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Joe Swenson

5 string Cello specifications?

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Hi All,

 

In my cello build I have come upon the idea of perhaps making this first cello a 5 string variety.  Not set in stone yet.  I still am recovering from my back plates separating while carving on the outer arching.   :(

 

Since my bout width's will be a little larger than I originally intended.  Don't ask me how it got away from me.  Nevertheless I have been fascinated with the idea of making this a 5 string version for my own use.  I am *horrible* at reading the treble clef which a 5th string would help with.  Plus I love the Bach Cello Suites and Suite #6 which is intended to be played on a 5 string instrument...

 

Roger Hargrave made a really lovely 5 string cello for Mathias Michael Bechman.  http://www.matthias-...m/the-5-string/

 

 
Here is avery nice video of that cello being played and an interview with Mathias and Roger.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45OT_0eN1Ss

 

Do you suppose the basic specifications for this cello or a similar one might be available?  I searched quite a bit and not much to go on from the Web or Maestronet.  There was on article back in 2003 or 2004 but all the links to images have ceased working.  

 

I'm not going to be able to or even have any intent on copying one on this build, since my cello body is already defined. I just want to explore the possibility.  Mostly what I have left to define is the neck and fingerboard which probably needs the most consideration for an additional string.  F-hole width as well...

 

If anyone has any relevant cello dimensions or photos they would care to share, it would be most appreciated!

 

Thanks,
Joe

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Wait, why did your plates get wider? Cello plates tend to shrink from side to side, playing hell with overhang, but wider?

I know... Somehow going from computer tracing of Davidov photo to paper to template to form to ribs to plates, things got away from me.

Joe

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I know... Somehow going from computer tracing of Davidov photo to paper to template to form to ribs to plates, things got away from me.

Joe

Joe,

 

There is a five string cello in he Royal Academy of Music of London by the brothers Amati that was once played by Amaryllis Fleming. It might be worthwhile to ask if they have drawings or measurements. If not, photographs are published in the catalog from the Cremona exhibition of 2006 entitled "The DNA of the Amati" pp. 73-78 and a short measurement table on pages 220-221. The body length is 70.5 centimeters.

 

Also the "General Kyd" Stradivari cello of 1684 likely began life as a 5-string. The pegbox is for five strings.

 

Bruce

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Joe,

 

There is a five string cello in he Royal Academy of Music of London by the brothers Amati that was once played by Amaryllis Fleming. It might be worthwhile to ask if they have drawings or measurements. If not, photographs are published in the catalog from the Cremona exhibition of 2006 entitled "The DNA of the Amati" pp. 73-78 and a short measurement table on pages 220-221. The body length is 70.5 centimeters.

 

Also the "General Kyd" Stradivari cello of 1684 likely began life as a 5-string. The pegbox is for five strings.

 

Bruce

Thanks for the info. I read somewhere of a maker recently(?) making a 5 string based upon the Amati. I have dimensions for several Strad cellos, maybe even from you :) Wondering if the General Kyd is in the list.

Joe

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Thanks for the info. I read somewhere of a maker recently(?) making a 5 string based upon the Amati. I have dimensions for several Strad cellos, maybe even from you :) Wondering if the General Kyd is in the list.

Joe

The 'General Kyd' of 1684 is not on the list. The violinmaker who takes care of it is Robert Cauer in Los Angeles. He may have some measurements. It's a big instrument. The brothers Amati is more compact and probably easier to play.

 

I might have the Stradivari pattern of the scroll and neck for the 'General Kyd'.

 

Bruce

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There is a Strad Poster of a 5 string Bros. Amati cello from c. 1600.  Full baroque setup with gut strings.  As the one Bruce mentioned (same one?) it is 701 mm long. C bouts are 235 wide.  It looks very cool.  Naturally the scroll is very nice.  Tailpiece and fingerboard would be fun.  At least I think so.

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Regardless of what goes on with the body, size and other things related to that, the most important part and the most difficult part of any 5 string instrument, including the cello is to get the feel and "math" of the fingerboard and neck right. Playability related to small differences here and there make all the difference in the world related to how it "hits" someone the first time they play it

 

If your going to be usiing a store bought blank for a bridge you will be pusing the outer strings to the edge practically, you may wish to make your own  bridge in order to get a little extra for the outer edges. Without getting into all the technical what if jargin, the response time of the rocking motion of the bridge can be adversely effected by the strings being too close to the edge.

 

You will need a wider fingerboard, this can effect feel dramatically, and sometimes its best to leave your neck fat, and refine it once the finger board is on. One may think that because the neck is wider that it may be better to make it not as thick, but this may not be the case based on feel. I find a slightly V neck shape {which I don't like of 4 strings} seems to help one handle the neck better when playing, as if the peek from the V gives ones thumb an anchor point to latch onto while the fingers on the "topside" reach for those slightly further string spreads.

 

The Romberg flat may need to be slightly reduced in width in order to crunch everything in the allotted space. As well as the fingerboard radius be slightly flater.

 

Basically after the majority is built, the real deal related to feel should be slowly approached, refinement of the neck, fingerboard and bridge. I think it is easy to get a good sounding 5 string cello, the hard part is making it comfortable to play. Microscopic shaves here and there make all the difference in the world related to one being able to clear other strings when crossing.

 

Anyone who gets into a 5 string, as a player, should have a more open mind. Many players have narrow tolerances related to feel and expectations related to that,  5 string players are those who are willing to learn to get accustomed to a "not standard" feel in order to have that "little extra".

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There is a Strad Poster of a 5 string Bros. Amati cello from c. 1600.  Full baroque setup with gut strings.  As the one Bruce mentioned (same one?) it is 701 mm long. C bouts are 235 wide.  It looks very cool.  Naturally the scroll is very nice.  Tailpiece and fingerboard would be fun.  At least I think so.

Hi Ken,

 

Yes that's the one. I can't explain the difference in body length between 701 mm and 705 mm.

 

Bruce

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Regardless of what goes on with the body, size and other things related to that, the most important part and the most difficult part of any 5 string instrument, including the cello is to get the feel and "math" of the fingerboard and neck right. Playability related to small differences here and there make all the difference in the world related to how it "hits" someone the first time they play it

 

If your going to be usiing a store bought blank for a bridge you will be pusing the outer strings to the edge practically, you may wish to make your own  bridge in order to get a little extra for the outer edges. Without getting into all the technical what if jargin, the response time of the rocking motion of the bridge can be adversely effected by the strings being too close to the edge.

 

You will need a wider fingerboard, this can effect feel dramatically, and sometimes its best to leave your neck fat, and refine it once the finger board is on. One may think that because the neck is wider that it may be better to make it not as thick, but this may not be the case based on feel. I find a slightly V neck shape {which I don't like of 4 strings} seems to help one handle the neck better when playing, as if the peek from the V gives ones thumb an anchor point to latch onto while the fingers on the "topside" reach for those slightly further string spreads.

 

The Romberg flat may need to be slightly reduced in width in order to crunch everything in the allotted space. As well as the fingerboard radius be slightly flater.

 

Basically after the majority is built, the real deal related to feel should be slowly approached, refinement of the neck, fingerboard and bridge. I think it is easy to get a good sounding 5 string cello, the hard part is making it comfortable to play. Microscopic shaves here and there make all the difference in the world related to one being able to clear other strings when crossing.

 

Anyone who gets into a 5 string, as a player, should have a more open mind. Many players have narrow tolerances related to feel and expectations related to that,  5 string players are those who are willing to learn to get accustomed to a "not standard" feel in order to have that "little extra".

On the 2 that I have done, I have used a wide, but somewhat normal wide, neck and used a wide fingerboard. I learned the trick from a bass repair person. The board is flush on the treble side and overhangs on the bass side. I scallop it out underneath the overhang on the bass side. Since the thumb doesn't interact with that side of the neck when playing cello, it works.

 

As for the bridge, I have: 1-made one from scratch, 2-use a Gamba bridge. I found that a normal projection makes for a really tight feeling, strident sounding E. Lower and flatter, and the extra width of a Gamba bridge gives room for adequate string spacing.

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Bruce, probably because I had a typo. I will say that the belly is 708!  The belly arch is low, and the back is full. And it has a big knot on the upper treble bout of the belly.  That light tailpiece has to change the feel.  Still really like the look of that baroque stuff.

 

Ken

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The 'General Kyd' of 1684 is not on the list. The violinmaker who takes care of it is Robert Cauer in Los Angeles. He may have some measurements. It's a big instrument. The brothers Amati is more compact and probably easier to play.

 

I might have the Stradivari pattern of the scroll and neck for the 'General Kyd'.

 

Bruce

 

Thanks Bruce! Let me know if you find it. I'd definitely be interested. :)

 

There is a Strad Poster of a 5 string Bros. Amati cello from c. 1600.  Full baroque setup with gut strings.  As the one Bruce mentioned (same one?) it is 701 mm long. C bouts are 235 wide.  It looks very cool.  Naturally the scroll is very nice.  Tailpiece and fingerboard would be fun.  At least I think so.

 

Awesome!  Thanks for the info Ken.  I just ordered one.  Should be here in plenty of time before I start on the neck.

 

Joe

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On the 2 that I have done, I have used a wide, but somewhat normal wide, neck and used a wide fingerboard. I learned the trick from a bass repair person. The board is flush on the treble side and overhangs on the bass side. I scallop it out underneath the overhang on the bass side. Since the thumb doesn't interact with that side of the neck when playing cello, it works.

 

As for the bridge, I have: 1-made one from scratch, 2-use a Gamba bridge. I found that a normal projection makes for a really tight feeling, strident sounding E. Lower and flatter, and the extra width of a Gamba bridge gives room for adequate string spacing.

 

I've seen Chinese made 5 string instruments so I was going to inquire for parts there.  Ebay has baroque style 5 string bridges from these suppliers. There are also some Indian suppliers that offer to make custom parts.  

 

One thing that always puzzled me is the lack of cello tailpieces of sufficient "length" to get that 1/6 after-length which is recommended.  Do people just ignore this in a cello?

 

Thanks again for all the input.

 

Ciao,

Joe.

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Thanks for the info. I read somewhere of a maker recently(?) making a 5 string based upon the Amati. I have dimensions for several Strad cellos, maybe even from you :) Wondering if the General Kyd is in the list.

Joe

Clive Morris in Wales has made 5 string Amati copies.

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I found one small image of what they call the "Amaryllis Flemming" 1600 cello in the Cozio archive. A much better set of images is available for free on the Royal Academy of Music website:

http://www.ram.ac.uk/museum/item/25238

Complete with specs. :)

Don't have to wait for the poster now to get my brain working.

That's the one I mentioned in post #4.

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Joe, 

 

In this thread I started Bruce Carlson took the time to give dimensions for a tailpiece he measured. You may be able to work these numbers to make a five string version. I made one tailpiece in these dimensions and it looks very nice. 

 

Bruce is both generous and patient with the 'boys in this band'. As you know.

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/332153-baroque-cello-tailpeice/?hl=%2Bbaroque+%2Bcello+%2Btail

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That's the one I mentioned in post #4.

 

I ordered the poster on Monday this week and it arrived today.. Guess the $20 shipping was worth it.  So the poster has the scroll detail and neck width at the nut, but not the fingerboard or tailpiece measurements.  I think I can get that pretty well from the photos.

 

Joe, 

 

In this thread I started Bruce Carlson took the time to give dimensions for a tailpiece he measured. You may be able to work these numbers to make a five string version. I made one tailpiece in these dimensions and it looks very nice. 

 

Bruce is both generous and patient with the 'boys in this band'. As you know.

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/332153-baroque-cello-tailpeice/?hl=%2Bbaroque+%2Bcello+%2Btail

 

Excellent... Thanks for the info Stephen!  I'm not sure if I'm going for a full Baroque with fingerboard and tailpiece or will try just for a wider ebony blank fingerboard and a 5 string ebony tail piece.  

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I ordered the poster on Monday this week and it arrived today.. Guess the $20 shipping was worth it.  So the poster has the scroll detail and neck width at the nut, but not the fingerboard or tailpiece measurements.  I think I can get that pretty well from the photos.

 

 

Excellent... Thanks for the info Stephen!  I'm not sure if I'm going for a full Baroque with fingerboard and tailpiece or will try just for a wider ebony blank fingerboard and a 5 string ebony tail piece.  

On the first 5-string cello I made I used a standard ebony cello blank and (as Conor writes in another thread related to Baroque violin fingerboards) I built a maple frame around it for the extra width. If you watch your string spacing, the five strings will all be over the ebony core and the frame becomes a baroque decoration. EZ as pie.

 

Are you making a board with the Baroque style wedge or will it be closer to a modern board?

 

Bruce

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Ask Bertrand Bellin. We made one together in my workshop. He did all the calculations. Since I no longer make cello's he now has the info. This instrument really works well. They really do need to be worked out and set up well. There are several recordings of Mathias Beckmann playing this cello. The head is pictured on my web site.

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On the first 5-string cello I made I used a standard ebony cello blank and (as Conor writes in another thread related to Baroque violin fingerboards) I built a maple frame around it for the extra width. If you watch your string spacing, the five strings will all be over the ebony core and the frame becomes a baroque decoration. EZ as pie.

 

Are you making a board with the Baroque style wedge or will it be closer to a modern board?

 

Bruce

It's all up in the air, but I am leaning towards a modern neck, just wider. I like the idea of a maple frame around the ebony. I have a nice rounded cello fingerboard I was planning on using.

Did you do any decorative inlay like the baroque fingerboards have?

Joe

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Ask Bertrand Bellin. We made one together in my workshop. He did all the calculations. Since I no longer make cello's he now has the info. This instrument really works well. They really do need to be worked out and set up well. There are several recordings of Mathias Beckmann playing this cello. The head is pictured on my web site.

 

Thanks Roger,

 

Do you have contact information for Bertrand?  Does he post here?  Was your cello based upon the Amaryllis Flemming Amati 5-String, or was it Strad influenced?  

 

The length of the Amati body is pretty short at 705 mm.  Although the Amati bout dimensions are close to what my current back dimensions are.

 

My cello back

----------------------------------

Upper bout:  350 mm

Center bout: 230 mm

Lower bout:  439 mm

Length  758 mm

 

Amati Specs:

post-43707-0-17699500-1444276188_thumb.jpg

 

I still have time to figure this out. (see my Bench postings).

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I think it is time that the 5-string cello became the standard.

It sure would expand the range of the instrument and make playing Tenor and Treble clefs a lot easier. And a there is a lot of music written for those upper registers.

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