Have you ever noticed changes in the sound or playability of your instrument when the weather changes? Or been frustrated to choose strings and a perfect tone setup for one room or hall, only to find it inappropriate for another acoustical space? This is a challenge that everyone who plays a violin, viola, cello, or double bass faces — an instrument’s tone and playing response “breathe” in an ever-changing state of flux related to humidity and temperature changes in the environment.
The inventor of the recently patented Saddle Rider Tone and Playing Response Adjuster, cellist John Haines-Eitzen, noticed a need for players to be able to safely and reliably fine tune the playability of their instruments when they aren’t able to visit a luthier. Some players attempt to make their own soundpost adjustments, but this can lead to a Pandora’s Box of problems, potentially even damaging their instruments. The Saddle Rider puts soundpost adjusting where it belongs, in the hands of professionally trained luthiers, while allowing players to fine tune their instruments and keep them sounding and feeling their best.
Always interested in “building a better mousetrap” by finding novel solutions to problems, John has been a tinkerer since he was a kid. Prior to his days as a professional cellist, he spent countless hours working on bicycles (racing at a Velodrome near his home in rural Pennsylvania) and other hobbies where his inventive curiosity developed into his current interest in stringed instrument components. Currently, he is a Senior Lecturer and Artist-in-Residence at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a part-year resident of Portal, Arizona, where he and his family maintain a 100% solar-powered off-grid house in the Chiricahua mountains a few dozen miles from Mexico. (John designed and helped to install the solar power system there — another of his hobbies.) John’s primary cello teacher was Janos Starker, and from 1995-2005 he was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He maintains an active performing and recording schedule both individually and as a member of the Sierra Duo with pianist Matthew Bengtson.