Shipping A Cello


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I have never shipped a cello, but recently I packed a cello in its hard case so that the local music school could ship it from New Hampshire to New York. The school sent it by UPS. I was shocked to hear that the cost was $400, which I assume included packing the case in a box.

How much does it usually cost to ship a cello? How do you people here do it?

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Ive shipped cellos from Uk to USA via UPS and its was around £200 (about US$300) ,$400 sound like a lot for shipping within the USA. I always use one of those multi shipping companies that give quotes from several shippers online and pick up from your home/ business premises. Their prices are usually much cheaper than going straight to UPS or Fedex sites.

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Is this a valuable cello? Will you be performing on the instrument?

OK

It's a West German Hofner from the sixties. Nothing spectacular, just a decent cello. It's going to be a studio instrument so students don't have to lug one around the city to and from a lesson.

So. Loosen the strings, use some styro to keep the bridge up, cross fingers and hope the soundpost doesn't fall?

My only gripe with the UPS/FedEx/DHL is the high duty that they are required to charge the recipient. HK is a free port so they might not have that problem but I hate getting those nasty emails complaining about that surprise duty charge.

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It's a West German Hofner from the sixties. Nothing spectacular, just a decent cello. It's going to be a studio instrument so students don't have to lug one around the city to and from a lesson.

So. Loosen the strings, use some styro to keep the bridge up, cross fingers and hope the soundpost doesn't fall?

My only gripe with the UPS/FedEx/DHL is the high duty that they are required to charge the recipient. HK is a free port so they might not have that problem but I hate getting those nasty emails complaining about that surprise duty charge.

I would send it bridge and post down, support under the fingerboard, tailpiece wrapper in bubble wrap etc.

You might consider taking with you and allowing the airline to put it in the hold IF they allow you to oversee the loading of the cello (usually done at the boarding gate) Whatever assurances you get make sure you have them in writing with the name of the official on the paper. You are better off making arrangements with the crew at the airport rather than with the ticket office. Be sure to have the name of the supervisory and statin manager's name at time of boarding and be prepared for a hassle. Might be better to simply buy a nice Chinese instrument in HK :(

Oded

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I won't be traveling with it. I just need to ship it there. It's actually my uncle's cello. He needs an instrument for his students when they go to him for lessons so they don't have to drag a cello around with them. I've seen people lug those things around. It seems like a chore.

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I won't be traveling with it. I just need to ship it there. It's actually my uncle's cello. He needs an instrument for his students when they go to him for lessons so they don't have to drag a cello around with them. I've seen people lug those things around. It seems like a chore.

Sorry I can't help you with cello shipping ideas. Perhaps your uncle would indeed benefit from having another cello around, so good luck with the shipping arrangements.

However, I must state my personal opinion that it would be an extremely poor idea to have the student practice on their cello at home and then play exclusively on a different instrument at their lessons. Yes, I know that some school orchestra programs treat the instruments as interchangeable (the student may in those cases pick up a different school instrument each day in orchestra), and, yes, I know that pianists and organists deal with this all the time.

But, learning how to draw a wide palette of expressive sounds out of an instrument is an essential part of learning to be a string player, and the student should have the benefit of being shown how to make those sound colors on their own instrument, which will necessarily have idiosyncracies and tendencies that make it different from any other instrument. The teacher should see and hear the student play the music that the student practiced as played on that instrument, so that the teacher can help the student to make adjustments in technique and the resultant tone colors. At first, the student should bond with one instrument and learn how to explore and hopefully maximize the musical potential of that instrument.

Another reason that the student should bring their own instrument to their lessons is that neck profile, heel shape, cello upper bout shape, string height, and other physical parameters can affect technique (especially at first). So, it would be unfortunate if the student quasi-mastered a certain techique at their lesson, but then was unable to recreate and practice that technique because their own instrument felt different or responded differently.

Yet another reason that the student should bring their own instrument to their lessons is so that the teacher can keep an eye on the setup of the instrument. Perhaps the bridge is leaning, or the nut is too high, or the strings are too far from the fingerboard due to seasonal wood movement. The astute teacher will take note of these things automatically, and inform the student if a trip to the luthier's shop is advisable. Or, as the student grows either in musical potential or size, the teacher may inform the student that it is time for a better or bigger instrument.

I certainly don't deny that there are advantages to playing a variety of instruments (of the same type). I also know that an advanced amateur or professional can adapt to a different instrument extremely quickly. But I don't think that most beginning to intermediate players would be well served by practicing on one instrument and then taking their lessons on another.

Just my opinion, of course.

Joe

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