How Will fixed a broken cello

When we first started to get into gigging, I decided that I’d get myself another cello.

The cello I refer to as my ‘real’ cello is a mid 19th century English cello. I’ve had it since I was 16, and it’s a beautiful instrument with a big sound. I was, understandably, rather nervous of taking it around to gigs.

Much googling later, I alighted on a cello someone was selling that looked like the kind of thing I was after. Since I use a pickup for gigs, the actual sound the cello makes isn’t of so much importance. The vibrations from the bridge go down the wire and eventually out through the sound system, and the quality of the sound depends more on the sound engineer and the system. I use a Shadow cello pickup (recommended by another cellist friend) and so far it’s served me well.

This cello was new, not so pretty and not in possession of the delicate proportions of my beloved ‘real’ cello – perfect! I needed something that could withstand some hard use, and this was it.

Then it was delivered by DHL, and I opened the hard case to find this:

Not good. I suspect it had received a significant blow to the back of the top of the case, and the force snapped the base of the neck away from the shoulder. There’s something really sad about seeing an instrument like this! Luckily it was insured, so I got my money back, and the seller didn’t want the broken cello returned.

Replacing a neck is an expensive job – more than this cello was worth. So… I had a chat with Will, our banjo player.

Will is (amongst other things) is a very good prop maker. If anyone could fix this cello, he could. So I handed it over, and with the aid of strong wood glue and a large screw drilled through the front of the finger board into the solid wood at the base of the neck, he put it back together again. The tension of the tightened strings is significant, so the force pulling the crack apart is great. Will did a brilliant job, and over a year later everything still works fine! You can’t even see where the screw went in.


So, if anyone needs an unorthodox repair to an instrument – you know where to go 🙂



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