Flying With Your Cello

Cello Blog

Flying with string instruments can be a stressful experience. With the number of horror stories clogging our news feeds in recent years detailing airline mishaps, it’s no wonder we get nervous taking our instruments with us when we fly. However, things are beginning to look up; under the new Department of Transportation (DOT) ruling that went into effect March 6, 2015, airlines are now required to allow small instruments in the cabin as part of a passenger’s carry-on allowance. Just like any other luggage, as long as it can fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat the airline cannot refuse to carry the instrument. This ruling is a huge victory for musicians, in particular string players, everywhere.

But what about cellos?

While the DOT ruling is very clear in regard to smaller instruments, it is not as definitive when it comes to larger ones. With cellos, standard practice is one of two things: use a flight case and gate check the instrument or purchase another seat in the cabin. Both options have their benefits and disadvantages, so it is up to you to decide what you are most comfortable with.

Airport

PUTTING YOUR CELLO IN CHECKED BAGGAGE

  1. Make sure you have a sturdy flight case or cover you can use. Covers normally go around a hard case, while dedicated flight cases are heavy-duty and designed to protect the instrument without additional parts. They can be purchased or rented depending on the type you are looking for. Just as you would a package, mark it clearly as FRAGILE, MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, or any other polite message that states it needs to be treated with care.
  2. Make sure your instrument is padded within the case. Use wadded tissue paper, cloth, or old clothes to support the bridge, fingerboard, and tailpiece as well as around the sides of the instrument to prevent any jostling around inside the case. If you are concerned about the tension, tune your strings down by a half step to a third. The safest option, if possible, is to have a luthier take down the entire setup and have another set it back up when you arrive at your destination.
  3. Understand that others will be handling your instrument and plan accordingly. There is a lot of baggage to handle and things are not always treated as delicately as they should be–we’ve all watched luggage being loaded onto a plane. It is also possible that the case may be opened, and non-players do not always know how to safely put everything back. Emphasize nicely that it is a delicate musical instrument, but make sure steps 1 and 2 are in place as well.

Plane Interior

BRINGING YOUR CELLO INTO THE CABIN

  1. When buying your extra ticket (which should always be done), make sure you are not buying a seat where the cello will block any emergency exits or signs. Airlines can make a case to have the instrument checked if it threatens passenger safety, so check sites like Seat Guru to maximize both your comfort and the safety of your cello.
  2. Contact the airline when you buy the ticket to make sure everything follows their safety policies. This will ensure you are in compliance and allow you to confirm you provided advance notice about the cello.
  3. Some cellists have been able to fit their instruments in the overhead compartments of larger planes. This is something that cannot be guaranteed, but if you are thinking of trying it there are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Board early. If you need to pay extra to do so, it may be worth it to ensure that you have enough space to get your instrument in the overhead first. Like the DOT ruling says, if it fits in the overhead compartment and you put it there first, your instrument is entitled to stay there.
    • Some cases work better than others. Most anecdotal evidence of cello cases fitting in these compartments happened with the Accord cases, specifically the Hybrid and the UltraLight.
  4. THE AIRLINE MAY NOT CHARGE YOU MORE THAN THE COST OF THE SEAT FOR THE INSTRUMENT. To quote directly from the final ruling: “…assuming all of the safety requirements are met, carriers cannot charge the passenger more than the price of a ticket for the additional seat….” This doesn’t mean that if you decide to upgrade your seat your cello gets a free bump. It also doesn’t mean that you are exempt from fees that are normally posed on carry-on items or cargo. What it does mean is that they cannot charge you extra just because a cello is occupying the seat instead of a human being.

Plane in Rearview Mirror

GENERAL ADVICE FOR FLYING WITH A CELLO

  1. Check your instrument insurance. There is a limit to an airline’s liability if your cello is lost, damaged, or delayed. In many cases this only covers a fraction of the instrument’s value. Make sure you are covered for air travel by your insurance provider.
  2. Arm yourself with information: bring a copy of the DOT ruling and your airline’s instrument policy with you. Be firm but polite if an issue arises.
  3. Make sure you have a high-quality hard case, such as the ones found in our store or on our website. If you are purchasing a seat for your instrument, make sure it’s a lighter and less bulky case such as Bam, Musilia, Accord, or Galaxy. If you have a flight cover for checking your cello, make sure the case will fit inside the cover.
  4. Check in as early as possible. It may take longer to do so and get through security because of the instrument. Make sure to leave yourself enough time so that you are not running for the gate. If you comfortable doing so, paying for early boarding will also give you a space advantage when getting your instrument situated in the cabin.

Hopefully with these tips in mind, both you and your cello will have a safe flight. Be sure to visit the DOT webpage for more information about traveling with instruments.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons

 

 

Choosing Strings and the Thomastik Back to School Sale!

Choosing the Right Strings

Choosing strings for your instrument is a personal and complicated process. With so many options available on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, we are here to help!

Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

What style of playing do you do? What works for a classical player may not work for a jazz musician or fiddler and vice versa. Different genres call for different types of sound, which can be achieved with different kinds of strings.

How do you characterize your instrument’s sound? Strings have the ability to enhance or stifle the particular qualities of your instrument. In order for them to help rather than hinder, know how to characterize your instrument’s sound. Is it dark or bright? Mellow or piercing? This knowledge will help you work with your instrument rather than against it.

What are you looking for? Do you want to brighten the sound? Tone down the power? Speed up response? Slow it down? Knowing what you are looking for helps make sure your strings accommodate your needs.

 

There are three basic types of strings: gut, steel core, and synthetic core. Keep in mind that the majority of players today use steel or synthetic core strings. The basic differences are:

Gut

Steel

Synthetic

  • Warm, complex sound
  • Softer under the fingers
  • Unstable tuning
  • Long settling period
  • Shorter playable life
  • Sensitive to changes in climate
  • Stable tuning, settle quickly
  • Direct and cutting sound
  • Thinner sounding than gut or synthetic
  • Warmer than steel core strings
  • Stable tuning and settle quickly
  • More subtle tonal colors than steel
  • Most widely-used type of string today
  • Similar tonal qualities to gut

 

**Keep in mind these are generalizations. Each type of string will perform differently for different instruments, and the varying qualities of each will appeal to some and push away others**

Experimenting with strings involves trial and error. Now through October 9th, Thomastik is having their back-to-school sale on select string sets and bundles for all instruments, making this a better time than ever to try something new with your strings. As always, our string prices are up to 55% below list price.

For more detailed information about the different kinds of strings we offer and their differences, please visit our website.

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons

Cellos & Cello Bows Exhibit!

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Carriage House Violins has designated March 2015 as Cello month and will be offering an expanded selection of cellos and cello bows for sale.

Selected cellos and bows are now on display in our Contemporary Cello & Cello Bow Exhibit, featuring some of today’s finest makers (see below). For trial information, please contact our cello sales consultant Robert Mayes at rmayes@carriagehouseviolins.com or 617-262-0051 ext 306. If you are shopping for a cello or cello bow, now is a great time to buy!

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Cello makers featured in the exhibit include Michele Ashley, Paul Crowley, Nicolas Gilles, James McKean, David Polstein, Guy Rabut, Benjamin Ruth, Arthur Toman, Gregory Walke, Lawrence Wilke, among others.

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Bow makers include John Aniano, Emmanuel Begin, Jon Crumrine, Pierre-Yves Fuchs, Éric Gagné, Jianfeng Lee, Rodney Mohr, Eric Lane, Georges Tepho, and many more.

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Visit the Carriage House Violins facebook page for featured instruments and bows in the exhibit! We will post a featured cello or cello bow daily throughout March.

To view complete listings of instruments and bows for sale at Carriage House Violins, please visit carriagehouseviolins.com. You can always contact one of our knowledgable sales consultants to schedule an appointment to play the instruments in our shop, or set up a home trial!


Also during Cello Month, Johnson String Instrument is having a sale on select cello music and accessories. Check it out!

'March is Cello Month! See our website for lots of cello music & accessories on sale: http://www.johnsonstring.com/catalog/sale/index.htm'

Click here to see more events scheduled during Cello Month at Carriage House Violins.

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We hope to see you!

Carriage House Violins location and store hours


Gifts for Musicians – JSI’s Holiday Sale!

Our halls are decked and all is merry and bright here during the Holiday Sale at Johnson String and Carriage House Violins!

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Carriage House Violins of Johnson String Instrument

Our friendly and knowledgable staff is here to help with gift ideas for musicians on your list. If you are in New England, we hope you can visit our beautiful new space in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts!

Make an appointment to try violins, violas, cellos, and bows in our private trial rooms or recital hall at Carriage House Violins, or visit carriagehouseviolins.com to view our vast collection of instruments and bows. Starting a home trial for a player who needs a new instrument is a great holiday gift surprise!

Upstairs at Johnson String Instrument, you can visit our Bass Shop, Guitar Shop, and Electric Instruments Shop to see our selection of double basses, acoustic guitars, and other fretted instruments, plus electric instruments for sale. We’ve also got a great assortment of accessories, cases, strings, and sheet music, too, on sale now through January 4.

If we can’t meet you in person, we hope you’ll visit our websites at carriagehouseviolins.com or johnsonstring.com to order now for a speedy delivery!

Below are some gift ideas for string players on your list.

 

JSI Gift Certificates:

How can you go wrong? Available in any denomination and can be used in-store, online, or by phone. They make great stocking stuffers and are great for teachers!

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Wristies Hand Warmers:

Wristies provide excellent warmth while keeping your fingers free! Made of incredibly soft and comfortable Polartec polyester fleece, they are water repellent, retain body heat, and wick away moisture. Highly recommended by hundreds of professional string players!

 

JSI Deluxe Stands for Violin or Cello:

The JSI Deluxe Violin Stands are beautiful handmade hardwood stands designed to hold a full-size violin and bow. The Deluxe Cello Stand holds a 3/4 size or full-size cello and bow. The wood is skillfully and tastefully decorated and finished with a golden brown varnish. The padded suede interior of the stand gently cradles the instrument, and comes in different colors. They provide easy access to the violin, as well as a stunning display for any home or performance environment. A great gift for anyone who wants to display their instrument beautifully!

 

 

 

Colorful violin, viola, and cello cases:

View a wide selection of models and colors on our website. Includes Bobelock, Core, Gewa, and more!

Plus, receive 15% off a case and bow when you purchase an instrument and bow from Carriage House Violins!

 

Electric violins, violas, cellos, or basses:

Plug in with exciting electric instruments by Yamaha, NS Design, or Realist.

Plus, receive a free Johnson Artist Carbon Composite Bow with any purchase of a NS Design or Realist electric instrument!

And, Yamaha  violin and viola outfits are on sale!

 

Strad Rosin for violin, viola, or cello in a violin-shaped box:

This makes a great gift both for the excellent rosin–the formula for which is based on an old Italian recipe–and also for the beautiful box it comes in, handcrafted from root of tuja wood, and precisely carved to-scale in the shape of one of Stradivarius’s famous violin forms! Specify violin/viola, or cello formula.

 

JSI Super Wide Stand Light:

The JSI Super-Wide stand light illuminates four pages of sheet music with nine LEDs! Runs on three AAA batteries, power adapter (included), or USB. With two brightness levels, a flexible lamp post, and firmli gripping clamps, this light can be adjusted to accommodate virtually any lighting need!

 

 

The Violin Lesson, by Simon Fischer:

This manual for teaching and self-teaching is a must-have for the serious violin student!

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Watch our blog for more features during our Holiday Sale, and ask us about other great ideas for gifts for musicians!

info@johnsonstring.com