Knilling Bucharest vs Sandner

April 12, 2009 jeansdream
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Well, my 6 months cello rental is almost up for its term.   I have to reply to the rental store if I want to keep the cello in about 10 days for an early bird discount of an additional 5% off the final purchase price.  Since I rent from this store, if I also buy from this store, I will have a certain portion of the rental going towards the final purchase price as well.  It’s time to start looking again.

So today, Hubby and I went to a store I visited before I started learning cello.  There then I saw a really nice-looking cello of about 3 times more expensive than what I’m currently looking at.  Then, I haven’t started playing cello, and the sales only plays violin, hence I didn’t have a chance to give it a run.  I was thinking if I would meet it again… this time I can play it!   But you know, that nice looking cello is not longer on the floor for display.  It’s gone.  (phew… otherwise I might be tempted!)  This time, I tried to play on 3 different beginner’s cellos.  2 German made – both Sandner.  1 assembled in German by Chinese material and craftmanship – Gewa. 

Gewa was an easy decision – it was the cheapest, but it sounded worse than my current Knilling.  Immediately, this was off my list.  I won’t pick something to discourage my practice.  😉

The 2 Sandners have a price difference of $400.  The cheaper one sounded quite nice.  The timbre was a bit dimmer but the overall tone was even.  The more expensive one gave a more “solo” feel – it was bright and upward.  It filled the music store easily.  I was amazed by how easy I could make them sound “louder” – if you have read my previous cello postings, you should know how often my teacher asked me to play louder.  These cellos sounded louder without much effort!   (Cheating…)

After switching back and forth between the Sandners several times,  I took the more expensive Sandner home – for a week for tryout.  (No charge, just had to fill a form with credit card info.)  At the store, I had the A string from the cheaper Sandner replacing the original A on the more expensive one – somehow that original A was more “pinchy” – a little too metalic to my taste… 

I just finished the at-home practice.  Hubby asked me to play the two cellos back to back and we both listened to the sound these two cellos produced.  While I have the Knilling since a couple months ago and have been playing on it “diligently”, I think it’s sounding nicer than in the beginning.  It has been warmed up a bit.  Not the Sandner.  This is brand new from the store.  It hasn’t had the same play time on it yet.  And I notice I have to play it differently to make it sound nice and smooth.  (Funny that the nice sounding quality sounds so different at home…)   Hubby said the Knilling doesn’t actually sound too badly compared to the Sandner.  Without any discount, I think the Sandner is perhaps $500 more expensive than the Knilling after all the discounts and taxes. 

The Knilling doesn’t come with fine tuners (it’s halirious to see how the teacher reached for them every lesson and found that this Knilling doesn’t have them every time).  The Sandner comes with them.  The Knilling comes with a hard case (hence heavier).  The Sandner comes with foamed /padded case – it has the shape of a hard case.  Its outer shell is made of tough canvas – like those used for most carry-on luaggages.

If I could use a metaphor to describe the two cellos – this Sandner is like a woman – she is sensitive.   She is vocal.  She is crisp.  If you play it wrong, it is more noticeable.  It doesn’t hide your mistakes for you.  The Knilling is like a man – it drags a bit.  Since it is not as decisive and responsive, it is therefore more forgiving when you don’t play too well, and if you play it fast, the notes come together “phrasier” (is there such a word?) – they seem to resonant together more.

One thing I discover I don’t like – the C string is not as “focused” as it should be on the Sandner.  It plays like a bowl of pebbles even on the open string … it’s “sizzling” – a deep hiss type of sound and it feels like the C is all over the place.  If I would end up taking this cello, I would probably ask for a change on the C string as well.  But if I ask for the C to be replaced, must I also change the G string?  The G string sounds good now.  Actually I think the G string on the Knilling sounds slightly better!

The color of the cellos are similar – dim orangy, but the Sandner has a glossy top and the Knilling is matte-finished.  The tree rings on the Sandner are clearer and more dsitinctive.  Those on the Knilling are a little blurry.  The distance of the grains are about the same tho and both are equally even.  Appearance-wise, I am ok with either.

I am gonna bring the Sandner to the coming lesson and let the teacher listen to and comment on it.

Guess I’ll have to decide next week?  Any suggestions?

Entry Filed under: Cello / Music

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. George  |  April 19, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Hi – I am in the same position as are you. I was actually thinking of buying a more expensive Knilling over the ‘student’ model I have. But – every time I think I’m done choosing, I find another model I want to try.

    Please keep me posted on what your teacher’s input is regarding the two choices. I’m at <removed by admin>.

    Thanks. Good luck.

    • 2. jeansdream  |  April 19, 2009 at 3:36 am

      Hi George,

      I am done!

      My teacher brought actually a second-hand, hand-made one for me to pick as well. My teacher played both (actually all three).

      The rental one was out first. I agreed to it.

      Somehow, the hand-made one had a better sound projection (i.e. the sound travelled further) and each note stood out more. It gave a crispier feeling. It’s also “easier” to play – it had a narrower neck (I have relatively small hands), and the strings were thinner.

      But it lacks the most important quality of what I like about cello – base.

      Personal taste ruled here. It sounds better to my ears. At this stage, I really couldn’t care less if it sounds good 10 feet away from me. I need it to sound rich and nice to me when I play it.

      So the winner is the Sandner with the “C string” replaced. “A string” too because I broke it. The sales said may be it’s a good thing I broke it because this replaced “A string” is even smoother than the previously replaced one. I got a vinyl case, an electronic tuner and an italian rosin. I also bought an end-pin stopper (aka a donut) and a cello for beginners book. I paid about $450 more than the rental if I were to keep it. I am very happy about this decision.

      Good luck with your choice too!

      p.s. sorry I don’t have an email for public replies. Hope you check back at this post. 🙂

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