Best model/size for cello build with Poplar back/sides

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Best model/size for cello build with Poplar back/sides

Postby Doug Davis » Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:24 pm

Is there a preferred direction to go regarding a cello build with a poplar back and sides?

do larger or smaller bodied styles go better with the characteristics of a softer wood like poplar or willow? or does it even matter?
Doug Davis
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:29 pm

Re: Best model/size for cello build with Poplar back/sides

Postby Carl Curi » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:16 pm

First, If any experience makes in this forum are planning on answer your question I'm sure they would like to know what specific poplar you are talking about.
Are you referring to Poplar Populus or Poplar Liriodendrum?
Poplar have been used very seldom as a traditional wood in cello construction (there are a few different woods called poplar that are not related) only the genus Populus (Willow family included) has been used traditionally but very seldom by very Famous makers.
Please disregard the rest if you have experience making instruments ( most likely you do not need the ramblings of my ideas about instrument making) but since nobody has had the guts to answer your question (there are many knowledgeable people here) if you are a beginner like me maybe the info will send you in the right direction ( I hope)
Since poplar (Populus genus) is light I would assumed ( but please do not take my advise as a fact because I'm just learning to make musical instruments and viola de Gambas in specific) that the back and sides of a bowed musical instrument made with this softer wood should be thickenessed a little thicker than the back and sides made of a harder wood to be able to withstand the stress ( hopefully somebody else with more experience will confirm this?)
But you may be probably ( but I may be mistaken) be referring to what is called poplar in the US (Liriodendron Tulipifera) which is not traditional but a wood that many have used with very good results (myself currently making a bass viola de gamba with it because I'm learning instrument making)
I have read countless of times that liriodendron Tulipifera has good tonal characteristics and it is just fine for practice instruments (in specific basses) but do not expect traditional or professional makers and players to agree with this statement.
I have known of many good instruments made with non-traditional woods.
Finally, to answer your question I would think that the design of the instrument would not matter that much since most traditional cello designs are very similar because their design has been standardized for centuries and the most important thing is really how well the instrument is made or put together.
Carl Curi
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:21 am

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