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Improving Instrument Response


cellomaestro
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I am a professional cellist in Taiwan wondering what i can do to improve the response of my instrument.

It is an unlabled German cello c1850 (probably mannheim)

The sound is very open, especially in the treble) but the fundamental doesn't like to speak quickly (in fact it speaks extremely slowly and reluctantly). It's very common for the string to break into a harmonic on moderate to fast passages with open strings. This becomes a bigger problem when trying to play softly in the bass where the cello becomes extremely unresponsive.

Also it has a very healthy wolf - F# on all strings - strong enough to pull the suporting harmonics out of tune as well!

I have all Evah Pirazzi soloists on it, a fairly new Belgian bridge, and a whittner aluminum tailpiece.

Any advice would be appreciated!

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First, a disclaimer- I don't work on cellos, so I'm only guessing, and trying to relate my experience with violins, and some experience with violas. What other strings have you tried? I've found that D'Addario Helicore strings to be very responsive on violins and violas, and if I have a "heavy" instrument that I want to really "drive", I often put Helicores on it. A local viola teacher also recommends, and uses, Helicore strings. Because they have a steel rope core, they have a smaller diameter than perlon or gut strings, and seem to respond faster. Again, this is just a guess. Anyone out there use Helicores on a cello? I'm aways looking to learn from others experiences.

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Anyone out there use Helicores on a cello? I'm aways looking to learn from others experiences.

I use Helicore C & D quite often, paired with Larsen A & D strings, but mostly on 4/4 student level cellos. I don't care for 4/4 Helicore A and D strings as I find them too bright and edgy. However, on fractional sized cellos, 1/2 to 1/10 I find a complete set of Helicore strings works quite well. Often these smaller instrument need a bit more tension to make them sound out and the Helicores seem to do the job.

On better quality cellos, I find Helicore C & D strings to be a bit on the unfocused side. I like Evah Pirazzi soloist strings and use a complete set of those on my own cello. I have put these on many cellos as well and generally they are quite good, with a nice response and a good range and quality of overtones.

Other strings that work well on cellos are Spirocore C & G with Larsen A and D. I don't care for Dominant cello strings as they are slow to respond and a somewhat unfocused.

The newer Larsen wirecore C & G are quite powerful and very expensive strings, but they can overpower some cellos. I recently put these on an older French cello that had problems responding in the bass end and they were quite good on that instrument. These were used with Larsen A & D as well.

Terry

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Prim C&G are quite cheap and often work very well. They do not have a polished surface like Helicore though. You might consider Helicore Forte for a cheaper alternative. Kaplan A&D can sometimes substitute for Larsens, the D better than the A. The Kaplan A is a bit brighter and less focused than the Larsen A.

Oded

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I am a professional cellist in Taiwan wondering what i can do to improve the response of my instrument.

It is an unlabled German cello c1850 (probably mannheim)

The sound is very open, especially in the treble) but the fundamental doesn't like to speak quickly (in fact it speaks extremely slowly and reluctantly). It's very common for the string to break into a harmonic on moderate to fast passages with open strings. This becomes a bigger problem when trying to play softly in the bass where the cello becomes extremely unresponsive.

Also it has a very healthy wolf - F# on all strings - strong enough to pull the suporting harmonics out of tune as well!

I have all Evah Pirazzi soloists on it, a fairly new Belgian bridge, and a whittner aluminum tailpiece.

Any advice would be appreciated!

===================

Temperature and humidity in Taiwan are not working on your favor. I am sure you have a good cello and

your cello certainly work better in Chicago.

I draw this conclusion based on my own violins reponses in these two different places.

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Prim C&G are quite cheap and often work very well. They do not have a polished surface like Helicore though. You might consider Helicore Forte for a cheaper alternative. Kaplan A&D can sometimes substitute for Larsens, the D better than the A. The Kaplan A is a bit brighter and less focused than the Larsen A.

Oded

Yes I call Prim, a low budget version of Spirocore. They are a bit on the bright side at first but do play in well. I have one professional cellist customer that has used them for years. Yes, the rougher string surface can be off-putting for some cellists. I have on occasion used the forte Helicore C & D and they work on some cellos, providing that neck set and string angle are ok. Many of the student grade cellos that I work on have issues with neck set and string angle and the higher tension of the forte strings can create problems. I concur with your assessment of the Kaplan strings. Technical reps at D'Addario told me they brought these out to compete with Larsen A & D as they found that, while their Helicore C & G strings were selling well, the Helicore A and D were not.

Terry

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I am a professional cellist in Taiwan wondering what i can do to improve the response of my instrument.

It is an unlabled German cello c1850 (probably mannheim)

The sound is very open, especially in the treble) but the fundamental doesn't like to speak quickly (in fact it speaks extremely slowly and reluctantly). It's very common for the string to break into a harmonic on moderate to fast passages with open strings. This becomes a bigger problem when trying to play softly in the bass where the cello becomes extremely unresponsive.

Also it has a very healthy wolf - F# on all strings - strong enough to pull the suporting harmonics out of tune as well!

I have all Evah Pirazzi soloists on it, a fairly new Belgian bridge, and a whittner aluminum tailpiece.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Mr. Mastro,

Where is the top of the soundpost in relation to the bridge foot?

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Mr. Mastro,

Where is the top of the soundpost in relation to the bridge foot?

Cellomaestro, I've replied on your question on the ICS forum once, but would like to add some things I've tried in the mean time, and maybe you could still try, as they worked for me. My modern cello (2004, stradivari model), with which I had great problems when it comes to string response, has reacted very positively on (the steel stranded tailcord and long afterlength, as I mentioned on ICS forum, but since then also on:) using low tension c and g strings (quite the opposite of the advice given by many in case of bad response). Right now I have dominant strings (normal gauge, but normal gauge is very light with dominant, check the tomastik website) on c and g (which are a string type that, on cello, are supposed to have a relatively bad response). especially the c string works very well, for the g string I need to find an alternative which should sound a little louder. In addition to the improved response this made the a and d strings sound much better, they used to be very shrill sounding, especially the a string, a problem which had been partly resolved by using a heavy gauge a string already and now is not existent anymore. So now I have the strange combination of low tension on c, high tension on a and medium tension on d, which I think would be the answer for the g string too, so I'm going to try that soon.

My baroque cellos lower strings gained response by using a heavier and longer tailpiece. This did influence the sound quite negatively and that is why I decided to put back the lighter, smaller tailpiece, but it may be worth a try on your cello.

Apart from that, have you tried what diferent bows do to your cello? They an make a huge difference...

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Thankyou everyone for your responses!

I spent a few hours today with a Taiwanese luthier that trained in Cremona. We came to the conclusion that I'd tried everything possible to fix this instrument and that the problems were really inherent to the make of the entire cello. I guess I've just outgrown it....

For reference these are the things i've done to the cello over the years:

Neck Reset

Strings: Spirocore/Larsens/Evahs/Solos/Silver wound/Tungsten wound etc etc etc etc

Bass Bar thinned (bass bar was not the original - the instrument was restored before i bought it 12 years ago)

French and Belgian Bridges

Different Soundposts

Many wolf eliminators, both on and off the string models

Different Bows (currenty playing a silver mounter Bultitude)

Now the question is where can I find a good cello in Taiwan? (difficult, maybe impossible... tried many in Taipei already, everything so far has been complete junk)....

Cheers all

Cellomaestro

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This problem has existed is a number of different climates (New Zealand, Australia, China, the UK and Taiwan - I move around alot!) so I doubt it is that (besides I had the soundpost checked again today!)

The tailpiece thing is interesting and i would be keen to try some different ones. But I doubt it will fix all these different problems (I could be wrong!)

The biggest problem for me is really the pitch bending - the strings go flat so easily if my bow speed and pressure aren't asolutely perfect - unfortunately some pieces are impossible to play with the bow speed and pressure combinations that my cello is trying to dictate (think Bach VI suite slow movements)...

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The biggest problem for me is really the pitch bending - the strings go flat so easily if my bow speed and pressure aren't asolutely perfect - unfortunately some pieces are impossible to play with the bow speed and pressure combinations that my cello is trying to dictate (think Bach VI suite slow movements)...

This really puzzles me, since the only change in pitch because of bowing that I know is the going sharp when playing loud due to the high amplitude of the string. I've never heard of pitch going flat before.... What do you have to do to make the pitch go flat? Is the neck so thin that it bends when a lot of pressure is excerted on the strings? Or could it be that the neck block is not glued well? In that case you should be able to move the neck sideways slightly too, and it would be noticeable when playing double stop passages too, they become harder to play in tune.

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