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By Ryan McLaughlin | From the May-June 2021 issue of Strings magazine

We asked Ryan McLaughlin of all the instruments that have passed through his hands, which one does he most wish he could have kept? What made it special?


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It’s hard to pick my favorite instrument. It’s always tempting to say “the first Guarneri I worked on” or “this really great Stradivari.” Andrea Amati’s “King” cello. Or maybe Nicolò Amati’s “Brookings” violin, after which I’m modeling my own violins at the moment. Those are all really important instruments, and each one deserves its own careful study. 

But I’d rather talk about a cello by Matthew Noykos. 

It’s a copy of the 1757 “Teschenmacher” Guadagnini. It’s a not a big cello, with a string length of 675 mm or so, but it sounds humongous. My client Kelly Quesada is a really fantastic cellist. However, she’s small of stature, and was starting to wonder how many years of cello playing she had left. She felt she was pushing toward injury with hours of stretching her hand over a 690 mm string length. Matt’s cello completely changed that. Kelly now has an incredible-sounding cello that is a brilliant match for her. She’s also excited to be able to support a living maker. 

This is satisfying for me for several reasons. Matt’s a great guy and a friend of mine. Kelly is way too young and talented a cellist to be thinking about the limits of her cello playing. She’s now working on repertoire that she had put aside. I get to contribute to the music world by finding someone a cello that really promotes her art. And I would love to have that cello back so that I could help someone else in the same way.