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3D Modeling & Animation – Additional Research – Project 2 February 26, 2009

Filed under: Project 2 — Kirsten Jones @ 7:55 pm

Final Idea – Cello.  I chose to model a Cello because of it’s ability to be modeled in an elegant environment. I would like to set the Cello in a concert type setting with massive curtains, lit aisles, and a spotlight on the cello.

Conceptual Ideas: Accordian, piano, saxaphone.

Materials:  Wood, horse hair, aluminum, metal

Other possible items to model: curtains, concert chair, music stand, sheet music

Construction of a Cello

The cello is typically made from wood, although other materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum may be used. A traditional cello has a spruce top, with maple for the back, sides, and neck. Other woods, such as poplar willow, are sometimes used for the back and sides. Less expensive cellos frequently have tops and backs made of laminated wood.

The top and back of the cello has decorative border inlay known as purfling. Purfling looks attractive, but is not just for decoration. If a cello is dropped or bumped against something so that damage occurs, the purfling can stop cracks from forming. A crack may form at the rim of the instrument, but will spread no further. Without purfling, cracks can spread up or down the top or back. Playing, traveling and the weather all affect the cello and can increase a crack if purfling is not in place. Less expensive instruments typically have the purfling painted on.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) as well as German luthier G.A. Pfretzschner produced an untold number of aluminum cellos (in addition to aluminum double basses and violins). An advertisement published in N.Y. Music Service catalogue (1930) reads: “…made entirely of aluminum with the exception of the fingerboard. They have many advantages over the wood basses and violoncellos, as they cannot crack, split or warp and are made to last forever … possessing a tone quality that is deep, resonant and responsive to the utmost degree.


Strings on a cello have cores made out of gut, metal, or synthetic materials, such as Perlon. Most modern strings used today are also wound with metallic materials like aluminum, titanium and chromium. Cellists may mix different types of strings on their instruments.

Bridge and f-holes

The bridge holds the strings above the cello and transfers their vibrations to the top of the instrument and the soundpost inside (see below). The bridge is not glued, but rather held in place by the tension of the strings. The f-holes, named for their shape, are located on either side of the bridge, and allow air to move in and out of the instrument as part of the sound-production process. The f-holes also act as access points to the interior of the cello for repairs or maintenance. Sometimes a small hose containing a water-soaked sponge, called a Dampit, is inserted through the f-holes, and serves as a humidifier.

Bow of a Cello

Traditionally, bows are made from pernambuco or brazilwood. Both come from the same species of tree (Caesalpina echinata), but pernambuco, used for higher-quality bows, is the heartwood of the tree and is darker in color than brazilwood (which is sometimes stained to compensate). Pernambuco is a heavy, resinous wood with great elasticity which makes it an ideal wood for instrument bows.

Bows are also made from other materials, such as carbon-fiber-stronger than wood-and fiberglass(often used to make inexpensive, low-quality student bows). An average cello bow is 73 cm long (shorter than a violin or viola bow) 3 cm high (from the frog to the stick) and 1.5 cm wide. The frog of a cello bow typically has a rounded corner like that of a viola bow, but is wider. A cello bow is roughly 10 grams heavier than a viola bow, which in turn is roughly 10 grams heavier than a violin bow.

Bow hair is traditionally horsehair, though synthetic hair in varying colors is also used. Prior to playing, the musician tightens the bow by turning a screw to pull the frog (the part of the bow under the hand) back, and increase the tension of the hair. Rosin is applied by the player to make the hairs sticky. Bows need to be re-haired periodically. Ideally a bow should be re-haired every year, but this is not in great practice because of cost.


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