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Old 06-29-2009, 01:16 PM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Join Date: 01-18-2007
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Question Decisions, decisions, decisions..

Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
For some reason, I keep going back to the Martini. Ever since the last restoration with a slight modification done to the Back as well, the Bass has been sounding better and better.

A few days ago someone was playing the Basses for me and me for him, testing them for an Orchestra client. The Gilkes(Jilkes) sounded huge as usual, the Big Gamba was a bit bigger sounding and deeper but the Martini was within 90% of the other two in power (closer than usual) and the tone was the best overall. The G and D were the biggest sounding on the Martini over the other two. The Gilkes is fairly even and the Gamba very bottom-like but the Martin now re-strung with a slightly used set of BelCantos (switched the Flex 92s with the Bel's on the Hart), the Bass sounds bigger and better than ever.

Last night I played them both again, the Martini and the Gamba. This is a tough choice. For big bottom orchestra or fat jazz pizz, the Gamba wins. For solo and sweet tone but still with more volume than the average bass, the Martini wins.

I noticed something a bit strange but good at the ISB. Someone was playing the Gamba and it was huge, shaking the floor and walls. Then while that was going on, someone else took the Martini off the stand and started playing it. These were all good orchestra players here, no beginners. The sound of the Martini cut right thru the middle and top of the Gamba like a hot knife thru a pound of butter. I was very surprised but in a happy way. The Martini being just about the most comfortable bass to play within the group I have now.

All this will change in a year or so when the Storioni is out of restoration. That Bass has the power, depth, sweetness and playability of all the basses combined. Some say the Gamba sounds like the Storioni on steroids but they haven't heard the Storioni restored yet, nor has anyone.

For now, I will keep my practice on the Martini since I am more used to it. The Gamba will go out when I think it fits the job. For upper solo work within the Orchestra rep, I'm not ready for it on the Gamba. The reach over the shoulders are a bit more than I'm used to and intonation is not an option!

One other thing I noticed is how different the basses sound sometimes when various people play them. This is the puzzling factor. How do I sound between all the basses? Which Bass do I play the best and with enough volume as well? Listening to the Martini in comparison to the Gilkes, Hart and Gamba is almost unfair as these are not your average sounding basses at all. They have always made me think less of the Martini when comparing. That is over now. The Martini can hold it's own as I've heard it cut thru the Gamba. That's enough proof for me right there.

So, Big Ben will have its time when the setting is just right. I would love to use it in a rhythm section. It just kills with the Evah's on there now. Next string change might be Evah Weichs which I had on it before but didn't have an Extension E/C. I heard they are available now so it's on the menu, some day..
Ok, ok.. for the last week I have been changing favorites more often than I had meals. At least twice a day, for real.

Last week I had an outdoor concert, the last of the season and took out the Big Gamba to play. I was able to hear everything bowed or pizz'd including the C-Extension notes. We were set up in the Grass but I demanded a carpet so I wouldn't be standing over anything wet with my Bass or Shoes at risk. It rained for about an hour just before we started to play but we had dry sunshine for the Concert.

I was almost set on just playing just the Martini for everything and then went to the Hart for the easier Eb reach and then the Gilkes for the same but more presence and then back to the Martini for the heavy bottom and D neck and then back to the Gilkes. Then today I A-B'd all the Basses again sitting as well this time (which I do normally in concert) and the Gamba just seems to 'spit' the notes out quicker and easier. This bass has Evah's on it but so did the Gilkes in the past but never played or sounded as good as it does now as far as these strings go so it's not the strings. The Gilkes and Martini both have the Bel's on and that's the best they've sounded with the Hart strung with 92s at the moment.

I just think that with all things weighed in, the 'Gamba' pushes out more sound with less effort overall. The Shoulders are something to get over and the Neck Heel barely a D (which can be fixed) but all in all, it's the most fun to play, especially if I have some Pizz. Also, it just kills for jazz as it is.

So, 5 years plus on this Mystery Bass, its restoration and now its place in the 'rack' saga. 'First Bass' is my appointment for the Gamba. It looks the part too..