About the Cello

Location of bass bar and sound post

Location of bass bar and sound post

Notes from Jonathan!

The aristocratic cello is the second largest member of the violin family. The largest member of the violin family, with the deepest voice, is the double bass, and the viola’s range lies between the violin and cello.

Medieval string instruments of were much less powerful than those of the modern violin family. There were two inventions that greatly increased the resonance of string instruments. These were bass bars and sound posts. Bass bars are attached to the inside surface of the top plate, running along the left side of the bridge under the lowest string. The sound post is a small stick that fits snugly between the top and back, positioned on the right side of the bridge.

Viols of various sizes

Viols of various sizes

The bass bar helps to produce the deep bass tones by modulating high frequency vibrations into lower sounds. The sound post connects the top and back of the instrument, causing them to vibrate together in a consonant fashion. To imagine what a cello or violin would sound like without a sound post or bass bar, try drawing a bow on a guitar! The violin and viol-da-gamba families both have bass bars and sound posts and both evolved from vielles.

Cellos (celli) were first built in the late 16th century by Andrea Amati and
Jonathan’s Cello Gasparo. They were often used to provide a bass line for music in churches. The early Amati and Stradivarius cellos were several inches longer and fatter than the modern form.

Jonathan's cello

Jonathan's cello

Some of these instruments had a hole for a hook so that they could be played in marching bands. The smaller, modern form of the cello was created by Stradivarius and Allesandro Gagliano. It is better for virtuoso playing.

Well made modern cellos as well as antique instruments can be superb, but there was a high point in cello (and violin) making in 18th century Italy. I am very lucky to own a cello I love. It has a very noble and moving voice. It took many years of effort to find… and to buy, but it was really worth it. I’m always inspired and supported by this instrument. It gives me great pleasure to share my cello’s beautiful sound with as many people as possible.

Advertisements
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: