Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Leo is having a massage and is currently unavailable ..

Yes my cello is OUT of commission, in for repairs, at the "cello Dr", getting a massage .. whatever term you want. The bottom line is my cello is NOT with me and I miss it!

I called the luthier today at noon (as he said I ought to call around "end of May, after the long weekend") just to see about setting up an appointment to get some much overdue work done on my cello. Leo has not seen a luthier for maintenance since the initial set-up surrounding his purchase back in 1993/1994!

To my shock he said I should bring it "as soon as you can - I open up at 1:30."

I estimated it was approximately 1 hour away in mid-day traffic, keeping in mind road work, which left only 30 minutes to get my stuff (tuner, rosin, orchestra music, bows) OUT of the case and everything sorted out. I looked up directions and a map online to print off, changed the twins, instructed Melissa on lunch prep, and got myself out the door! Auntie Gail was napping but Grandpa was there so I just told him and Melissa, "I have to take my cello to downtown Vancouver NOW. I'll try to be back for ballet class, but I don't know if I'll make it. Bye!"

My Cello
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

I made it. The shop door opened for customers at 1:30 (he is closed to customers in the mornings so he can focus on his repair work) and I was there at 1:31 - the first post-holiday weekend customer. This is a dead spot for him as schools and orchestras are working towards season end concerts and NOT wanting to part with their instruments. Come June - he will be busy all summer with contract work: repairing, adjusting instruments of the VSO and several local music schools/music academies.

Now the downside to this for me is - I myself am less than 2 weeks away from playing in the FVS season ending concert and I will be without my cello for the final rehearsal with the soloist.

He did give me a loaner cello to play - but I'm struggling a bit on intonation as it is a full size instrument and quite a bit larger to play than my little 7/8. It is a student cello, but a decent one AND a brand new cello; made 2004 and not played since. He hopes I'll play it quite a bit over the next week or so, so that it will "open up" the sound.

Back to Leo though. Leo has fallen victim to common ailments of antique cellos strung with modern strings: a competely unglued saddle and a neck that also unglued (though not completely - which is very fortunate for me that this was caught NOW and not later). Because the neck is held tight by the tension of the strings - this kind of thing can be missed for quite a while.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

In addition, the bridge is very warped and bent. It will have to be replaced with a new bridge - the top level that he carries. He offered me lower cost options, but given the instrument and the fact that a good bridge is harder and will last longer - I'm biting the bullet and going for it. It will be between $200-$300 just for the bridge and installation (it has to be cut down specifially to fit my 7/8).

This doesn't even count re-gluing the cello. The gluing has to come first and it is what takes a long time. The glue has to be completely dry before the cello gets it's new bridge and the strings put on. He will try and do this without knocking the soundpost down but has marked lightly around part of the soundpost with a pencil so that if it does fall - he'll know basically where it was.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Leo also has accumulated a number of chips and dents in the varnish - some due to toddlers attacking the cello with legos and blocks (children are no longer allowed IN the room with me when I practice now that I have an easily gate-offable practice space), some due to the cello being laid on its side on unforgiving floring, and a few others from my heavy practice mute falling on the varnish.

I no longer use that mute. I either use the lightweight mute or I don't play. Though I did see on the shar site that they are now making a heavy duty RUBBER cello mute - something that I may invest in at some point.

In any case - these repairs are going to cost a lot - but if I take good care of the cello - it should go another decade before needing this much done to it. Now I just have to hope and pray that he actually has my cello done in time for me in the concert! Oh and I did make it back barely in time to get Melissa out the door with Auntie Gail for ballet class.

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.


LarryandJean said...

Oooo, thanks for adding the photos.


Allan said...

Cheryl took them. Aren't they great?

Cheryl said...

I will take more when I get Leo back. On the side shot of Leo - you can see where it's down to BARE WOOD (not good)