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Brad Dorsey

Deformed Cello Top Arching

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A customer brought this cello in a few days ago for seam regluing.

P1120096.thumb.JPG.56f34c83acbc45e9e77e3b2ceee3ba75.JPG

As you can see, the longitudinal top arch is deformed -- sunken at the bridge and bulged up under the tailpiece and the fingerboard.  The bass bar is not loose.  The top thickness seem reasonable -- 4 to 5 millimeters in most places.  It is a modern Chinese cello, possibly regraduated and varnished in the United States.  I took the picture with the strings tensioned, but the arch was about the same with them loose.

What would cause this?  String tension, of course, but most cellos don't do this.  So why did this one?

Is major surgery -- corrected casts, sand bags, new bass bar, etc. -- the only way to fix it?

 

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In this case I'd just leave it. But you are right--it would be a big job, as you are describing.

A restorer friend of mine observed once that many of the really great cellos he'd played looked like this so if he ever made a cello he was going to start there. I don't think he was totally joking, so. . . . . . how does it sound????

I am going to suspect that the cause might have been terrible, floppy wood. I have seen that in Chinese instruments.

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I'm with Michael on this.  At least the neck angle has not dropped badly, which is something that I would expect to see with bulging in the belly like this.  So assuming it has a good fitting post, I would leave it.

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Is it not possible that it was made like this deliberately, as part of copieing a deformed original? With such a degree of deformation, I'd expect the projection to have dropped a lot, but it seems normal

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I have no idea...but was this an expensive cello?  Was green wood used?

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Isn't this the classic "saddle"? I have a viola d'amore with a good saddle, not going to mess with it, sounds fine.

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Have you measured the bout widths with a caliper.

If this is after distortion,, the top will be 2-3 mm wider in the c-bouts than the back.

The upper and lower bouts of the top could be a touch narrower than the back.

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