Stradivari Cellos

Stradivari cellos, wood for cellos, and cello dimensions
Poplar is the best wood for cello backs, in my opinion. Many people feel that the ex-Nelsova Strad is the best Strad cello; it is poplar-backed, as was Lynn Harrell’s Strad. Of all the Strads I have played (ex-Feuermann, ex-Greenhouse, ex-Davidoff, ex-Harrell, ex-Nelsova, ex-Saidenberg), I liked the Saidenberg the best.

David Soyer and Joel Krosnick both had poplar-backed instruments by Joseph filius Andreas Guarneri. The Testores, the Brothers Amati, and many other classic Italians made poplar-backed instruments. Poplar is the lightest of the classic hardwood tonewoods, and it sounds like a much older instrument when new (in my experience) because it is more free to vibrate than maple, especially at lower frequencies. I have never heard poplar described as subdued, but it is more like dark, rich, responsive, and loud. My cello has a one piece, slab cut poplar back.

Sometimes you may see a top or back of more than 2 pieces, and this is because the wood has exceptional tonal quality and the maker didn’t want to waste any of it. I have seen 4 piece tops on some wonderful old Italian instruments.

The ex-Feuermann/ Parisot/ De Munck Stradivari

Some cello measurements

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2 Responses to Stradivari Cellos

  1. Larry LeMaster says:

    Thanks for this, Clay. An interesting topic for sure. You might be interested to know when I bought my Domenicus Busan from Moennig 23 years ago, I couldn’t believe the lovely, deep and rich tone. I was surprised to fall in love, because it looked like an old abused piece of furniture.
    In fact, it has a one-piece poplar back, and everything I’ve read on that particular subject subsequently reaffirms your contention re beauty of sound.
    Thank you for this interesting blog. I look forward to discovering more of it in due time.

  2. admin says:

    I actually think I may have seen that cello! Do you have any idea who the previous owner was? I think I knew him (he passed of liver cancer, very rough business).

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