Advice on cello upgrade


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I am considering selling my Ian Ross Scottish cello which has served me well for a few years but has a few playability issues. My budget, including the proceeds of the sale would be about 20 -25,000 Euros. Assuming I found one that sounds right and plays well what would people go for

1. A cello by a modern maker

2. A 19th ot 20th century German cello

3. A 20th century French cello

 

(I think older Italian cellos would be out of my price range)

Many thanks in advance

 

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34 minutes ago, Brumcello said:

I am considering selling my Ian Ross Scottish cello which has served me well for a few years but has a few playability issues. My budget, including the proceeds of the sale would be about 20 -25,000 Euros. Assuming I found one that sounds right and plays well what would people go for

1. A cello by a modern maker

2. A 19th ot 20th century German cello

3. A 20th century French cello

 

(I think older Italian cellos would be out of my price range)

Many thanks in advance

 

Once I had sold my old cello, I would enquire what is available in my price range, without any racial prejudices, and try what I liked best

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5 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Once I had sold my old cello, I would enquire what is available in my price range, without any racial prejudices, and try what I liked best

That was my initial feeling and I am of the opinion that modern instruments by good makers represent excellent value for money. The question really related to the possibility of finding a few cellos that fit the bill. Is there a pecking order of older cellos from different countries?

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The best advice would be to play as many cellos as you can get your hands on.

I think your list is a bit limited in scope for your potential budget, but to answer your points:

Cellos by contemporary makers will give you access to a decent range of different models within a fairly close price point. Quality will vary, so do be aware of that.
It's worth learning that a Ruggeri model is different to a Montagnana, and both are different to a Strad model. Body dimensions, string lengths, rib depths, C bout shapes, corner positions can all make a difference to how user friendly a particular model might be, and if it is really suitable for you.
With contemporary cellos, there is a greater chance to try different woods. A number of makers will be using Willow or Poplar for example, this can affect the type of tone produced, and the projection accordingly.

Nineteenth and Twentieth century German cellos can be underrated, often criminally so. With any older instrument, condition is vital. If you aren't in a position to evaluate the condition, or spot potential repairs, you should find someone who can, and pay for their time.
A lot of German cellos, as I think you will know, originated in large volume workshops. In a way, this makes them seem less desirable, but look past this.
In general, they are solidly made, and from good materials at the upper end.

Twentieth century, or even late Nineteenth century French cellos can be very good, but usually command a higher price than their German counterparts, even at the same level of quality. The varnish is less often shaded or antiqued, if this would matter to you.
Most frequently, a large Strad model was used, and for some, this can make them a bit of a struggle.

Italian cellos will be out of your budget, unless they have major issues like a back sound post crack. Something like that could make it very difficult to sell on, and unlikely to appreciate in value.

Your budget will possibly get you into the range of some antique English cellos from the mid Eighteenth century onwards. Obviously, anything with several centuries behind it is going to have at least some condition issues. Provided they have been well repaired, it should be stable, but bear in mind that many haven't necessarily been. Woodworm can also have affected them in the past.
If you are looking to buy something quite old, I would suggest buying one from a shop, where you should have some cover against failing repairs, something you won't get with a private sale, or at auction.

Fine instruments were made in most cities Europe wide. Within your budget, there could be a bewildering number of cellos from countries you have not considered.

The best cello for you, will be the one you enjoy playing the most, and really, that could be anything. I would try as many as you can, and play them with an open mind.

Good luck with your search.

 

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Thank you Dave Slight. That is all very helpful. I have played Montagnana models before and did not find playability issues (they are wide but that is not a problem for me). I dont think a very old instrument is worth considering because of the maintenance requirements. Your comments about German vs French cellos are worth bearing in mind 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, sospiri said:

Wot? Even a Chinese one?

Sorry, I’m afraid that I don’t have any Chinese celli (or violins).

24 minutes ago, Brumcello said:

Thank you Dave Slight. That is all very helpful. I have played Montagnana models before and did not find playability issues (they are wide but that is not a problem for me). I dont think a very old instrument is worth considering because of the maintenance requirements. Your comments about German vs French cellos are worth bearing in mind 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for a cello that you will like for the long term, is difficult enough. I believe that one only makes life more difficult for oneself, should one spend months or years solidifying any irrational predjucies, from which county it should come from. If you came to me for instance with the mentioned budget, you would be offered an early 20th C Viennese cello, and a mid 19th C English one, and I would get a bit bad tempered if you asked me why neither came from France

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42 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Sorry, I’m afraid that I don’t have any Chinese celli (or violins).

Searching for a cello that you will like for the long term, is difficult enough. I believe that one only makes life more difficult for oneself, should one spend months or years solidifying any irrational predjucies, from which county it should come from. If you came to me for instance with the mentioned budget, you would be offered an early 20th C Viennese cello, and a mid 19th C English one, and I would get a bit bad tempered if you asked me why neither came from France

I had not considered Vienese cellos. Are there any particular makers you would recommend?

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47 minutes ago, Brumcello said:

I had not considered Vienese cellos. Are there any particular makers you would recommend?

I think you miss the point. I would never recommend some abstract instrument. You should get your money together, then review the available celli. Were you to visit tomorrow, the Viennese Cello I would show you would be a Jaura

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7 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Sorry, I’m afraid that I don’t have any Chinese celli (or violins).

Searching for a cello that you will like for the long term, is difficult enough. I believe that one only makes life more difficult for oneself, should one spend months or years solidifying any irrational predjucies, from which county it should come from. If you came to me for instance with the mentioned budget, you would be offered an early 20th C Viennese cello, and a mid 19th C English one, and I would get a bit bad tempered if you asked me why neither came from France

More bad tempered than usual?

:-)

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I’ve been a member here for over 20 years. Every few months someone asks a variation of this question, and gets the same round of answers.

ask yourself honestly:

Do you want something to play or something as an investment.

BIG BIG difference.

Then do your search.

More later, wife is calling.

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2 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I’ve been a member here for over 20 years. Every few months someone asks a variation of this question, and gets the same round of answers.

ask yourself honestly:

Do you want something to play or something as an investment.

BIG BIG difference.

Then do your search.

More later, wife is calling.

I dont think.it is quite as simple as that. I am a cellist, not a dealer or investor. How an instrument plays and sounds is important and only I know what is required in those areas. However I want to have a cello that I can sell again if I need to for some reason. I also want a cello that I am proud to own. 

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24 minutes ago, Brumcello said:

I dont think.it is quite as simple as that. I am a cellist, not a dealer or investor. How an instrument plays and sounds is important and only I know what is required in those areas. However I want to have a cello that I can sell again if I need to for some reason. I also want a cello that I am proud to own. 

Where are you based? This can make a bit of a difference regarding the best value. Generally in your price range you can get pretty decent modern instruments, but few good sounding (and playing) antiques. Of course there will be plenty exceptions to prove me wrong. 

My recommendation would be to contact luthiers or shops in your area (that could mean up to 500 kilometers) and play as much as you can. Consider taking a listener (& second player) with you. If your gut feeling is right, take it home for a time period if possible. If you still like it, buy it. 

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8 minutes ago, Michael Szyper said:

Where are you based? This can make a bit of a difference regarding the best value. Generally in your price range you can get pretty decent modern instruments, but few good sounding (and playing) antiques. Of course there will be plenty exceptions to prove me wrong. 

My recommendation would be to contact luthiers or shops in your area (that could mean up to 500 kilometers) and play as much as you can. Consider taking a listener (& second player) with you. If your gut feeling is right, take it home for a time period if possible. If you still like it, buy it. 

I'm based in the UK. I am familiar with the process of trying cellos. For example, the last time I bought a cello (6 years ago) I spent a day at Guiviers in London, a day at another London dealer (who I will not name) and a day at Cardiff violins. I also visited the workshops of two highly regarded modern makers. The question was really about whether there are any relative merits of old German vs old French vs new cellos. I guess from the answers here that it matters not one jot where the cello is from.

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7 hours ago, Brumcello said:

I'm based in the UK. I am familiar with the process of trying cellos. For example, the last time I bought a cello (6 years ago) I spent a day at Guiviers in London, a day at another London dealer (who I will not name) and a day at Cardiff violins. I also visited the workshops of two highly regarded modern makers. The question was really about whether there are any relative merits of old German vs old French vs new cellos. I guess from the answers here that it matters not one jot where the cello is from.

As far as value as a musical instrument this is correct. However this is a price range where unscrupulous dealers and makers find it well worth their while to do some convincing aging and insert a false label which may seriously affect monetary value if the fakery is spotted later. The best way for a non expert to know who made an instrument is to watch them make it or if looking at older stuff to be very careful who you are dealing with. I am just lately seeing a number of supposedly Italian instruments from the world war two years appearing on the market and am wondering why so many seem to be showing up at once.

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15 hours ago, Brumcello said:

I dont think.it is quite as simple as that. I am a cellist, not a dealer or investor. How an instrument plays and sounds is important and only I know what is required in those areas. However I want to have a cello that I can sell again if I need to for some reason. I also want a cello that I am proud to own. 

Yes, that is a good answer, but the main thing is a good cello. Doesn’t matter where it’s from, what do you want is a good cello, with good provenance, in good condition. The sound means nothing to anybody but you, but condition is condition. nobody can argue about whether a cello has cracks or not. 
so whether it’s French or whatever is moot. Take your shekels and buy a cello in perfect condition with ironclad provenance, That sounds good. Whether it is French or Belgian or Austrian or Swiss means nothing. My own cello is American and It is the end of my search.

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On 4/19/2021 at 7:35 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

The best way for a non expert to know who made an instrument,,,,,,,,,,,,,or if looking at older stuff to be very careful who you are dealing with. 

This is the key question to ask, instead of "what makers" (assuming older instruments), you should be asking "what dealer".  A good dealer will basically "protect" you from making a bad purchase.  What was impressed upon me early on as a dealer was this.  Jeffrey H. used to always say in response to people feeling the need to take and instrument being sold from one dealer, to another for an opinion: If you feel you need to do that, you shouldn't be even considering a purchase from them.  I say this to emphasize the point some have made, who you buy from is the biggest decision (IMHO).  Unfortunately, this is a hard thing to discern for a buyer.

20 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Yes, that is a good answer, but the main thing is a good cello. Doesn’t matter where it’s from, what do you want is a good cello, with good provenance, in good condition. The sound means nothing to anybody but you, but condition is condition. nobody can argue about whether a cello has cracks or not. 
so whether it’s French or whatever is moot. Take your shekels and buy a cello in perfect condition with ironclad provenance, That sounds good. Whether it is French or Belgian or Austrian or Swiss means nothing. My own cello is American and It is the end of my search.

 

I agree, in the context that you mean this.   But, in thinking about all the cello's in this price range, you will severely limit yourself if only looking for cello's in perfect condition.  Maybe it's because I'm into the restoration side of things, but I don't see anything wrong with a cello that's been through "the mill" if properly restored, and proper compensation has been made in the pricing of such.  The key to buying a cello that's been somewhat "through it", is WHO you buy from.  I, frankly, have no issue with devalued instruments like modern italian cello's with properly repaired soundpost cracks.  Phillip, if your meaning was to give "safe advice", then, you did.  

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58 minutes ago, Jeff White said:

This is the key question to ask, instead of "what makers" (assuming older instruments), you should be asking "what dealer".  A good dealer will basically "protect" you from making a bad purchase.  What was impressed upon me early on as a dealer was this.  Jeffrey H. used to always say in response to people feeling the need to take and instrument being sold from one dealer, to another for an opinion: If you feel you need to do that, you shouldn't be even considering a purchase from them.  I say this to emphasize the point some have made, who you buy from is the biggest decision (IMHO).  Unfortunately, this is a hard thing to discern for a buyer.

 

I agree, in the context that you mean this.   But, in thinking about all the cello's in this price range, you will severely limit yourself if only looking for cello's in perfect condition.  Maybe it's because I'm into the restoration side of things, but I don't see anything wrong with a cello that's been through "the mill" if properly restored, and proper compensation has been made in the pricing of such.  The key to buying a cello that's been somewhat "through it", is WHO you buy from.  I, frankly, have no issue with devalued instruments like modern italian cello's with properly repaired soundpost cracks.  Phillip, if your meaning was to give "safe advice", then, you did.  

This is a good point. An orchestra colleague has a lovely 18th C English cello by a lesser maker. It has a (repaired) soundpost crack which devalues it substantially but it sounds fantastic. The only problem is that it spends a lot of time in the workshop.

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