Which Cello now? For the Progressing Cellist $7000 Range

Posted by Richard Bodinnar on 29th Sep 2015

Welcome to Whitehorse Music Review! My name is Richard Bodinnar and I co-own Whitehorse Music with my lovely wife Michelle, who usually stays behind the camera during my video reviews. In this section, we will be comparing two cellos of superb quality, the Struna Maestro and the Heinrich Gill W2 model.

If you have been keeping tabs with my video reviews, you should know by now that the Struna Maestro is only one of four Struna models that are available at Whitehorse Music. The Struna Maestro is a product of several years, more like a seven-year collaboration with a fantastic Chinese luthier. I often go to his small workshop and give my advice regarding thickness and varnishing. All Strunas are extremely well-made with the Struna Maestro as being top of the range.

There are several reasons why the Struna Maestro is called as such. One big reason is because the Struna Maestro is made no less than by the head luthier himself. While his skilled apprentices do most of the work for the other Strunas, the master Chinese luthier personally handcrafts with meticulous care and skill the Struna Maestro.

Another reason why this Struna has the word Maestro attached to it is due to the kind of timbers that are used to construct the cello. This cello uses top of the line Italian spruce for the top while well-flamed and top quality maple is used for the back, sides, and neck. Ebony of superb quality makes up the nut, pegs, and other parts. Even with a single glance, you can quite see the quality of all the materials used in the Struna Maestro.

The trend when it comes to the physical style of cellos, and practically all string instruments, is an aged look that projects a 300-year old image. This is the fad because of the kind of appeal that a real centuries-old cello brings. As you all know, genuine centuries-old cellos or violins command millions of dollars in price. Besides, all string instruments, including the cello trace its roots from the early masters and the copies are supposed to be the way the originals look after time has taken its toll.

To get that extremely antiquated look, a unique way of varnishing is utilized on the Struna Maestro. Instead of just oil or spirit varnishing, a combination of the two is employed. The result is a look that could really fool someone regarding its true age. This kind of varnishing also allows the timbers to show their full quality and beauty.

Amazingly, the benefit of this kind of varnishing is not limited to the looks only. The combination of oil and spirit varnishing allows the woods to vibrate as they should or as the woods would want to vibrate. It helps the woods showcase their full potential since the vibrations are not impeded by too much or too little coating. I am proud to say that the result is a cello that oozes with quality and physical beauty.

If you have seen the video review, you would know that the Struna Maestro has a very nice mix of warmth and power in its sound. The warmth is also full that the undercurrent deep sounds ring very clear in all of the four strings. All of the Strunas, be it a violin or a cello, have some very discernible warmth in them and is even more evident in the Struna Maestro cello.

The second cello that we will be interviewing is the Heinrich Gill W2 model. As I have mentioned in several interviews involving a Heinrich Gill string instrument, this German string instrument company has been in operation since 1952 and has one of the biggest storerooms of seasoned tone woods in the world. They have amazing quantity and quality of European tone woods at their disposal.

The W2 model is part of the new breed of string instruments from Heinrich Gill that are acoustically-engineered. This means that the cellos of the same model sound fairly the same. I say fairly because it is impossible to fully replicate sounds between 2 instruments despite being of the same model.

One of the reasons why I like Heinrich Gill cellos and why I keep a stock of them in Whitehorse Music is because they tend to be really resonant. Their sound continues and continues with great clarity as well. This resonant quality is even more evident as you go higher in their model classifications. It starts with the 304 model, then the W2, followed by the W3, the X5, and finally, their best and most expensive model, the X7.

The Heinrich Gill W2 model is made of seasoned European spruce in the front and high quality maple for the back, rib neck, and sides. Usually, Heinrich Gill will only use woods that have been aged for at least 10 years. Common knowledge and experience show that the older the wood is, the better the instrument is supposed to sound.

The Heinrich Gill W2 model cello is so good that people who come into the shop to buy this cello always struggles to bring the instrument out. I simply find it hard to let go of an instrument that is extremely well-made with fantastic sound qualities.

The W2 model cello also uses a kind of varnishing technique that brings out the best in the timbers. Although the cello looks old, it does not look as old as the Struna Maestro or some of the really old-looking cellos on the market. The Heinrich Gill W2 model looks like a violin that was made during the last century and is the subject of exemplary care. Again, this cello is a very well-made and is worth more than a 2nd or 3rd look.

The most obvious sound quality that the W2 model brings is its loudness. It is big and powerful in every aspect. This is the kind of sound quality I tend to recommend to intermediate students since it allows the students to have a wide dynamic range. They can do loud fortissimos and pianissimos with little effort.

The main difference between the two lies in the top sound. The W2 is more penetrating and more focused while the Struna Maestro is very round and warm. They have really amazing qualities and should be fantastic for people with different tastes in tone for their cellos. Both of them are highly-recommended by Whitehorse Music.

Heinrich Gill W2 vs. Struna Maestro: