The Cello

The cello, or violoncello, is the second largest member of the VIOLIN family of musical instruments. It is tuned an octave below the VIOLA and serves both as a melodic and bass instrument in chamber and orchestral music. The body of the cello is approximately 76 cm (30 in) long and is much deeper than those of the violin and viola. The cellist is seated and supports the instrument between his calves, with its lower end raised off the floor by an endpin. The strings are tuned a fifth apart at C2(65.4 Hz), G2(98 Hz), D3(146.8 Hz), A3(220 Hz) if tuned in equal temperament to the A4(440 Hz) standard.

The top plate of the cello is made of spruce or pine because of their good sound radiating qualities. The sides and back plate are made of maple. The neck, pegbox and scroll are made of maple. A thin piece of ebony is glued to the top side of the neck to form the fingerboard. At the end of the neck where the pegboard is attached, a small grooved piece of ebony is attached for holding the strings in position. It is called the "nut". The strings pass over a bridge made of maple which transmits the vibrational energy from the strings to the body of the instrument. The top of the bridge is curved to match the contour of the top plate and to allow one string at a time to be bowed.

String instruments characteristically produce a fundamental resonance plus all the string harmonics.


String instruments

Musical instruments
HyperPhysics***** Sound R Nave
Go Back