Archives of Acoustics, 36, 4, pp. 713–726, 2011

Vibration Modes of the Cello Tailpiece

University of Montpellier 2 Laboratory of Mechanics and Civil Engineering French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Giacomo GOLI
University of Florence Department of Economics, Engineering, Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology (DEISTAF)

Music Museum, City of Music

Violin maker, acoustician researcher

The application of modern scientific methods and measuring techniques can ex-
tend the empirical knowledge used for centuries by violinmakers for making and
adjusting the sound of violins, violas, and cellos.
Accessories such as strings and tailpieces have been studied recently with respect
to style and historical coherence, after having been somehow neglected by researchers
in the past. These fittings have played an important part in the history of these
instruments, but have largely disappeared as they have been modernised. However,
the mechanics of these accessories contribute significantly to sound production in
ways that have changed over time with different musical aesthetics and in different
technical contexts. There is a need to further elucidate the function and musical
contribution of strings and tailpieces.
With this research we are trying to understand the modifications of the cello’s
sound as a consequence of tailpiece characteristics (shape of the tailpiece and types
of attachments). Modal analysis was used to first investigate the vibration modes of
the tailpiece when mounted on a non-reactive rig and then when mounted on a real
cello where it can interact with the modes of the instrument’s corpus. A preliminary
study of the effect of the tailpiece cord length will be presented.
Keywords: violincello; cello; modal analysis; tailpiece; accessories
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