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  • Writer's pictureLP2Lily

Lily's River Silent Cello

I had been thinking about building a cello for a while, but never could convince myself to try. Eventually I got the wild hair just to go with it. What ever happens happens. The more I looked into it with different tutorials and even my own books on

this subject the more I relized how easy this will be. Mind you I built a bunch of failure guitars and I learned a lot from past instrument builds. The biggest lesson was to keep in mind is the scale. If you can keep the correct scale then you will have an instrument that works. How easy it would be to play is another story. However, the turn out was perfect. I have a bad habit of penching the cello neck which makes it very hard to shift position. Allowing the neck to be larger in diameter is probably what broke me of this habit.

Cutting parts out

I got a piece of wood that my neighbor had. He needed me to fix a decorative light. Basically the batteries leaked into the circuitry. I soldered a 555 timer circiut together and made it possible for him to use a usb charger cable to power it. He was so happy with it that he gave me a plank of wood. It needed very basic treatment for wood mold.

After bleaching it with a cup to a couple gallon water ratio I went to work cleaning it up. After words I managed to get a starting point with how I wanted to cut it out. I never know until I finally cannot go back to make changes. I am wierd that way, but this makes me very flexible when it comes to fixing mistakes. Hiding un-intentional stuff really is second nature to me because of this. Hints why in this picture specifically I cut out a part I previously drew out.


The Neck, Bridge, and Back

I originally ordered Walnut to make a neck, but as you can tell I decided on using it for a couple different things. Again I still never know until I cant go back. My idea from the beginning was straight forward and I felt rather confident that this will work. I made several drawings on the walnut with permanent marker only to do more. Essentially that is what all those scratch work stuff is on the neck is. At the heal that connects to the body I cut the middle one so a T-nut could be glued into place. This is supposed to be a floating neck similar to that of guitar designs.

A concern of mine was structural integrity. I wanted to be sure that nothing would snap when I put strings on. Spoiler? It did'nt. I had a lot of success with this project. The back I made out of one of the four pieces of walnut I got. The smaller slab was to make the box for the electronics big enough to handle the major stuff I want in it.

The End Pin

This part took a lot of consideration. i remember the first cello I ever had and learned on had problems when ever it was tuned up. The tail pin would get stuck from the tail gut pulling things tight. The original one I had used a tube like you see in this picture. However, the seller I got it from took a pocket knife and widdled things to fit. Of course you can probably imagine this was the problem I faced with my first cello I had. I decided on making all this an assembly and it being fixed into a block of wood. That way when the tail gut was pulling on things from string tension the end pin would not be affected. This worked like a charm.

I wanted this to be a 5 string because I wanted to reach the same upper registers as a guitar. I never liked how I had to really modify everything I wanted to play just so its within the range of a traditional cello. A lot of the parts that I am using for this instrument is from the first instrument I played and learned on. So basically you could say this is a rebirth of the electric cello I had learned on. Only things are going in a very interesting direction as you will see.

Carving Out The Neck

I did just about all this by hand with the exception of a power tool here and there for sanding and drilling holes. I did just about all of the cutting with hand tools. I even did the neck rout for a metal rod. Generaly cellos don't need a truss rod, but I went ahead and put one in because in practice this makes instruments that last a while and they don't break as easy. The two holes you see is for lateral adjustment. One bolt goes in through the back and then there are the two for tilting it very slightly to adjust things for the C string and the "5" high E string.

I went ahead and painted it once I had it far enough along. Again I made the neck thicker to break my bad habit of penching the neck. When I build my next one I will make the neck thinner. This will make things a lot lighter. The theme I went with here is to make the neck and scroll a lilie flower.

Now For the Crazy

Once I had the neck far enough along I was test fitting things to get the best out of gluing. I put bolts in place to help make sure things were very tight

Things started to pick up pace once I got the tail put in. I even got the inspiration to experement with super glue. I made a glassy surface on a decorative cover to the output box. This part of the cello is removable to give access to the wires leading into the circiutry box. Basically the big chunk of wood you notice missing in the above picture.

I did not do a whole lot of pictures through sanding and or painting just because of how time consuming these processes are. I hope to in the near future to make time lapse segments. I wanted to do a video for this project, but decided not to. The time lapses will be focussed around the art work and where pictures wont suffice such as carving.

I love mixed media and paper so much I figured I would experment with this part. A big problem I had was filling in the gap where the end pin assembly went into place. However as you can see here this gave the cello a lot of persionality. I made some mistake with the pigments, but you will see the improved fixes in later pictures.

Here is the major testing I been doing a little after Christmas. I snapped the first high E string, but the good news is this instrument is a joy to play. I hope to publish the last of the pictures soon and possibly do a short video of what it sounds like. As far as the direct out. I hope to put in some interesting circiutry for part 2 of this project. For now this is a draft and I will be editing out everything all over my website to make it as polished as possible for spring time. Ya know because Spring cleaning. HAAAAAAAARRRRGH

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