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Cello Lessons: Recommended Gear

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[MUSIC]
What kind of cello you play,
what kind of strings you use,
what kind of a rosin you use,
these can all change how you sound and
make you feel more or less comfortable.
I do not play on a Stradivarius cello.
I do not play on a super nice cello.
I used to have a pretty good
classical instrument, but
because I travel for a living basically,
I kind of started to feel more comfortable
traveling with a less expensive cello.
The cello I have I got from
a great music shop run
by a fellow cellist named Wayne Burak.
And he's in Dallas, Texas.
And so he sets these cellos up,
he doesn't make them himself.
It's actually a Chinese instrument.
But the good thing about technology
is that it keeps improving.
And people are finding really
good ways to make great
instruments at affordable
prices these days.
So I could help you, if you're looking for
a new cello I'm happy to
talk it through with you.
This is the instrument I use for
everything.
I have played this cello next to Yo-Yo Ma
when he's playing his Stradivarius.
And in fact Yo-Yo has played this cello on
a number of occasions in situations where
he didn't need to have his cello but
he wanted to demonstrate something.
And I've played this cello in duos with
Rachel Barton Pine, who has a Guarneri,
and I'm not gonna lie and say this
cello sounds like a million dollars,
but it sounds good,
good enough for everything I need.
So, whatever cello you have,
you can make it work.
A good instrument does make
a big difference, though.
So I'm happy to help talk you
through finding an instrument that
is in your price range and works for you.
On the instrument I use D'Addario strings.
I actually love the people at D'Addario.
When I first, I developed
an artist relationship with them.
I got to tour their factory and
talk to Phan, who designs their strings,
Phan Tal, he's a really cool guy.
But they're just, you know, they're
really involved in music education and
they just want people to be playing.
And they're just a really
sensitive company as far as
the quality of the strings and
what they're used for.
So I've been very,
very happy using D'Addario strings for
the past eight years now, nine years.
In college,
I was experimenting more with strings.
There's some other major companies
like Larson, Yarger, and what else,
I can't even really remember.
It's been a while since I've
been searching for strings.
But I happen to use all Kaplan
strings from D'Addario.
But a lot of people, like classical
musicians, will often pick and
choose different strings
from different companies.
They might have a Yarger A and
D string and a Larsen G string, and
a Helocore C string.
And depending on your cello, and
the types of sounds you want from your
different ranges, you know, mixing and
matching can really be an effective
way to customize your sound.
It can be a very expensive
experimental process though.
One helicore C string,
I think I remember costing anywhere
from 60 to $80 for one string.
So if you want to go
down that road you can,
although I would definitely highly
recommend D'Addario strings as well.
I did, well, as I'm looking at the cello.
I've got a Realist pickup, which is made
by the David Gage shop in New York City.
They started out making bass pickups,
but the Realist is the best pickup for
cello that I've found.
So, if you wanna plug in a quarter
inch cable into, like, an amplifier or
a sound system, or even effects pedals,
the Realist is definitely the way to go.
I think it might be about $250 these days.
The microphone I'm using
is maybe about $650.
I invested in a nice mic finally.
This is a DPA mic.
I think it's the 1099D model.
It's got a great mount here, a great
sound, and it doesn't get much feedback.
I used to use a Bartlett mic
which actually has a really nice,
warm sound, and it's much cheaper.
It's $200 or
so, however I do find that that mic
is a little more prone to feedback
which is a complicated, in any amplified
situation where I have a monitor.
But I've had better luck
with the DPA mic and I,
for about a year now I've been using the
Stringvision keypeg here, which enables
me to get rid of the C string tuning peg,
so it doesn't get in the way of my neck.
It comes with a little key, so
I can still tune it as necessary.
And I had to do this in college actually,
because I was always hitting
the C peg with my neck.
So you may have this problem, and
I would highly recommend looking
into the Stringvision keypeg.
And actually, when I discovered
Stringvision the company,
I discovered they have these
really great bow grips,
which have a little indentation for
the thumb.
One of the hardest things about our bow
hold is keeping the thumb relaxed and
not having the thumb fall through
in between the hair and the stick.
And this is actually an ingenious
way to keep your thumb stable, so
you don't have to over tense
it to keep it from slipping.
Before I discovered these Stringvision
bow grips, it's pretty standard for
cellists to use surgical medical tubing
that then can be inserted as
far up the stick as you want.
A lot of string bow rehair
people will have this tubing on hand,
because cellists always request it.
And it might cost an extra ten bucks
when you get your bow rehaired.
But when I moved to Boston, none of
the bow rehair people had it, so I started
looking into other options, and fell
in love with the Stringvision Bowgrip.
Both of these Stringvision products can
coincidentally be found at cellostrap.com.
I got in touch with them because I
love using their stuff so much and
I recommend them, so
on the website that sells the block strap,
you could also get these products
if you feel like you need them.
And I guess it goes without
saying that I highly recommend
the block strap if you want
to stand while playing.
You can start to experiment
with just any guitar strap.
If you extend it with rope,
attach the rope here and
then the bottom of the strap here.
But if you wanna access any
sort of substantial classical,
or even just standard cello technique
while standing, the block strap
I've been working on for a number of
years to sort of help facilitate that.
So, you can also find
that at cellostrap.com.
And while I'm talking about that whole
scene, when I started practicing standing
up, my feet started to get sore, cuz I
was standing for multiple hours a day.
So I got a wellness mat, which is like
a really nice padded, standing pad.
It's designed for
people to put in their kitchen when
they're doing dishes and stuff.
But I tend to practice
on it when I'm standing.
It's a nice product.
Other than that, I think that's
the general gear situation that I use.
I also use band cello cases.
I've had a few different
companies of cello cases.
A lot of people like the Stevenson cases,
the big white ones.
I must have bad luck with all cello
cases cuz every cello case I get Is soon
obliterated by the airlines, so I tend
to have to buy a lot of cello cases.
You probably won't have to deal with that.
But let me know if you have any
questions about specific gear.
I didn't really get into amplifiers or
effects pedals.
If you go down that road,
I'd be happy to talk it through and
recommend some good products for that too.
Yeah, but this is what I use.
[MUSIC]