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bassing a cello

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by chris clay, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. chris clay

    chris clay

    Jun 3, 2007
    cornwall UK
    we have an Irish session in a "very" small local pub where many friends of mine get together on a weekly basis and play their socks off.
    the couple of times i've taken my DB along for the ride i have been too short of space to be comfortable.
    i can get my hands on a fairly beat up cello. no cost, and am wondering if there would be a way to tune this cello up bass-style so's i could perhaps squeeze in a corner somewhere and join the jam
    any thoughts anyone ?:help::confused:
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    When my eldest son Jon was in 4th grade, I had the school supplier string up a full sized Cello with what looked to be Spirocore Bass strings for him. He played it standing up just like a Bass. The old Prescott Church Basses were tuned in 4ths by many to sound like a Bass and they were only an inch or two bigger then a Cello.
  3. in a semi-related vain, i've a acoustic bass guitar, short scale (32 inch) that is physically the size of a cello. it's a one of a kind beast, strung with thomastik abg strings ... fretless, sounds killer. i've often wondered whether cello strings would sound better on it, but with the price of cello strings, i'm hesitant to experiment ... any thoughts?

    thanks ...

  4. chris clay

    chris clay

    Jun 3, 2007
    cornwall UK
    i'm informed that cello strings go from low to high C G D A

    so to retune to bass tuning and intervals i'm wondering if the existing cello strings could be persuaded to adapt...its the C that is a bit worrying as that would have to be taken up 2 tones to the E...i imagine that the G and A strings would not be too put out to move a tone each up and down respectively...the D would stay as it is

    or is the way to go to use cut down bass strings ?
  5. chris clay

    chris clay

    Jun 3, 2007
    cornwall UK
    jeff if it sounds killer as is why think of changing....unless ,of course, it might be a weapon of mass destruction with the cello strings...
  6. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    Cello tuning = CGDA

    I once tuned one to BEAD - worked OK

    Probably be better to just tune it CGDA and leard to play in standard tuning. Sheet music for cello is written in alto clef btw.

    I left mine tuned to BEAD (like a 5 string bass)
    I could actually play it horizonal, like an electric if I wanted.

    More triva: In original classical music, the cello was the bass instrument.
  7. No.
  8. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    I have alto clef sheet music written for cello. Perhaps not all cello music is alto clef, but all that I have is. :)
  9. Are you sure it's not tenor clef?
  10. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    But I really did think it was alto clef.

    read my sig >>>>>
  11. i'm pretty sure that Ray Brown did exactly that. The Ultimate Ray Brown on Verve records has some killer tunes with Ray on cello. I think i remember reading that he had Kay make him a cello back in the 50's and if i'm not mistaken, he used fender electric bass strings on it. Baubles, Bangles, and Beads, and Bric-A-Brac are some great examples of his cello work.
  12. actually, i was wrong about Bric-A-Brac. but Baubles... is awesome cello!
  13. ForestThump


    Jun 15, 2005
    Why would he have put electric bass strings on a cello?
  14. i'm not certain about that part. i just think that's what he said in the interview. i'm not positive. but, i do know that he used standard bass tuning. and on a related note, i'm pretty sure that Percy Heath did the same thing. and Percy actually continued to use a cello up until his recent death. but i still think Ray was first.
  15. Darren Molnar

    Darren Molnar

    Nov 6, 2007
    saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada
    humble instrument maker
    How about renting a kids size bass for the gigs? 1/2 size? 1/4? would you be able to buy one, for the price of a good set of strings nowaday? (e-bay) ?
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    You could buy it a set of mandocello strings.
  17. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    A young friend of mine, 10y/o, 130cm, wants to play bass. But a 1/2 size bass is too big, and 1/4 siz4es are hard to find.

    So, would it be a silly idea to buy a cheap cello for him and string it up as someone suggested, with bass strings? Ken how did your son's "bello" sound, and were there any stopping/string height/ FB issues?
  18. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    You wouldn't have much success retuning cello strings to any fourths tuning scheme, but there are plenty of short scale contrabass strings available for student instruments. A quarter size student bass probably has a similiar scale to a cello, and the strings are probably way cheaper.
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    It was his first year on Double Bass/Bello and he played in the School Orchestra. It was fine. The next year they gave him a 1/2 sized Bass but he lost interest in the DB. I think I played it at home more then he did. I was still retired from playing at that time. Later when he was to prepare for college, he trained with me on DB and started with a 7/8 and then a 3/4, both were my Shen Basses as I had started back playing.

    It was the Bello and 1/2 sized Basses that I first played again that sparked me interest again to play. Now look at me. Any two of my better Basses cost more than my house.. geezz..
  20. if i'm not mistaken that "low C" on a cello is actually a minor 6th higher than the low E on the bass. so you wouldn't be tuning it up two whole steps, but rather down by 4. otherwise you would have kind of a "castrati" bass. i think in any case you'll get a rubbery sound and feel. i realize your choices are limited but i think you're better off going with either a 1/4 size db or an acoustic bass guitar, as others mentioned.

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