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OT: cello, anyone?


Eric VB

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First, let me warn anyone from trying to search this forum for "cello". There are a lot of hits that don't apply. :eek:

 

Evidently there was one music-man around these parts that plays cello (as well as bass). He still here? Anyone else play cello? According to the archives, he played a Zeta.

 

How about electric mandocello (8-string fretted electric cello)? Anyone ever handle one of those beasts?

 

Are cello and cello-tuned instruments obsolete in the world of ERB and 8-string g****r? Are they only significant in the standard acoustic model, used for orchestras, quartets, and (if you're Woody Allen) marching bands?

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I always wanted to try to make an ABG out of a cello body just to see what kind of volume/tone it would have.

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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For a short period back in '86 or '87 I was in a band with a 5-string EUB-type cellist. More recently, as a bassist, I had tuned my Ibanez 506 mutt in fifths from low Bb-F-C-G-D-A and even gigged with it a couple times after a lot of woodshedding. That's caught on with at least a couple of other ERBers - one who has made 5ths tuning his bag for the forseeable future.

 

Indeed, the main differentiator here seems to be fifths tuning since scale lengths can vary widely and still stay in the family, and Extended Rangers are all over the map as regards instrument of origin and number of strings.

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My wife and I have a running joke - whenever she tells people that she plays cello, their response is always, "Cello? I love cello!" :D

 

So, although I don't play cello, I live with a cellist and I also happen to love cello.

 

Never heard an electric mandocello, but I believe the mandocello is the cello instrument of the mandolin family, with mandola corresponding to viola and mandolin corresponding to violin.

 

Cellos are absolutely not obsolete! In fact, they are very hot right now in many styles of music. It used to be you only heard them in classical music, but you can scarcely find an indie band nowadays that doesn't have cello overdubbed somewhere on one of their albums. There's a popular goth group called Rasputina that plays originals and covers of classic rock songs as a cello orchestra. Also, 90% of the time when film or television composers want to evoke a mood of melancholy, they bust out a cello!

 

Cellos have a rich, woody sound that is totally unique. I believe the future of this instrument is brighter than ever.

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Originally posted by Quinn:

Cellos have a rich, woody sound that is totally unique.

Is that sound obtainable on an electric instrument? If so, which one(s)?

 

greenboy, you state that in fact you've used (appended) cello tuning on ERB, and that scale length wasn't really a factor. Does/did it have that cello "sound"? (Well, pizz. anyway, unless you tried to ebow it.)

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Well, it seems like cellos typically have approximately a baritone guitar scale length, around 28". Not too big a diff considering the 'lectric bass sits between that length and the longer scale of an upright doghouse.

 

In no way did my bass often sound like a pizz cello since it isn't equipped with piezos and is a solid body with magnetics. But then through the V-Bass, and adjusted just so and with the right strings, it could ghet remarkably close to a EUC - and even could sound bowed in a rather static fashion, where attack time for that COSM type was dependent on how hard I hit the string.

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Originally posted by lug:

I always wanted to try to make an ABG out of a cello body just to see what kind of volume/tone it would have.

As long as you didn't want to make a CD rack out of a Stradivarius , lug. ;)

 

Or use polyurethane stain on it. ;)

:eek: Truely one day, idiots will rule the world.

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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I always thought that considering the size, it shouldn't be to difficult to come up with an electric cello guitar.

 

And, I was madly in love with a cellist:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/atmofmn/Bass/upright.jpg

Me in back, her up front. :love:

 

ATM

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Originally posted by Quinn:

[qb] Is that sound obtainable on an electric instrument? If so, which one(s)?

Not according to my wife! :)

 

From what I've heard, electric cellos like Zeta's models are a reasonable alternative for live performance at high volumes.

 

To my ears though, the beauty of the sound is the "woodiness" that comes out as the soundbox resonates with the bow and I don't think you can really duplicate that with an electric instrument.

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In my experience they are excellent at making you want to play faster than everyone else all the time in any context, and would probably be a good compromise between the heft of an upright and the nimbleness of a violin if you had to El Kabong someone.

 

The first effect might wear off after high school, though I couldn't say for sure.

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Look up Joel Quarrington; a Canadian bassist who tunes his bass to Cello tuning and has made a convincing career out of it.

 

Much of the older symphonic music treated cello and bass as the same instrument, with the same range. Of course, a bass with cello tuning becomes a beast to play, with pivots and shifts everywhere. Still, I'm intrigued and would like to mess around with it.

 

I also had a former student, a cellist in HS who bought an electric bass and tuned it like a cello...he could read really great.

 

But we have to talk about idiom here...what we think of as great bass lines come, at least partially, from the bass idiom. The way octaves, fifths and scales felt under the finger made our elders design bass lines a certain way (at least in jazz and pop) and those lines have become idiomatic.

 

On cello tunings, some of those lines are awkward and are not the first thing to come naturally.

 

Of course, it's GOOD to stretch out...invent a new idiom. The extended range of the cello and the odd chord shapes would allow interesting new possibilities.

 

And you can even tune cellos by harmonics!

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Thanks for the tip (re: Joel Quarrington), Dave! :thu:

 

Yes, bass with cello tuning would be tough, but there are some that can make it happen. A cello-scale instrument, though, should be akin to playing a cello.

 

The other way around is Stanley's piccolo (E, A, D, G, one octave up) and tenor (A, D, G, C, up a 4th) basses. They provide some upper range, and would feel more comfortable to a bass player. But even with these instruments, the question still remains: are they obsolete in the world of more-than-4-string ERB?

 

Just look at that 10-string being built .

 

I agree with Quinn (and his wife), though. I think the magic attraction factor for a cello really comes from bowing an acoustic instrument. Simply putting out the same frequencies doesn't seem as exciting. (Not nearly as many trombone or baritone featured solos as there are for cello, either; maybe tenor sax.)

 

OTOH, I did try an acoustic mandocello once. If it didn't cost US$1800 I probably would have bought it.

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Why does it matter if someone thinks something is obsolete or not? Let that take care of itself. Rarely does something become obsolete in an art anyway, though fashions change.

 

* * *

 

As far as string count, I figure almost anyone can handle a Six, and many, a Seven. And either is easy to find out about since instrument prices are low for these. But going to something with more strings costs a lot, and only players who have a real motivation and some experience are likely to go there.

 

* * *

 

Kind of a summary here:

 

Cello is a BOWED intrument, as well as one with fifths tuning. A solid body EUC can sound amazingly like an acoustric one if it is built well and has a good system to play though. This was true even back when the lady I mentioned was doing it. Of course she had a luthier available in the same city, and a lot of acoustic cello experience to translate over. Now there are probably more choices, including from Ned Steinberger.

 

5ths tuning on a non-bowed instrument is a separate issue, and on a 34" scale it requires a lot of shifting just to play typical rock, blues, boogiewoogie and pop lines, but that's not that hard to deal with after some woodshedding. After all, if guitarists can play a variety of tunings, why shouldn't the superior bassist mind be able to pull it off? ; }

 

5ths tuning also makes a fair amount of open chord voicings available on more strings at a time, and it's actually got a certain glassy quality that derives from each string differing more in tone (which has a downside for line-playing, but that's not a big issue until you go beyond four strings).

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Originally posted by greenboy:

Why does it matter if someone thinks something is obsolete or not?

Maybe that was not quite the appropriate word. How about superfluous? As in, why would you want to make an electric cello g****r when you could just use an off-the-shelf electric bass g****r or electric g****r?

 

Now, let's see if I can find a nice contemporary ophicleide ! ;)

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There's probably some old threads around here about my 5ths tuning experiences. I settled on Bb-F-C-G-D-A because it actually duped the cello on the higher-pitches strings, also tried a few others including C-G-D-A-E-B just a step higher, and duplicating the cello an octave lower, but I missed having a low B note available. For awhile I had lowlow G-D-A-E-B-F# and did a hybrid 5ths/4ths lowlow G-D-A-D-G-C too, when I was working that SIT .165 string.

 

* * *

 

why would you want to make an electric cello g****r when you could just use an off-the-shelf electric bass g****r or electric g****r?
How quick we are to disavow the part of our instrument's heritage that is guitar ; }

 

Anyway, other than the bowing bit I mentioned in my last post, SCALE LENGTH is a pretty important factor in tonal quality. But really, anybody can approach this issue in their own way from their own available resources and with their own predispositions. That said, I think fanning is the best way to optimize for pitch ranges... Baring that, to do a fifths-tuned extended range cello-area instrument a baritone guitar with around 28" scale would be appropriate if you want to add to strings to the top, and a Fender Bass VI-type 30" scale if you want to add one string lower and one higher.

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Another interesting way to toy at this is to maybe snag a DTAR Moma Bear ... I got the impression that the biggest thing acoustic guitar simulator pedals/effects for electric guitar were doing to get that sound was to add a lot of resonance at typical body size/hole size combinations, and certainly this is part of the V-Bass COSM approach for acoustic standups, ERBs, and piezo/acoustic models.

 

The Moma Bear gives a lot of body selections, and with an acoustic/electic or piezo bass guitar could be pretty cool for further morphing of boundaries, such as Max Valentino is doing. I'd probably be pursuing something like this myself but the V-Bass already gives me that to play with...

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Hello, old friends ... funny I happened to check in on the forum today, while this thread is up.

 

How is everyone? I've been pretty well pinned to the wall with work and playing/composing, a daughter, running (ran the marathon in November), etc. All good stuff, just much less time to hang on these boards.

 

RicBassGuy ... Is it too obvious to say that electric cello is an entirely different instrument from an electric bass - irrespective of the number of strings on the bass, or the bass's tuning? It's also quite different from an acoustic cello. [Although I'm tempted to say that my electric cello, with signal processors - particularly my EBS Octabass - threatens to make electric bass guitars "obsolete" than the other way around.]

 

But really, the people with whom I play cello have no interest in me showing up with a bass guitar. And bands who want me to play bass would shoot me if I simply played the same notes on cello. Seems obvious why - the scale, the string tension, the physicality, the technique (!), the vibe, the sex appeal ... all different. Think of it this way: A violin and a mandolin have identical tuning, but neither is obsolete because of this.

 

As far as bassists who tune in 5ths ... as usual, I found myself nodding when I read jeremyc's post - my first thought was Red Mitchell.

 

For those comparing electric string instruments vs. acoustic - I find it is possible to approach the sound of an acoustic cello with an electric cello, if you can deal with two issues. One is the effect of the acoustic body on note decay - I run through short Reverb+Delay settings to replicate that. And the other is the problematic combo of piezo pickups and bowed strings, which force you to compensate for bizarre and generally unmusical EQ profiles. As for the looks, well, I find that my electric turns as many heads as my acoustic (if not more).

 

Cheers - hope to have more time to check in more frequently ...

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