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Should I buy a Cello?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rumzini, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Rumzini


    Feb 14, 2004
    Jackson, MI
    Just like the subject reads. I've alway thought of getting a double bass...but a Cello has been more entertaining of an idea for some reason. I'm just thinking of running it through my big rig with all the eefects and thinking I could come up with some cray creepy way out riffs with my distortion, wah, and delay?

    Your thoughts...
  2. Cello takes a lot of dedication to master - the bowing technique is far harder than the fingering technique. I had a Cello for a while but sold it eventually because in order to achieve the results I wanted I would've had to cut down on my bass playing significantly. While I had it though I found it to be a very absorbing instrument to play - the different tuning (C,G,D,A) opens up different possibilites to bass.

    If you do buy one, please dont run it through loads of effects! Its one of the most beautiful sounding instruments in its own right, it would be a waste to do it. Might as well get a synth if thats your bag, and it would sound better I expect.

    Listen to Yo Yo Ma's recordings of JS Bach's 6 cello suites btw, they will improve your bass playing and melodic awareness as well as giving an appriciation of the Cellos potential.
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Good post, HTG.

    The cello isn't really an instrument you pick up on a whim, practice occasionally, and can expect to sound good on. A half-decent one is expensive as sin, not to mention the difficulty of adjusting to a new tuning...not to mention bowing and the oh-so-delightful complaint of intonation.

    There are a lot of reasons NOT to play one of a cello/db/violin, etc., ranging from the cost and sheer technicaly difficulty to the fragility and other myriad of practical concerns. However, there is only one reason to play an instrument like a cello or a double bass (or a violin, etc.) -- that reason being the SOUND. Don't like the natural sound of a cello? Don't bother.
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Actually I think its a pretty cool idea. It will take some work. The cello scale is shorter than BG, cello is about 24 inches, so it might take some experimentation to find a tuning that works. Also the finger patterns are going to take some getting used to... but then someone out there is playing those frettless rubberband shortbutt basses.

    You might consider some kind of 'Piccolo Bass' tuning/string size and then play the thing through an octave divider. The piccolo strings would be better for tension and tone and then drive the whole thing down an octave to really kick it. Also, get a good pup for the bridge, a piezo works well, but you'll need a good pre-amp to control the tone. The ability to bow the instrument will open many doors.

    Look, I know this post is contrary to the ones above, but I personally think that the best moments in music come from experimentation. If you follow the history of instrument design there is always a period of wild experimentation followed by a consistant performance practice. With the string instruments they got it together about 330 years ago, but just because that has remained consistant doesn't mean the door is shut on experiments. Go for it. Just the idea of introducing electronics to traditional instruments means that all bets are off and let the guy with the coolest sound step forward.

    And please remember... The genius of Yo-Yo Ma and Casals will not be ruined by somebody putting werid strings and a piezo on a cello. Some things have reached a height that will never be lessened.

    And besides, if we never tried ANYTHING new, we'd never have been toliet trained.
  5. Coming from a former cellist I think it would be near blasphemy to run it through a whole bunch of effects...I can even imagine how it would tear apart the sound.

    Anyways, I'm kind of under the impression that everyone who has posted so far never truely played the cello for a significant amound of time (me..nearly everyday for about 6 years). Finger pattern is SOOOOOOOO much easer than bass, especially seeing that you play open strings instead of the fingered note on the string below. For me atleast, even when I was a 4th grader picking it up for the first time, the notes on the fretboard came at a natural position for me, i.e. I didn't have to stretch to play the notes my fingers just kind of landed where they needed to be (or at least in the right intervals even if it was a little sharp or flat).

    I do agree that bowing was the most difficult part of playing because just like on the bass, it is where the sound is made. It is a little harder because you have to learn leverage and pressure (and how to play just one string at a time untill you get to double stops).

    Bottom line: If you really have the desire and the patients to learn to play a fretless instrument then cello isn't that much harder to play then a fretless bass. It is just different. If you know how to read music already then you've got about 1/3 of the battle won already. But I would strongly suggest that you really learn to play the instrument before going off and adding wierd stuff to it (you might even deside that it does sound better by itself =) )
  6. Rumzini


    Feb 14, 2004
    Jackson, MI
    OK. I do feel that the natural sound of the Cello is a beautiful thing. I'm sure that I would incorporate it into the material that we are doing, (such as Paz Lenchantins work on A Perfect Circles, Mer De Mon's). Otherwise I have to agree with Woodchuck on the matter, experimentation is fun, and I have never been known to go with the norm. My current bass rig is testament to that. Or when I bought a slower Italian motorcycle when my buds were buying Japanese rockets, (try keeping up with me in the curves though!). Anyways...As far as learning it...I look at it this way. I'm of the school of thought that if you or anyone else can do it...so can I.

    Now if anyone can give me an idea what the quality of a $400 used 3/4 Cello is, that would be great. It's the one on basssgear.com if anyone has seen it.
  7. I played Cello back in elementary school. From what I can remember, it was fun as hell. I liked it, I love the sound of them, but they require some discipline and devotion if you wanna get good.
  8. +1

    I think you could get away with just the $400 provided that the intrument is worth a little more than that. For all of the nay-saying or the "you could do it, but you would have to..."s, I think that all you would need to run it through effects would be a a real straight-forward, sharpshooting pick-up. Although, for every good violin family intrument pick-up, there are about 5 bad ones.

    Just as a side note, a double bass can achieve a similar (but different too) beauty with the right bass and skill level. There's the rub, though. Not only does it require more skill on the double bass than on the cello to achieve this beautiful resonance, but it also requires an even more expensive bass. I just want it to be known that cello doesn't have the monopoly on--as some would say--"that cello-like tone." (even if that tone is named after the cello).
  9. Don't listen to all these "you'll mess up its beautiful tone" guys. Make it sound as bizarre as you like. I'll be the first to admit that cellos sound cool clean, but so does my Strat, and I've got no problem putting that through some effects. I've never actually done any cello playing, but if it's anything like a mix of an upright bass and a violin, the hardest part will be getting your intonation right. Don't sweat it man, just get yourself a cheap cello and do whatever the heck you want. Bowing isn't that hard. You should be able to get a usable sound quick, although it takes a lot of practice to be good at any instrument.
  10. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    If you want the sound of a cello, get a cello. If you want a DB, get a DB. Either way, prepare to spend lots of time practicing. Effects... you can but feedback can be a problem. But you can get crazy freakish sounds without them. In fact, while you learn to control the bow you'll probably only be able to produce crazy freakish sounds. I love the sound of a distoreted BG playing in unison or an octave below a bowed DB or cello.

    FWIW, I've thought about getting a cello but decided to get better at playing the DB in the upper register instead.
  11. I think... that perhaps one of the NS bass cellos may be a better bet? I think it would work better as you intend to run though effects and a rig...

    I am all for experimentation, although that probably didnt come across in my original post : ) (my favourite band at the moment is the Mars Volta for a start!) - I just think it will be very difficult to achieve a good sound by running a primarily acoustic instument through effects, plus I think that once you start playing the cello on its own you wont want to change the sound (its addictive!).

    I agree with the above post in that the tuning makes fingering very easy (2 and a half octave runs without changing position for a start), although the shorter scale length makes intonation harder than on a fretless bass, its not too bad.

    I wouldn't advise using anything other than cello strings on a cello, as they are quite fragile the different tension could cause problems (certainly discuss it with an experienced classical instrument luthier beforehand)

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