Category Archives: Cello Making

Stradivari Cello Continued

The Stradivari cello is now at it’s new home in Virginia. I am very happy with how this cello turned out. It has a great golden orange varnish and we decided to do a “new” finish on the instrument. I enjoy making Stradivari cellos because the more the musician digs into the instrument the more the cello will project. I have found that Stradivari cello models do very well in concert halls. You want to see the sound carry all the way to the back of the concert hall and Stradivari models tend to do the trick. Below are a few photos of the cello building progress! If anyone is interested in a handmade cello I would be more then happy to put you in contact with my last two cello commission builds so they can share their experience working with me.

 

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Stradivari Cello

My latest custom cello build is a commissioned cello for a young player. We are building a Stradivarius cello, providing him with a powerful, even tone to carry him throughout his music career. Stradivarius cellos are a great build, they are not only beautiful but have a fantastic range of power for a brand new cello. As always all of my McDevitt made instruments are handmade with the finest selection of materials.

 

Featured in the selection of photos are the ribs being bent and glued. And the back selection of maple and rough cut out, ready for the arching to be started!

 

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Cellos For Sale

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…

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Guadagnini Cello- Continued

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!

 

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1743 Guadagnini Cello

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!

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G. B. Guadagnini Cello

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!

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Hermann Bachle Cello- SOLD

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.
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7/8 Cello Progress

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.

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Carving a Stradivari Cello Scroll

Sharpen those gouges and get to work! A lot of people ask me how I carve my scrolls so I figured it would be much easier to show you pictures of some steps. This is a Stradivari Cello scroll. Stradivari had a very clean making approach; he would scrape almost to the point where all of his tool marks were removed.
Although I find inspiration in fine old instruments, I myself as a maker, love leaving tool marks behind. I like to think that in 100 years when my new instruments go into a shop for a restoration that they will say see how he left some tool marks behind! It gives each of my instruments personality and it shows that these instruments are truly made with hand tools….
Scroll side view
Cello Neck Block
Cello cut out
Stradivari scroll
Cello fluting
Cello Scroll Back

2014- Guadagnini Cello

My latest cello build is a 7/8 Guadagnini copy. The original was made in 1743. An important year for the production of early Guagagnini cellos. I know what you are thinking… Why a 7/8 cello!? Honestly, the wood was just small enough that I couldn’t make a full-size cello out of it. And what was I suppose to do? Toss the wood aside and buy more? When you spend the amount of money that Luthiers do then you will work with what you have on most occasions.
So, we have a 7/8 cello. I have been making this instrument over the past few months when I get some extra time at my workbench. Cello making is no small task; I do the same steps as when I make a violin or viola but on a much bigger scale. Needing much more muscles to wrestle with carving the back arching! Needless to say I am exhausted by the time I end up putting my tools down at the end of the day.
Attached are a few pictures of the purfling process as I went about carving the channel and inlaying the actual purfling.

Cello Outline
Cello Purfling1
Cello Purfling
Cello Purfling Corner
Cello Purfling Corner 2