Ask the Experts – the new advice column from The Strad

Do you have a burning question about any aspect of the string world but have never known whom to ask?

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Perhaps you have a problem you need to solve or a mystery you’d like explained? Whether you’re a performer, teacher or maker with a question about practising or playing, instrument history, construction or value, or whether you simply need some practical advice, our new Ask the Experts column is here to help. We will track down the best authorities to find out their perspectives and solutions to your questions.

Ask the Experts will also include an element of open forum, so if you have answers to any of the questions, we want to hear from you, too. Our first Ask the Experts question, to be published in the January 2014 issue, comes from a young Spanish cellist looking to buy a better instrument. Can you help?

‘I have developed an interesting solo career: I have been able to play for several top conductors and orchestra managers and have good concerts lined up. I’ve got a huge problem, though. I’m playing all these concerts right at the limit of my instrument, a 1933 Ferdinando Garimberti. It’s like horse racing sitting on a donkey, which sounds funny but feels terrible. Spain doesn’t have a fine instrument loan culture and unless you’re very rich or have good contacts, you need to get a loan in order to play the great instrument needed for events like the ones I’m doing. The ability to take advantage of these opportunities depends on going on stage with an instrument that really fits and supports your playing, an instrument you can trust and take risks with. I’m totally lost and don’t have any idea of where to go or whom to contact and would appreciate it greatly if you could help.’

What advice would you offer?