CT scan as a diagnostic tool for string instruments

Presenter: Frank Pameijer


In 2017, a cello presumably from around 1760 was lent to Dutch cellist Joachim Eijlander. He immediately fell in love with the sound. However, nothing was known about it. Joachim had many questions: Who built the cello, when and where? Did it have internal damage and/or restorations?

In search of answers, Joachim needed a CT scan of the cello for specialists luthiers evaluation. Because some holes were visible on the surface, he was worried about woodworm damage Since I am cellist but also radiologist, we scanned the cello at my hospital. The CT supplied adequate answers to Joachim’s questions. The encounter has resulted in “Music&Science”. In Medicine, CT-scans are used to ‘look inside the body without opening it’.

This can also be done with string instruments (Sirr and Waddle, Radiographics 1999; 19:639-646). In Music&Science, the analogy between human anatomy and ‘cello anatomy’ is discussed. Examples are shown of CT-scans showing (hidden) internal damage such as woodworm and (unexpected) restorations. Joachim Eijlander’s quest for the origin of his cello is also presented.

At the end, the audience travels (8 min.) through the interior of the ‘Eijlander’ cello watching a 3D ‘medical’ animation while listening to live (cello) music.


Frank Pameijer, MD, PhD (25-02-1961) Frank Pameijer started playing cello at age nine. He followed the conservatory preparatory class in Hilversum, the Netherlands. One year later, he was accepted at the Amsterdam conservatory, but also accepted for medical school at Utrecht University.

During his studies, he was cellist in a local gypsy band. After his study, together with other former students, he founded the gypsy orchestra ‘Servus’. As of 1986, this orchestra regularly performed in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom and Hungary. Over the years, Servus produced three CD recordings.

As of 2010, he works as staff radiologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht. There, by chance, he became involved in the analysis of string instruments using radiological techniques, especially CT-scan (Computed Tomography). In 2019, together with the Dutch cellist Joachim Eijlander, he developed ‘Music&Science’.

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