The Cello Anatomy

Every part of the cello, including features that appear to be for decoration, like the small holes on the front of the instrument, are necessary for achieving the low tone beloved by listeners around the world.
Every part of the cello, including features that appear to be for decoration, like the small holes on the front of the instrument, are necessary for achieving the low tone beloved by listeners around the world.

Scroll
At the head of the cello is a decorative, carved wooden called scroll. The scroll is a decorative carved wood piece at the end of the cello, usually carved out of the same piece of wood forming the pegbox. The most common carving is a delicate scroll shape knows as a "volute" that dates back to the Baroque period.

 Pegbox
The pegbox houses four strong tuning pegs [one for each string] for the strings to wrap around so they can be tuned. The other end of the strings is anchored at the tailpiece. Each peg is slightly tapered in shape, allowing the player to adjust the hold of the peg by applying more or less pressure and turning. Often, the pegbox and the scroll of the cello are carved out of a single piece of wood.

The pegbox holds strong tuning pegs for the strings to wrap around so they can be tuned.
At the head of the cello is a decorative, carved wooden called scroll. The pegbox houses four strong tuning pegs [one for each string] for the strings to wrap around so they can be tuned. The strings are wound around pegs at the head of the cello.

Tuning pegs
The strings are wound around pegs at the head of the cello. The pegs can be turned to alter the tuning of each string. To make the pitch of the string higher, the pegs are twisted to tighten the tension of the string. A looser tension results in a lower pitch. An inexperienced player should be very careful when using the pegs to tune because it is very easy to over-tighten the string, causing it to break.

Nut
The nut (or string nut) holds and directs the strings down the fingerboard to the tailpiece. The nut is found at the top end of the fingerboard, holding the strings in perfect alignment and exact height from the fingerboard to maximize the cello's tone and playability. Four small grooves or notches are carved into the top of the nut, into which the strings are placed before winding around the pegs.

Fingerboard
Along the neck of the instrument is the fingerboard. The cellist presses the strings down onto different parts of the fingerboard to make different notes. The fingerboard provides a hard surface for the string to be pressed down onto so notes can be played.
Along the neck of the instrument is the fingerboard. The cellist presses the strings down onto different parts of the fingerboard to make different notes.

Cello fingerboards are mostly made of ebony, a very hard black wood. Other hardwoods are sometimes used on lower quality instruments and are artificially blackened to look like ebony.

The cello fingerboard does not have frets like a guitar to delineate one pitch from another, so the player must have a strong ear and sense of pitch to play confidently in tune. A cello fingerboard must be planed professionally with the proper curve and "scoop" in order for the strings to vibrate freely without buzzing against the surface.

Neck
The neck is an extension of the body of the cello that holds the strings and fingerboard and ends at a stout peg-box and scroll.
The neck is an extension of the body of the cello that holds the strings and fingerboard and ends at a stout peg-box and scroll. It is typically carved from sturdy maple. The neck extends from the body to hold the strings and fingerboard.

Top and Back
The cello body is constructed of two large, arched pieces of single wood that are held apart by the ribs. When the cello is resting on its back, the soundboard or "top" is seen on top with two distinctive "f-holes" cut through. The back is one large expanse of resonant wood without any hole.

The quality and age of the wood in the top and back of the cello have a large impact on its sound. Cellos are very subject to their environment, including heat and humidity, but a well-made, well-cared-for, frequently played cello will improve markedly with age. The age, type and condition of the varnish used on these pieces also affect the sound.
The typical wood used for tops is spruce, while the back & ribs are generally made of maple. Around the edge of the top and back are seen a decorative edging known as "purfling." This inlay has decorative appeal and also helps reduce the chance of cracks developing in the top and back. 

Strings
The standard cello has four strings which are made out of gut (sheep or goat). Most modern strings used today are wound with metallic materials like aluminum, titanium and chromium. The strings vibrate and transfer that vibration to the body for amplification and resonance.
Cellists may mix different types of strings on their instruments. The pitches of the open strings are C, G, D, and A with the C being the lowest in pitch. The player draws a horsehair bow across the strings or plucks them while fingering notes on the fingerboard to produce single notes, chords and other sound effects.

Every player has differing opinions on how often the strings should be changed, but when the string snaps or loses the ability to stay in tune or produce a pleasing tone, it should be replaced.

F-Holes
The f-holes, named for their shape, are located on either side of the bridge, and allow air to move in and out of the instrument as part of the sound-production process.

F-holes are openings carved into the top of the cello that act to increase the power of the tone emitted by the instrument. They allow some sound from the resonant interior of the cello to escape to the listener, but that is not their primary purpose. In fact, most of the tone provided by the cello comes from the vibration of the top and the back transferred directly to the air.

There has been a lot of study about the placement, size and effect of sound holes on stringed instruments. These features have in fact changed quite a bit in the course of centuries worth of cello design experimentation. Scholarship suggests that they allow more freedom of movement between the top and back and help focus the production of sound, affecting the tone quality in a way that is much more than just allowing sound waves to escape.

Sound hole
Sound hole helps the cello put resonate by allowing the body to vibrate somewhat more freely and allowing some of the vibrations inside the cello to escape. However, the sound does not all come from the sound-holes. They also look really cool.

Like the violin, the cello has two sound holes cut into the body of the instrument. The holes allow the sound to travel out of the instrument more effectively.

Sound hole is also f-hole but while sound hole has functional aspect, as in many components of the violin family, the sound-holes have both a functional aspect and an esthetic one. Functionally, they are located on both sides of the bridge [There is one on each side of the cello], in the narrowest section of the sound-board, where the arch is the steepest.


This is the area that needs to be flexible enough to vibrate, but at the same time strong enough to carry the tension of the strings.  So cutting open the f-holes is what creates the necessary flexibility, allowing the sound-board to vibrate better.

Bridge
The bridge is a piece of arched wood, on the top between f-hole notches that supports the strings, which are stretched at high tension. It holds the strings above the cello [holds the strings away from the cello's top surface] and transfers their vibrations to the top of the instrument and the sound post inside.
Bridge is what holds the strings up between the finger board and the tail-piece. It serves as the medium through which the strings vibrations travel to the body of the cello where they are amplified naturally.

This allows the strings to vibrate freely while transferring that vibration to the resonant cavity of the body. It also provides a spacer between the strings so they rest evenly above the fingerboard.

The bridge is not glued [not permanently attached to the cello], but rather held in place firmly by the tension of the strings.
And the height of the bridge can be adjusted within the standard specifications to suit the playing style of the player.

Tailpiece
The tailpiece is the anchor holding the strings to the body of the cello on its lower end. Many instruments have an individual fine tuner on the tailpiece for at least the A string, if not for all the strings. Some tailpieces have built-in fine tuners on the tailpiece for all the strings.
The tailpiece connects the four strings to the lower part of the instrument. This bar, originally made of light wood, has become stronger to withstand the high tension of modern metal strings.

The tailpiece is traditionally made of ebony or another hard wood, but can also be made of [composite material] plastic or steel and is seen in other wood colors besides the typical black.

The tailpiece can be made of several types of wood or composite material and is seen in other wood colors besides the typical black. The endpin or spike is made of wood, metal or rigid carbon fibre and supports the cello in playing position. In the Baroque period the cello was held between the calves, as there was no endpin at that time.

Endpin
The endpin is a metal spike that screw into the base of the cello. It helps support the instrument [keeps the cello firmly planted into the floor] on the floor while it is being played. (The word "endpin" sometimes also refers to the button of wood located at this place in all instruments in the violin family, but this is usually called "tailpin").

The height of the end pin rod can be adjusted to fit the height and playing style of the player. On the end of the end pin rod is a rubber tip or sharp tip that can directly pierce the floor. The sharp tip of the cello's endpin is sometimes capped with a rubber tip that protects the tip from dulling and prevents the cello from slipping on the floor. The end pin rod anchors the cello to the floor in front of the player so the instrument does not slide forward.


Modern endpins are retractable and adjustable; older ones were removed when not in use. Some players remove their endpin rod before moving the cello or storing it to avoid accidentally bumping it against something hard, which can result in damage to the cello. The endpin was "introduced by Adrien Servais c. 1845 to give the instrument greater stability".
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