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Unusual Question--Cello

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by mikejdexter, Nov 27, 2018.


  1. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    Has anybody tried playing a cello using bass tuning--EADG (Low to high).
    Or even the top four strings of guitar: DGBE? (Low to high) Good results? Work for you? If so strings used?

    Curious.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  2. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    Delaware
    Doable EADG imo. Cello strings however do not like to be tuned upward much farther than the pitch they are designed for. The C (esp) and G strings therefore being at risk of breakage, but they are the thicker ones so I was able to do it EADG as experiment. Rec not trying it with expensive strings though lol. I think Pettiford and other jazz greats played pizz'ed cello tuned that way. If you dig the cello sound vs a piccolo bass, I recommend learning to play cello tuned normally in fifths, best resonance and more range and less plinky. Have fun.
     
  3. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I have a cello tuned in fourths with these strings: D'Addario Orchestral : Product Detail : Helicore Fourths-Tuning Cello 4/4 Scale Medium Tension Set

    It works for me.. I can get that Oscar Pettiford pizz sound and the arco tone is ok too even though it’s just a really cheap Chinese plywood cello with a Realist pickup. I’ve had quite a few cellists come up to me and say they liked what they heard. I just play it for fun or the occasional wedding ceremony gig where I need the cello vibe.
     
    mikewalker and s van order like this.
  4. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    As a bass player, the fifths don't really throw me off when I pick up the cello. Tuning it like a bass you miss a lot of fun and specific aspects of it.
     
    Reiska and wathaet like this.
  5. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    Thank you gentlemen for your very useful knowledge--much appreciated.
     
  6. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    Hi hensonbass.
    Question regarding your post. How would you compare the sound you get on your cello using the 'Helicore Fourths-Tuning Cello strings' compared to the double bass in volume & tone? A big difference? A slight difference?
    Definitely use a pickup?
    Thanks.
     
  7. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    My cello is a really cheap Chinese plywood model so it certainly does not have a glorious sound especially with arco. However, it has considerable volume and I love the way it sounds when plucked (pizz). It’s really punchy and with the pickup it cuts through a band with no problem.

    What is your goal with the cello? Do you want to play more soloistically?

    For me this setup allows me express myself as a soloist and forget about being the bass player without having to learn the regular cello tuning of fifths. It’s a quick and dirty fix and it works for me. I do however understand fourths tuning limits the range and tone of the instrument.

    If you just want to play bass lines please do not kid yourself into thinking this can replace an upright bass. Remember you will be an octave up so your bass function is limited...especially if you tune it in fourths from E.

    Though I have run my cello through an octaver pedal...☺️
     
  8. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    If the object is to be able to get around and play solos more easily, why not a smaller bass? I've got students with 1/2 and 1/4 basses that don't sound all that bad, at least as good as a cheap cello.
     
  9. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    As I play DB & guitar and love the sound of the cello I thought I could give the cello a try tuned in fourths to hear what the result is. Could be an interesting experiment using effects-----------
    Never heard a 1/2 size bass---any comparison with a cello?
     
    hensonbass likes this.
  10. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    No, it sounds like a bass, and it's much bigger than a cello. Usually not as robust or resonant as a full size instrument. Some can be quite good. String length is about 39" vs. 42 for a 3/4 bass. A bass with the same string length as a cello is 1/10 size.
     

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