“I love this cello!” – Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist, and Luis and Clark owner
Boat-Building Technology Meets Cello-Making
What happens when a concert cellist catches the sailing bug? A revolution in cello design. Inventor/Designer Luis Leguia said:
I got bitten by the sailing bug. It was realizing how the old boats were made, and seeing the new fiberglass ones and the ultra-sophisticated boats in carbon fiber, that prompted me to wonder what a cello would sound like in those mediums. It’s lighter and responsive, and very strong. What I wanted was a cello that would sound great. I wanted the tone of a Stradivarius or Montagnana cello and I wanted it to carry out over orchestra when you play a concerto. And I wanted it with a beautiful quality . . . The result of ten years of experimentation with both material and design is the “Luis & Clark Cello,” named after my partner, Steve Clark, and me.
The Evolution of the Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Cello
The cello’s development evolved over the course of eleven years. Leguia made his first prototype from scratch out of fiberglass. Leguia says
It was a typical cello with cornices and a scroll. It looked like and was built like a normal cello. My second attempt was a different model with no cornices.
Creating a cello with a certain appearance was not the ultimate aim. Leguia’s goal was to create an instrument with a world-class cello sound. Although Leguia, with his extremely high standards, wasn’t satisfied with the first version, his wife, Stephanie, was stunned when she heard it. She said
It really sounded like a cello.
Continuing his quest for a world-class sound, Leguia created a second version. He thought this was an improvement, but it was still shy of his goal.
Leguia said that
the third one had a wonderful quality.
Another Sailing Connection
Once he was ready to begin production, Leguia’s connection with sailing led him to Steve Clark, a master in the production and fabrication of carbon fiber products and chairman of Vanguard Sailboats, an industry leader in supplying boats, accessories, and services to the small sailboat market.
Clark, who also designed and built the “C” class catamaran, Cogito, which holds the Little America’s Cup title, guided Leguia through the final stages of developing what is now known as the Luis & Clark Cello. Leguia said of Clark:
He was recommended to me. I had been in this for five years when I showed him all three of my cellos. He was very excited and just fascinated by the potential of things like this. He was enormously helpful in getting things started and, along with a couple of his colleagues, perfected my molds. His colleague, Matt Dunham, is now fabricating them for us.
The final cello was developed with three parts:
- A one-piece back, sides and neck.
- The top.
- The fingerboard.
Luis and Clark carbon fiber cellos are individually made, by hand. By using molds and following set specifications, there is little to no variation from instrument to instrument. Instruments are measured and weighed at each step of the fabrication process in order to maintain strict quality control.
Why the Luis and Clark Cello is Easier to Play Than a Standard Cello
The shape of the Luis and Clark cello allows it to be played closer to the body, so that the bow arm does not have to be raised as high at the point of the A string. This reduces one of the causes of “sore shoulder syndrome.” In addition, the heel of the neck is sloped, so that there is no sharp edge rubbing against the musician’s chest, making this cello more comfortable to play.
Unlike their wooden counterparts, Luis and Clark carbon fiber cellos are more durable, not subject to problems from changes in weather and humidity, they require little maintenance, and they can be cleaned with a standard glass cleaner.
The Sound of the Instrument
Luis and Clark Patent
Luis and Clark have patented their cello design – Patent No.: US 6,284,957 B1. See the patent details here.
Contact Luis and Clark
For more information or to purchase an instrument go to the Luis and Clark site