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baroquecello

projection and string response in cellos

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The Background is, I am a professional Player, and I've noticed I consistently seem to prefer cellos with a projection that is on the high side. I've been taking note of it because my own Cello has a projection that is somewhat low, but still within accepted parametres. I did get it raised a bit, new York style, and that had a beneficial effect, which is why I started tracking this characteristic in other cellos. It is my Impression that often Cellos with a higher projection have a much better string Response and because of this require less work in the left Hand. Often, they seem to have a richer Sound Palette with more possibilities further away from the Bridge, without loosing Sound. Lower projection I associate with having to work harder in the Right Hand, playing Closer to the Bridge with more weight, and consequently having to press the string down more rigidly in the left hand for it to make sure it is stopped cleanly enough for a good sound. I have not been Looking at the neck overstand so much, so I cannot say if it has anything to do with the string angle over the Bridge. Because of this, I would expect big Players to have less of an issue with this, as they are stronger and heavier and that element of Cello playing Costs them less effort, while smaller, leaner Players especially with smaller left hands may be more sensitive to this.

 

I am wondering if the generally accepted projection is Maybe a Little on the low side. Maybe, with the newer steel strings, ideal Setup in this regard has changed a little. Has anyone experimented with this in cooperation with good Players? Has anyone been keeping track of this parametre in the amount of Instruments sold; if this is Right, there should be a correllation betwen the ideal fingerboard projection and the Speed at which an Instrument is sold. I believe @Don Noon did some Experiments with the violin regarding string agle and projection and came to the conclusion it doesn't make that big of a difference. But violin and Cello have different crucial setp issues, and violin string Response is much less problematic than Cello string Response can be, so I think that the case may be different for Cello. It would be great if a few here would want to Delve into the subject and observe Players reactions reaction to Instruments correlated to projection and/or string angle.

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The higher projection will result in a higher bridge. The string angle will depend on the projection of the neck over the table and the lower saddle heigh. Some instruments will benefit from the higher tension, others will choke under it. The sound with a higher bridge may loose warmth too. In extreme cases, even the response may get worse with that.

As usual, it  will depend on the instrument, and the style of the player too. 

As a viola maker,  I like higher bridges, but I use a 10 mm projection of the neck over the table, and a 9 mm lower saddle, and my plates are on the thicker side, so the instrument will not choke.

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21 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

The higher projection will result in a higher bridge. The string angle will depend on the projection of the neck over the table and the lower saddle heigh. Some instruments will benefit from the higher tension, others will choke under it. The sound with a higher bridge may loose warmth too. In extreme cases, even the response may get worse with that.

As usual, it  will depend on the instrument, and the style of the player too. 

As a viola maker,  I like higher bridges, but I use a 10 mm projection of the neck over the table, and a 9 mm lower saddle, and my plates are on the thicker side, so the instrument will not choke

I definitely don't have your experience in making violas but I found often that recipes which work on violins fail on violas. My general rule is that violins must be adjusted a sort of tighter whereas violas like a softer adjustment. I apply this to neck angle as well.

 

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I think the tonal differences come from the relation of leg length to upper part of the bridge. (Regardless if a Belgian or French bridge is used.) Therefore I think a comparison of violin fingerboard projection and cello fingerboard projection on its effect on sound is problematic. Often bridges on cellos with a low fingerboard projection seem to have higher chances of having a subdued  sound. (Exceptions seen) 

But there are other factors as well like tailpiece and tailgut material,  bridge thickness. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, baroquecello said:

1.   I did get it raised a bit, new York style, and that had a beneficial effect, which is why I started tracking this characteristic in other cellos.

2.  It is my Impression that often Cellos with a higher projection have a much better string Response and because of this require less work in the left Hand. Often, they seem to have a richer Sound Palette with more possibilities further away from the Bridge, without loosing Sound. 

1.  You have sort of returned to the original height the maker intended.

2.  Again, this is what the maker intended to do in the first place.  Loss of projection i.e., higher string tolerances above the surface of the fingerboard or sagging wood somewhere, weather it be corner block or plate wood failure, is something the maker could not for see and did not want to happen in the future.

Though I do not play cello the principal is the same for fiddles - it's more work to get good tone and playability when wood is failing to keep up doing it's part. 

What do some of your stand mates seem to think?

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13 hours ago, MANFIO said:

>

As usual, it  will depend on the instrument, and the style of the player too. 

As a viola maker,  I like ... my plates are on the thicker side, so the instrument will not choke.

I think your statement about instrument  choking is really important.  

A prominent Julliard teacher mentioned that soloists appear to be poised and relaxed when they perform but actually sometimes they're quite nervous and they worry about screwing up anything that might give them a bad review.  Nervous itself causes bowing errors.  If they have an instrument that has a real high high maximum bow force it prevents choking and rough sounding notes. Playing it takes a lot of work (bow force times bow stroke length).  So an instrument with thick plates has a lot of resistance needing a lot of bow pressure, is less apt to choke. This  gives the player less to worry about, thus reduces nervousness, improves confidence and makes the music is better.  

So an instrument that is hard to play is sometimes actually easier to play than that one easy to play.

 

 

 

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As an amateur, it strikes me that the choice of strings is a significant factor. I have several cellos of various vintages, and my current main instrument (late 18th century German, possibly Mittenwald) cello has Helicore strings, physically light but high functioning for volume and quality of tone, work really well. It's roughly 7/8 in size, basically an 18th century "ladies" cello. I love it. I find that the stress on my left hand is less, which is important to me since I have tendon issues in both thumbs and wear braces every rehearsal in the community orchestra I play in.

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On 1/15/2020 at 1:16 PM, MANFIO said:

 

As usual, it  will depend on the instrument, and the style of the player too. 

As a viola maker,  I like higher bridges, but I use a 10 mm projection of the neck over the table, and a 9 mm lower saddle, and my plates are on the thicker side, so the instrument will not choke.

The style of the Player may be important when it Comes to this, yes. My first 4/4 size Cello was a Saxon Thing with a somewhat high Bridge, (I'd have to measure but I estimate a projection of around 84MM) but very low neck overstand, I think not more that a centimetre. This must have caused enormous Forces on the top, which is relatively thin (I still have the Instrument). The Instrument does have a relatively Deep bass bar to counter this. I often got complimented on the Sound of the Cello, also by fellow cellists who tried it out (and I'm tempted to get it restored; it has got an old back soun post crack that is reopening, and it is just not worth it, from a financial Point of view) but it may be that I got used to this Kind of playing Action at a critical Point in my development as a Cellist, and secretly Long for this Kind of bow atypical Action/string Response.

As to the second Point, choking the Instrument, although certainly valid for violin and viola, I wonder how valid this is when it Comes to Cellos specifically. When the bass bar and Sound post Setup are properly adjusted, does this really happen in cellos? This Question may Show my inexperience, but I tend to see colleagues (professionals) that have experimented with it use high Tension strings, especially for the upper strings.

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As cello maker I find this kind of discussion very interesting because even if a maker plays the instrument there is a large difference between what an amateur player wants, needs or experiences versus a top professional. 

From a makers perspective it certainly seems as if instruments are generally being set up with  more tension than was often used in the past. I often see old cellos with Hill or Francais bridges where the projection was as low as 78 mm. which most shops would tend to lift today. This is also coupled with what seem to me (don't know specs) higher tension stiffer strings. I have also noted that with some exceptions soloists and more aggressive  players want stiffer set ups and sometimes use all metal strings such as Jargar or Larsen for their lower strings as well as uppers. I assume that this gives them a wider dynamic range where they can play softly by backing off bow pressure or speed yet be able to play louder and rougher when they want to.

Can you define what you mean by string response?

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String tension, string angle, bridge mass and stiffness - these are all completely different things and they work together in very complex ways. 

I'm pretty wary of any generalisations ie. doing this will cause that, because there are too many variables.

All I would say is that 1. fingerboard projection is not in itself a very useful measurement because you can have any number of projection measurements for the same string angle over the bridge and 2. there is a psycho-acoustic aspect to the height of the action, by which I mean that the player hears the sound differently depending on how much finger pressure they need to use.

Add to that the very understandable misconception that more effort will result in more sound, and you have a recipe for total confusion.

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On 1/15/2020 at 2:46 AM, baroquecello said:

 I have not been Looking at the neck overstand so much, so I cannot say if it has anything to do with the string angle over the Bridge.

I believe this cannot be overlooked.  Given the same projection and saddle height, a neck set with a lower overstand will have a greater break angle over the bridge and thus a greater downward tension on the top. Conversely, a higher overstand will create a lower break angle and less tension. Wouldn't this affect the string response you are talking about?

 

Dorian

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As I assume most of us who do adjustments for customers know, when the player says the violin is tight, the setup is loose, and the other way around. With that in mind, I was struck by something Rene Morel said 20 years ago at a VSA convention, that players felt a high-bridge setup as being loose, and a low-bridge setup as tight, which is contrary to what we might intuit.

But Rene didn't hint whether he thought that was about string angle or actual bridge height, only, if the string angle stayed the same. I've spent a lot of time over the last two decades thinking about that. I think you could make an argument for either side.

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4 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

As I assume most of us who do adjustments for customers know, when the player says the violin is tight, the setup is loose, and the other way around. With that in mind, I was struck by something Rene Morel said 20 years ago at a VSA convention, that players felt a high-bridge setup as being loose, and a low-bridge setup as tight, which is contrary to what we might intuit.

But Rene didn't hint whether he thought that was about string angle or actual bridge height, only, if the string angle stayed the same. I've spent a lot of time over the last two decades thinking about that. I think you could make an argument for either side.

Do you have a transcript of what René said verbatim?  There were a couple of things he used to reference that were translation idiosyncrasies.....for instance using “tension” where “ resistance” would be more appropriate.  This very well could be one of those, which would clear things up in short order.

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11 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

As I assume most of us who do adjustments for customers know, when the player says the violin is tight, the setup is loose, and the other way around.

This is not something I know and it does not correlate to my experience.

When a player tells me that their instrument is too tight or loose, it lets me know that they are not getting the sort of feeling that they would prefer through the left (or right) hand and that I have to do what I can to find what they are looking for.  Doing so rarely equates to making anything either tighter or looser.  Which leads me to ask the question of Michael, what do you mean by tighter and looser?  Is this achieved by putting in a sound post of a different length?  Or is it a matter of putting the  existing sound post in a spot where there is a smaller or larger distance between the top and back?   Or... is it something else that only relates to feel and has nothing to do with a looseness or tightness of anything obviously physical?

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Jerry, I felt that his comment was clear; it was more that he didn't comment enough on the cause beyond saying bridge height. He was talking about a feeling of the strings being floppier under the fingers and bow at that point in the discussion. There's no recording of what was a small-group event, as far as I know.

Mark, I'm surprised you don't experience that--really, it's one of the most common comments I get. Maybe it's a Chicago thing. What it usually comes down to is post tightness, in my experience, and players who like to think they know what's what will often offer that, for instance, it feels like the post is loose when it's too tight, and the other way around.

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28 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Mark, I'm surprised you don't experience that--really, it's one of the most common comments I get. Maybe it's a Chicago thing. What it usually comes down to is post tightness, in my experience, and players who like to think they know what's what will often offer that, for instance, it feels like the post is loose when it's too tight, and the other way around.

Thanks.  But what does "post tightness" mean in your world?

I certainly do get that comment, but not often.  I don't usually have much conversation with players about what they are missing or want out of their instruments.  I get instruments working well, hand them back to them and 95% of the time they are 100% happy with what I've provided.  The other 5 or so % I have to do a bit more searching for what I have missed or they are looking for.

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38 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Jerry, I felt that his comment was clear; it was more that he didn't comment enough on the cause beyond saying bridge height. He was talking about a feeling of the strings being floppier under the fingers and bow at that point in the discussion. There's no recording of what was a small-group event, as far as I know..

This is the issue.  Floppier strings under the fingers equated to more "resistance", "tension" on the bow in the translation.  So he saw a low bridge as a higher appui, or flatter angle of the strings....more "resistance to the bow and more"tension"....

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Thanks, Jerry. Do you think he had any opinion on bridge height when it was followed upward by appui and saddle so that the same string angle was maintained? I think that's perhaps the core of baroquecello's question. . . . maybe.

Mark, sure, I get that "totally satisfied" response about 100% of the time, too, but that doesn't stop me from digging farther into what they might get beyond that, after the initial shock wears off, especially with someone new whose style isn't familiar to me. :-)

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8 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Thanks, Jerry. Do you think he had any opinion on bridge height when it was followed upward by appui and saddle so that the same string angle was maintained? I think that's perhaps the core of baroquecello's question. . . . maybe.

I think Rene saw things through give and take all the time...whether in his explanation or not.  The Appui was a big deal and altering the neck set in different ways was an improvement to many issues. However, I never altered a saddle when I was there, and I do not think the saddle came into play, (I still do not believe it does anything close to altering the appui).

I do remember joking about replacing the bassbar with a neck reset.....

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22 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

Mark, sure, I get that "totally satisfied" response about 100% of the time, too, but that doesn't stop me from digging farther into what they might get beyond that, after the initial shock wears off, especially with someone new whose style isn't familiar to me. :-)

I'm glad to know that your customers are always "totally satisfied"!  It's always nice to know that the folks we're working for are happy with what we do and I'm sure that Donald Rumsfeld would be proud of you.   Yes, there's nearly always more to look for in an instrument and it's fun searching for that nirvana adjustment.  I've only gotten there twice..., 

 

Perhaps you're contemplating your response, or maybe it seemed too simple a question to be worth addressing or sincere, but I really would like to know what you mean by a tighter or looser "setup".  Is this achieved by putting in a sound post of a different length?  Or is it a matter of putting the  existing sound post in a spot where there is a smaller or larger distance between the top and back?   Or... is it something else that only relates to feel and has nothing to do with a looseness or tightness of anything obviously physical?

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In the context of the current discussion it involves the pressure between the top and back from the soundpost, which is something I adjust according to the playing style and personal preferences of the player and the characteristics of the instrument. As to how this is accomplished, I know there are several ways, and this can quickly become a religious question for some people. I do what's appropriate for the situation as it stands in front of me. Quite often the solution is simply to put the post back where the person who fit it intended it to be before some local genius started randomly slapping it around to find his personal "magical spot". Go figure.

I guess that neck set can certainly be a part of tightness, as can the bar, as can strings, and there are ways to move tightness sideways as well as up or down, and if there's time I start with the thing that's the worst out of whack and try to fix it all, which is what we do in the shop with instruments we buy at auction. I don't mean at all to imply that every problem is a post problem or that there's a single solution and in fact I even have players who have several roles who know their instruments and themselves well enough to come for adjustments if they have to play something at the fringes of what their instrument will do but want to be at their best. That's an example of why I commented that I don't believe one can do the best adjustment without some discussion with the player.

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