Joseph Mendoes - cello expert

Everything about endpin on the cello

Learn everything about the endpin (also called "spike") for your cello playing

In this video, Prof. Mendoes talks about endpin and how to deal with it to improve your cello playing.

Released on March 2, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone. This is Joseph Mendoes with another video for As you can see, the surrounding is a little bit different today. I'm actually filming from my home, and I will be filming from my home from now on hopefully most of the time. Many reasons for this but the biggest reason is that we have a microphone at home and a whole set up here now and all that. So, we're in the process of building a home studio, both me and my wife, who actually will very soon be making flute expert videos for, so you'll be seeing those as well.

But anyway, today what I'd like to talk about is endpin length and just make some brief comments about endpins. I had an older video where I mentioned a few things, a few thoughts about endpins, but I'd like to go into just a little bit more depth today about that. So, I'm not very dogmatic on endpin length, if I see a student and it seems like that the endpin is a little too long or a little too short, I'll make a comment about it but I'm not really stiff about it. I really want the student to find their own length that really works for them. However, there are certain, I think, pros and cons that exist with the different strategies.

For example, the strategy that was adopted by Casals and Feuerman, and a lot of older generation cellists like Piere Fornieur and then also Leonard Rose, a much shorter endpin which you can see there, sets the cello much lower. I know you probably can't see all the way down to the bridge, but basically it makes it a lot easier to play in the upper positions this way, because the arm, the elbow, does not need to be as high in order to get over this part of the cello. There's really no other pluses there, that's kind of the big one that I've noticed. I play with a kind of a more medium endpin so it's kind of a compromise of the two, which looks something like this.

You know, you can see where the peg is, the peg is more behind my head, this is more comfortable for me. I like to play with my neck closer to the neck of the cello, this just feels more comfortable for me to play. And then there's some cellists like Mischa Maisky, or Raphael Wallfisch, or Rostropovich, or actually currently Yo-Yo Ma plays like this, yhey play with a much, much longer endpin. And I don't know if you can see the whole endpin in the frame there, but it's much, much, much longer. And cellists who do this, usually sit more at the back edge of the chair, this way. The plus for this is that it sets the F holes in a position so that the sound can just kind of just shoot straight up.

And a lot of cellists get a lot of confidence from this, because not only does it sound like that there's more sound in the hall, but also they can also hear more of themselves because the F holes are closer to their ears and the sound coming out can be heard through your ears much more easily than if the cello was more in an upright position. And I'm not sure this is true, I don't really think that you get a bigger sound by having the endpin in this position, because there's tons of cellists who've had really, really big sounds with shorter endpins. For example, Casals' sound live apparently was enormous. Zara Nelsova played with a very short endpin, a great female Canadian cellist. Leonard Rose had a very short endpin, very big sound. Lynn Harrell has a very, very short endpin, very big sound. Fornieur same thing.

So, I'm not sure really that there's a difference in terms of the amount of sound produced. So, yeah, so anyway that's kind of it. I'm not really dogmatic, again, about this. I don't think it's a big deal, you know, whatever is more comfortable for you. The biggest thing though, that I would be concerned about is that you would think that the endpin, different length of an endpin would solve something fundamental in your playing, which usually it will not. To solve fundamental things, you really need to make sure that you're doing various things like making sure that the elbow is in the right position, making sure that the bow is interfacing with the string in the right way. All the things that I've talked about in the other videos.

So, that's it for today. I have a new website,, please go check that out. There's a lot of information there about online cello lessons and other things. And yeah, if you have any comments please leave them on the experts page, or underneath the video on the website. Don't leave them down below on YouTube, because I will not see them or I will not reply them. So once again, this has been Joseph Mendoes for
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User Comments and Questions

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Frederick Wagner on October 24, 2017 @11:04 am PST
VERY INTERESTING! You don't mention the height of the cellist. Casals was short, I believe, and Rostropovich was tall, as was Tortellier. I am six foot. I think I need a long endpin just to have a "standard" grasp of the instrument. Does that make sense? Thanks in advance!
Joseph - host, on October 30, 2017 @2:14 pm PST
Sorry for leaving that out! We must not forget that both Piatigorsky and Fournier were quite tall and they used relatively short endpins. And of course, YoYo Ma, who is of average height, started with a short endpin and and now plays with a really long one!
Christian on July 2, 2017 @9:36 am PST
I get slight pain in my right arm when bowing on the A string
Simon A on December 15, 2016 @3:00 pm PST
Hey Joseph
Thanks for the good video! I like hearing your thoughts. And as an adult 22y/o beginner on the cello I have found your videos very beneficial. I have mainly seen you on yourtube, but now I found this website and cellojunkie.

I really just wanted to give you a great thanks for bringing informative and inspirational content to people like myself! :-
Lydia MacDonald on March 2, 2016 @11:44 am PST
Thanks for the video, it helped!
Jim * VSM MEMBER * on March 2, 2016 @8:37 am PST
Surprised to see you playing with ring on the left hand. Is that usual for you?
Studied with George Barati and Margaret Rowell in Berkeley, plus one summer in Santa Barbara with Gabor Rejto, 1951.
Joseph - host, on March 9, 2016 @8:25 am PST
Hi Jim,

No not usual, I can play with it on but I usually take it off. When my finger is a little swollen from hot weather I don't notice it much, but when it is cold it moves around so I remember to remove it.

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