Of course we dream and then plan our next instrument carefully. A cello in particular represents a substantial investment in time and for me at least the procedures need to fit into the cycle of the year.
For this latest cello I decided to go for a low top arch of no more than 24mm such as Sacconi describes in his pivotal book “I secreti di Stradivari”. I do not have access to a classic Stradivari cello and in spite of using a 1717 Stradivari outline – purportedly off the Amaryllis Fleming Stradivari -I have never seen a Strad cello from this period life.
The Canada Council Instrument Bank owns a gorgeous 1696 Strad cello -the “Bonjour”,which has an impressive 32 mm top arch. However crafting an arch of minimal height yet strong and resilient was to be my challenge .
Instead I decided to look at two Vuillaume cellos in Toronto for inspiration. Jean Baptiste Vuillaume was a talented craftsman and the earliest consummate copyist of classical Cremonese instruments, who as a dealer also would have had the originals next to him.
Thanks to the Sound Post and to Roman Borys for letting me spent a couple of hours measuring investigating and photographing their cellos ,incidentally made on the same outline in 1869 and 1868 respectively.
I focused on the arching curves and the positioning of the sound holes. I admire the sculpting of these lean archings,which might have settled ,but have not distorted or sunken.
Understanding and assimilating three dimensional curved structures is the aim, but I also took note of some seemingly pedestrian measurements such as edge heights and rib heights. With the help of a Hacklinger gauge I found the dimensions of the blocks, the thicknesses of the plates near the edges and around the ff ‘s in comparison with the average dimension.
With a low top arch I needed to recalibrate, as the ensemble is affected by everything. It is the beauty and the curse of the art.
In many ways the sound responded to my imagination: A velvety sound with an easy even response.The Canadian Red Maple back became the wild card bringing extra depth and darkness.