converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

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Craig Cowing
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:55 pm

converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Craig Cowing »

I'm working on a project to convert a Cecilia C100 4/4 cello into a bas viola da gamba. I'm curious as to whether anyone else has tried this. Thoughts?

Fred Battershell
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:23 pm

Re: converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Fred Battershell »

It all depends on the shape of gamba and whether you are going for the slanted back(among other things!). You are in for a lot of almost fruitless work. If you just want to play your cello like a gamba, you should remove cello strings(replace them with gamba strings),install frets on the fingerboard,lower the height of the nut and bridge,get rid of the cello endpin and make or install a new gamba style tailpiece and tail gut. PS: don't forget to always bow underhand!
Best of luck to you!
PPs: You should also get ahold of as much viol-related literature(especially containing pix) so that you will become acquainted with the differing shapes and sizes of viols as they have morphed thru time.

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1510
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Since the biggest differences are in the neck and pegbox (because of the additional strings) I would be inclined to pull the neck and make a completely new one. The cello neck could be saved. The same would apply to the bridge and tail piece, which would also need to be replaced. You may eventually want to make a more period correct body to go with the neck and appurtenances you will be making for the "conversion" so saving the original parts would allow you to put things back as they originally were and also have a cello.

Calvin Buenavides
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:54 am

Re: converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Calvin Buenavides »

That surely is an interesting yet challenging project. I hope that you will be able to keep us updated with the progress.

Craig Cowing
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:55 pm

Re: converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Craig Cowing »

I had to set it aside for awhile but I'm back at it. I decided that I didn't like the cheap looking orange-ish finish so I'm stripping it to bare wood then I'll put on a nice tinted oil varnish.

I discovered that I made the peg box too short so the tabs on the pegs are too close together and are difficult to get at. So, I'll make a new peg box. And, I find that the carved head I made is really too small in proportion so I'll make a new one of that too.

Bob Francis
Posts: 531
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Re: converting a cello to a bass viola da gamba

Post by Bob Francis »

Pictures Craig!

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