3/4 size 'cello

(15 Posts)
Bythebeach Wed 08-Jul-15 21:02:21

In search of advice please as I'm clueless when it comes to music but my eldest has outgrown his half size cello and is in need of 3/4 and I'm wondering what's best to buy and what sort of prices are reasonable. His teacher can source a second hand Stentor top level (?conservatoire?) for £675. Is that reasonable? He's grade 4 so would a cheaper one be okay? He's also growing fast so not sure how long he'll need a 3/4 for!

Thank in advance

Musicmom1 Wed 08-Jul-15 21:16:42

Hi dd moved to a 3/4 in feb - she is 9 but tall and we expect she may move to 7/8 or full size in another year or so. The stentor sounds fine as long as he tries first and his teacher likes it. Interestingly we pent more on dd's 3/4 but have just traded it for the bigger version of her much cheaper 1/2 size - both teacher and child much prefer the sound.

We expect to start getting a more serious cello when we get to full size but will also depend n school storage and travel etc - at the moment the string instruments taken into school spend quite a bit of time in a corridor! If that continues we will wait quite a while I think!

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 08-Jul-15 21:21:59

Stentor is definitely fine and cheap at that price if it's the Conservatoire model!

Bythebeach Wed 08-Jul-15 21:31:20

Thanks that's really helpful. I think it is conservatoire but will double check! I know they get much more expensive but it still seems such a lot for a ten year old who is less than careful with his possessions and is very physical by nature. I'm somewhat surprised the 1/2 size has lasted unscathed the way he dashes about with it.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 08-Jul-15 22:33:54

Won't link but suggest you contact Caswell's?

My own cello is a Hidersine model, the cheapest one they make. I quite like the fiddles they do and prefer them to Stentors in the same price range. Having a good cello would be pointless coz I can't play it, but this came with decent strings and sounds okay considering I play badly.

MightHaveDoneBetter Thu 09-Jul-15 12:02:06

Apologies JulieMichelleRobinson... but I'm not too sure that Caswell's is all that great with setups... also - Bythebeach.. I've seen decent 3/4 cellos for as low as £450... often times, it's the strings (try Dominants- or maybe just Jaegers on the top 2 strings... ) that can really make a difference in sound as well as how the bridge is cut .. and how evenly the feet (of the bridge) contact the front of the cello. Where is the teacher getting the 2nd hand from - and is it actually sound? watch out for soundpost cracks... (in the front), seams that need re-gluing or a 'dished' fingerboard.... Ensure that the height of strings from fingerboard is similar to the 1/2 ... if it differs greatly, the newer cello will be more difficult to play - and this can be discouraging... ...... Also, 10 years old seems a bit young for a 3/4... the only reason I say this is because I've seen so many younger kids really struggling with left hand intonation simply because the instrument is too large.. and then doing the necessary extensions (say - to get an Eflat on the D string) causes unneccessary deformation of the left hand... ultimately - (and for ease and quickness of execution) ... the fingers of the left hand should fall naturally when the child plays in normal 'closed' position (each finger is one half tone apart - with a whole tone between 1st & 3rd fingers) - if a child has to stretch in just 'normal - closed' first position, then the instrument is too large. There are lots of good smaller instruments out there and there should be no hurry to move on to the next size.

RapidlyOscillating Thu 09-Jul-15 12:12:07

How tall are your DCs? DD1 is 9, average size and still playing a 1/4 size, I assume she'll need a 1/2 size quite soon?!

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 09-Jul-15 14:20:18

MightHave,

I use them a lot because I'm in the Islands and they ship; but my own violin came from there when Hamilton was still around. It may be that they're not so good with cellos, or that things have changed since.

RedKite5004 Thu 09-Jul-15 15:19:57

You can actually pick up some really nice instruments on Ebay but always take someone who knows what they're looking at with you if you do go down that route. A lot of younger cellists I see locally seem to have the Stentors and by all accounts they look and sound pretty good especially towards the higher end of the range. My DS cello is a half size but he's a very tall 7 year old. It's unbranded and we paid very little for it but it's handmade and of cold war era eastern block origin according to our local luthier. It was a nice sounding instrument with cheap old strings on it but the addition of a set of Spirocores and a check over and proper set up by the aforementioned luthier has made it sound absolutely incredible.

MightHaveDoneBetter Thu 09-Jul-15 15:27:46

Julie - 'when Hamilton was around' was a long time ago - and yes - I heard wonderful things about him!

as for HEIGHT being the justification for a larger cello, please could I just point out that the legendary Pablo Casals was only 5 ft 2 inches tall - and he played a full size. However, the remarkable thing about him was the width of his hands (google some images) ... that is - measuring the distance from the outside of the hand at base of forefinger to outside of hand at base of little (4th) finger. I've seen some remarkably tall cellists who are very slender with small shoulders and petite hand size (or .. slender fingers and slender hands) really suffer because their cellos are too big. This is especially the case for children who are hypermobile - or double-jointed. Best to develop the sense of 'hand as a unit' and work on overall musculature rather than wandering finger to finger in search of the right note....

Bythebeach Thu 09-Jul-15 18:14:44

Thank you all so much for all the information - esp MightHave. I will definitely check his left hand in the closed position so thank you for that tip and the distance of the strings from the fingerboard too. He is just shy of five foot in height but I know his dad has a very large hand span so he may do too - never really considered it before!
Rapidly my 7 year old is playing a 1/4 size and is definitely too small for his brother's 1/2 size and he is tall in his class. I think at these ages they can differ a lot in height!

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 09-Jul-15 18:25:33

MightHave,

If you know a luthier who wants to move to the Channel Islands... I think our nearest is in St. Malo and I don't know him.

Stringmusicmum Thu 09-Jul-15 23:37:15

My son (age 10, 5ft 2) moved onto a 3/4 cello in Jan. We have the Stentor Conservatoire (£875 for the outfit, really good service from Omega Music) and put Larsen strings on it. Lovely sound, and he has just taken his G5 on it.

RapidlyOscillating Fri 10-Jul-15 08:23:25

DD is average height but extremely dainty so that makes more sense reading the pps, thank you.

MightHaveDoneBetter Fri 10-Jul-15 11:05:48

just when you all thought you were done reading...

another fun fact: sizes of smaller cellos vary greatly! I've seen Eastern European instruments (Hungarian or East Germany) half size cellos that are nearly the same size as the Chinese 3/4 cellos.... same with the quarters and the halves... so watch carefully. The Chinese instruments really do tend to be much smaller than the European ones.

also, the TUNERS -- the little screwy bits that are in the tailpiece (this is the black thing below the bridge that holds the strings in place... .. the Chinese instruments tend to have integral tuners and they are just rubbish (they break - or the screws strip) and then, it makes tuning the cello really difficult because you have to use the pegs...

I'm not sure what is on offer in terms of integral tuners now.. possibly Wittner (German manufacture) offers a tailpiece with integral tuners.. but all of this is worth asking about if you want your child's cello to stay in tune... what's more, I'm sure that your child's teacher does not want to spend too much time sorting out tuning or mechanical problems so these things are worth thinking about. A good luthier will ensure that all of the pegs turn easily (and STAY in position - in other words - they don't slip) and that the fine tuners function as they should

(I really wish that my kids played the piano!!!)

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