Electric Cello #1 (1998)

Email: th@thallenbeck.com.

I made this back in 1998. The photos here are the only ones I still have.

m_cello1_1This funny-lookin’ dealie is proof of Bertolt Brecht’s assertion that ‘art is not pretty.’

Since this was my first foray, I wasn’t overly concerned with materials; the body is made from an oak floorboard. The fingerboard, which I got at an Oakland, CA repair shop for about fifteen dollars, is some kind of hardwood, perhaps maple. The bridge is poplar or something like that, and the body is finished with black spray paint and a spray laquer.

Despite the shortcomings is design and construction, the darn thing actually plays. The sound is a little tinny and synthesizer-y, but still workable. It’s difficult to play, though – I had to construct a Rube-Goldberg-like contraption out of metal bars and clamps to hold it in place.

Electric cello #1 (1998): headstockLike cello #2, this cello uses bass guitar tuners on the headstock instead of pegs. In this case, I used the cheapest ones I could find. Since I went ahead and just did everything instead of thinking about it first, I discovered that once I’d drilled the holes for the tuners, the tuner for the C (leftmost) string would stick right out at the player’s temple. So I carved a hole in the headstock so that the C tuner could be angled to sit inside it and thus no longer be a threat to the player’s health.

Electric cello #1 (1998): backElectric cello #1 (1998): bridge and tailpieceThe string guides are hex bolts that I found in the trunk of my car, and that oh-so-lovely sheen is from the Testors model paint which I mistakenly thought would look cool.

On this cello, I started experimenting with ideas that I continued with on instruments. After messing around for a few days I got familiar with carving curves, cutting and shaping my own bridges, fiddling around with tailpieces transducers, and general body constructions.