Step #1– Choosing a Model
Ruggieri, Montagnana, Stradivari, Amati, Maggini, Guarneri, Gofriller, Gasparo da Salo, Strobel, etc.
What Cello should I build?
There are almost as many different models of cello as there are of violins. Stradivari made them, as, apparently, did Giuseppe Guarneri, as well as those before and after them. Both Andreas Amati and his illustrious grandson, Nicolo Amati, made celli. Franscesco Ruggieri, Andrea Guarneri, Gasparo da Salo, Giovanni Maggini, Matteo Gofriller, and Domenico Montagnana are other makers famous for celli. But I really was going to choose between only three possibilities:
1. Someone had given me a plan for the Montagnana “Sleeping Beauty”, which has a good reputation for a big sound.
2. There are two complete sets of plans in Henry Strobel’s book, Cello-Making, Step-by-Step–one a full-size model, and the other a 7/8 size.
3. I had bought a poster from The Strad Magazine, with a detailed drawing of the 1712 Stradivarius known as The Davidov.
The Davidov was being played by Yo Yo Ma, a world-class cellist. I really liked the looks of it (the Sleeping beauty is kinda chunky), and it is a known entity (those in Henry Strobel’s book are lesser known). So, with all that (and the fact that Paul Schuback assured me it was a good choice) I settled on the Davidov. Nothing arcane about it– I just grabbed the one I liked, really.
One thing that had been a vote in favor of Henry Strobel’s plans is that the plans were already drawn, including the lines for the mold. The poster gave all the information for the original instrument, but I had to come up with the mold template myself. That was OK, but I ended up a few millimeters oversize. My fault.
Photo-Essay of my first cello-build
In case anyone wants to see this whole series at once, here is a link to the original blow-by-blow photo-essay on Maestronet. It took 13 weeks of spare time work from start to finish–between 250 and 300 hours, I would guess.