This has been the month of the cello! I had the opportunity to add a few more to the Fegley Collection this week. Quality cellos for sale under $5,000 are getting hard to find these days. With all of the inexpensive imports coming in I am happy that I can still purchase most of my inventory privately through players or retired players.
I added two German cellos to my inventory this week.
These cellos are in fine condition and are now available for trial! I also have an older American made cello by Joseph Kaye, a maker originally from Reading and made his way out to Pittsburgh where most of his instruments were a high quality and played in the local Symphony.
If you are looking for quality cellos for sale that won’t break the bank Fegley’s is the place to come…
The Guadagnini cello is suntanned and ready for some varnish! The hard part is making sure to let your instruments get a nice base before jumping into varnish work… Easier said than done because you have this beautiful instrument in the white that you just spend endless hours making and perfecting.
Then you need to wait to work on it once you are done. It doesn’t seem fair, but patience is the key!
Allowing the instrument the proper time in the sun allows for the varnish process to go quicker and more smoothly.
Here is ‘Evergreen’ the Guadagnini 7/8 cello I have been hand making with a nice suntan and the first ‘ground coat’ prior to varnish. I am anxious to see how this little cello ends up sounding!
A few more weeks of varnishing and cure time and this thing will be ready to sing!
As I work on this current violin build I will continue to give updates on my progress! Or at least I will try to force myself to sit down and write a blog every week or two…
This build has been quite challenging, it is hard to match perfection that was built so long ago. This instrument is just a few months shy of being 300 years old! So take that into consideration when seeing pictures of the original!
Attached are photos of the f-holes being carved, I always have an extra sharp knife when planning my attack on the f-holes. Stradivarius f-holes are extremely precisely cut and lay on the instrument beautifully. I draw on one f-hole at a time letting them lay just right before finalizing both f-holes to make sure that they are straight and I have all of my proper measurements according to the original.
I always carve about 95% and make myself walk away from the work. This allows me to return with a fresh set of eyes, seeing things that I would have never saw if I continued to stare at the f-holes trying to finish in one sitting… Enjoy!
As I continue with the 7/8 Guadagnini cello, I like to update my clients about the progress that has been made. I am very interested to see how this small Guadagnini cello model will throw the sound. I am use to making Stradivarius model cellos so it should be an interesting experiment to say the very least. Since the last blog about the 7/8th Guadagnini cello I have been moving right along.
I plan to update the blog with one final post after I varnish the cello and set it up!
I have to be honest when I say that this Guadagnini cello build has been quite different from what I am use to. I normally focus my handmade cellos on Stradivarius models. Stradivarius instruments were made with a precision that left his instruments quite remarkable and refined. Guadagnini instruments dance on the boarder of a rough build, making his instruments with haste, leaving behind many signs of tool marks, heavy outlines and edges.
Most musicians aren’t familiar with the Guadagnini name, they mostly hear of the Stradivarius and Guarneri instruments. But as players become more educated, the Guadagnini name has grown tremendously in collectability and with players around the world!
Over the years I have slowly started to organize the workshop at Fegley Violin Shop. I will admit it wasn’t one of my easier tasks, but it was however extremely rewarding.
I can imagine Jim looking down and saying, “Where is all of my stuff! I had everything exactly where I wanted it!” But I know he would be proud of how far I have come and where I want to take it in the future.
I still have quite a bit of work to do to get the shop exactly where I want it, but I can say that I put a huge dent in the organizing aspect and I look forward to tackling more projects as the years go by.
Most people don’t realize that I never had the opportunity to meet Jim Fegley, when he passed away I was only in the 8th grade! And needless to say back then I didn’t even know there was a life outside of a Jr. High classroom!
I wish we could have spent some time together, I am sure we would have shared many laughs and violin making stories! I look forward to carrying on his Legacy well into the future and passing along the Fegley name.
The importance of well-placed F-holes… Every player has seen the instrument where the top is heavily damaged where the bridge is placed. Worn down from years of players moving the bridge back and forth over and over again.
This is why I take so much time making sure my F-holes are laid out properly to insure that the stop length for the bridge is precisely where I want it to be to produce the best potential sound.
Now this is not easily done because you need to insure that you took all of the necessary steps in the construction process. The arching is key to well-placed F-holes. If the arching isn’t shaped consistently on each side of the instrument it will appear as if the F-holes were not properly laid out. I take plenty of time making sure my arching has a mirror effect, meaning that both sides of the instrument are carved the same way so they mimic one another.
Then when I start to do my necessary measurements for F-hole placement, the F-holes lay on without trouble!
That is only half the battle, carving the F-holes with sharp tools is the real challenge!
Giovanni Battista Guadagnini is one of my favorite makers! Guadagnini is regarded as the greatest maker of the second half of the 18th Century! Not one of the greatest, but thee greatest… His career expanded of 44 years and his original style produced some of the best sounding instruments in history!
Guadagnini lived an interesting life and unlike most makers he moved from city to city quite a bit throughout his violin-making career.
He finally ended up in Turin in 1771, where he met the well-known Count Cozio who later became a patron of his work. Cozio was responsible for the commission of some of Guadagnini’s finest works. In 1774 Cozio gained control of the remaining articles of the Stradivari workshop from Stradivari’s grandson, Paolo.
This allowed Guadagnini the opportunity to acquaint himself with the great Stradivari’s work first hand. After this time he adopted Stradivari’s models, using them more frequently. What a lucky guy!
This is my latest Guadagnini copy, which is a 7/8 cello! As a modern maker we are spoiled with great articles and books about old masters. I love taking the time to study fine instruments to see the details that the maker left behind!
A fine cello, handmade by Hermann Bachle, also spelled Baechle. Although it is almost 40 years old, this cello is in near mint condition. It was purchased in 1977 at the Meisel Violin shop in Owatonna, Minnesota and was rarely used by its owner who was an instrument collector.
The cello is modeled from Guarnerius Del Gesu. The back is two-piece European maple with medium curls and is a very clean, beautiful back. The top is European spruce and has a very straight grain with quite a few bear claw markings.
The scroll is beautifully carved in the Guarnerius tradition matching in material and structure on the back. The instrument is stamped with the makers mark on both the inside and back of the instrument near the button. With all that said, it is overall a very fine cello, especially considering its age. I have in my possession the original sales slip and appraisal dating back to November 19th, 1977.
Bachle has won many awards for his sound and craftsmanship.
Cello progress! Finally! I never get to build instruments as much as my heart desires but I do love taking the time to bring old instruments back to life so someone can enjoy playing them again. So I guess the trade off isn’t so bad…
But back to the progress on the cello, I am working on the final graduations before gluing the back onto the rib structure and fit a bass bar. The scroll is just about finished except for some light scraping. I am anxious to see how this petite, little cello ends up sounding!
It is in the final weeks of the instrument build process that you see the instrument really come together. So the next steps are to glue the back onto the ribs, fit the bass bar and shape it, then glue the top on to complete the sound box!
Then I will carve a fingerboard and set the neck before the cello spends a few weeks sun tanning before I can start the varnish process!
Check back for a finished product in a few more weeks.