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Joe Swenson

5 string Cello specifications?

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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.

 

Indeed.

 

Someday I'll make a 5-string cello.

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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

 

Doing a little research... I've seen a couple YouTube videos now of a 5 string cello with such a fingerboard.  In the first one, it is referred to \as ViolinCello Piccolo but it looks like a normal sized cello.  

 

https://youtu.be/watch?v=ZVjpmQ7Uz6M

 

This ones a little hard to listen to.  Sounds like she was still getting used to the instrument.   :)  

Looks like the maple casing could be obtained from the trimmed edges of a fresh maple back plate slabs providing you have enough material left over for the back.

The next one is a superb performace of Bach's 6th Suite with a similar 5 string cello, by Chinese cellist Beiliang Zhu.

I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't by the same maker.  

 

 

There are more performances by her.  She's quite amazing.  This video is also better because you can see the cello in better detail. It looks like I might have to consider tossing out the end pin as well. :)

It always inspires me when I see the range of performing cellists physical techniques and abilities.  Some, like this woman, with apparently short stocky fingers that still can play so smoothly and precisely, and others with fingers like spider-legs, each with a mind of their own operating independently... Their hands are almost mostionless while their fingers are all over the fingerboard.  Next example...

 

 

I have to say I prefer the sound of the 6th suite's on this cello...

 

 

Both of these cellists are fantastic.  But then there is my favorite performance of Bach is Mischa Maisky

 

 

He rushes the 1st Suite a bit for me bit the rest are so expressive.  Playing on his Montangnana cello with such depth of expressions and dynamics.  Some criticize that its too much of a "Romantic" interpretation compared to a performance like the first video by Beiliang Zhu, who uses very little vibrato.  I'm a romantic, so I do prefer Maisky's interpretation of the Suites... :)

 

Joe

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This is a variant 5-string C-G-D-A-E using the VDG model in the Stradivari Museum. I also used the 1684 5-string peg-box, which likely went onto a larger instrument like the ‘General Kyd’ cello of the same year. I think the date in mine is about 1984.

 

There is no bend point in the upper bouts of the back. I simply curve the ribs to fit the bending back. Because the arching in the upper bout is almost flat due to the counter curve extension at the neck block; it bent very easily. I had some crazy idea that it would be better acoustically than a horizontal cut across the back.

 

The rest is a bit of a fantasy. I adapted the purfling designs from the Stradivari fingerboard and tailpiece designs and set them into maple.

 

I don’t know if what I did should necessarily be emulated but because we were talking about 5-strings I thought I would show it. It also has a modern cello spike, requested by the owner.

 

Bruce 

 

post-29446-0-87292700-1444903874_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-90278700-1444903883_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-02682200-1444903906_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-44079300-1444903941_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-57771700-1444903957_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-58789400-1444903968_thumb.jpg

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Bruce, is a maple fingerboard as durable as an ebony one?

 

BTW, beautiful fingerboard and tailpiece. Your work makes me want to do something similar.

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Bruce, is a maple fingerboard as durable as an ebony one?
 
BTW, beautiful fingerboard and tailpiece. Your work makes me want to do something similar.

 

No, not as hard as ebony but it could be smoothed a few times before you get to the bottom of the purfling. In addition you can harden the surface somewhat with a simple french polish of gum-lac or other hard surface treatment. Anything would help and it keeps the maple from taking on perspiration. The humidity would make it wear even faster.

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This is a variant 5-string C-G-D-A-E using the VDG model in the Stradivari Museum. I also used the 1684 5-string peg-box, which likely went onto a larger instrument like the ‘General Kyd’ cello of the same year. I think the date in mine is about 1984.

 

There is no bend point in the upper bouts of the back. I simply curve the ribs to fit the bending back. Because the arching in the upper bout is almost flat due to the counter curve extension at the neck block; it bent very easily. I had some crazy idea that it would be better acoustically than a horizontal cut across the back.

 

The rest is a bit of a fantasy. I adapted the purfling designs from the Stradivari fingerboard and tailpiece designs and set them into maple.

 

I don’t know if what I did should necessarily be emulated but because we were talking about 5-strings I thought I would show it. It also has a modern cello spike, requested by the owner.

 

Bruce 

 

attachicon.gif01 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif02 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif03 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif04 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif05 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif06 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg

That's really beautiful, but I don't understand about 'the bending back.' It looks carved to me?

WW

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That's really beautiful, but I don't understand about 'the bending back.' It looks carved to me?

WW

It is a carved back, but instead of making a horizontal cut and putting a bend (knick or gobba) in the upper bout, I gradually lowered the rib heights from the upper corner blocks to the neck block and simply bent the back down (dry and with no heat) to touch the ribs and neck block. It's not a straight cut on the ribs but a curve.

 

The viola da gamba by the brothers Amati in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has a bend in the back and where the bend is, the back is flat. The rest of the back is arched. I bent mine in a curve.

 

Bruce

 

post-29446-0-87211300-1444941800_thumb.jpg post-29446-0-08417200-1444941782_thumb.jpg

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post-53755-0-85736600-1444955035_thumb.jpg

It is a carved back, but instead of making a horizontal cut and putting a bend (knick or gobba) in the upper bout, I gradually lowered the rib heights from the upper corner blocks to the neck block and simply bent the back down (dry and with no heat) to touch the ribs and neck block. It's not a straight cut on the ribs but a curve.

 

The viola da gamba by the brothers Amati in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has a bend in the back and where the bend is, the back is flat. The rest of the back is arched. I bent mine in a curve.

 

Bruce

 

attachicon.gifVDG 1611 bend.jpg attachicon.gifVDG bend.jpg

Thanks for the clarification.

What instrument do you show in these images? The back looks carved and bent. 

I'm building a bass modeled loosely on this instrument from the Met in NYC, however I'm carving the back as if it's a cello, narrowing the ribs slightly as they approach the neck.

WW

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attachicon.gifbass back.jpg

Thanks for the clarification.

What instrument do you show in these images? The back looks carved and bent. 

I'm building a bass modeled loosely on this instrument from the Met in NYC, however I'm carving the back as if it's a cello, narrowing the ribs slightly as they approach the neck.

WW

 Viola da gamba, Brothers Amati 1611.

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This is a variant 5-string C-G-D-A-E using the VDG model in the Stradivari Museum. I also used the 1684 5-string peg-box, which likely went onto a larger instrument like the ‘General Kyd’ cello of the same year. I think the date in mine is about 1984.

 

There is no bend point in the upper bouts of the back. I simply curve the ribs to fit the bending back. Because the arching in the upper bout is almost flat due to the counter curve extension at the neck block; it bent very easily. I had some crazy idea that it would be better acoustically than a horizontal cut across the back.

 

The rest is a bit of a fantasy. I adapted the purfling designs from the Stradivari fingerboard and tailpiece designs and set them into maple.

 

I don’t know if what I did should necessarily be emulated but because we were talking about 5-strings I thought I would show it. It also has a modern cello spike, requested by the owner.

 

Bruce 

 

attachicon.gif01 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif02 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif03 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif04 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif05 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif06 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg

Beautiful cello Bruce. :)

Do you widen the bouts at all, to accommodate a corresponding wider F-hole spacing and the wider bridge and fingerboard?

Joe

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Beautiful cello Bruce. :)

Do you widen the bouts at all, to accommodate a corresponding wider F-hole spacing and the wider bridge and fingerboard?

Joe

Thanks Joe,

 

The Stradivari VDG model was already for at least six strings so any further widening was unnecessary. The bridge isn't much wider either for the fact that the e string and the c string are placed as near as possible to the extremities of the bridge crest. When I made the first one I drew everything out on paper to avoid surprises.

 

The c-bouts are quite deep like the Amati and I always wondered if this was really Stradivari or from an earlier Cremonese maker.

 

Bruce

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This is a variant 5-string C-G-D-A-E using the VDG model in the Stradivari Museum. I also used the 1684 5-string peg-box, which likely went onto a larger instrument like the ‘General Kyd’ cello of the same year. I think the date in mine is about 1984.

 

There is no bend point in the upper bouts of the back. I simply curve the ribs to fit the bending back. Because the arching in the upper bout is almost flat due to the counter curve extension at the neck block; it bent very easily. I had some crazy idea that it would be better acoustically than a horizontal cut across the back.

 

The rest is a bit of a fantasy. I adapted the purfling designs from the Stradivari fingerboard and tailpiece designs and set them into maple.

 

I don’t know if what I did should necessarily be emulated but because we were talking about 5-strings I thought I would show it. It also has a modern cello spike, requested by the owner.

 

Bruce 

 

attachicon.gif01 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif02 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif03 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif04 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif05 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg attachicon.gif06 vc 5 string Carlson.jpg

very nice bruce

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Shape of cello body important, but i think only for eyes:)

It's just a box

More strings more pressure to all parts.

Neck and fingerboard wider

But what about thickness of belly and bass bar

If bridge legs wide than need to do little wider space between bass bar and sound post.

post-78751-0-42621300-1446526369_thumb.jpeg

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Shape of cello body important, but i think only for eyes:)

It's just a box

More strings more pressure to all parts.

Neck and fingerboard wider

But what about thickness of belly and bass bar

If bridge legs wide than need to do little wider space between bass bar and sound post.

attachicon.gifimage.jpeg

I assume your adding about 20% more pressure to the top but maybe 50% more to the sound post area. I assume thicker is better here. The back has to be stronger as well. Maybe 0.5 mm? But you do have the support of the sound post.

The other question is F-hole spacing. Wider bridge feet. I can buy commercially a cello bridge with 96 mm foot spacing - for a similar sound hole spacing. I'm wondering what Bruce's f-hole spacing was on his instrument?

Thanks Joe,

The Stradivari VDG model was already for at least six strings so any further widening was unnecessary. The bridge isn't much wider either for the fact that the e string and the c string are placed as near as possible to the extremities of the bridge crest. When I made the first one I drew everything out on paper to avoid surprises.

The c-bouts are quite deep like the Amati and I always wondered if this was really Stradivari or from an earlier Cremonese maker.

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

Would you be able to shed some light on this? And perhaps share some design details? Bout widths? Body Length? Rib height? F-hole spacing? :)

Did you just make your templates and base your dimensions from some photo's? Did you increase the top and back thickness to accommodate the extra string tension? What about neck thickness?

Sorry lots of questions.

Joe

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I assume your adding about 20% more pressure to the top but maybe 50% more to the sound post area. I assume thicker is better here. The back has to be stronger as well. Maybe 0.5 mm? But you do have the support of the sound post.

The other question is F-hole spacing. Wider bridge feet. I can buy commercially a cello bridge with 96 mm foot spacing - for a similar sound hole spacing. I'm wondering what Bruce's f-hole spacing was on his instrument?

Hi Bruce,

Would you be able to shed some light on this? And perhaps share some design details? Bout widths? Body Length? Rib height? F-hole spacing? :)

Did you just make your templates and base your dimensions from some photo's? Did you increase the top and back thickness to accommodate the extra string tension? What about neck thickness?

Sorry lots of questions.

Joe

Sorry Joe,

 

I've got to dig this stuff out of my totally unorganised archive.

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I don't know if anyone is willing to continue this old discussion now, but one thing that struck me was the difference in sound of the 5 string versus 4 string cello. At least based upon the YouTube videos I've found.

Is the addition of the 5th string causing the maker to readjust the parameter of the instrument so it changes the sound of all the other strings? Or are 5 string cello makers just not getting it "right"?

Joe

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Probably the problem is the added string tension.

So added tension / pressure restricts the the instrument from vibrating optimally. Makes sense. I think...  Seems like a test of this would be to remove the 5th string and see if the sound opens up again like a 4 string cello.

So I guess the question would be..  is a 5 String version of a cello always doomed to possess a less open full sound?

BTW I'm leaning towards NOT making a 5 String version now.  :rolleyes:

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On 2/20/2016 at 1:30 PM, Joe Swenson said:

 

 

So I guess the question would be..  is a 5 String version of a cello always doomed to possess a less open full sound?

 

I have a Yinfente 5 string cello I bought on Amazon. Don't all groan at once. It is well made, no laminate, and I put Helicore strings on it because the strings that came with it were not very good. It has a wonderful rich tone and doesn't suffer a bit in volume.

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