Difference Between a Baroque Cello & a Modern Cello

Knowing the difference between a Baroque and modern cello makes it possible to easily identify instruments by sight. The Baroque cello was played in large halls made of stone and with little material to absorb the sound. This made it possible for the cello to be smaller, as the room itself acted to amplify the sound. In contrast, the modern cello is often played in large concert halls with significant amounts of carpeting, requiring the instrument to be larger and louder. [


Modern cellos use nylon strings wrapped in steel. This invention was not possible in the Baroque period. Instead of steel strings, the cellists of the Baroque period used animal gut to string their instruments. Gut strings broke easily and were not powerful enough for large concert halls. Gut strings required a careful playing technique to avoid strings breaking. Steel strings provided a much better option for performers who needed to produce more volume from the instrument.

End Pegs

The peg that sticks out of the end of the modern cello did not exist on a Baroque cello. Performers in the Baroque period would use a stool to support the cello. The end peg that exists with modern cellos was an inevitability given the inconvenience of the need to place the Baroque cello on a stand or stool. The end peg sticks out from the bottom of the cello, making it possible to elevate the cello to the height of the player without the aid of other items.


The bridge consists of a small piece of wood that upholds the strings and allows vibrations from the strings to travel to the main chamber of the cello. A thicker bridge will mute the vibrations, while a thinner bridge will transfer sound more easily. The Baroque cello had a large bridge, making it difficult to produce large amounts of volume. In contrast, the modern cello produces more sound due to the ability to transfer vibrations more easily between the strings and the cello's chamber.

Bass Bars

The bass bar consists of a small piece of wood that stretches the length of the cello on the inside from the top to the bottom. Bass bars provide additional surface area for vibration and helps to transfer vibrations from the strings and bridge to the rest of the cello. The Baroque cello projected less sound, but spread the sound over a greater area allowing for a smaller bass bar. In the modern period, cellos play in a variety of locations that might not have ideal acoustics. For this reason, the bass bar has increased in size to create stronger vibrations and additional sound.


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