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Old 06-08-2007, 12:36 PM
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Default Pollmann violone

Tuesday I was in a local string shop and there is this Pollmann violone that has been there for years. I think it was built in the 1970's. It is extremely ornately carved everywhere, has a six string pegbox and TP, tied on nylon frets, and the plates are flush with the ribs. It is just a shade smaller than most 3/4 instruments.

I have lusted after that instrument for years, so while my cello friend was getting a new string, I was BSing with the proprietor and just off hand asked what he would take for the violone.

It was too good a price to pass on, but I am not really flush with funds now so I thought I would run it by the folks here just to get some ideas. The proprietor was kind of laughing at my reaction to the price, which I think was really low considering the instrument and pedigree. Of course he told me to properly string it would cost near $1200 and then he asks me what on earth would you do with a violone?

So I guess I'm wondering if anyone has experience with violones here. I understand they are rare and mostly used for authentic Baroque performance, but are they good for other music, too? How different are they from a good DB? Do you think I should jump on it and put down a deposit?

It is a fabulous looking instrument. It might need a little work because I did see some separation of the top from the ribs in the shoulders, but that doesn't seem to critical. Otherwise it looks in very good condition with just a little shop wear. I know the shop owner has had it for years so it has been mostly window dressing for his shop. I don't think the price was a rip-off price given what the 5-string Pollmanns go for new these days. I just wonder if it would be useful for anything but authentic Baroque application.
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Old 06-09-2007, 10:45 AM
Arnold Schnitzer Arnold Schnitzer is offline
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I think it depends on two things: 1) will you be using it for its traditional purpose?, 2) would it be easily convertible to a regular bass?

If you would post the price and some pics, I'll be happy to comment about the inherent value. (Or send me a PM)
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Old 06-09-2007, 03:55 PM
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My intent would be to use it as it was originally built, for either original music or Baroque performance. It's a reproduction violone in every way. About the only thing I would forgo would be the tied on frets. The price quoted was $12K, and some good private advice has been that this is probably excessive. I will try to get some photos, but that would of course be at the pleasure of the shop. I don't generally talk about local shops on forums, and this one has no web site indicating the owner either is not interested in the Internet or doesn't need it to stay in business, but I'm just about certain you would know the shop. It's in Decatur and the owner has been in the business since the mid 1940's. If you don't know of him, it is likely some on this forum have crossed paths with him. He has been dealing with the Wilfer family and the Pollmann shop for decades and probably sells more basses than any other shop in Atlanta.

I've been seeing this violone for years every time I go in there and it has more carving detail than any instrument I've seen. I don't think there is any hurry to do the purchase and I know this fellow could go to his grave with this thing sitting there as window dressing in his shop. In short, he doesn't need to sell it and I don't really need to buy it, but I'd like to. It just fits in with my appreciation of the unusual and impractical.

So I would just have some fun with it, probably play it at some art gallery performances and record with it and then pass it along to a university level music department at some point in the future. I don't think I could consider it business equipment. And I couldn't justify a conversion because I could just get a Pollmann DB if that's what I wanted it for.

So I'll get the photos if he'll let me do that. The only repairs it might need that I could see would be separation of the ribs and top plate for a couple of inches along the shoulders. It might not even have a bass bar. It has some surface dings and scratches, but I didn't see any cracks. I hope he'll let me do some photos and post them. It really is serious eye candy.
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Old 06-10-2007, 10:33 PM
Arnold Schnitzer Arnold Schnitzer is offline
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$12,000 for a Pollmann instrument is excessive?????
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Old 06-10-2007, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Schnitzer View Post
$12,000 for a Pollmann instrument is excessive?????
Should I put a deposit? Just say so and tomorrow it will be done.
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:22 AM
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Thumbs up huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Schnitzer View Post
$12,000 for a Pollmann instrument is excessive?????

New Handmade Pollmann DBs have been spotted for up to 36k recently. It depends on the model and tone. Maybe tone comes first, then model/playability and *last, looks like pretty woods etc.

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that 'Bling'".. Do op, do op, do op, do op, do op, do op, do op, do op, do op, do.....

Not!
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:26 AM
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Lightbulb Buy it?

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Should I put a deposit? Just say so and tomorrow it will be done.
What's the rush? What does it look like? What are the measurements? Can you afford to buy things like this just to collect?

Wanna buy a 200+ year old Bass Guitar?
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:24 AM
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What's the rush? What does it look like? What are the measurements? Can you afford to buy things like this just to collect?

Wanna buy a 200+ year old Bass Guitar?
That's probably a little out of range. The Storioni bass guitar, I mean. It's really cool, though. I'd have to "sell the back 40" to pick that one up. What's up with the English mystery bass?

I'll get you some photos of the violone, soon. If I put down a deposit, there is no rush. I guess that indicates I'm rushing it. Probably not another buyer in the wings, but who knows, the owner could check out any day and then I'd have to bid for it in some estate / business auction. He's an older fellow. Can I afford to buy things like this just to collect? Well, no, I'd have to find some way to play it at gigs and depreciate it on the ACRS form and write it off. I'd probably end up playing some Vivaldi or Bach or something at weddings with it, once or twice a year. And I could rent it out to the same folks that have been using it. I think there are two Baroque ensembles in Atlanta. I'll be baroque temporarily if I do the deal!

I have 3 bass guitars and one double bass (the Kremonas are now endorsed by Xavier Padilla, BTW). What luck. It's not the greatest bass, but I have to have an instrument that I can play in compromised environments. It's perfect for my DB purposes. My "collection" all of which I play for pay, is not only short by a violone, but also by a nice pair of Smith basses. If I live long enough, maybe these will pay for themselves. If this stuff goes the direction of my '73 Fender, I'll be OK. Or I'll just hold them, use them, and by the time I sell them someone will be asking, "$24,000 for a Pollmann instrument excessive?"

Trust me, I never know what I'm doing. I'm horrible at managing money. I only have hunches. I live on the grace of my luck. I have a bunch of real estate yet to unload, too. Luck, foresight, whatever. I borrowed the $$ to buy the real estate and made 1200% in 6 years. I'm still holding the biggest part of that and it is still going up in value. It has skyline views. I bought a little Apple stock in 2000. Not enough to matter really. But it paid for my new Macbook. And I'm single now with no children. Well, I have a dog, so I have to watch anything with gut strings real close. My worst problem is that I get bored easily and I don't have a day job. Probably have to do something about that soon;- take digital catalog shots or something.

So is the one of a kind Pollmann a good deal or what? I'll get some photos. It's already about 35 years old. According to my thermodynamics theory or whatever, it should be getting sweet about now even if no one has played it much.
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:08 AM
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Cool "sell the back 40"??

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Originally Posted by David Powell View Post
That's probably a little out of range. The Storioni bass guitar, I mean. It's really cool, though. I'd have to "sell the back 40" to pick that one up. What's up with the English mystery bass?
The Storioni Bass Guitar offer was in jest by the way. Actually, it's been out on trial with a major Symphony. It needs a major restoration so the chances of selling it now is a long shot but possible. It sounds fantastic but will sound much better after it's restored.

On the Mystery Bass, I hope to have it in a few months. Anytime this year would be nice but it will take what it takes and not a day less. I am not worried about the time. Before long, I will have the Hart Bass to play for most or all of next season and my Bisiach with its new Ext by Jeff will be ready in a few days as well. That Bass does just about everything so no rush on any of the work on my Basses. The Loveri goes into restoration with Jeff when I pick it up.

On the Pollmann, I have a beautiful sounding, looking and playing model at 18k. Arnold has a similar one with a C ext on Consignment for about 21k last I heard. The newer Italian models they make cost a bit more now.

Only you know what is best for you music and investment wise. A Violone is a specialty instrument. If you like it, get it.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:17 AM
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Default from Wikipedia

"Back 40" is a term used colloquially in America to describe a parcel of land, specifically one sixteenth of a section, constituting the smallest unit of agricultural land commonly surveyed ("back 40," "front 40"); "back 40" also refers to an undeveloped plot of land (as on a farm, ranch, etc.) of unspecified size. Further reading: Public Land Survey System#Popular culture

I'm going to be busy with construction for the next several days / weeks. But I may put a deposit down before the fellow changes his mind and I'll get some photos. It is a specialty instrument;- but that is why it is interesting to me.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:33 AM
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Question back 40?..lol

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"Back 40" is a term used colloquially in America to describe a parcel of land, specifically one sixteenth of a section, constituting the smallest unit of agricultural land commonly surveyed ("back 40," "front 40"); "back 40" also refers to an undeveloped plot of land (as on a farm, ranch, etc.) of unspecified size. Further reading: Public Land Survey System#Popular culture

I'm going to be busy with construction for the next several days / weeks. But I may put a deposit down before the fellow changes his mind and I'll get some photos. It is a specialty instrument;- but that is why it is interesting to me.
Ok, so in your neck of the woods, what can you get for 'your back 40' over there these days?
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:48 AM
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Ok, so in your neck of the woods, what can you get for 'your back 40' over there these days?
10 Pollmanns? (your price) Or maybe a shipping container with a Kremona orchestra in it.
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:52 AM
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Thumbs up 10 Pollmanns?

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10 Pollmanns? (your price) Or maybe a shipping container with a Kremona orchestra in it.
Sounds good. Let me know when you have the Cash on Hand..lol
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:10 PM
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Sounds good. Let me know when you have the Cash on Hand..lol
I'll throw a party for sure! Bass players and makers invited only. Maybe wives and girlfriends, too?
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:24 PM
Nick Hart Nick Hart is offline
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If I may weigh in here, the reason people say 12k is expensive for a Violone is because the gigs for them are sparse. A Violone does not fit in well if the rest of the ensemble is playing modern instruments, and it is not a necessarily large and robust sound, much closer to a Viola da Gamba. I'm sure there are people who make livings playing Violone in America but most of the people I've heard of that are Violone players are living in Europe. But 12k for a Pollman is a great price and it sounds like something to have if you have the money.
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Hart View Post
If I may weigh in here, the reason people say 12k is expensive for a Violone is because the gigs for them are sparse. A Violone does not fit in well if the rest of the ensemble is playing modern instruments, and it is not a necessarily large and robust sound, much closer to a Viola da Gamba. I'm sure there are people who make livings playing Violone in America but most of the people I've heard of that are Violone players are living in Europe. But 12k for a Pollman is a great price and it sounds like something to have if you have the money.
Thanks for the input here Nick, and you have a good point. The violone is both over and under priced.

I'm going to look at it again today. There are two things I'm going to use to guide me. What would a violone by a different maker cost (and that should be probably the most definitive guide), as well as what the approximate value of any 1970's Pollmann in good condition costs. I still have to research the first and Ken and Arnold have given me a good idea of the second. I hope to get some pics for you guys so this is not a teaser thread.
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:15 AM
Sam Sherry Sam Sherry is offline
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Let's see.

a) You don't play the violone. You might want to play the violone. Violones are generally useless for anything but period music. It's safe to say that if you started playing jazz on the violine you would immediately become the Jazz Violone King. (That would put you in the company of Yusef Lateef, the Jazz Bassoon King, and my friend Scott Reeves, the Jazz Alto-Flugelhorn King.)

b) You do play the double-bass. Like myself, you play on a perfectly fine, undistinguished instrument.

c) You could probably pull off a purchase in the $12k range but, like myself, it would be a substantial investment.

d) You're quite taken with this instrument.

Based on all that, my take is:

1) There is a reason that this instrument is so unusual. The Baroque/period boom of the 70s faded many years ago. The demand for violones in general and this instrument in particular is empirically low.

2) Accordingly, it's quite likely that you could bargain for a lower price than any price the dealer names at first. Similarly, the dealer might take a trade for a double bass (which presumably would not take forty years to move).

3) Having obtained what is doubtless a remarkable violone, you would be the owner of a remarkable violone. But if you don't want to play the violone you would need to either

a) ditch this instrument, which would probably require you either to take a loss, make a contribution or wait for some portion of forty years; or

b) convert it to a double bass.

So the question, from the business standpoint, is whether buying the instrument and converting to a double bass is a cost-effective means to acquire a double bass you would like to have.

4) Converting the instrument to a double bass requires, at a minimum, a new neck (with fingerboard), bridge, machines, tailpiece and probably a new end-pin. That's easily a few thousand dollars worth of work and parts done well. An important question is whether work on or replacement of the bass-bar is required; if so, it's a bunch more work with attendant cost.

In conclusion: if you want to buy a violine, try it and donate it to a university, bravo to you but it seems like a lot of money. If you want an instrument which might be potentially useful to you as a bass, ****ysis is in order.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:22 PM
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Borrowed a friends digital camera and got the pics. I didn't have the right USB thingy to get them onto the computer so I will do that when I get back from jazz rehearsal. Sam, everyone knows I need serious ****ysis.

BTW, Is Uncle Warmbatton playing on this CD??? Anyone know?
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Old 06-13-2007, 03:01 AM
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Default ****yze this!

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Old 06-13-2007, 03:06 AM
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Default And the rosette!

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