Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lesson #22 (08/29/11): Cello Testing #2 (Part 1 of 2)

I didn't have a lesson last week because Fall classes started last week and my teacher and I had conflicting schedules.

This week's lesson we tested and recorded a couple of cellos I have on trial. I think I'm really close to choosing a cello! There will be one more lesson to test the last cello (another Eastman cello) and then I'll finally have a cello to call my own!! :).

Testing cellos has definitely made me solidify and hone in on what type of cello sound I like versus the ones I don't like. I've discovered I like very rich, warm sounds, and I don't particularly like smokey or bright sounds.

Also, I've read, and was told by my teacher, that how a cello sounds with me playing it ("under my ear") is quite different than how it sounds to people in front listening to it or people in the same room in general! I didn't think it would be that huge of a difference but the sound really is different!

Before going into this lesson I was leaning towards the Eastman cello because it sounded warmer, velvety and smoother to me. While the other cello, a Calin Wultur cello, sounded too smokey and not particularly warm! During the lesson my teacher recorded the test (he's playing the cellos in the recordings too) and I discovered that the one I favored least before the lesson, the Wultur cello, was the one that sounded best in the recording!

When he emailed me the recordings the following day, I was really surprised that I liked the Calin Wultur cello more. I emailed him with my initial thoughts below with each recording. He was also surprised that he liked the Wultur cello as well.

The first half of the recording is the Calin Wultur and the second half is the Eastman cello. My teacher spliced up the recording so I could listen to both cellos one after the other to compare them more easily. The recording highlighted in green is the cello I preferred.

Just a quick note: I kind of put my teacher on the spot with the recordings. ...heh, heh... he was playing the passages from memory and he didn't know I was going to post them later so the pieces were unpracticed.

Beethoven excerpt
  • 1st recording: nice full round sound in the beginning and robust lower register
  • 2nd recording: nice upper register, but the lower register was not as full as the first recording

Brahms excerpt
  • 1st recording: lower register has a nice big sound, which I liked! Nice upper register, sounds sweet and round/open. Good volume
  • 2nd recording: quieter lower and upper registers, and also sounded more closed than the first recording

Dvorak excerpt
  • 1st recording: chords didn't sound very full and the upper wasn't very rich. Although my teacher said he didn't play the chords as well as he should have and it wasn't because of the cello
  • 2nd recording: this was a little quieter, but I found this to be rounder and the chords sounded better

Elegy excerpt - this was a toss up!: 
  • 1st recording: nice robust warm upper, good volume and color
  • 2nd recording: a bit quieter, but more expressive?

I initially liked the Wultur cello because it was extremely responsive and had great volume so I didn't have to work too hard and it was very enjoyable to play, but I didn't like the voice on this cello. Listening to the recordings made me realize that I needed to give the Wultur cello a second chance, especially since I really liked how this cello played and sounded in the recordings - although I didn't like how it sounded "under my ear."

The original strings on this was Jargar A&D and Belcanto G&C. The Belcantos sounded too smokey on this cello, so I switched them to Jargar Fortes since I read that these strings typically do very well with Belgian bridges and adds warmth and rich tonal quality to the sound - now they sound beautiful!! I changed the Jargar A&D to Larsen A medium and Larsen D fortes. The Larsen sounds warmer and rounder on this particular cello, but I know on other cellos Jargars can sound warmer. I did try out other string combinations including Permanents, Evah Pirazzi and Flexocor strings, but this combination was the best on this cello.

Now that I've changed the strings to suit my taste more, it sounds really, really GREAT! So much so, that I'm having trouble deciding on this cello and the new cello I received a couple of days ago which I thought was the one and had made my decision on that one, but now... I don't know! This is going to be a tough decision!

What did I learn about picking out a cello during this test?
  • Focus more on the playability of the instrument and how it feels because the voice of the cello can easily be changed by the strings or bridge!

That would have really sucked if I had shipped this cello back and not tried out different strings on this cello because this cello is a KEEPER!

The other cello also plays very nicely, although the Wultur cello does have a faster response... and neither cellos have a wolf so far! Although its too early to tell because wolfs can develop later, especially if the cellos are new. The Wultur is a 2010 and the new Eastman is a 2011.

The next cello test should be interesting... I wonder how the Wultur cello will sound with new strings. I don't have a lesson next week because of Labor Day Holiday, so I'll post those results in two weeks.


  1. Replies
    1. Oops, thanks for letting me know! I just refreshed them.