Working cello made from LEGO

Craft & Design Fun & Games
Working cello made from LEGO

LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya built this awesome functional cello out of LEGO bricks.

Watching his build progress reminded me of how the 3d printing process looks. I hadn’t really made the connection before, but if home printing really does become ubiquitous, will it obsolete our coveted LEGOs and erector sets? I can almost imagine some distant future where I explain to my grandchildren about these archaic pieces that we used to have to snap together in order to make our inventions. Strange.

Update: It seems pretty clear that this cello doesn’t actually work. Thanks to Phil and tiorbinist for the in-depth analysis.

[via neatorama]

18 thoughts on “Working cello made from LEGO

  1. Phil says:

    Looking at this photo…

    …you can see that the finger board is stepped.

    This would make it ‘playable’ or ‘functional’ only in the sense that it makes a sound, not that you could get a meaningful tune out of it. This is the reason, I suspect, that there is no actual sound of it on the video…

    1. Matt Mets says:

      Ahh, that’s a good point, and the lack of sound in the video is a very good indicator that something is up. I’m mostly amazed that he could construct something out of LEGO that can withstand the tension of the strings without falling apart.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Also, if you look closely, the bowhair is made of lego, which would not resonate a string very well. And look at how much his finger is bending the A string (the rightmost in the photo). That tells me that the string is loosely draped over the bridge and fingerboard. This is very cool, but I doubt that it is playable, is the sense that it could make a sound.

  2. dcs says:

    “but if home printing really does become ubiquitous, will it obsolete our coveted LEGOs”

    It will definitely make it easier to get those hard-to-find LEGO pieces.

    1. Matt Mets says:

      And raise even more questions about ‘authenticity’. Is it truly a LEGO block if you print it yourself? Could anyone tell if you melted down common bricks to make the rare ones? What about re-printing vintage kits?

  3. John Stoner says:

    what does it sound like?

  4. tiorbinist says:

    There is no chance that this cello is a playable thing. The tailpiece (black bit at the bottom) is built so strings under tension would place it under tension. Each string on the ‘cello has tens of Newtons of tension, more on the A string (the one carelessly bent half-an-inch sideways, which I wouldn’t care to do on any of the three in this house!) than the C string (the big one on our left, the player’s right.)

    The stepped neck might not be a problem, by the way, if this fellow had used some easily-available calculations and built the steps with large and small legos to get the steps to fall at natural fret positions, like a bass viola da gamba.

    On the former hand, though, the bridge (the beige standy-uppy-thing between the F holes) and the nut (between the finger board and the pegbox) are flat bricks where the strings cross them. Without some angled pieces somewhere to make one edge of the bricks act as an edge, there is no chance on Earth that strings stretched over flat surfaces like that would sound, when played open.

    The bow, with legos for hair, would fall apart with the pressure needed to get sound out of a cello string at tension, not to mention the steps in the ‘hair’, which would let it work (if at all) only in one direction. I won’t say that the brick-hair wouldn’t make a string sound, if the artist had worked one edge of them with high-grit sandpaper or steel wool, though. Many strange things have worked as bow-hair, including human hair, appropriately treated.

    This is a visual art-work, only. And, it’s clear that the artist is no cellist, from the way he holds the bow and cello.

    Here is a major re-make waiting to happen: if someone reproduces this work with some serious attention to the mechanics of making a lego box that will stand the stress of real cello strings, he/she could use a real fingerboard, nut, bridge (with flattened feet) and tailpiece. After all, This artist didn’t make his lego sculpture exclusively out of Legos: the strings make it impure. If you’re going to accept that, then get the really necessary parts done properly (maybe use glue and drill and ream the pegbox to take real pegs, too!) and make a playable lego cello!

  5. lucie gaw says:

    even if it doesn’t work its pretty freaking awesome and i doubt most people could make a cello out of leggos! So cool

  6. organjess says:

    It is “working” because he can take the bow and draw it across the strings. I doubt the legos would produce a resonant beautiful sound even if he could make sound, but it definitely “works”!

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