One can see now I have a general idea of where this baroque cello is headed. But the back arching is way too high! This is on purpose, as I have a specific method of plate tuning which I shall explain. I want to have a lot of choices when creating the final arching, which means lots of wood to work with. At this stage, I begin to bring the back plate closer to purfling level, and now begin to decide how the final archings will look. This is very important, as the arching is one of the most important factors which decide the final tone. If left high like the photo above, the cello would likely not have much volume or carrying power. With baroque instruments this is a careful balance. All of this is also in relation to air volume, and plate thickness. All are interrelated. The damping qualities of the pearwood back must be taken into account also. So I bring down the arching close to where I want it... but not yet final. There is a reason I work this way.
Having lowered the middle arching, I now begin hollowing out the inside of the plate. This is once again a lot of work, two or so days of careful carving. As one progresses, you begin to hear the plate reacting to the tools as the plate becomes thinner on the inside. This is always an exciting moment, as the potential acoustic properties of the wood begin to delevlop as you carve thinner.
And this is the point where my methods differ from many other makers. Many luthiers copy the archings of famous instruments by drilling into the wood to specific depths based upon aching templates. But why copy the arching of famous historical instruments? The wood is different, the varnish different, the things you ate for breakfast are also totally different. The drilling technique is useful of course for making copies of instruments. In this case we are creating a violoncello with a tone unique to any other baroque violoncello, with wood unique to any other instrument.
I want to be certain that my arching and plate thickness make sense for this cello, for this moment in time. So I begin to tune both sides of the plate simultaniously. Wood is removed from the inside, and tapped. Soon a tone begins to emerge, and eventually a bell-like resonance comes forth. In essence, I am not only tuning the plate, I an tuning the archings themselves. Keep in mind my plates are still quite thick, and using this method I begin to find the perfect arching and plate thickness for this lovely piece of pearwood.
Still quite far away however from where I need to be, as I need to tune the plates together. Its a very slow working method, which is done with a metal scraper, not finger planes. By doing this I can remove extreme small shavings of wood from both sides, of both plates. All of this is pure intuition at this point, instinct which reacts to the wood and tapping. Later, some science comes into play, but right now, I just want to make both plates sing when tapped with the slightest vibration. I am still shaping the archings at this point also. The final plate tuning is done with bass bar installed, and even the ground varnish applied. Stay tuned for when I cut the corner blocks, and begin bending the ribs to fit the plates..... and then the scroll which is LOTS of fun!