Here is a vintage early-1900’s (turn of the century) Mustel Celeste/Celesta. This original 4-octave Celeste, serial number 7221, was made in Paris, France by the very inventor of the Celeste, Auguste Mustel, particularly for export to the US. Featured by the some of the utmost important and significant musicians in all of modern musical history, from Tchaikovsky and Art Tatum to The Beatles and Bjork, the Celeste has an unmistakable and charming character, which remains simply unique, and seemingly impossible to capture with even the most sophisticated sampling technologies. Nothing but a microphone can express the eloquent subtleties of an actual Celeste on a recording, and which better one to own, than that made by the creator of this fine instrument himself.
If you’ve made it this far, you are probably familiar with the general idea of a Celesta, and you may even know a small amount about Mustel, his father, and his creations. What might not be easy to extract from online and other written sources is the difference between Mustel celestes and others, namely, the sonic separations, which happen to be quite significant. Firstly, this style of Mustel Celeste is much different sounding from the earlier vertical mechanism variety. The earliest versions are quite warm and gentle, much like that of a Dulcitone, which happened to have been invented by his father Victor Mustel. The later examples feature a more pronounced and percussive tone, a sound for which Celestes have become most famous. Though sometimes more sharp in sound than its predecessor, the tone carried better and most definitely fits more appropriately in recordings. With respect to other orchestral Celestes, the Mustel tone happens to be the most archetypal of the lot. Don’t bother comparing a Mustel to a Jenco, which happens to be more like a Jaymar toy piano than the Mustel.
You can buy a new Yamaha Celeste, at an astronomical price that eclipses the cost of a new Mercedes-Benz, or you can buy the original vintage Celeste at a price reasonable enough to make it worth having in your studio.