The Search For A Fretted Cello

I love this cello, but now they make one with frets, and I would love to make music with one of those…

Goal:  $2,509
Raised so far:  $220

This is a video of me and the brilliant Lorna McKinnon from a gig in England in 2016.  I share it here specifically to highlight how cool the cello can be as an instrument to sing with.  It was around this time that I recorded an album called Punk Baroque, that heavily featured this very cello, which I had successfully managed to crowdfund for the year before.  It’s a beautiful thing, made in the Czech Republic, and I play it a lot, still.

I grew up playing classical cello, and only much later in life discovered the great possibilities the instrument has as one to accompany vocals, or to occupy that sonic space that instruments like the guitar, accordian, or banjo more typically occupy.  This was the idea I have been pursuing, on and off, with the NS Designs electric cello pictured above.

I found a lot of advantages to the electric cello, over acoustic cellos.  Acoustic cellos are even more expensive, generally, and also very loud, by default, which makes them especially difficult to accompany vocals, unless you’re singing opera (or otherwise very loudly).  The electric cello can be very quiet, and also of course can be amplified for big audiences, when you’re amplifying everything, and it sounds great that way, much better than trying to mic an acoustic cello.

But, as a guitarist and player of other fretted instruments, I was missing frets.  I have pretty good intonation on fretless instruments, but the fact is, if you’re playing a lot of chords or two-note combinations, especially while also singing into a mic at some possibly awkward angle, and possibly playing in a situation where you can’t hear everything perfectly, it’s too easy for one or more of the notes to be slightly off-pitch.

I was gifted with a gorgeous mandocello, which is a fretted instrument in the range of a cello, a wonderful thing which I treasure daily whenever I’m home, but as I’ve once again been getting into playing the cello, with a bow and all that, I once again started thinking about a cello with frets.  The thoughts in my head got loud enough that I bothered doing a web search, and to my delight I discovered that a cello with frets does exist, and just about the only outfit making them is the same company that made the beautiful (and fretless) electric cello I’m sitting next to right now.

I’m probably a greedy man with too many instruments, but I figure it’s still well within the realm of artistic license when for the most part I only have one of each type of instrument…  Here’s the particular instrument I’m seeking to obtain, on the website of the maker of them.

If you are an instrument faery and you’re in a position to just buy the thing for me, it’s in stock here!