Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Making a Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Cello

DePauw has a Luis and Clark carbon-fiber cello. It's an amazing thing. I haven't given up on traditional wood cellos by any means, but I have a special fondness for our L&C. Here's a fascinating short documentary showing how they are made.

(I don't know why they show a violin with an overly-tightened bow for the opening shot, and call it a cello, but it's clear this is not a made-by-cellists program!)


Elaine Fine said...

This is absolutely fascinating. I have two friends who own these cellos, and they both think that they are really useful instruments--perfect for travel (both via airplane because nothing can happen to them and in hot and cold cars) and playing outdoors. There is really something to be said for an instrument you just don't have to worry about.

I had no idea that carbon fiber actually meant layers of cloth! Some day I want to get a L&C carbon fiber viola.

Guanaco said...

Great video. It appears that there is no bass bar - true???

I was also surprised to see that the neck is a part of the body, and is hollow.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it looks like a viola da gamba variant. I think the Luis and Clark is supposed to have a bass bar inside.

Most composites start out as "cloth." Fiber glass, kevlar etc.

Eric said...

Yes, there is a bass bar. It, too, is carbon fiber, Luis told me.

Guanaco said...

It would make sense that there is a bass bar - it is after all, a key component and I can't imagine an acoustic cello without one.

That's why I was surprised when I first saw this video last year on one of the Discovery Channels - it appeared there was no bass bar present when they glued the body to the front.

I looked through the YouTube version you've posted here and still can not see any bass bar on the glued-up front piece when they mate the body piece to it.

If you freeze-frame the video, you can see at 1 min 04 secs remaining that the glue is being applied to the frontpiece. At 55 seconds remaining, the glued-up frontpiece is laying flat on the table (with no bass bar seemingly present) just as they begin laying the body onto it, at 54 seconds remaining.

How do they get the bass bar in after glueup? Maybe they took it apart after filming that particular sequence and fitted the bass bar in...

Anonymous said...

Do a search on Youtube and you'll find the other half of the video. In it, a luthier fits the bass bar and other traditional fittings to the instrument.