The Upton Cello “Montagnana” is our hand built debut into the world of of the violoncello, a natural extension of our work on small solo contrabasses.
It began with a simple idea. What if we approached the building of the ‘cello from a bass making perspective, instead of that of the violin maker?
In a world of petite Stradivari violoncello copies, the Upton Cello represents a larger concept. Almost like our Brescian model is to an average bass – big-bodied, strong cornered and deep ribbed. We used one of the world’s greatest cellos as our archetype.
Domenico Montagnana’s 1739 creation “Sleeping Beauty,” named for a century of disuse before being given to the virtuoso Piatagorski in 1935, is just such a cello. A larger instrument built in Venice by a contemporary of Stradivari with a strong, breathtaking voice. We directly copied the the pattern of Sleeping Beauty, complete to the ff-holes, with one change – our signature Upton single-flute scroll atop the pegbox.
Carved from highly figured English sycamore with an exceptional seasoned spruce top, the Upton Cello is characterized by the stout upper bout of Montagnana’s masterpiece, with arching and geometry translated from our work on over a thousand hand-built basses.
We’re all bass players here – we can pass a bass around the shop and tell you what it’s strengths and weaknesses are – but when it came to the cello we definitely needed an outside expert.
Enter Blaise Dejardin, the young virtuoso cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who agreed to try it out and present us with feedback. Weeks later we were thrilled to learn that not only had he already been playing it in BSO and Boston Pops performances, he wanted to keep it for himself! Upton Cello #001 now has Blaise as its new owner and we couldn’t be prouder. We cannot wait to hear how the instrument opens up at progresses in the hands of a master.
Plate pattern, rib dimensions and arching taken directly from Montagnana’s 1739 “Sleeping Beauty”
Pegbox and scroll from our double bass designs to maximize strength and resonance
The Upton Montagnana model Cello is currently available only as a fully carved instrument, starting at $19,500.
Construction of the finest seasoned Maple and top of select German Spruce. Upton Bass stocks an extensive selection of tonewoods, please call to discuss any violoncello build options:+1 (860) 535-9399.