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Starting my first Cello - Strad or Vuillaume?


Joe Swenson
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I just bought all the maple I need for my first cello.  I have started cutting out the plywood for the mould and was going by the J. B. Vuillaume 1865 Cello poster we got in the Strad magazine last summer.  I also have the Strobel book with his "Strad" template.  I am slightly torn as to which cello to start with.  This will be one I will keep to play myself to replace my Kay, but I also want it as sort of a demo / floor model for future hopefully paying customers.  :P (OK, Whatever)...

 

The thing that concerns me is the Vuillaume is a bit larger than the traditional Strad which hss a body length of typically 29 3/4" compared to the Vuillaume which is 30".(Sorry about the english units)

 

Here are some additional specs comparing Vuillaume and Strobel Full size cello:

 

Vuillaume           Strobel (Strad)

 

Body Length    765 mm            755 mm

Upper Bout      355 mm            344 mm

Middle Bout      240 mm            230 mm

Lower Bout      454 mm            438 mm

 

So it is a bigger cello by about 10 mm in all respects.  I have a Vuillaume neck template I got from Steve Lohmann when I attended the Winter Violin Workshop in Marin this past Christmas break.  AWESOME week learning new stuff!  So that with the poster gives me enough to go on.  My assumption is that Vuillaume does not design or build poor sounding instruments.  I was just wondering about the additional size, if it was done for a particularly large player?  I am 6' 3" so I'm certainly in that catergory.  I'm geussing it will have a "bigger" sound comapred to a slightly smaller Strad model.   

 

I recently was listening to Mischa Maisky play the Bach Cello Suites on a what looked to be a rather large Montagnana cello (I believe) and I loved the tone.  

 

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA70D07FB6C624D3A

 

So I'm thinking the Vuillaume may be of the same character ?

 

So I just ordered the "Sleeping Beauty Montagnana Cello" poster and also the Strad Seveuse Cello poster from The Strad Library as well. I would love to hear your opinions as to perhaps the pros and cons of the different cello models and sizes.  I'm hoping this will help me decide since I am about to commit to the mold dimensions.  Wood arrives next week!

 

Thanks!

Joe

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I'd suggest ( respectfully :) ) that you do some more homework here : it's a lot of wood to glue back. :)

 

How much nasality do you like and how much treble loss you are prepared to accept ? And how much focus would you like ?

Response ? Articulation ?

 

I know very little about "cello tone" but I'd venture that there isn't much of a conclusion to be drawn from that Maisky video, unless

that's your living room. :)

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I'd suggest ( respectfully :) ) that you do some more homework here : it's a lot of wood to glue back. :)

 

How much nasality do you like and how much treble loss you are prepared to accept ? And how much focus would you like ?

Response ? Articulation ?

 

I know very little about "cello tone" but I'd venture that there isn't much of a conclusion to be drawn from that Maisky video, unless

that's your living room. :)

 

I've listened to Strads, and I like the nasality of this design as well as the projection. Similarly in violins.  Its taken me a while but I have come to really appreciate it. 

 

know how a Vuillaume violin (Hillary Hahn) sound compares generally to a Strad.  Sounds more balanced to my ears and the sound comes out of it much more easily.  So I am intrigued by what Vuillaume did for his cello. Other than that I don't t know what I want for sound.  I was actually concerned about the larger size which should make it deeper.

 

I fully appreciate the fact the recording specifics affect the absolute sound of and instrument. The relative overall balance and / or emphasis on different frequency regimes is still easy to hear, unless you have a really bad recording environment.  I start to have trouble hearing an instrument when the reverb is over emphasized.  Also when its in front of a full orchestra.  I like a soloist piece to really hear what is going on.  

 

But you are right.  I need to do more homework.  Time for some Youtube Searches...

 
Thanks,
Joe
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Quick Search and viola: The 1865 Vuillaume Cello:  http://www.thestrad.com/video/1865-vuillaume-cello-sheremetev

       


 

After listening to the videos, Raphael confirms what I suspected.  A rich dark deep tone and the ease at which sound comes out. Nice.

 

And another recording of a Montagnana Cello: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVW57EQpO0c but probably a lilttle too close with the mic.

 

FInally a copy of the 1720 Piatti Stradivari.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64xW6Gr70QU

 

Wow... I think I like the Strad the best.  Interesting...  

 

Same person playing Stefano Renzi Montagnana and Strad models he made.  Same living room.

 



 

Not sure if this is Renzi or someone else playing. Probably the maker... Not the greatest player...

 

Another Vuillaume Cello performance video.  

 



 

This kid is great.  Best one so far.

 

Torn again...  :mellow:

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Dear Friend 

 

I had the same dilemma as you. 

 

Today I before completing violloncella and tell you my findings and what I think. 

 

sleepig beauty is wide duck that may not fit into the case, but has good potential for great tone. 

 

Vullame is slightly longer than the Strad B - form, but I think he did by Strad. The difference between vuillame a Strad is negligible. I have 758, 343, 227, 434 , Strad has a half each other and there should be a difference of more than 1 cm. I have a form Piatti 1720 (also B form) 

 

Henry Strobel I think is balanced by Strad model B form. Because 

 

B form Strad (Mara, Gore both, Davidof, piatti) have the original stop length of about 405 mm. We need to  making stop  lenght 400 mm and the neck 280th ratio of 7: 10 

 


Henry Strobel it this way and it has a harmonized f holes. I had a problem how to move and adjust the f holes from 405 to 400 mm. It helped me to build up reconstruction f hole by Alvin Thomas King. 

 


Make according to Strobel, it will be well balanced with the modern model dimensions for the player. For the first cello clear and concise. Thine templates do. No problem. 

 

 

If you go by the old poster violloncela you then deal as it originally and how you need it done today. 

 

 

Mischa Maisky Bach Cello Suites I listen  when I made the bass bar :-) 

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post-29527-0-54771500-1392442668_thumb.jpg

post-29527-0-27356700-1392442774_thumb.jpg

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Dear Friend 
 
I had the same dilemma as you. 
 
Today I before completing violloncella and tell you my findings and what I think. 
 
sleepig beauty is wide duck that may not fit into the case, but has good potential for great tone. 
 
Vullame is slightly longer than the Strad B - form, but I think he did by Strad. The difference between vuillame a Strad is negligible. I have 758, 343, 227, 434 , Strad has a half each other and there should be a difference of more than 1 cm. I have a form Piatti 1720 (also B form) 
 
Henry Strobel I think is balanced by Strad model B form. Because 
 
B form Strad (Mara, Gore both, Davidof, piatti) have the original stop length of about 405 mm. We need to  making stop  lenght 400 mm and the neck 280th ratio of 7: 10 
 
Henry Strobel it this way and it has a harmonized f holes. I had a problem how to move and adjust the f holes from 405 to 400 mm. It helped me to build up reconstruction f hole by Alvin Thomas King. 
 
Make according to Strobel, it will be well balanced with the modern model dimensions for the player. For the first cello clear and concise. Thine templates do. No problem. 
 
 
If you go by the old poster violloncela you then deal as it originally and how you need it done today. 
 
 
Mischa Maisky Bach Cello Suites I listen  when I made the bass bar :-) 

 

 

Thanks !! I appreciate your input.  That is very interesting.  I am listening to Mischa Maisky and Bach Cello Suites now as I type... 

 

Yes I am leaning more strongly towards the Strad pattern as I think this makes the most sense and I have heard elsewhere on MN that the Strobel templates will result in a good cello.  But I not averse to having to change things.  My 16 3/4" viola as well as my last violin needed the F-holes drawn and adjusted from a Kreisler Guarneri F-hole template.  

 

I am interested in you comment that the stop length and neck lengths are different than the original.  So you are you saying Strobel is correct and has been modified?

 

I'm not quite there yet but I think I agree and will go Strad. Strad is my next violin as well after my 16" Guarneri viola which I have started. I already have the top plate joined for the Strad violin since it's too thin for the arching needed for the 16" viola.  I will save it.  Marvelous looking and sounding piece of spruce.

 

I was just noticing that the Strobel template is shorted than what Sacconi quotes for the Strad cello being 759 mm, which is closer to what you have.  I will probably lengthen things to end up closer to what you have and the Sacconi measurements.

 

Cheers,

Joe

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hi 

 

I think Strobel well figured out how to put a modern dimensions of 400 mm in length stop Strad B - form. F hole is slightly longer, but they are harmonious. He had to make a notch on the f hole higher than the original and thus extend the top of the f hole. It has good width between the upper lugs for standard width cello bridge and the industry standard distance from the edge of the lower loops. It will be nice and no problem.
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I built my cello from the Strobel plans, but I added a 12 mm of width by extending the center line over 6mm on my template. I ended up with the same body length as Strobel's plans indicate, but with body widths closer to the Vuillaume you posted. 

 

 The corpus is finished and  closed, I'm waiting to get finger boards before I continue. I did not follow Stobels method for arching, although I did look at his templates. I did the arching by eye and made the long arch longer and flatter than Strobel shows on this drawing. We'll see what happens, but I'm pretty confident it will go. 

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Joseph, I would venture to say that the sound of your new cello will have absolutely nothing to do with whose model you copy, and everything to do with the quality of your wood, how well you thickness it, and how successful you are with your arching. I suppose in the broadest of terms the size of the model will affect the sound, but I think you could probably vary the volume of air in the instrument by at least 5% before you could point to any clear resultant tonal differences.

We make a very small Guadagnini "Simpson" copy, and it's true that these all share a certain tight and bright sound that's absent in our larger Strad model, but really the variations from one instrument of the same model to another are as great as between models (even though the back length differs by about 50mm)!

We've made about 40 violins on the exact same Strad mold, and they all sound completely different ...

I'd also have to take issue with your notion that Vuillaumes must sound good - some sound very good, most sound indifferent, and some are abysmal (though I can only talk about violins). Vuillaume was at best a relatively faithful copyist of Stradivari and Guarneri (and at worst a very poor one), so I can't see a reason for copying a copy of a Strad rather than a Strad.

I would choose a size that fits you - but bigger body doesn't necessarily mean bigger sound.

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Joseph, I would venture to say that the sound of your new cello will have absolutely nothing to do with whose model you copy, and everything to do with the quality of your wood, how well you thickness it, and how successful you are with your arching. I suppose in the broadest of terms the size of the model will affect the sound, but I think you could probably vary the volume of air in the instrument by at least 5% before you could point to any clear resultant tonal differences.

We make a very small Guadagnini "Simpson" copy, and it's true that these all share a certain tight and bright sound that's absent in our larger Strad model, but really the variations from one instrument of the same model to another are as great as between models (even though the back length differs by about 50mm)!

We've made about 40 violins on the exact same Strad mold, and they all sound completely different ...

I'd also have to take issue with your notion that Vuillaumes must sound good - some sound very good, most sound indifferent, and some are abysmal (though I can only talk about violins). Vuillaume was at best a relatively faithful copyist of Stradivari and Guarneri (and at worst a very poor one), so I can't see a reason for copying a copy of a Strad rather than a Strad.

 

Interesting points.. Thanks.  My limited experience constantly shows through. :)

 

It is likely my "prejudice" for Vuillaume results from that I have only heard good ones played in prefessional settings! As with the Strad's and Guarneri's I have heard. Not sure where I would have to go to hear a poor sounding one?  I would think they would stay tucked away neatly in their display cabinets.  

 

In my limited experience so far, even in poor sounding copies of a certain maker will retain some similarity in sound with a good copy or the original.  My assumption here is the only difference is in the quality of the wood and the graduations.  So I guess what I'm saying is the arching to seems to give it the characteristic sound of the particular maker.  Just in general terms Guarneri's tend to be darker and Strad's brighter.  So I don't know how a particular copy could sound "nothing" like one might expect.  If that were the case no one would base their designs on a particular maker. 

 

I just finished setting up a cheap Chinese cello which was a complete mess and to me even though it was a poor quality poorly graduated instrument  (plates were very thick) it still sounded like a Strad.  But to your point, I'm sure the differences in sound you speak of have to do with a level of refinement in final sound I am no where near ready address in my instrument making.   

 

I more than willing to admit that my ears are very green and I need to learn what an experienced maker such as yourself is listening for to make such differences so obvious.  I'm sure after building 30 or 40 instruments I will probably "get it" and wonder how I ever thought differently.   ;)  

 

So for now I'm willing to go forward and build my first cello modeled after the Stroble Strad design, and since I am sing good wood, I expect it will have that pleasing characteristic Strad sound.  I greatly look forward to packing up my cheap plywood Kay cello in its gig bag, never being tempted to play it again.  

 

Cheers,

Joe

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Sorry if I just appear silly and foolish to some of you... I don't care.  I'm having a good time and I love building instruments.  :P

 

Foolishness or silliness not implied.

 

Just pointing out from experience that the properties of the final model, as delivered  by a Master, can be quite discordant from those of a novice instrument.

 

Hence, I gave up building to Model X, Y or Z some time ago. 

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You don't seem silly or foolish at all. But I really don't think it's true that Strads generally sound bright and Guarneris sound dark. The name Stradivari is a bit eeeee and Guarneri sounds a bit uuuuaaa, but that's about as far as it goes in reality!

I'm not a maker myself, but of the two makers I work with, one almost always uses a Strad pattern and the other a Guarneri. There is nothing tonally that could be attributed to either model.

I think people base their designs on a particular maker because a) most buyers are conservative in the extreme and B) you have to start somewhere!

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Foolishness or silliness not implied.

 

Just pointing out from experience that the properties of the final model, as delivered  by a Master, can be quite discordant from those of a novice instrument.

 

Hence, I gave up building to Model X, Y or Z some time ago. 

 

Sorry if I misunderstood.  Words are often inadequate or ambiguous at best to express ones thoughts.   :rolleyes: 

 

My initial question was as to which template do I start with.  I figured the Vuillaume would be a basically "different" cello than the Strad and I was concerned about ending up with something too different...  So in some respects I have to start out building to someone else's model - which in this case your basic Strad.   I'm happy to use that as my starting point. 

 

Cheers,

Joe

 

You don't seem silly or foolish at all. But I really don't think it's true that Strads generally sound bright and Guarneris sound dark. The name Stradivari is a bit eeeee and Guarneri sounds a bit uuuuaaa, but that's about as far as it goes in reality!

I'm not a maker myself, but of the two makers I work with, one almost always uses a Strad pattern and the other a Guarneri. There is nothing tonally that could be attributed to either model.

I think people base their designs on a particular maker because a) most buyers are conservative in the extreme and B) you have to start somewhere!

 

:rolleyes: Yea I over reacted a bit.  I so like your interpretation of the sounds. As I said above words, especially when describing something as sensory as a "sound", are often worthless.  For me bright meant mid-rangey and dark meant more energy in the lower frequencies. But yeah they do tend to speak in some sort of vowel combinations. :)

 

Have made a Guarneri 16 3/4" viola that I designed, and am finishing a Guarneri violin now... My violin instructor is quite impressed with the viola's sound and it sounds wonderful in the room when he plays it.  But to be honest when I play it, I can't tell if its good or not for a viola.  I mean I like how it sounds, I just don't know what a violist is listening for.  I do have a little better idea of the violin sound that I like.  And I'm getting there with the cello - Strad seems to sounds the best, but I have yet to hear a Guarneri.  I would love to get a Guarneri pattern for a cello or at least understand what the differences are so I could just design one myself like I did the viola.

 

Yep so a conservative cello design it is... 

 

Thanks,

Joe

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I got a pretty good sounding cello copying this mutt. I widened the mould to conform with Elllen Barkers standard for a 7/8 cello.

LOB 728mm. The graduations and arching were adapted from Strobels Strad plans.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14995534@N05/5492750542/

 

Nice!  The picture to the left of the gold Cello hanging. Is that the ground color.  Beautiful. Can't wait to get started on mine.  

 

I like the fact you made your own clamps.  I made spool clamps for my violin and viola builds.  I actually found some old cello and violin clamps at Alameda Flea Market last summer.  The seller didn't know what they were for.  I still have to make C-Bout clamps since they were missing.  Might go with spool clamps in that section since its a easier task than building one of these old style wooden clamps.

 

post-43707-0-06090900-1392571637_thumb.jpg

 

To bend the ribs, did you use a home-made bending iron for the ribs or the commercial one?  I have home made setup using galvanized pipe and a heat gun which worked great for my violin and viola.  I need a longer large diameter pipe for the cello project but I assume it will work as well for the wider ribs.  I also need a bigger bending strap for the C-Bout section..

 

post-43707-0-48844400-1392572067_thumb.jpg

 
Joe
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I have been comparing Strobel's dimensions with the Strad measurements from Sacconi figure on page 73.. and a scaled photo of a Strad Davidov copy.

 

post-43707-0-67853300-1392575081_thumb.jpg

 

  Sacconi            Davidov(photo)          Strobel (Strad?)    

 

Body Length    759 mm            759 mm          755 mm

Upper Bout      342 mm            344 mm          344 mm

Middle Bout      229 mm            224 mm          230 mm

Lower Bout      439 mm            436 mm          438 mm

 

Mainly the Strobel model is shorter. I could be off by a mm or two from measuring the drawing from Saconni as well as scaling and measuring the dimensions from the Davidov photo - and its a "copy".  So it's mainly the length I'm wondering about.   Is this because of the shorter stop length referred ot in Post #5?  You can certainly adjust stop length from 405 to 400 mm without shortening the cello.  And looking at the Strobel template, it appears he only shortened the lower bout.

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  • 7 years later...
On 2/14/2014 at 5:18 PM, Joe Swenson said:

I just bought all the maple I need for my first cello.  I have started cutting out the plywood for the mould and was going by the J. B. Vuillaume 1865 Cello poster we got in the Strad magazine last summer.  I also have the Strobel book with his "Strad" template.  I am slightly torn as to which cello to start with.  This will be one I will keep to play myself to replace my Kay, but I also want it as sort of a demo / floor model for future hopefully paying customers.  :P (OK, Whatever)...

 

The thing that concerns me is the Vuillaume is a bit larger than the traditional Strad which hss a body length of typically 29 3/4" compared to the Vuillaume which is 30".(Sorry about the english units)

 

Here are some additional specs comparing Vuillaume and Strobel Full size cello:

 

Vuillaume           Strobel (Strad)

 

Body Length    765 mm            755 mm

Upper Bout      355 mm            344 mm

Middle Bout      240 mm            230 mm

Lower Bout      454 mm            438 mm

 

So it is a bigger cello by about 10 mm in all respects.  I have a Vuillaume neck template I got from Steve Lohmann when I attended the Winter Violin Workshop in Marin this past Christmas break.  AWESOME week learning new stuff!  So that with the poster gives me enough to go on.  My assumption is that Vuillaume does not design or build poor sounding instruments.  I was just wondering about the additional size, if it was done for a particularly large player?  I am 6' 3" so I'm certainly in that catergory.  I'm geussing it will have a "bigger" sound comapred to a slightly smaller Strad model.   

 

I recently was listening to Mischa Maisky play the Bach Cello Suites on a what looked to be a rather large Montagnana cello (I believe) and I loved the tone.  

 

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA70D07FB6C624D3A

 

So I'm thinking the Vuillaume may be of the same character ?

 

So I just ordered the "Sleeping Beauty Montagnana Cello" poster and also the Strad Seveuse Cello poster from The Strad Library as well. I would love to hear your opinions as to perhaps the pros and cons of the different cello models and sizes.  I'm hoping this will help me decide since I am about to commit to the mold dimensions.  Wood arrives next week!

 

Thanks!

Joe

Where do you get vuillaume templates?

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On 7/31/2021 at 2:55 AM, RobertL said:

Where do you get vuillaume templates?

Joe Swenson said at the beginning of his post:

On 7/31/2021 at 2:55 AM, RobertL said:

 I have started cutting out the plywood for the mould and was going by the J. B. Vuillaume 1865 Cello poster we got in the Strad magazine last summer.  

So, look online for the Strad poster featuring the Vuillaume 1865 cello — you can make templates from the poster. 

 

EDIT: I meant look online for a store or vendor from which you can buy the poster.

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