Well, you would be crazy not to! Everyone who plays the cello is searching for a more beautiful, expressive sound. It is a large part of my daily work at the instrument! However, getting less scratch and more beauty in your sound is easier than you think.
One of most common reasons for an unattractive cello sound is your equipment. How old are your strings? Has your cello been dropped recently with no visible damage? Was there a large change in the weather? These can all be reasons why you don’t have a beautiful sound, so if you haven’t already go to your local repair guy and have him look things over. It may be that your instrument is not working properly!
After you have taken any cello related variables out of the picture, you can then start to work on beautifying your sound. Try running your bow across an open string. See how it rings so beautifully? You should always try to get your instrument to ring this beautifully on every note you play. This is accomplished by making sure you always get the string down all the way against the fingerboard with your left hand fingers. When we depress the string with our fingers we sometimes don’t get the string all the way down. This can deaden the sound, and even occasionally produce a scratch. Try not use counter pressure from the left thumb when doing this, this will make you too tight and you won’t be able to shift or use vibrato!
The next step is to work on your bow technique. I find that most string players over press when they play, the reason being is that they want a big sound. A lot of effort equals a big sound, right? No!!! Sorry, I got a little angry there, I need a paragraph break to cool down…
O.K., I am back. And calm. Pressing does little to help you make a big sound. All it does is make your sound ugly and pinched. If that is what you want, then press away! If you want a beautiful sound rich in overtones, you have to learn to pull your sound out of the cello. When we pluck the string we are actually pulling it up or to the side, right? We should always imagine the same when we are bowing.
After doing all of these things you should notice a big improvement in your tone quality. Remember, playing loud and with an ugly sound is like being that guy at a party that laughs way too loud at every joke. He is the only one enjoying himself!
Happy practicing everyone!