The Cello tailpiece: How it affects the sound and response of the instrument
Eric Fouilhe; Giacomo Goli; Anne Houssay; George Stoppani

We believe that the application of modern scientific methods and measuring techniques can effectively extend the empirical knowledge used for centuries by violinmakers for making and adjusting the sound of violins, violas and cellos.

A better understanding of the underlying physical phenomena, gained from acoustic studies, is expected to make us more adept at tonal adjustments. While more objective criteria for assessing tone are sought, for practical reasons, this is often left to the sensations of listeners and players or to the aims and methods of the makers.

Accessories such as strings and tailpieces have been studied recently with respect to style and historical coherence, after having been somehow neglected by researchers in the past. Far more attention has been given to the architecture, design and arching of the violin.

These fittings have played an important part in the history of these instruments, but have largely disappeared as they have been modernised.

However, the mechanics of these accessories contribute significantly to sound production in ways that have changed over time with different musical aesthetics and in different technical contexts. There is a need to further elucidate the function and musical contribution of strings and tailpieces.

With this research we are trying to understand the modifications of the cello's sound, as a consequence of tailpiece characteristics (shape of the tailpiece and types of attachments). In this paper a preliminary study of the effect of the tailpiece cord length will be presented.

Modal analysis was used to first investigate the vibrational modes of the tailpiece when mounted on a non-reactive rig and then when mounted on a real cello where it can interact with the modes of the instrument’s corpus.

A cello was mounted with different tail-cord length and played by a cellist. The musical perception of a musician as well of a maker will be “compared” to the experimental results."