a purchase in $5K range (my luthier's

lowest 4/4 cello) without going into debt - and seeing $2K

disappear in rental fees over the next two years is pretty


I'm going to have to cut corners somewhere - the question is which

ones to cut and how to cut them.

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Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar
That's too bad

he doesn't have a rent to purchase plan, that would have made

things a whole lot easier. How much money would you be saving by

bringing the cello in?

Well, going by what I see on the STC750 sets at Southwest Strings -

and that's about the extent of my shopping so far - we'd be

saving about $2500 on the same model cello and getting a bow (a

$150 Klaus Müller model - I'd like to look into upgrading

that) and case (hard shell "prelude" model) into the bargain.

Again: buying locally we would have excellent, friendly service,

professional setup and plenty of help. Heck, if I had $20K to spend

to have a luthier make a really good cello - and if my daughter

were that serious about playing - I would consider one of his

cellos an excellent investment. And if rent to buy were an

option I'd be open to paying the extra $2,500 over a longer period

of time just for the ability to keep our options open. But as

it is, I feel like I just can't play in this league.

(In case some of the relative numbers seem whacky, please note that

Switzerland was, comparatively, a very expensive place, even

before the dollar fell so low .)

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I think this thread is on the wrong track. No, cellos are not standardized, even within one maker's "line". Scott Cao's are Chinese cellos, pure and simple. There are lots and lots and lots of Chinese cellos out there. You should NEVER buy a cello that your daughter can't play for a reasonable trial period and fall in love with. So, to answer your specific question, yes, you would be taking "a foolish risk by buying sight unseen".

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IMO you would be fine to buy a Scott Cao sight unseen. After all, the subject is Chinese instruments. The variation in tone between a couple of Cao's is not going to be $2500 worth of difference.

When it comes time to sell, it is still a Scott Cao cello. Now and forevermore. It won't matter if the instrument was purchased in the US or Australia or South Africa. It is unlikely that the prices for Cao instruments will start to appreciate like vintage Italians. They are all proto-typical shop instruments. That much is standardized.

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Originally posted by:
Have you

inquired whether US based internet strings companies will ship to

Europe? I have asked the company I use and will post their reply.


Southwest Strings does, although I'd have to call for a quoite on

the price. (I'm guessing international shipping for a cello would

be somewhere in the $200 - $400 range, plus - in my case - 8%


However, since my mother will be visiting us this summer anyway, I

think it would be easier to have her bring it in person. (Although

- as an earlier poster mentioned - that does involve surrendering

it to baggage handlers.) Among other things, since I have

family members who play, it ought to be possible to have them check

out the instrument before my mom leaves, just to make sure

everything is as it should be.

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I guess it goes without saying that insurance clarification either way is important.

Good luck (recent shipping for a voilin from China ran me $58....cello around $200 seems right).

I would talk to SW strings and stingworks etc....tell them what you are trying to do...make sure that they don't have a rep in europe. For instance...my cello came from Romania via Stringworks...seems there may be a way to get one set up there?

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I was under on estimate shipping to Europe...more like $400-500. I really like my SW cello.

It seems it would be fun to "leave no stone unturned" in looking for a comparitively priced cello in Europe. Your daughter could try out a lot of instruments. Do you have a school "spring break" in Switzerland?

Good luck either way!

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Originally posted by:
I was under

on estimate shipping to Europe...more like $400-500. I really like

my SW cello. It seems it would be fun to "leave no stone unturned"

in looking for a comparitively priced cello in Europe. Your

daughter could try out a lot of instruments. Do you have a school

"spring break" in Switzerland? Good luck either way!

Hey - thank you - that was a very kind thing to do!

In terms of spring (or summer) breaks - one thing I've actually

considered is a "field trip" to, say, Romania, the Czech Republic

or Hungary. Wouldn't know where to start, though, and I'm a bit

leery of it. (I've also been watching auctions by a Czech and an

Italian eBayer, both with a decent track record, and they have

things in my price range; however, I'm worried about putting my

daughter at the risk of ending up with something that won't work

well for her.)

I like the Scott Cao path since she has already knows and likes the

instruments. Even given inevitable differences between them, I have

a pretty high degree of trust that we won't end up with a


At this point, I'm tending toward investing a good hard shell case

and having my mother bring it along - and assuming I'll spend some

more money on further setup here in Switzerland. 

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  • 1 month later...

Good luck!  My daughter has a S. Cao 750S Guadagnini model and

loves it very much.  It was the only one we could find in the

Boston area and we tried German, Romanian, and other Chinese

makes such as Jay Haide, some in the $5K range. The

Montagnana model received rave reviews from String Magazine as


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