Saturday, April 18, 2009

 

Bridging


"Not bad for a beginner, " he commented with a smile after hearing my tale of woe and looking through the f-hole, "you got the soundpost almost exactly right." Nevertheless, my luthier quickly unwound the strings and removed the bridge, and with his special soundpost tool he lifted out the errant soundpost. Upon a detailed inspection of the soundpost itself and the dimples inside the box, it appears I had slightly mis-aligned the bevel angles with the shape of the box. That might explain the pinched sound I'd recently been hearing on the upper strings.

Overall, the cello is in excellent condition - no cracks, no open seams, no apparent physical problems. The scoop on the fingerboard is OK... a little too far up on the neck near the nut. This won't be a problem until I start playing more in the upper ranges. He commented that I should plan to have it replaned, eventually.

The bridge, however, was warped and quite flexible - especially at the top. This made it behave like a spring, absorbing part of the sound that ought to be transferred into the cello. I asked him to replace it with a spare bridge that came with my new cello. He quickly measured it, cut it to size, planed it, and fit it into place. He reset the soundpost just a little closer to the fingerboard and slightly further inboard, with its bevels properly aligned.

Upon restringing and retuning, the cello played well and sounded nice - in his shop. I haven't tried it out at home, yet. He commented I might find it a bit bright in the upper strings; if so, I could consider alternative strings. The curve of the new bridge is a little different - flatter, better matching the curve of the fingerboard. I might have to get used to bowing the G and C strings a little more carefully.

It was an interesting visit. I got to try out a cello he recently completed (#52), which cost about twice what I paid for mine - really nice; a deep resonance. He also showed me his latest cello under construction (#53), with a one-piece poplar back.

The rest of our first trip to the big city in more than six months was quite interesting (and far more expensive than the luthier). We saw "Spamalot" with John O'Hurley. Z and I have long been fans of Monty Python's Holy Grail. Z can quote entire scenes. Shopping at all the big stores took up the rest of our time and money.

I'll report tomorrow how my revitalized cello plays at home.

Comments:
I'm a little afraid of this course I'm doing this summer. My aim is to be able to do some good rehairs, but I have this little dream of a shop in the garage and the smell of wood glue. We shall see. Your adventures have me inspired.

hee hee. word verification is "capooli" .
 
My luthier works out of a small shop in his basement, complete with wood shavings, tools, and parts of several instruments under construction - including a corner devoted to bow rehairing.

My rebridged cello sounds wonderful, with more power and projection. I suspect I'll be replacing my bridge much more frequently than before.
 
What big city are you talking about?? and who is the cello maker?
 
In southcentral Alaska the only accessible city is Anchorage... quite small compared to a metropolis like Seattle, but it's all we've got. The cello-maker is John Osnes.
 
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