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Seeking player input on cello buzz


Brad Dorsey
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 I’ve been wrestling with a cello conundrum lately:  Buzzing when the open C and G strings are both bowed very vigorously, and the same with the open G and D.  No string buzzes separately.  Of course I first suspected the bridge height or the nut height or the shape of the fingerboard.  But I have figured out that the buzz is caused by the two strings rattling against each other.  The arcs of the two vibrating strings visibly intersect each other when they are bowed together in a way that maximally displaces them, causing them to vibrate against each other.  I’ve tried several different strings including Dominant, Jargar and unidentified used strings with the same result.  Both of the cellos in my shop right now do the same thing.

I have asked several cellists performing in our area about this.  None could provide any useful information.  One of them could make his cello, a 1715 David Tecchler, do the same thing.

Questions:  Has anyone else here experienced this?  Is this common or normal for cellos?  Is it a problem?  Is there any way to stop it?  Is it something that cellists just have to live with?

I'm also posting this on the Pegbox to get input from luthiers.

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I'm neither a cellist nor a maker, so bear that in mind when you consider my input. But I have to ask, does your problem really matter? We play open strings together when we're tuning, but not vigorously like you seem to be doing. When else would that problem arise in the normal course of things? I bet you could make any cello do that if you were really determined. But if you're not trying to make it happen......?

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I can get my cello to do this--but only when digging into the strings (very strongly) and immediately lifting the bow off. It's just a rattle or two, nothing too annoying. I can't get the strings to rattle/buzz against each other while maintaining bow contact. As far as I know (as an amateur player), this is not a common technique.

I would guess tighter spacing on the bridge could make this more problematic. Some references put normal string spacing at the bridge as 46.5-48 mm (center-to-center).

Edited by Hierony
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9 hours ago, Hierony said:

I can get my cello to do this--but only when digging into the strings (very strongly) and immediately lifting the bow off...I can't get the strings to rattle/buzz against each other while maintaining bow contact....

Yes, that's exactly what I'm experiencing.  Do you consider it to be a fault or a problem?

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A problem or a fault? Nah. Remembering vaguely the four other cellos I've played extensively (<$3k/student instruments), I think all of them did that. But it's pretty easy to manage (ramping the bow weight down a little more gradually, or just not hitting the last 5% of intensity before the sudden bow release). Usually doesn't sound very good (for me) anyhow.

If the strings were rattling with only moderate pressure in double stops, then I'd think it a problem.

Edited by Hierony
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  • 4 months later...

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