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Very low playing action on cello


Kallie
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If you watch this video, and look at the cellist playing, you will notice just how low the action is on the cello. The strings are very close to the fingerboard, and it looks so comfortable to play, compared to some of the cellos Ive tried playing before. The nut seems to be much lower, and the bridge is most likely also lower.

 

Wont this under normal circumstances cause alot of "buzzing" against the fingerboard, due to the strings being that close to the fingerboard? Is this set up normal for cellos in your shop? Could string gauge cause/lower the buzzing of the strings?

 

Thank you.

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Hi Kallie - back in the early 60s my new cello teacher had me thinning my bridge and lowering the top of bridge. The heights of string to finger board usually quoted in books seem to be a hangover from gut strings. I have lowered the strings until they buzzed and then lifted them, Tomorrow I'll measure them and post.

'til then cheers edi

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The heights of string to finger board usually quoted in books seem to be a hangover from gut strings. 

I tend to agree with this, if only because it seems to be the only explanation for my experience.  It's not the bottom strings that bother me, but the thin top strings where you must spend a lot of your (expressive) time.    My luthier says the height of my strings is just where it should be, but I'm going to run this idea past her and see what she says.  Even with a guy's hands, the top strings seem uncomfortably high.

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Looking at 4:15 on the video, where there is a side view of the open A string, I don't see the strings as being particularly low.

 

Maybe Im just seeing things. :P But it certainly looks lower than when watching other cellos play.

 

Can anyone perhaps give the measurements they use from end of fingerboard to the strings?

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I tend to agree with this, if only because it seems to be the only explanation for my experience.  It's not the bottom strings that bother me, but the thin top strings where you must spend a lot of your (expressive) time.    My luthier says the height of my strings is just where it should be, but I'm going to run this idea past her and see what she says.  Even with a guy's hands, the top strings seem uncomfortably high.

 

If it feels high, then it is high or the there is too much tension. Measurements are only a guideline. Ultimately the player needs to be comfortable with their instruments.

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What I find very sad is that almost all members of this youth orchestra are girls! Just shows that music and machismo apparently don't go together, and that music making for younger generations appears to be judged as feminine.

 

The latest six finalists of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis are all female. And five of whom I believe are of Korean descent. Something cultural must be happening.

 

I do see more girls than boys in my local youth orchestra in the strings section. More boys in the brass though. Maybe boys tend not to get excited over classical music altogether. Too much video games perhaps?

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Too much video games perhaps?

 

Something interesting about Video Games. It seems the music from Video games has become a whole different genre, and has actually caused many young people to take an interest in classical instruments such as the violin. You can find many different people covering video game music on Violin, Cello, and yes, even the Viola. :P One example is Taylor Davis,

 

In my opinion, video games (not all though, the ones that actually have someone write scores for the games, not just put c(Rap) songs into the games), and the video game music being covered on youtube etc, are causing younger people to actually become interested in these type of instruments. So many comments on these videos on Youtube has been that these people inspired them to start learning the violin, and not just girls, but many guys aswell.

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Maybe Im just seeing things. :P But it certainly looks lower than when watching other cellos play.

 

Can anyone perhaps give the measurements they use from end of fingerboard to the strings?

 

I think 5mm and 7mm is a workable standard average, depending upon the scoop and nut height. Often when the strings feel too high but the clearance at the end of the fingerboard is sort of standard, the scoop is too deep and/or the nut is too high.

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I think 5mm and 7mm is a workable standard average, depending upon the scoop and nut height. Often when the strings feel too high but the clearance at the end of the fingerboard is sort of standard, the scoop is too deep and/or the nut is too high.

 

Excellent, thank you Jacob. :)

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Hi Kallie - back in the early 60s my new cello teacher had me thinning my bridge and lowering the top of bridge. The heights of string to finger board usually quoted in books seem to be a hangover from gut strings. I have lowered the strings until they buzzed and then lifted them, Tomorrow I'll measure them and post.

'til then cheers edi

Thank you Edi, looking forward to hearing from you again.

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Something interesting about Video Games. It seems the music from Video games has become a whole different genre, and has actually caused many young people to take an interest in classical instruments such as the violin. You can find many different people covering video game music on Violin, Cello, and yes, even the Viola. :P One example is Taylor Davis,

 

In my opinion, video games (not all though, the ones that actually have someone write scores for the games, not just put c(Rap) songs into the games), and the video game music being covered on youtube etc, are causing younger people to actually become interested in these type of instruments. So many comments on these videos on Youtube has been that these people inspired them to start learning the violin, and not just girls, but many guys aswell.

But your video is by a female. :)

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I think 5mm and 7mm is a workable standard average, depending upon the scoop and nut height. Often when the strings feel too high but the clearance at the end of the fingerboard is sort of standard, the scoop is too deep and/or the nut is too high.

 

I will agree with Jacob here.

The string height should really be adjusted depending on the cello.

Like violins, they are all slightly different, and many student cellos have the strings set way too high as they come from the maker (or factory).

"Too high" means that the strings will never buzz, no matter how the instrument is played.

Then too, there's gut vs. steel strings, which require different set up parameters, re; string height from the fb or bridge height - of course, steel strings can go much closer to the fb without a buzz, and all the rest.

Fb scoop (if there is any) will dictate buzz as well as nut height, as Jacob mentioned above. Nut height in particular should not be too high. A too high nut will really affect the playability of the cello or the ease of playing. 

But beginner or student instruments have have a sort-of functional reason for being set up like this, and professional players often require entirely different set up parameters than student instruments.

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Hi Kallie - back in the early 60s my new cello teacher had me thinning my bridge and lowering the top of bridge. The heights of string to finger board usually quoted in books seem to be a hangover from gut strings. I have lowered the strings until they buzzed and then lifted them, Tomorrow I'll measure them and post.

'til then cheers edi

 

OK - finally made a tapered measuring stick (don't believe him - he just sanded a clothespeg smooth !) and marked it at 3mm, 4mm and 5mm thicknesses.

 

The strings heights above the fingerboard are as follows

 

A - 2.9 mm

D - 4.0 mm

G - 4.0 mm

C - 4.1 mm

 

I would consider these about as close as one could go.

 

The string height at the nut is about 0.4mm from the fingerboard.

 

Strings - Jargar - medium.

 

If one really hammers out a chord one can get the C-string to add a buzz - "overtone"? - "undertone"?? I found very light buzzmarks about 150 - 250 from the front edge of the fingerboard. A straight edge shows that the deepest point of the camber is closer to the nut. I'll scrape the buzzmarks away and move the camber forwards and see how little scraping is required to remove the buzz completely.

 

Normal ff is OK.

 

cheers edi

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First off just as David said the string hights in the video do not look particularly low to me. Secondly the reason for "standard" measurements on instruments is because they seem to work best for the most people and so players don't have to relearn stuff that they have practiced a million (literally) times every time they change instruments. If you are measuring under the string to the board then 5 and 7 are about right for a cello. The measurement under the strings at the nut is about 1/2mm and is much more critical in terms of what the player feels. I would lower (or raise) those measurements some if a knowledgable player asked me or if there was a physical problem or injury that weakened the players hand. For students I would check to make sure there was no other problem making the instrument hard to play and then tactfully suggest that they learn to play the instrument with standard measurements.

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I am new to posting on Maestronet, but I've been reading posts for over a year. This is my first post.

Disclaimer:

I am the string tech in a store in AZ, and while we sell new instruments the bread and butter that keeps our store open and thriving is rental instruments.

I follow the string height and setup guidelines I measured off of Yamaha and Eastman stringed instruments.

5mm-7mm seems to be the industry standard for student instruments.

Professional instruments do not seem to follow this standard in my experience. Individual bowing technique, string type, and fingerboard scoop depth contribute to setups.

Now, there are a few players that prefer a uniform string height (5mm on all strings). I have heard this referred to as a Baroque setup. Evidently the French (5mm-7mm) is more popular.

Great topic! I agree that string height on cellos seems to be conservatively high.

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