The cello, a stringed instrument, holds the place of second largest member of the violin family. They commonly appear in symphony orchestras, and their sound matches best with the human's voice when signing bass, on the lower end. To achieve its classical sound, cello makers construct the instrument out of various pieces of wood. Additionally, the instrument has a number of components that all contribute to create or increasing its sound.
The top plate, the wooden surface just below the strings, is usually constructed of spruce or pine. These two woods both create the sound and handle the tension of the strings better than other woods. The wood must be straight-grained and naturally aged, meaning it grew on its own. Cello makers will not accept wood that hasn't naturally aged for at least five years. The longer its aged, the more mature it is, the better.
Sides and Back
The sides and back of the cello are constructed of maple. Maple adds both strength and beauty to the instrument. Strength is important because the inside of the cello is hollow. While the top wood secures the strings and holds up against the tension, the sides and back secure the rest of the instrument together, allowing a strong resonating sound.
The neck, like the sides and back, is also constructed of maple wood. Cello makers glue ebony to the top side of the neck, near to the body, to create the fingerboard against which the strings are pressed against. Ebony also forms the tailpiece and end pin, a small grooved piece of wood at the tip of the neck that holds the strings in place. Cello makers choose ebony because it's both dense and dark but doesn't add weight to the cello, keeping it from becoming top heavy.
Various other components allow the cello to create its sounds. Pegs at the tip of the neck adjust the tension of the strings, which ultimately controls the pitch and tone of the instrument. Four strings, leading to the body of the instrument, are the source of its sound. Two sound holes, called "f-holes," allow the cello to vibrate and release air from inside the cello, increasing its sound. The bow, made of horse hair attached to a piece of wood called a rod, pulls across the strings to make the sound.
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