Frequently Asked Questions
About Vector Electric Cellos

1) Are preamps necessary with Vector Electric Cellos?

No, the Allegro has an L.R. Baggs preamp mounted in the body with convenient access to volume, bass and treble controls, while the Cellette has an EMG preamp onboard. There's an onboard 9V battery compartment, which allows the battery to be changed in a matter of seconds. Battery life is approximately 1,200 hours.

2) What sort of amplifier do you recommend?

As your final sound is a direct result of the instrument/amplifier combination it is essential that you buy a compatible amp. There is a whole new generation of models specifically for use with piezo-equipped instruments but most of these tend to be a bit pricey and generally are designed for acoustic/electric guitars. They have some very useful features but I find them a little "edgy and brittle" in terms of their sound and they tend to over emphasize the mid-range and high frequencies. What you are really looking for is an amplifier that is meant to deliver the full range of frequencies. These are typically small personal PA's, vocal monitors and keyboard amps.

I frequently recommend the Peavey, Fender or Yorkville KB30, KB60 or KB100. These units are full range, available everywhere and can be found for as low as $200 used. What you want to avoid is electric guitar amps. These are meant mostly for creating a compressed, distorted sound with a heavy emphasis on the mid-range frequencies. How much power do you need? If you only play by yourself at home or just with acoustic instruments, then 30-60 watts is sufficient. Be careful about getting anything larger as you will find yourself running the amp at about 1 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the loudest). Amplifiers sound best when the volume knob is around 6-8. For small electric bands you will need at least 60 watts to hear yourself and if you don't intend to send a line out or mike the amp to the PA then I would recommend getting at least 100-200 watts. For the very best results I now offer the Clarus amplifier mated with our custom designed Cello speaker cabinet. Go to the gear section of the Electric Cello page for full details of this wonderful system.

3) Do the instruments make any sound acoustically?

My Electric Cellos are not designed to be used acoustically. However, there is enough volume for you to play and practice without an amp.

4) What are the advantages of a 5 or 6 String Electric Cello?

About 60% of my orders are for 5-String instruments. On the Cello it is an F below the C, putting you almost as low as the bottom note of an upright bass (E). What you gain is a very powerful and resonant sound which allows you greater expression for soloing and a wider tonal range for ensemble playing. Many Cellists choose it in order to double on gigs as a bass player. The neck has to be slightly wider and you have to slightly modify your bowing technique to accommodate the extra string.

5) What about effects?

One of the great features of an electric cello is the wide assortment of electronic effects that can be applied to your sound. From the little "stomps-boxes" ($50 +) to the rackmount processors ($200+), there is a myriad of ways to enhance and modify your signal.

The most basic and essential is reverb. Most amps have a spring reverb built in, but they tend to be very "boingey" and do not sound anywhere as lush as a digital unit. Reverb warms up and fills out the sound and adds richness and a sense of spaciousness (or spacyness). It creates the illusion of a room; from a bouncy glass and tile bathroom tone to a dark chocolaty sea of reverberations that can go on forever. The chorus effect gives the illusion of a thick lush string sound. It can be used to sound like several instruments playing in unison.

Octavers take your signal and move it up or down several octaves, so that when you blend it with your regular sound you get a very heavy and bassy tone. Imagine a violin, cello and bass playing in unison. Use with caution!

There are many other effects available such as Delay which creates echoes, pitch-shifting which enables you to play in 3rds, 4ths and 5ths etc, Wah-Wah pedals can give you a horn-like sound and are useful for those Jimi Hendrix solos.

Your best bet is to borrow or rent a good effects processor and plan to spend a bit of time twiddling knobs and learning about the potential for sound enhancement. I'm currently using a Digitech RB200 which has the added features of 40 programmable sounds, 12 computer modelled amplifiers, a pedal to control the volume and effects, built in tuner, drum machine, etc, etc all for $150. Check out the sound samples on the CD to hear the possibilities.!

6) Do I need the bouts?

The upper and lower bouts on my electric cellos are removable. Without them in the way you have total access to the whole fingerboard which greatly facilitates playing in the upper registers. I would suggest you examine your technique and observe where your hand registers on the instrument as you slide up to the higher positions. Most players find that as long as the heel is still in the same spot, the hand will naturally fall into place and after a little practice the lack of body becomes an asset to performing and promotes a more natural and stress-free approach to playing.

7) Will I get any feedback?

I guarantee you that you will never experience any feedback at any volume level with your Vector Electric Cello.

8) Do your instruments feel any different from regular acoustic models?

Vector Electric Cellos retain standard dimensions. Neck size, scale length, string spacing and bouts are all identical to classical acoustic instruments. You can close your eyes and still detect all the physical cues that are necessary for holding and playing. You should not have to modify any of your present techniques except that you will not have to play as hard to create more volume.

9) Can I play with headphones?

Yes, you can, but unlike other Silent Cellos you will plug into your effects processor. I don't believe in having electronics on the Cello because; a) like computers, the technology changes too fast to keep up with and built in units doom the whole instrument to become obsolete and b) far more control and options are available through an inexpensive stereo effects processor.

10) How do I arrange to try one out?

Trials are available anywhere in North America. As I do not have dealers in many areas this is the best way to truly experience what a Vector could do for you. I suggest that you schedule the trial so that you can use the instrument at a practice or gig and really give it a good workout. I require a full deposit by VISA, certified check or money order prior to shipping. You will then receive the instrument in 2-3 days and will have up to 7 days to play it. Hopefully you will fall in love with it and want to keep it. If not, then you ship it back to me, at your expense and your deposit, less shipping, is returned. If you like it but decide that you want something more customized to your needs, then I pay for the return shipping and we start construction of your custom instrument.

11) What about insurance, duty and shipping charges?

Electric Cellos are classified under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as "instruments played with a bow" and are therefore duty-free. The Omega is bubble-packed inside a wooden shipping case which I charge $100 for unless you return it to my NJ warehouse for a full credit after delivery. Most players buy the custom fitted flite case and never have to worry about shipping again.The Celltte is shipped in a re-useable tube. But if you just intend to use it at home and around town then the gig-bag should be sufficient. I ship worldwide and have never had a problem, in fact I am told by most people that they arrive still perfectly in tune! It generally takes 3-5 days in North America and 5-7 elsewhere. Full insurance is placed on all instruments and they are hand delivered right to your door. Approximate costs are as follows:

Shipping Costs for Cellos
$75 CDN
$125 USD
$250 USD