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fiddlerjer

Washtub cello

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For the past two months I've been working on a project to build a cello with a steel washtub as the resonating chamber. Currently it is looking very beautiful and project is on hold waiting for setup (waiting for delivery of a peghole taper). No idea what it will sound like but I've got my fingers crossed... Lots of pictures and description of the process at my blog, if you're interested take a look at http://readin.com/blog/?k=project:tccello

2018-09-25_08-07-44.jpg

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This is an interesting project. Since I play a washtub bass, which by the way is a lot of fun, one problem I see is that your bridge is located next to the rim instead of in the center where the most resonance is. I think your sound is going to be thin and bright, not full. Perhaps eliminate the tailpiece and bridge and attach your strings to the center of the tub. My bass has only one string but there is no reason that you can't attach them in an arc to duplicate the bridge.

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Interesting... I need the bridge in order to keep the strings level with the fingerboard. Definitely a possibility for a future project, to build a similar instrument with the bridge at the center of the tub. That would make bowing difficult though.

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23 minutes ago, La Folia said:

Attaching the strings to the tub, washtub-bass-style, would double the frequency, i.e. raise the pitch by an octave.  Maybe not what you want.

Cool, how does that work?

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2 hours ago, fiddlerjer said:

 

Cool, how does that work?

Each swing of the string to the left or right (half cycle) moves the tub through a full cycle of up-down motion.  So you get two cycles of tub vibration for each cycle of string vibration.

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8 hours ago, La Folia said:

So you get two cycles of tub vibration for each cycle of string vibration.

--maybe a promising idea for a future instrument project though... What about a double bass with its pitch raised an octave? --Or would the extra octave be like an overtone?

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17 hours ago, fiddlerjer said:

--maybe a promising idea for a future instrument project though... What about a double bass with its pitch raised an octave? --Or would the extra octave be like an overtone?

No, in the bass the string is mounted perpendicular to the washtub bottom, so the lowest tone will have double the frequency of the string.  There might be a little bit of the fundamental tone due to rocking action, but probably not much.

I think the OP is right, that the cello really, really needs a bridge because the washtub bottom is essentially parallel to the strings, instead of perpendicular as in the bass.

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On 10/4/2018 at 8:45 AM, FenwickG said:

This is an interesting project. Since I play a washtub bass, which by the way is a lot of fun, one problem I see is that your bridge is located next to the rim instead of in the center where the most resonance is. I think your sound is going to be thin and bright, not full. Perhaps eliminate the tailpiece and bridge and attach your strings to the center of the tub. My bass has only one string but there is no reason that you can't attach them in an arc to duplicate the bridge.

I was concerned about this -- a luthier friend who looked at my design had a similar comment.  The  bridge needs to be next to the rim so the bow has room to move without hitting the washtub. At this point I'm nearly done setting up and the tone sounds pretty full to my ear, plenty of bass. I'm not sure what this means -- Before setup, I definitely could hear a fuller sound when I thumped the tub in the middle vs near the rim.

A short recording of tone and resonance: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156699330713879&id=798413878 (Note, I am no cellist)

 

cello.jpg

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And, here's how it sounds with setup just about complete by my reckoning... again pardon the lousy playing. I just now contacted a local cello teacher!

Got a happy moment when I went to a local luthier to get some help with the bridge setup, I got to see a cellist playing the instrument. Everyone was very interested in it. Did not get a recording of that, oh well.

celloplayer.jpg

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