Tuesday, August 22, 2006



It rained all day, unusually hard. Then about 3:30, it started pouring even harder for about fifteen minutes and then it stopped, and the skies began to clear. Now, at 8:00, the sun is bright in a clear bright-blue western sky. It's weird how quickly it turns. What can be nicer than a bright sunny evening?

I'm climbing out of my slump. In spite of this past week's self-doubts, I have been busy working on some other things... First, I've now played a week without my fingertip protector. A solid callous had slowly developed underneath the fingercot. Now, I'm finally free of it! That might account for some of the recent changes in my sound.

The first hour of each day's practice has been devoted to fingering drills, training them to second position. I start each note slowly and repeatedly, searching for a clear ringing tone. Then I play it again and again, up and down, alternating open notes and octaves, etc. Slowly, my fingers are starting to know where to go in second position, shifting in and out more rapidly and accurately.

Today, I focused away from my fingering to my bowing - paying more attention to the planes and angles of the bow to the fingerboard. A few minor changes in those angles - repositioning my arm and wrist - helped stop a lot of some recent screeching on the d-string. While I was thinking about the bow, I noticed that my left fingers were doing pretty good on their own, on autopilot. I know intonation will keep on getting better...

Yesterday, I decided my a-string sounded a bit "muddy". I put on some magnifying goggles to inspect the bridge, and I noticed the string was deeply dug in (almost fully buried) to the piece of parchment attached to the bridge. It looked like it might have cut through the parchment at one point. The books say the strings are supposed to be embedded by no more than 1/3 to 1/2 of their thickness into the top of the bridge.

I covered the top of the cello around the bridge with paper towels, and loosened the string and pulled it aside. I used an exacto knife to scrape off the old parchment, then lightly sanded the area clean. With the new cello, Ifshin Violins had sent along a handful of replacement tabs - which are small, thin, ovals of parchment about a half inch long. I put a large droplet of superglue on one of these and eventually got it clamped in place on the bridge. After it dried, I restrung the a-string and tuned it. Today, it sounded better.

Election Day

I voted today. I have never missed a vote, since I was first eligible to vote. When I turned 21, the 26th Amendment changed the voting age to 18. In 1972, I drove five hours in from the "country" to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica where I waited another three hours in line so I could cast my ballot against Richard M. Nixon and the Viet Nam war - for all the good it did. If I wasn't going to be home on election day, I voted absentee. I've voted in several elections that were very close. One congressional election was decided by one vote; a governor was elected by a mere 90 or so. Some elections were as elemental as local service area board member run-offs.

I don't understand why so many people can't be bothered to vote. After watching the elections in Iraq this last year, I hoped some of our negligent non-voters would be inspired. It didn't happen. Even though our country's voting population seems split almost 50/50 along strong ideological lines, the fact that any of us can stand up and say - without any fear of retribution - what we think and who we want to "lead" us, regardless of which party is in power, is a remarkable achievement. Nevertheless, I guess the right to vote includes the right not to vote?

In Argentina, voting is compulsory. You will be fined you if you don't vote!

Be careful with the superglue - I think that's a no-no in the luthier world, for any part of a stringed instrument.
Good point!

I had seen recommendations to use superglue or white glue for this particular item. I did go to great lengths to protect the cello from any drips.

Rest assured, I'd never consider using superglue anywhere else on my cello.
I understand super glue, or super glue mixed with some filler, is often used to fill in the grooves of guitar nuts that are too deep. I tried it on my daughter's guitar a few years ago and it worked beautifully. Hope it works well for you in this application.
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