Convert bass to OVERSIZED cello? A "5/4"cello?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Common Tater, Feb 9, 2018.


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  1. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    There is no such thing as 5/4 cello strings. You're going to have to use something else and if not bass strings, I'm not sure what it will be.

    Plus, you're asking a bunch of bass players and I get that you don't like the answers, but they are bass players. Maybe you'd get responses more to your liking on a web forum of cellists, there must be such a thing somewhere.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald and Chris Symer like this.
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Ok, I'll chime in to this nuttiness... How about contacting a gut string maker like Gamut or Duglolecki regarding making strings for DG tuning an octave above bass register to work on your SL? You could start with commercial solo E and A strings and then all you'll need is the D and G. At least you'll know if it's possible.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    damonsmith likes this.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    This thread is making my head hurt. If the goal is to make it sound like a cello, then it needs cello strings. The average scale length of a cello is about 27". If you change the scale length too much, or use strings that are too thick, it won't sound like a cello any more.

    As for the height and size thing, anyone can obviously do what they want, but it really doesn't make that much difference. I've played for 15 years with pianist Harry Pickens. Harry is 6'10", and is a virtuoso. He plays regular pianos, and he has found a way.

    Harry-Pickens-Trio-in-action-copy1.jpg

    by comparison, Jason Tiemann (drummer in the above photo) and I are both between 6'1" and 6'2".

    The OP's hands are large, but nowhere near Harry's. Heck, I'm relatively short by comparison, but ...

    IMG_2049.jpeg

    This means nothing about my ability (or lack thereof) to play the piano.

    Harry can reach from the low C up to the A a 13th above, and play notes in between cleanly. I have a colleague who's about 5'6" who can barely reach an octave. He's also an amazing virtuoso pianist. Hand size doesn't mean much at all if the technique is there.

    As for the rest, anyone can do whatever they want with their instrument, but I would argue that it's a choice and not a need. I am reminded of a concert I saw years ago featuring Edgar Meyer (bass) and Mike Marshall (mandolin) Edgar has small hands, Mike has giant hands. It was a brilliant concert, and neither had any trouble playing their axe. :)
     
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I'm going to guess that Lauren Pierce's hands are on the small side and she plays the most amazing virtuoso stuff on a smaller bass. This is a silly thread...
     
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'll defend the premise of the thread (in the Misc. forum). People can do whatever they want and there's no harm in asking for advice. Brilliant things sometimes are invented by people who refuse to follow conventional thinking. Reiska listed 3 reasons why he would do such a thing and I find them valid, even if I can't relate directly.

    That said, bassists are giving you the advice that you can expect from bassists. Accomplished musicians are giving the best advice that you could expect from accomplished musicians - Why don't you talk to a cello teacher about the difficulties you are having and see what their advice is? Why don't you talk with some accomplished cellists and see what their advice is?

    What is silly is rejecting and resenting the advice, doubling down on the question and demanding better. It's not coming, not here anyway. I think it's time to say "thank you, I'll explore other sources" and walk away. Look for a cello forum if you object to dealing with cellists and teachers in real life, I think that you've gotten the best that we have to offer on the subject. I'm actually impressed that this has stayed as on-the-rails as it is, to be honest.
     
  6. Federighi

    Federighi

    Jun 19, 2011
    Burlingame, CA
    My advice OP, just call it a viol and do whatever you want.
     
    Common Tater likes this.
  7. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    You know that feeling when you "share" some new music you've fallen in love with your spouse, friend, teacher, what-have-you, and they respond "Yeah, that's good." and then change the conversation?
     
    VictorW126 likes this.
  8. Common Tater

    Common Tater

    Jan 15, 2016
    Iowa
    Banjo strings?

    A long neck banjo has a scale length of 80 cm, like a 1/8 bass. Not all the strings used would have to be from a set of banjo strings. There'd have to be some accommodation for banjos using a loop end as compared to the ball end used on a bass. I have no idea on how it would take a bow. Maybe "cheat" a bit to make it fit on a 1/4 bass?

    Does anyone reading this have a banjo? Or, know a banjo player?
     
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Are you planning on using a bow?
     
  10. Common Tater

    Common Tater

    Jan 15, 2016
    Iowa
    Yes.

    I see that banjo strings do come in loop ends and ball ends. There is such a thing as flatwound banjo strings. That looks promising. I see that banjo string tension is in the 10 to 20 pound range. That's pretty light tension for a bowed instrument, no? That's a problem, no?
     
  11. The bass has six-seven times more tension (~65-75, down to 87). That's a problem, no?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  12. Common Tater

    Common Tater

    Jan 15, 2016
    Iowa
    According to the table you posted before ~70 pounds would be the maximum tension for a string on a 3/4 bass. Also on that table you showed that a 1/8 bass, 800 mm scale length, that the string tension would be in the 45 to 50 pound range.

    According to the string tension calculator I linked to earlier a 0.023 inch diameter string (a D3 string in the banjo set) when tuned to a G3 would have a tension of 40 to 50 pounds. Double checking this with a string diameter calculator I enter an 800 mm scale, 42 pounds of tension, tuned to G3, and I get steel flat wound strings at a diameter of 0.023 inches. I got no warnings on exceeding string tension limits. That kind of tension could possibly fold a banjo in half but the banjo string would hold up, assuming a banjo string is constructed similarly to a guitar string.

    So tension might be a bit light, but not terribly so. It seems the numbers add up. If I missed something then I'd appreciate corrections.
     
  13. I have never played a banjo, but I'm sure that his strings are not the best solution for a cello.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  14. Common Tater

    Common Tater

    Jan 15, 2016
    Iowa
    Can you explain how you came to this conclusion? What kind of problem do you see that would prevent this from working? Can you provide an alternate solution? Surely, if you think that this is not the best solution then you have a better one.

    Do you need a KitKat?
     
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Construction of arco strings is different than construction of pizzicato strings. Tension, mensure and gauge are not all of the qualities that would be required to make a beautiful sounding cello string.

    I personally don't have other suggestions, because there is no such thing as a 5/4 cello string and to the best of my knowledge the next stringed instrument designed for arco is the doublebass. You've already rejected that idea.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  16. Common Tater

    Common Tater

    Jan 15, 2016
    Iowa
    I have NOT rejected the idea of playing a double bass with a bow. I rejected a lot of ideas because they do not achieve the goal I laid out at the start, such as the idea of putting bass strings on a cello. I'm not looking to make a cello sound like a bass, but make a bass sound like a cello. In that case I would in fact be playing a double bass with a bow but the notes sounded should be one octave higher than the standard bass.


    Beauty is in the eye (and ear) of the beholder. Let's discuss how to achieve the goal as stated and then decide if it is "beautiful sounding" or not later.

    I see that banjo strings come with ball ends and loop ends. I'd like to know how different these ball ends on a banjo string are from those on strings made for the double bass. If the ball ends are close enough then I should be able to use the string unmodified, since it appears the string length for banjos and 1/4 or 1/8 basses are similar.

    I agree that strings intended for pizzicato and arco differ. It appears that flatwound and plain steel strings are what people desire for arco. Banjo strings do come in plain steel and flatwound versions. These flatwound banjo strings are made of a steel core and wrapped in either steel or nickel, much like double bass strings.

    I seems I have discovered some 5/4 cello strings only they are not sold as such, they call them banjo strings. To verify this I would appreciate it if someone could take a look at how banjo strings differ from 1/4 and 1/8 bass strings, in both the ends used and in their construction.

    The next time I pass a music store I'll look at some strings myself but I'd appreciate if someone that is also curious on this would also take a look and give a second opinion.
     
  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Right, that's what I said.


    It's been hard for me not to close this thread. I've thought from the beginning that it is only headed for moderation. I won't participate further and will leave it open for now, though you're missing the point that there appears to be exactly one other person on Talkbass who shares any interest for this topic and you're clearly not interested in what anyone else has to say on the subject. If you and he want to use this thread to plan this build out I think the rest of us should step aside and let you do so.
     
  18. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I love this pic... and Harry and Jason's playing... but, WHAT exactly are you doing with your left hand there? This looks to me to be a moment of "Do as I say and not as I do". ;)
     
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Looks like a double stop unison pedal point C across the 1st and 2nd strings. Unison pedals are something that I do sometimes to generate movement in a pedal when the soloist is waiting to release. It's crazy looking, but it sounds cool when you can get it in tune. :bassist:
     
  20. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Sounds about right... I've heard you use it to great affect a few times now. One more thing for me to explore!
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
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