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Debbie Boyce

As an adult cello student, I was on the point of giving up because I was not consistently getting the right pitch from my full size instrument because I could not stretch my fingers enough. The string length of my full size cello was 27¾ inches. I needed a cello with shorter strings, 26 to 26½ inches if I could find one, so I decided to try a smaller cello, and Cardiff Violins had several available.

Cecile was very helpful on the telephone and encouraged me to visit the shop. When my husband and I arrived we were made most welcome and were provided with a private room and a variety of instruments in different sizes and prices which had been selected for me by Katja, a cello student at the RWCMD.

I was able to take as much time as I needed, not only to try the instruments myself but to have them played for me by Katja. It was enormously helpful to both play and hear the different cellos. Katja not only played beautifully, but was also very encouraging and thoughtful in her comments and suggestions. She also gave me several playing tips which have greatly improved my technique. (Katja is pictured here, during Debbie’s visit)

With Katja’s assistance, I arrived at a short list of two 7/8 cellos. Eventually, I chose one to take home for a two-week trial during which time I would be able to take advice from my regular teacher. Shortly into that period, I wished I had also asked to try my second choice instrument. Cecile was only too pleased to send it to me by courier.

Thus with my teacher’s help, both cellos were put through their paces and I settled upon a Chinese Con Brio instrument with a voice which is powerful and rich despite being 7/8 in size. It is also very attractive with good varnish, colour and patterning. Most importantly the size is just right for me. It is also much easier to play than my old cello, because of the way it has been set up.

At the end of the trial period, we returned to Cardiff Violins to finalise the purchase. Once again we were made very welcome and Katja was on hand in the private room to provide advice and support. She had also given further thought to my needs and showed me a 7/8 sized bow, I didn’t know there was such a thing, which she demonstrated and encouraged me to try. It was an instant improvement on my old bow, not only in size, but also in being firmer. This bow had silver fittings unlike the nickel of my old bow which had been causing me a significant allergic reaction. Chris very kindly offered to modify my old bow, but I chose the new 7/8 bow, which was a significant improvement.

With good part exchange prices for my old cello and bow, I was able to afford the new ones and am absolutely delighted with them.

In every respect, I rate Cardiff Violins extremely highly. I was pleased to find a good choice of instruments in a smaller size, in particular, better quality instruments at a higher price, most luthiers only stock basic models of smaller sizes. The choice of instruments was excellent and the service was professional, warm and friendly. I was given as much time as needed, a private room and no pressure to make a purchase. The whole experience was trouble free, interesting and very enjoyable, the more so for the expert help and advice from Katja. I live a significant distance from Cardiff, but it was well worth the journey.