Luthiers

Travels with Ima – by Robert Jesselson

This year my cello is celebrating its 300th birthday. Made in 1716 by Jacques Boquay, I call her Ima, as in “I’m a Cello” because whenever I fly with her I book the ticket as Ima Cello. That way I collect the frequent flyer miles and get a free meal! When I was younger it was a lot easier to travel with a cello—in fact when I lived in Germany, I used to fly with Swiss Air and they usually just let me take Ima on the plane without paying for a seat. Later I bought a big Kolstein travel case—it is huge and bulky, but it has an inflatable “balloon” that surrounds the cello inside the case and is made out of Kevlar so you can shoot a gun at it and it won’t pierce the [...]

By |2018-08-05T06:32:03+00:00March 9th, 2017|Categories: Luthiers|Tags: , , , |

About Those New Year’s Bow Resolutions…. — by Wayne Burak

New Year’s resolutions get significant attention right about now! Whether the subject is your living space, personal finance, diet, or exercise, every topic seems to be on the table. But what about the personal needs of your favorite bow—you know, the one that plays beside you in all of your performances and rehearsals? The one you have promised your eternal love and gratitude to, if it helps you get through the nearly impossible piece or gig? Hmm, did I think that, you ask? Bows have long memories, and yes at some point, you did promise. That is why your bow demands attention now!  Think of it like dinner, a movie, and a new outfit for your bow. But before we talk more of bows, let’s assume that you have already handled [...]

Do You Need a New Angle on Your Playing? — by Wayne Burak

One of the most tricky cello setup issues to self diagnose is the presentation of neck angle fatigue. Symptoms: You have to adjust your bow stroke to avoid hitting c bout edges.. The cello sound core is lost because your neck angle has dropped over time and is creating marginally successful practice days and challenging performances.. Nasal sounds are finding a home inside your cello...real clarity and power are only a misty concept... A single note repeatedly refuses to cooperate... A major attack simply evaporates without an actual sound... Your friends start to avoid you... You have thoughts of switching to viola...   Help: Seeing things from a different perspective can help your playing turn a corner.  If your instrument was made recently, say in the last decade or two, (or maybe even [...]

Are You a Manager of Your Cello’s Problems? — by Wayne Burak

In the past month I have had several cellists come in for adjustments. The interesting common denominator in each case was the complaint that something could not be achieved technically on the cello because of an adjustment issue. These problems ranged from neck angles being so low that the c bout edges were hit easily with the frog, fingerboards which were worn and misshapen, necks which were too thick (fatiguing the hand in fast passage work), to many bridge and soundpost position issues. One cellist remarked that he felt like he was managing inconsistencies and limitations which even affected his programming choices! What? I pondered this for several days while working on both new and old instruments. The central issue of course, is that the cello is proportionately successful to [...]

By |2017-08-03T22:12:33+00:00May 9th, 2011|Categories: Technology, Performance, Luthiers|Tags: , , , |

Know Your Cello — by Wayne Burak

It’s far enough in the past that I can’t remember the exact day it happened.  But I do remember the warning signs—the slightly racing pulse, the sweaty hands and labored breathing—you know, the need to pick up a woodworking plane, some files, chisels and fabricate a cello bridge. I think I had been through several days of lectures on isorhythmic motet, compliments of Eastman music history, when one day my mind drifted into a world of cello parts, setups, fingerboards, tops, backs, ribs, and the most delectable feature – varnish.  Really now, what is more enticing to look at than the iridescent play of colors jumping off of the cello back in the late afternoon sun in the Eastman Annex practice rooms?  It’s simply enough right there to take you [...]