The other day, I spent sometime on Google Reader, catching up on blogs I’ve subscribed to and neglected over the past couple of weeks. One of which is Danielle Laporte’s “White Hot Truth” which never fails to inspire. One post that caught my attention referred to using the psychic telephone to combat a mouse infestation. No, seriously.
Quit laughing, I’m about to get to the “relevant to the cello BECAUSE…” part.
I knew I wanted a hard case (typically fiberglass, ABS or carbon fiber) when I upgraded my cello. I don’t travel a ton with it but, knowing how clumsy I can be, I thought a hard case would be a wise investment to protect my musical…er, investment. When I started getting closer to deciding on a cello, I also started looking at cases. And prices of cases. I mean, really, how expensive could a moulded plastic case padded in all the appropriate places be?
Don’t laugh, cellists.
Non-cellists: Google “fiberglass cello case” and tell me your eyeballs don’t do the Wa-hooga, Wa-hooga cartoon character thing. If you don’t faint when you Google “carbon fiber cello case” you’re probably not interested in this post anyway, so move along.
Anyway, after looking at the low end for factory seconds and lesser quality models (aka anything with the name “delux” in the title) on Ebay and Amazon and the higher quality ones (Google “Bam” or “Boeblock”, non cellists) I decided that I was going to have to get creative. I’d ordered an Ebay cello case once before, and I was not impressed with the overall quality. The case felt flimsy and poorly designed. On a trip to Hammond Ashely I noted they had a used case for sale. I was tempted but it was still really expensive and BRIGHT ORANGE. Still, it provided the spark of an idea.
What I needed was a nice USED case. Surely some cellist had decided to upgrade their case and had an old but gently used one lying about.
Where was I to find one? I scoured craigslist and the internet cello society classifieds. I did random searches using Bing and Google. The problem is: people often sell the case WITH the cello, and I was coming up empty on solo cases. I found even if the case was relatively inexpensive, I was still looking at 40-60 bucks in shipping, and at that point I might as well buy a new, lesser quality one.
I started calling local luthiers but used cello cases were as rare as unicorns. One of the last shops I called was Rafael Carraba Violins the person who answered the phone said they possibly had one. However, the person I needed to talk to was out of the shop for a couple of days. They suggested I send her an email with what I was looking for. I perked up the minute I heard her name – it was identical to one of my favorite yoga teachers and quite unusual. I had a good feeling. I was vague in the message: a gently used cello case. No brands, no price. I wanted to leave it open.
In cello shopping land: I had decided on the Zuber. Things were rolling so quickly toward taking it home and I still had no case. Hammond Ashley was nice enough to loan me a hard case for a week, but I needed to get this settled. I was getting anxious and thought I would just order a new one and be done with it, if only to cut the stress out. Then I read Danielle’s post. After I finished laughing, I thought: Why not try phoning in my order for a cello case to the universe? What could it hurt?
I brushed aside my feelings of how goofy this plan was as I drove home from work on Wednesday. I pretended like I was on the line with someone who was going to give me a big gift if only I had the courage to ask for it. I said aloud:
“Dear Universe: I am about to bring this beautiful new cello in my life and I really want a good case to keep it safe in. I’d like it to be in good shape and high quality, but no more than $300 bucks. Could you send something like that my way as soon as possible? Thank you very much. Love, Me.”
The rep from Carraba called back on Friday. They had a couple of Eastmans, one of which was gently used. She said she could give me a discount, brining the total to just over $300. I figured that was as good as I was going to get and headed over with my cello on Saturday before the concert. I wasn’t even thinking about the flight of fancy in my car in which I placed my “order.”
The Eastman was a standard black case, and while I tried out the fit, she went to check the back to see if there were any others. With my cello in the case it looked a little too snug on the lower bout (the “hips” of the cello, if you will) and I debated whether that would hurt the cello and if not, was it worth purchasing it just to have the whole case ordeal taken care of. It was the best price I’d seen so far on the low end quality of case I was looking for. But I didn’t have that “YES” feeling.
The moment I decided mentally to pass on the Eastman, she came around the corner with another case.
“Are you a colorful person,” she asked.
I almost laughed, thinking of my red music stand and bright yellow sheet music folder and rockstop. Me? Colorful? NAHHHH….
The case she rolled in had two or three old stickers and a thin layer of dust in places but I could tell right away it was in good shape. It was heavier duty than the Eastman and my instinct that this was the better case was confirmed when she opened it up to reveal a well-padded, a creamy khaki colored interior with the “Bam France” label. Current Bams retailed for almost three times what I was looking to spend and get great reviews: I knew, I had checked. We tried it out with my cello. The fit was perfect, not too snug, but cosy enough to keep my cello in place.
To say I held my breath while she deliberated over the price with Mr. Carrabba in the back of the shop is not a figure of speech.
“It’s an older model,” she said to me finally, almost as an apology. “But it’s a Bam and it’s in good shape.”
“I know,” I said, trying not to sound too eager. “I hear good things about them.”
She gave me a price well within my budget and far cheaper than the brand new Eastman. I know I’m probably supposed to negotiate, or think about it. But when you ask the universe for something, and it delivers – to the letter – I’m of the mind you shouldn’t press your luck.
“I’ll take it,” I said.
And: “Thank you.” To the universe.
So here it is in all its alligator green glory:
The most obnoxious stickers came off easily. Then there’s this one, which I’m tempted to keep:
I love a good Harry Potter reference, but try to keep my cello out of my politics so it was replaced by:
Don’t worry, I’ll avoid unicorns 😉
Green isn’t my first choice in color, but I’m not going to be picky. It does make me wonder what would have happened if I would have been more specific about my color choice when I placed my “order” to the universe. Would a cherry red case have come around that corner? Who’s to say!