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Er.. Hello all and electric cellos


kittykatjaz
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Hello all.... old and new forum peoples.

Been a long time since logging on to the site. Learning to play on my Montagnana has been keeping me too busy, I guess that's what happens when you make your own cello and fall in love with it!

Lately I have been venturing into electric cello thoughts and does anyone know any tips to making a really nice one? For example electrics, and hollow body compared to solid beam. Pics would be great if available.

Before making another Montagnana, in 2010 hopefully then moving to another model I want to try an all electric so any tips for would be greatly appreciated.

Jaz

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Hello all.... old and new forum peoples.

Been a long time since logging on to the site. Learning to play on my Montagnana has been keeping me too busy, I guess that's what happens when you make your own cello and fall in love with it!

Lately I have been venturing into electric cello thoughts and does anyone know any tips to making a really nice one? For example electrics, and hollow body compared to solid beam. Pics would be great if available.

Before making another Montagnana, in 2010 hopefully then moving to another model I want to try an all electric so any tips for would be greatly appreciated.

Jaz

Accck! No! Jasmine is going over to the dark side! :)

Welcome back, Miss Jasmine! I am really glad to hear you will be building another cello this year. (#3, correct?) Looking forward to seeing/hearing that one. Sorry; nothing useful toward the electric...

Chet

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Accck! No! Jasmine is going over to the dark side! :)

Errrr... Chet... The dark side, eh? I guess I must admit to playing electric violin myself... don't dress up like Darth Vader at the clubs, though. :)

Hey Jasmine. If you make one, more power to you... You're braver than I. The woodworking didn't scare me, but with all the choices of electronics (internal vs. external preamps, etc.), hybrid pickups & bridges and the balance issues, I figured the learning curve would end up being painful for me... so I purchased one from someone who already knows what they're doing. I have both solid and hollow body types. Good for different things, certainly.

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Just being silly, Jeffrey...but you knew that.

Edit:

I used to feel that an electric instrument was so completely dependent upon the quality of pickup, pots, and other gizmos, that lutherie was somewhat immaterial. I am no longer convinced that this is so. But I do prefer the acoustics of wood, while conceding the practicality of electric instruments for some applications. My son puts on headphones and plays his electric guitar-- and he is the ONLY one who can hear it. But he gets the full value.

As a practice instrument, where one is seriously trying to not be heard by others, they are peerless.

Anyway...that was the best humor I could manage at the moment-- i'm not a star wars fan, though I do know the names of a few of the characters... Luke Floorwalker, right?

Chet

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First thanks guys for your welcome back. It has been a long time as life fleets away so quickly and before you know is over a year has past. I have been working hard at fitting into an orchestra so the last year has been a lot of hard work musically so little time has been spent on anything else.

Going over to the dark side? Chet, it is more like fell over face first!

The electric thing is a bit of a new adventure for some improvisation but I have already (roughly) made one from hacking up an old ply Chinese cello which I picked up a few years ago with a broken neck, then using scraps of wood lying around here. I left the top plate in an original style with sound post/s and the bass bar and it has worked to some degree, though a bit wolfy. The pickups are removable with blue-tack and made by a guy a few hours up the road. http://www.peterman.com.au/music/ The one with the treble plus bass pickup are very interesting and work exceptionally well on the acoustic cello. On the rudimentary electric cello it is a bit harsh and am unsure if this is how normal electric cellos are and by using effects smoothing out the sound.

Does anyone play an electric cello here and how are they before effects are layered over? Jeffrey how do the electric violins sound without effects?

Jaz

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Does anyone play an electric cello here and how are they before effects are layered over? Jeffrey how do the electric violins sound without effects?

I've known some 'cellists who use electric 'cellos. The NS design is the one I'm most used to seeing... but I met a 'cellist last night who uses one made by Jensen in Washington State (who reports he likes it very much), and the newer design by John Jordan in California looks very interesting.

I think the better electric violins basically sound fine w/o effects, as long as their "eq" is set correctly on the board or amp, but the fact you're plugged in offers you an opportunity to use toys... I don't use many. Usually just use a chorus and a delay... and not too much of either... but they are nice for fattening the sound and "creating" a room size. I've also fooled with an octave splitter and some other pedals, but don't use them on a regular basis.

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Seems the "newest" thing for electric bowed strings is the Realist pickup by Ned Steinberger and David Gage. Goes under the bridge feet (both). You look like you may have some acoustic sound on your rig pictured, so maybe you could try a combination of realist pickup and microphone blended like they are doing with acoustic guitars these days. Another avenue to experiment with is the amplifier/speaker cabinet. I went that route. I have a NS 4 string stick violin which sounded a bit thin. I got an Acoustic Image amplifier head only (very good for acoustic instruments) because I don't like their speakers for violin. (Acoustic Image speakers might work better with cello and bass though I would try it) and built my own speaker cabinet which bears a remarkable resemblance to a cabinet made by a highly regarded jazz guitar speaker cabinet manufacturer. The result is a clear warmer fatter sound for the electric violin which probably couldn't be matched using only electronics. I use compression and a little reverb and it's very natural sounding. The proof my rig is good came when someone who owns a top of the line Ithaca Guitar Works hollow body electric violin tried out my setup they said it sounded easilly as good as his electric hollow body.....for a lot less $$$ too. The trouble is, then you have to cart a small amplifier around. If you don't want to do that try some of the tube pre-amps like maybe an Aguilar for a warmer sound. I haven't tried that yet but maybe that could go directly into a sound board.

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Seems the "newest" thing for electric bowed strings is the Realist pickup by Ned Steinberger and David Gage. Goes under the bridge feet (both). You look like you may have some acoustic sound on your rig pictured, so maybe you could try a combination of realist pickup and microphone blended like they are doing with acoustic guitars these days. Another avenue to experiment with is the amplifier/speaker cabinet. I went that route. I have a NS 4 string stick violin which sounded a bit thin.

Hey Richard. I usually run direct (lazy... hate carrying an amp) through a box, and played an NS for a while (nice sound)... but the electronics/pickup made settings a bit tricky (liked to clip on the upper end of things), which ended up limiting the reserve I needed for dynamics and ability to get a fat sound (to keep up with horns, guitars and keyboards). Considered going through an amp to solve the problem, but I just ended up switching to another rig. For a cello, maybe a balanced combination of inputs as you've suggested would do the trick. Seems like it would be worth a try.

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Hi Jeffrey. What is your new rig that you find to be better, if you don't mind? Also, not sure but the clipping could be a bad match with the house system. A high quality small portable tube preamp like the Aguilar might work and be easy to carry. I never tried it but have thought about it as a pricey experiment. Yes the NS is nice.

Kitty: I would probably try The Realist Pickup first and also see what David Gage has to say about cello. Another lesser known cheaper but good line of pickups is K&K who make clip on models and maybe a mic/pickup combo. Look at the bass pickups which would probably work for cello. Ask them if they have any under the bridge feet models. For some reason I think the newer under the bridge feet is the best so far especially for lower range instruments.

Direct to the house board is the easiest and if you can get a good enough sound...excellent. I guess it depends on the gig too. Like if you're playing a 45 minute set in a club, a whole amp and effects isn't worth the trouble and you can get over more on playing ability...which always wins out in the final analysis. But if you were playing with a touring band or show with roadies : ) and want a consistent sound, a specialized amp would be the way to go. (Ever see L. Shankars refrigerator-sized custom amp for his 14 string double neck electric violin which covers the range of an entire orchestra?)

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Hi Jeffrey. What is your new rig that you find to be better, if you don't mind? Also, not sure but the clipping could be a bad match with the house system. A high quality small portable tube preamp like the Aguilar might work and be easy to carry. I never tried it but have thought about it as a pricey experiment. Yes the NS is nice.

Happened in more than one "house" unfortunately... I tried several configurations of direct boxes and attenuation to cure the problem. No luck. Just ended up using my traditional (old hollow bodied electric) violin in those situations.

I PMed you about the new rig.

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Electric instruments usually lack the damping properties of a full soundboard etc and so if you want to retain the playing experience of an acoustic instrument the challenge is to get the damping right. Usually an electric upright bass has unusually long sustain for a bass, more like a bass guitar, for obvious reasons, and I'd assume that an electric cello which is almost exclusively used arco, would have the same issue.

"volante" basses seem to have found a nice solution by which the folding front is almost full size, and by alll accounts this seems to give the instrument the right decay time, as well as giving a familiar tactile feel of the instrument to the player.

volantebass01.jpg

http://www.musiquelocation.fr/references.php

(Some people, of course, will point out to me that a cello is a lot more than a scaled down double bass, but that's MY perspective)

Welcome back Jasmine!

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Wow quite a bit of info!

Richard, The realist pickup is something I saw recently here on a double bass belonging to a guy in the youth orchestra. It looks so thin but may be worth giving a try. The Barbera transducer looks great but so expensive.

Since starting the thread Santa came and was pretty generous with both a Fishman PRO-EQII preamp and a Roland Micro Cube Bass RX which has four little speakers that are really load and clear right up the fingerboard from the lowest note. It has transformed my electric into a really great sounding instrument. It has made such a difference to the sound as the preamp really cleans the sound and the amp seems very well matched with on-board effects. It is amazing how these two things can really change the sound.

Hi Matt, long time :)

The damping properties you are talking about is why I left a cut down belly in place and utilizing two short sound posts and the original bass bar. By adding/removing sound posts and moving them around has been a great way of changing the resonating effect and sustain of the cello. I started with 5 posts and ended up with two, the treble in the normal spot but a bass post directly under the bass bridge foot. That with moving the bass/treble pickups around has had quite an effect in molding the core sound. It is actually quite pleasant to play/hear even without any electrics attached. It is not really a silent cello.

The reason I started this thread was to get an idea of the differences between the different styles of electric cellos as there is so many out there. This one I am fiddling with is an experiment and pretty rough but would like to make a nice one. The idea of constructing one on the same configuration as the rough one is tempting, though using a spruce "floating" sound board and maple spine. It seems that this world of electrics is just as broad and adventurous as the acoustics.

Jaz

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kitty: It's thin because the active element is a piece of film sandwiched in thin metal which is what most peizo pickups are made from. You can buy the film itself at Trout Cove Lutherie for a lot less if you want to experiment. Your experiments with multiple soundposts sounds quite novel. Keep up the good work and keep us posted. You may be breaking new ground.

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  • 1 year later...

One of these advantages is its capacity for sound effects led light bulbs they create a huge variety of sounds and possibilities matching that of the electric guitar, electric bass and electric violin.

How so, Finklea?

I've been looking for an interesting/novel pick up idea for a solid body electric violin that's almost finishsed - for a while...

I'll admit that the link didn't inspire me much - or I completely missed the implication.

LED's?

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CT:

One idea I had was to combine a Realist or K&K type of under the bridge feet pickup with an electromagnetic one. I believe a company called Bowtronics made a magnetic pickup that attaches to the end of the fingerboard. I haven't seen much fuss over them so I don't know what type of sound it gets. Maybe a blended combination of the two would be something new????? Just a thought.

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