Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

effects of too-high cello fingerboard projection?


Recommended Posts

I recently bought a French JT-L cello on consignment at a local violin shop, and in going over the setup I find that the fingerboard projection is about 90mm.    I laid a straight-edge along the fingerboard and made a mark on the bridge where it touched, then I measured that mark to the top of the cello directly under the bridge.   Everything I've read suggests that 75 - 85mm is a typical range for projection, so mine seems a bit high.   

What effects does a higher projection introduce?       In terms of playability, sound and of string responsiveness.

Thanks in advance for your time and advice,

Eric

 

 

 

Edited by EricZ
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

How is the action?

It feels high to me, but the nut also needs to be lowered slightly, so after that it's possible the action might be OK.    I'm an older re-beginner, and I need as low an action as reaasonably possible because of hand and wrist pain.    In looking at all the measurements, I noticed the projection height and it seemed like a potential problem.

Edited by EricZ
Link to post
Share on other sites

The JTL celli that I have dealt with have a very low overstand and a steeply pitched neck. 75 is too low for most, 85 is too high. I use 80mm+/-2mm, although I will deal with lower on a cheap instrument.

My bet is that is has that very low overstand, so re-setting the neck is really the only practical pathway.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

How far does the fingerboard gluing surface stand above the top, at the heel?

Excessive downforce on cellos can be really destructive to archings, but if the cello is really thick, it may not be a problem.

20mm.     Is that what's referred to as "overstand"?   Looking at this site it seems like that measurement is called the "appui":     https://woodsoundstudio.com/setup.htm

This cello is over 100 years old (supposedly) so I'm hoping that the top has stood the test of time, but maybe that's overly optimistic.

 

Some other info in case it's relevant:

Bridge is 96mm above the top, between G and D strings.   That seems high.

Using a plastic protractor, I think the string angle over the bridge is 160 degrees but I can't say that with 100% precision.

Bridge top thickness is 3.5mm.    That seems thick.

Fingerboard thickness is 8mm at the nut, 9mm at the heel, and 11mm at the south end.

Edited by EricZ
adding some measurements
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, EricZ said:

I recently bought a French JT-L cello on consignment at a local violin shop, and in going over the setup I find that the fingerboard projection is about 90mm.    I laid a straight-edge along the fingerboard and made a mark on the bridge where it touched, then I measured that mark to the top of the cello directly under the bridge.   Everything I've read suggests that 75 - 85mm is a typical range for projection, so mine seems a bit high.   

What effects does a higher projection introduce?       In terms of playability, sound and of string responsiveness.

Thanks in advance for your time and advice,

Eric

 

 

 

A high projection on a cello where everything else is normal will be rather strained and will lack richness and fullness of tone. To get the appropriate string heights, you have to put on a bridge that’s excessively tall; too much wood above the heart can really hold an instrument back. Also, the higher the projection, the sharper the angle where the strings break over the bridge.

Have a luthier you trust check the arch, the overstand, the straightness of the neck, and the straightness of the bottom of the fingerboard, as well as the projection. If everything else is appropriate, the neck will need to be reset. If the overstand is a bit excessive, planing the neck will bring the projection down. If the fingerboard is warped, a new one may be the solution.

Make sure that the cello isn’t getting too dry now that winter is approaching. Heat, especially dry heat from a home heating system, can cause all sorts of issues. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

A high projection on a cello where everything else is normal will be rather strained and will lack richness and fullness of tone.

I know this is doctrine, but do you have personal experience with this? I'm asking cause I've played some Cellos with high bridges or low overstand that work really well, Sound wise, and I'm therefore a bit in doubt if this doctrine really is true.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, baroquecello said:

I know this is doctrine, but do you have personal experience with this? I'm asking cause I've played some Cellos with high bridges or low overstand that work really well, Sound wise, and I'm therefore a bit in doubt if this doctrine really is true.

Yes, I have plenty of experience with this.

Low overstand isn’t always detrimental to sound, but too high a projection tends to make an instrument sound anemic. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, EricZ said:

20mm.     Is that what's referred to as "overstand"?   Looking at this site it seems like that measurement is called the "appui":     https://woodsoundstudio.com/setup.htm

This cello is over 100 years old (supposedly) so I'm hoping that the top has stood the test of time, but maybe that's overly optimistic.

 

Some other info in case it's relevant:

Bridge is 96mm above the top, between G and D strings.   That seems high.

Using a plastic protractor, I think the string angle over the bridge is 160 degrees but I can't say that with 100% precision.

Bridge top thickness is 3.5mm.    That seems thick.

Fingerboard thickness is 8mm at the nut, 9mm at the heel, and 11mm at the south end.

If your fingerboard measurements are taken at the edge then the situation can be helped by planing the board to normal specs. 7.5 mm all along the edge would be within parameters and at the same time the cross arch of the board could be checked and if needed on a French Strad model you could probably flatten the arch slightly without running in to bow clearance problems, Also could make sure the lengthwise scoop is no more than necessary. Anything over 85 on the overstand  is asking for a variety of problems as well as accentuating the negative on what I presume is a somewhat brash sounding instrument to begin with.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everybody for replying.      Nathan, I was thinking last night that if the overstand is correct at 20mm, then the fingerboard having so much material and increasing thickness toward the bridge might be exactly which accounts for the high projection.

I have a couple of choices of luthiers in my area, one of whom is a neighbor and a violin maker (Don Leister),  but do you all have any recommendations for a luthier within an hour at the most from Richmond, VA, US?

Another local luthier swapped out the Belgian bridge for a new French one (at his suggestion) , but as I noted earlier, it's really thick at the top and it doesn't show any signs of having been trimmed other than the profile.   It cost me $250 and didn't seem to me to improve sound or responsiveness.    At the same time I also swapped out the Kaplan C & G for Permanents and this did help a bit.

I ordered a ConCarbo tailpiece last week, and when that comes in I am going to take the cello back to the guy who made the bridge and have him install Knilling geared pegs and the new tailpiece, and I am also going to ask him to lower the nut a bit and plane the fingerboard.    

However I would definitely be interested in knowing any other local luthiers those here would recommend.

Thanks again,

Eric

Edited by EricZ
spelling
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thought on this issue if the appui is now 20 lowering it to 19 would certainly not be as much of a problem as the high pitch. By fixing the board and lowering the appui a bit I think you may get the pitch and bridge to acceptable hights. I am not familiar with the map of Virginia but can suggest looking up Oded Kishony and seeing if he is near enough to you that you can show it to him and see what he says. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there an optimum type of string (high, medium or low-tension) to consider on an instrument with a high projection?       It seems that low-tension strings are more difficult to engage with the bow, compared to thin, high-tension strings, but I'm wondering if the high projection would make a normally low-tension string have a higher tension than usual.

Thanks again for all the replies.   I am learning a lot of things here.

Edited by EricZ
correct a typo
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some Cellos are sensitive to string Tension, others are not. If the Cello is not, you can use that to your Advantage in trying to find what suits your playing best, otherwise it is a matter of finding what works best on the Cello. I do not know if there is an Optimum for Cellos with a high projection, but if your Goal is to reduce the stress on the top, then lower string Tension would be a way to go.

What playability is concerned, assuming the Cellos behaviour doesn't Change much due to more or less Tension, the difference can be described in several ways. If you compare the string of the same type, then lower Tension will be thinner (not thicker, like you seem to think). It is generally somewhat easier to set in Motion, and can or should be played Closer to the Bridge than its higher Tension Counterpart. One brand you can really try this out with, because they are made in a very similar way, is regular Jargar. If you buy a forte and a dolce string of that brand, the difference will be quite pronounced. The lower Tension will require more precise bowing to have good sound, but not more weight or so and it will possibly allow for slower bowing close to the Bridge. The Sound usually is somewhat less loud and a Little more "reedy", more overtones and less fundamental, compared to the forte counterpart. However, different string Brands have different ways of construction. A light gauge gut core c string will be very different from a light gauge spirocore, the difference will be much bigger than between the light gauge spiro and its heavy Counterpart. Of Course that is an extreme example but it also Counts for other strings types. So say Dominant will have a lot less Tension than magnacore, but the different playing characteristics are largely due to the different core materials and only to a lesser extend to the string tension.

In short, it is a Thing you Need to try out. In my opinion: first find a brand of strings you like, then mess with gauges.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tension is a function of frequency and string length (distance from nut to bridge).  Thus, as baroquecello mentioned, lighter gauge = thinner string, all else being equal, and easier to respond.  Thick vs thin string depends on material (linear density of the string determines the frequency for a given vibrating length and tension) so different strings at the same tension can be different thicknesses.

I don't have any scientific evidence of this either, but I've found that too high of an angle does choke the sound a little - similar effect to having the soundpost tension wrong, while noticeable, it's not a the end of the world.  You might be able to compensate by adding a little more soundpost tension to balance the downforce from the strings.

As for what to do, unfortunately I'm not in C'ville anymore otherwise I'd offer to take a look - but I will say that lowering the projection won't be cheap - if it's playable, practically I'd say just leave it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks mike and baroque.    And everybody else who replied       I’ll take this to a luthier to see what he thinks about the entire setup.     Starting with bridge and nut optimization.    And adding concarbo tailpiece.       Then will see about trying more string combos if needed 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/9/2019 at 4:24 PM, baroquecello said:

A high projection usually requires a Belgian bridge because of the longer legs and the smaller amount of wood. Because of The way you describe he made your bridge I would hesitate to return to let him do more work on this cello. 

Good advice.   I am taking it to Triangle Strings on January 7 for their evaluation.     There have been extensive repairs on this cello... I found a thread documenting the process here on the forum.      I didn't know the history when I bought it, and I am a bit concerned that after the neck / fingerboard issues are resolved, in addition to a new bridge and possibly soundpost, that I might have way more in this instrument than it's worth.    I'm also worried about future longevity given all the repaired cracks, but I will be optimistic and see what Triangle says.

Edited by EricZ
additional information
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...