In The Name Of Good Sound And Less Being Annoyed At My Cello

I’m going to this instrument repair workshop in a few weeks. And there are some things I want to be able to understand that have a little less to do with “fix broken instrument!” and a little more to do with “change the way sometimes-fickle cello sounds.” Because here’s the thing — who out there is a string player and actually knows how to move a bridge and adjust a sound-post? NOBODY, THAT’S WHO. I mean, not true. Maybe some people. I understand that there are luthiers for a reason and that they are around for people like me and everyone else who has that one day where something moves, gets knocked around and then BAM — sounds different, maybe bad. So yes, great, I will happily take my cello to somebody and have them fix things when it sounds bad or when there are cracks or seams bust apart. Yes yes and yes. But there’s this thing about me, this weird Rational streak that sometimes lurks beneath my feeling Idealist surface that NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THE WHY AND HOW OF SOUND and perhaps take extremely detailed and OCD notes about those whys and hows. I want to understand the science of vibration and sound in a stringed instrument. I want to understand this seemingly mysterious bridge/sound-post relationship and how minor adjustments change sound. I want to problem-solve. I’m tired of not understanding the why. I’m frustrated with doing this major bridge-moving guess-work. I’m beyond annoyed at the fact that my mother who plays the oboe owns a sound-post adjuster and actually had to learn to do that stuff and I never did and yet I actually play the cello, dagnabit!

So I have to learn this stuff. To indulge that Rational streak of mine. To help out my students who come in with their cellos sounding like there are feral cats living inside of them. To reduce the number of instrument repair bills I rack upĀ and miles I put on my car in the name of GOOD SOUND. So that I can be my own master of sound and perhaps minor repairs (though I will leave the major repairs to the professionals, for real).

I do indeed look forward to this workshop.