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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cellos - Made in China

My daughter's last Cello had an accident... On a American Airlines flight to NY City, her Cello got crushed and developed a couple of cracks. We had no idea about claiming from the airline (you have to do it at the airport). Upsetting experience. We had it fixed, but the person fixing it did a poor job. We took it to foster's violin shop the City of Orange, California who gave us the news it was not worth fixing. They were recommended by my daughter's cello teacher. Wow, they really know Cello's. And their office is in a craftsman era house that is just a gem.Push button switches for lights, leaded glass, wood floors, crown molding, etc.

So we are in the market for a new cello for our daughter. We stopped by Morey's Music in Lakewood California. Family run, and now on their fourth generation. They have Chinese made Cello's, but it's amazing what they have done to make sure they are excellent. We made an appointment with Jonathan (third generation) who is in charge of their Cello shop. They buy the wood, make sure it's been dried, then they supply it to a Cello shop that they trained on how to make a particular style of cello, and then comes back to their shop to be set up. Good cello's are all hand carved and each Cello is a little bit different because of the wood. Set up is a pretty intensive and manual, labor process that makes a lot of difference on the sound. They need to set up the bridge, new strings, often sound the fingerboard, change the position of the soundboard, and sometimes change out the pegs. For Romanian Cello's often, since they are machine made they have thicker wood that needs to be removed to get a great sound (more labor).

Morey's Music sell Cello's up to $50K (no, we are not in that price range - and no, not even if I get a lot more orders for Learning Chinese Language & Culture Products will I be in that price range. My daughter's instructor has a cello that is worth $160,000, but he is a professional musician. Cello's vary in cost from $600 to $3200 in the student range. You can buy a cello in the $200 range, but you need to be careful. It may have a terrible sound. The one we bought originally the neck was a bit warped because of the wood used, which I understand is typical in low end cello's from China.

China has taken over the low end and middle of the market. Per Jonathan, probably 80% of the instruments in the world are made there. The challenge with Cello's is there is a lot of junk being sold. If Cello's are made with wood that has not been cured, the neck will warp and a year and there goes the Cello. You can buy a Cello over the Internet, but the problem is a good Cello is a work of art, and you need to hear it to judge if you will like it. What we are doing is taking the Cello to my daughter's music teacher to get his opinion. My daughter is good enough to tell good from bad, but not up to good from better, best, etc.

It's typical of Cello teachers is refer you to their friend to buy a cello. And if you don't buy from their friend, they will keep on putting your cello down. This happened with my daughter's first cello teacher. We bought direct from an importer and saved a bit of money. So the instructor was pointing out how each string did not have a tightener on the bottom. So one time we met her at a music store that she was giving lessons to other students, and we saw a cello one of her other students had bought from her student. Oops, not all the strings had tighteners. So we found another Cello teacher since her credibility was shot. My daughter's current Cello Teacher is super!

Cute, related book.

Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka
Our Price: $4.50

Nine-year-old Yang and his family have immigrated from China to Seattle and the father is a professional Violin Play. He has been giving Yang Violin lessons for years, and Yang hates the Violin. Yang discovers Baseball! A great story about fitting in and getting used to a new country and culture.



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