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Plans for electric cello?

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Plans for electric cello?

Postby Jon Whitney » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:51 am

A good friend of mine would like me to make an electric cello for him. He's interested in portability and being able to play through headphones, though obviously it should be able to play through an amplifier also. Are there any plans available anywhere? Also any suggestions for woods, pickups, preamps, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:23 pm

The Barbera pickups are highly rated: http://www.barberatransducers.com/cellopickups.html
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Eric Knapp » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:28 pm

My daughter wants me to make an electric viola so we're in a similar space. I will definitely share what I find when I get closer to starting. I have nothing yet, though.

-Eric
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:56 pm

I would just sketch the geometry for a cello/viola, establish the critical angles and locations that are required and desired (for a viola you need a place to put your chin, presumably you need a place to put a foot stick on a cello, the strings need to break at an angle, there is a scale length and a bridge location that is kind of standard, etc.) and then draw some things that join those points together. The ones I currently like are the perimeter ones, the outline of a traditional instrument, with an aggressive modern peg head. The ones of oddly shaped solid wood seem kind of "1980's" to me right now.
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby David King » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:28 pm

I'd look though the hundreds of examples that are out in nature and see what looks like something fun to make. At the most basic level would be something like the NS design, a log with a fingerboard and a short bridge. From there you can get very esoteric in a hurry when trying to mimic the exact geometry and the movement of an acoustic top.
"Portability" can mean many things, does he want to be able to fly with it as checked baggage with no oversize fee? Is he wanting to have it as light as possible?
As with a lot of unusual projects I'd recommend starting with the strings he wants to use; Are they steel core strings that would work with with a magnetic pickup? Are they gut strings that only come in one length?
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Jim McConkey » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:46 pm

Be sure to spend some time in our Library. Electric cellos have come up several times here before. A couple examples are listed below (search in the Library, we don't provide links to the Library because that is for registered members only.) Even though the titles of these are not specifically about cellos, the information is pertinent, and the first one does have a picture of his electric cello on top of his electric violin.

1. Questions about building an electric violin [Pictures]
2. Pat Redmiles' "experiment:" Five string electric viola [Pictures]

There are also several discussions about pickups for these instruments, including the Barbera pickups mentioned above.
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Bill Raymond » Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:10 pm

The H. S. Wake 'cello plans include plans for a collapsible travel 'cello, which might be adaptable to your use by simply adding to it a transducer. I can't locate my copy at the moment, so I can't comment on the utility of the plans, but you may want to look them up.
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Re: Plans for electric cello?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:47 pm

Eric Knapp wrote:My daughter wants me to make an electric viola so we're in a similar space. I will definitely share what I find when I get closer to starting. I have nothing yet, though.


The demands on the shape of electric violas are pretty different from those of an electric cello, because of the different playing positions.

Regarding the violin: I own a Yamaha SV120 which has a non standard neck and fingerboard. I never was satisfied with the feeling of tha board, and i think it is wise to keep that critical part as close to an acoustic instrument as possible. That was also one of the main reasons why i built the skeleton violin. Also important is the lower bow holding the tailpiece, the electronics and the chin rests. This should also resemble Your daughter's instrument as close as possible (unless she is not perfectly happy with it, of course).

If i were You i would take the criticial dimensions - including arching height, bridge height and neck angle - from Your daughter's instrument and use these as boundary conditions of Your design. Or let her draw the shape She would like most...

Completly analogously an electric Cello should be designed: the traditional playing position should ideally be maintained, and that will impose boundary conditions which must be met.
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