Even traditional musicians are stepping into the modern electric arena because it allows them to use amplifiers to make a loud sound on stage, and then carry the instrument in an easily portable case. The shape and size of electric cellos are left up to the imagination of the makers. The instruments are available in traditional cello shapes in addition to sleek, modern versions in a range of colours. Understanding how the sound is created and the types of electric cellos available helps musicians to find the best instrument for their playing style.
How Sound is Created in an Electric Cello
In an electric cello, sound is produced by electronic amplification, rather than acoustic resonance. A crystalline structure, called a piezo transducer or piezo pickup, is placed in the bridge. The pickup responds to pressure on the bridge and converts it into electrical signals, which are then relayed to the amplifier. An electric cello may have as many as eight piezo elements, and most models have an on-board pre-amp, which gives the musician control over the sound of the instrument.
Sound Effects for Electric Cellos
The ability to create sound effects is one advantage electric instruments have over acoustic cellos. A large variety of sound effects are possible, including chorus and wah, which are familiar for electric guitars, violins, and basses. Another attractive advantage is that the musician can practise while wearing headphones to limit disruption to people nearby.
Types of Electric Cello
The acoustic cello relies on the shape and size of its body to create resonant sounds, but the electric cello does not have any constraints on its body shape. This means that there are electric cellos in a large variety of designs, including bodiless versions that consist of a traditional shaped neck and centre stock with a stand, but no body. When considering a modern design, musicians should ensure that the cello has all of the body contact points of an acoustic instrument, such as the heel of the neck and knee supports. These are often foldable, which allows the instrument to be transported easily in a slender cello case.