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  #1  
Old 07-18-2007, 01:34 AM
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Cool " Name That Bass " aka "This OLD Bass"

Hi guys, this is a thread I started on TB back in 2004. Since I am here now, I thought I would copy my own basic text of it over to here and if anyone feels up to it, continue on. If not, at least we have it here for reference. I have brought the text up to present time as many did make guesses in this 6 page thread but I don't think I am allowed to copy anyone else's replies over to here. I will sum up the findings so we can go on from there if you're in the mood.
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I got this Bass back in Feb, 2004. It has many flavors from all that have touched it. In March of '04 it went out for a full restoration and reconstruction. I am expecting it some time this year (2007)

Members are welcome to post their ideas as well.
Ask questions if you like as to what I might have seen inside that I can't show here or whatever.

Here is the the link posted on my 'site; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/doublebasses/MysteryBass/name_that_bass2.htm ('Before' pics linked from there as well)

Let's have some fun with this old relic......

A major restoration was done around 1850 or so give or take 25 years. The Bass was old then !

The angle taper of the Back may not be original and could have been done later. This Bass was also slightly bigger from what I can see.
The Purfling on the Top runs out on each of the 6 Bouts as if it was 'greatly' worn from use and abuse or was slightly cut or trimmed about 5mm or less on each Bout.

Maybe the Back shrunk and the Ribs were shortened. The extreme curl of the Sycamore could have made the Bass shrink more than usual.
The Back however is not Purfled on the edges but rather has a faint hint of painted Purfling around all edges which runs out as well. The Back also has a thin Ebony strip inlaid down the center Seam which leads me to believe it was added later to fill the gap from shrinkage.

Who might have used such fine grade flamed sycamore for the back (28" wide,2 piece) and ribs or the tight grained Quartersawn Spruce with 350 growth rings within 14" of width (x2=28"wide) ?? Who could have demanded this top grade of wood way back then for a Bass when it could have made at least 6 fine Violins?

This Bass has had many repairs and modifications over it's long life.

The Varnish is original under the repairs except for some
touch-up with a reddish tint. The F holes are original and the Neck Block taper seems to be original as the Purfling is still there on the Top. The gentle lower Bout cut is original as well and this and the other features might help find it's origin.

Of course when the Top came off and we examined the Blocks, old Cross Bar Scars and Linings, we were able to figure out some additional possibilities. By the way, the flames of the Back and Ribs are twice as intense from the inside where there is no Varnish obscuring the figure. The wood is very dark on the inside indicating the Bass is quite old. I can pick it up easily in one hand despite its size as the old dry wood is beyond seasoned!

The total height of the actual Bass (without endpin) is 77" tall (6ft.5in.). It was probably an 'Eb' Neck and will be reduced to a 'D' Neck ending up around 76" or so after the new Neck graft.

It is more likely we will find the period and origin before the maker, if at all.

It would be great if we can always find the maker but with Basses not always being the main product of the shop as well as the Master/Apprentice situations in many shops, it is often that the Bass was made by other than the 'head honcho'. Therefore the makers hand is not always evident.

Just to clarify things, the work is being done by my long time friend and Luthier Paul Biase in NY. Other than Peter Eibert, he is my oldest acquaintance in this field and from the old school. I had just met Arnold and Jeff on line at TB shortly before I bought this Bass. Had it been a year later, I might have given the Job to one of them if they would have accepted it. I am glad Paul is taking his time on this. The buckled Ribs are very flat now in comparison as he has spent a lot of time fixing them.

Here are the pics of the Cheeks I made 3 years ago. The Cheeks will get thinned down slightly before the Varnish touch-up.
  #2  
Old 07-18-2007, 01:53 AM
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Lightbulb Continued...

Several TB members made guesses on this bass when I started the thread. Thanks to those that have so far. For interest, I have made a tally of countries mentioned as the possibilities. I will leave out the Makers names and just list the countries for now. The period from your guesses seem to be between c.1750 and c.1850 according to the makers that were mentioned. Again, the internal examination will tell us more (pre-restoration comment). Here's the tally in no particular order.

French - 3
English - 3
Tirol - 1
Yankee - 2
Bohemia - 2
Italian - 2

Some people made more than one guess and that's fine as we need to think out loud a bit here.
It would be nice to hear from all the luthiers out here tell us what points of a Bass helps them determine or guess the maker or school of making.

When I first showed the Bass to Paul Biase back in Marck of 2004 he used a 'black light'/ultra violet to check the Varnish. The Bass has an 'extra' coat of Varnish over the original Varnish completely over the entire Bass.
The top layer of Varnish seems to be Spirit based. Originally I gave the 'go-ahead' for Paul to take off the junk on top and let the original lighter golden Oil Varnish see the light of day again but after 3 years in restoration I have decided to leave it as-is and touch it up to match the Red-over-Gold as it does look beautiful.
Paul seemed at first glance to think it was from Northern Europe and not Italy as guessed by some. Most likely it's believed to be from England or France as they are just across the channel from each other.

The Purfling in the Top is European and so is the Back 'n' Rib wood. USA is most likely ruled out except for the 19th century repairs in New England with the Yankee X-Brace in the Back.
The Period of this Bass is estimated to be between the latter 18th century and early 19th century by Biase as well.

The Bass was about a 44'' String Length with its current neck. The Top Bout being 22in. across and with only about a 15mm neck-stand makes it extremely hard to play as well. This is maybe why the Bass was put aside for the last 80-100 years and not touched...... It's just too BIG! It is a very large 7/8 or small 4/4 Bass a.k.a. 'Full Sized'. You Guys can tell me from the measurements posted on my website just what it is. Originally I thought a 42" String length could not be achieved unless the Bass was "CUT" from the shoulders. Oops...... I said a 'No No' word... Sorry guys.... BUT, After Arnold restored both my Prescott and Morelli (two HUGE Basses) and was able to reduce those lengths, I took my newly acquired knowledge I picked up from Arnold and told Paul we can do just a Block-cut and get the job done.
  #3  
Old 07-18-2007, 02:03 AM
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Lightbulb Continued...

Origin/size English had been considered almost immediately by many. The Purfling on the top has beed identified as "Northern Europe". That leaves France and England. As you may or may not know, many French makers worked in England and visa versa in the early 19th century and maybe earlier.

Some English Violins were acutally made by French makers working in English shops. Some other English Violins were actually made in France but completed and Labeled in England to fill demand.
My refrence: "250 Years of Violin Craft in Soho" by Adam Whone.

It pays to study! You can never read or see to much. We have a short life in which to learn about the 400+ year history of our Instruments, their creators and makers.

Pre-Panormo We were looking at early English from 1750 or after and maybe as new as 1825-1850 but until the top was off, the Mystery continued. One interesting thing is the Back repairs. The original Cross bars were replaced with an X-Brace system. Scars from the old Bars are visible. This Bass came here at least 100 years ago if not more but the X-Brace looks very old and from about 1850 if not earlier. This Repair of course was done in 19th century New England by followers of the Prescott School. The Maple Scroll, although varnished over in dark red is most likely original to the Bass as it matches in character as well.

Ruled out! Prescott was ruled out because it looks nothing like a Prescott. The Top has northern Europe style purfling. The back is un-purfled but has some faint spots of painted purfling. This has been identified as "English Ink".

The Wood is Extremely Fine grained Spruce of some sort. 350 growth rings within 14" at the lower bout. A bit too fine for North American Wood I believe. This is "Ice Age" type growth rings from Europe. The Back and sides are beautifully Quartered English Sycamore with Spaghetti type Flames.

I believe Prescott and his followers mainly used Wood from the New England area as he and Dearborn had their own lumber business.

This wood appears to have been expensive by comparison at the time this Bass was probably made. The Bass is also very big and may have been a special order. I can't imagine a maker building a Bass like this with near "full sized" measurements and such high quality wood usually found only on the best Violins and 'Cellos.

For these reasons, I don't think it was made in America but was brought here on a ship at least once if not twice possibly by a Musician playing on the Trans-Atlantic Ships as the previous owner came over later with the Bass "as-is". The Ship Musician may have had it repaired here on one of his journeys and took it back on his next trip after being fixed and then maybe sold to the Man that brought it over for the last time.

I speculate that due to a combination of being so big n difficult to play, being in dis-repair and it being cheaper and easier to get a regular sized easier playing Bass in good condition in those days. Maybe that's why the Bass has beed un-touched for the last 100 years or so.

This is all just a guess but a very possible situation or maybe just a fictional story...... Gee.."If this Bass could only talk" !! Oops....... sorry Stanley....lol
  #4  
Old 07-18-2007, 02:15 AM
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Lightbulb Continued...

Scroll/Varnish The Maple Scroll, although varnished over in dark red is most likely original to the Bass as it matches in character as well. I noticed that when leveling it for the new Cheeks I added.
The Varnish on the Scroll also looks different.

The Red in the Varnish is not original either. The Original Varnish looks to be a Golden Brown. The rest of the color is age and oxidation.

I think this Bass traveled across the Ocean a few times on the Great Ships of the 19th century. The Back and Scroll repairs look to be mid 19th century but the Bass is reported to have come over from Europe from the previous owner b4 me around 1908. We have a Yankee style X-Brace dated c.1840 to c.1880. I have the 3-string Tailpiece as well. The 4 Gears that came with this Bass looked to be early to mid 19th century with one of them just slightly different as if to have been added later on that Scroll. The holes from the 3 and 4-string are all the same size as if they did the conversion, moved two of the gears and added a forth leaving the lowest gear (E) in it's original spot.

Old Neck Repair It had one of those ugly neck splices in a 'u' shape after carving somewhere in the middle of the neck. Maybe the heel of the neck is original to that neck block but I doubt that as well as being original. They must have spliced the neck/scroll on when the old one broke off and was un-repairable. Much easier than a neck/scroll graft for sure.

Previous update When the Mystery Bass was first opened in Jan. '05 Paul called me at my Shop. When I said hello to Paul on the phone that very day, I heard some screams like Tarzan was having a bad day.. I asked "what was that"? He replied "your Bass, I just opened it up". He mentioned he was thinking for weeks which way to attack this Bass as the Ribs have to be fixed first along with either the top or back so the other plate can come off and have something to go back to.

Now for the discovery, The Bass currently has an 'X' Brace which we know was a 19th century repair in Mass or New Hampshire. We also know there is a set of scars from earlier cross bars that were the original, so we thought... BUT........ There is a "third" set of scars from even earlier Bars in this Bass that is quite unusual. Mainly the Bottom, widest point (originally about 29" wide) had a pair of thin TWIN Bars running across the Bass. This he said is OLDE English as in English Gambas.... The English made Gambas as far back as the 16th century. This Bass however is most likely no earlier that the mid 18th century as far as we can see for now..

Does any one here have any experience with these olde Gambas with Twin Cross bars at the Bottom?

>> More info to come if and when it develops.......
  #5  
Old 07-18-2007, 02:29 AM
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Cool Today...

Today I went into NY to go over the measurements and set-up specs for the completion of this Bass. The lower and middle Ribs are glued to the Blocks and the back lightly 'tacked on'. The Upper Ribs still attached to the old Neck Heel/Block. Another piece was added to this old Block to give room to lower the Neck-set. This will bring the Bridge up about 1" closer. We measured several ways including where the hand hits the Shoulder so we have the notes in the right place like hitting the F# before the octave G. The average 42" String length 'D' neck Bass has a measurement from the Nut to the base of the Neck of 18" or so. Mine was at 19" and was closer to an Eb neck I would imagine. With an 18" measurement and the Neck down 1" or so in the Block, we will have a 42" String length without cutting the shoulders at all. Just the tips of the Top by the Block will be cut. Also, the FFs are almost 190mm wide at the upper Eyes. The Bar is set in a bit but after measuring everything today, it looks like the Bridge used will be about a 165mm width at the feet. This means I can cheat the bridge easily if I want to adjust/fine tune the String length or stop positions of the notes around the neck/shoulder area.

Conclusions to date (we think!).. Bass is English c.1800 or so and we will not be cutting the Shoulders..

Of course when this Bass is done, I will update the final specs. I hope as well that one day I will know who actually made it if that is at all possible. To date from all the people around the world I have consulted, not a single person has seen anything like this Bas as far as the shape, bouts and FFs combined.
  #6  
Old 07-19-2007, 07:34 PM
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Question Question..

I know we did this to death a couple of years ago on TB but to date we are no closer to finding a maker than we were then.

In closing there I posted pics of my Top and another one that I think is similar. Also, both Basses have similar large type dimensions. I will now post both Top and Back shots side by side and just ask all of you to point out "How close they to look in style and features as well as the differences they appear to have"?

Please don't be so shy. This is not a test to retain your Forum membership..



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Old 07-19-2007, 11:58 PM
Brian Glassman Brian Glassman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
I know we did this to death a couple of years ago on TB but to date we are no closer to finding a maker than we were then.

In closing there I posted pics of my Top and another one that I think is similar. Also, both Basses have similar large type dimensions. I will now post both Top and Back shots side by side and just ask all of you to point out "How close they to look in style and features as well as the differences they appear to have"?

Please don't be so shy. This is not a test to retain your Forum membership..
Well, I don't know. The shape of the upper and lower bouts look completely different to me. Somehow the shape of your mystery bass reminded me of that Houska article on the Prokap bass. http://www.contrabass.co.uk/spring98.htm I know you don't think it is related to the Prokap bass, but something about the way the c bouts flow into the lower bouts seem more similar than this bass. I get a Bohemian vibe anyway.

BG
  #8  
Old 07-20-2007, 07:28 AM
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Cool Bohemian Vibe...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Glassman View Post
Well, I don't know. The shape of the upper and lower bouts look completely different to me. Somehow the shape of your mystery bass reminded me of that Houska article on the Prokap bass. http://www.contrabass.co.uk/spring98.htm I know you don't think it is related to the Prokap bass, but something about the way the c bouts flow into the lower bouts seem more similar than this bass. I get a Bohemian vibe anyway.

BG
Brian, I agree with you partially on that Prokop Bass but that is the only Bohemian Bass I have ever seen with soft Gamba Corners. On the subject of 'Gamba', in the 19th century book by Sandy's & Forster(S.A., pupil of Gilkes) titled 'History of the Violin' there is a picture of an old English Viol d'Gamba with tons of inlay decorations etc and the exact soft Gamba corners as the Prokop Bass and this Bass of mine as well as far as the lower bout corner goes.

On the Gamba thing, my Bass has many scars from previous cross bars in the Back. Currently it has an X-Brace in 3 pieces with the lap-joint broken and not connected under the longer piece. It also has Scars from some standard type System and older Scars of Gamba type Bars with 2 or 3 below the center Bar and 2 or 3 more above it. This is typical for old English Gambas more so that any Flat back Bass I have ever seen. With the lower corner almost a Guitar and the Neck Block area Gamba construction as well, I can only guess that this was made by a Gamba maker rather than a Violin maker or one that did both. The fine grade of wood on the Top used is rarely seen on a Bass and especially on English Basses.

With a combination of English Gamba style making, English Sycamore wood, old English style Purfling on the Top and English Ink on the Back, one must conclude that this is none other than an *early English Bass (*pre-Panormo/Brescian influenced design). The Prokop Bass is a 'fluke' if you ask me and not typical at all of the Bohemian School. That Bass had 'Guitar' written all over it! George Chanot (worked in France and England) made some Guitar form Violins and some patents as well prior to that Prokop. Perhaps Chanot was the inspiration combined with Stauffer who was his teacher and a Guitar maker.

On the Pics above and the similarities I see it in the FFs a bit along with their low placement, the size which is very close to my Bass and the Back construction with the half-inlay rubbing down the center joint to used to aide in shrinkage and expansion as the Bass moves. My Bass measures slightly bigger but the size is along the same idea. That Bass by the way is by George Corsby, 1800 London from Contrabass Shoppe. There is another older Corsby in the books from Northampton c'1770-1780 as G.Corsby appears in London from 1785. These two are speculated by some to be Brothers but no first name is known for the earlier maker who was known as a Bass maker. The London Corsby was a Bass and Violin maker as well as a Dealer. Becoming a dealer in London was the normal trait for makers in their later years when it was learned they could earn more money than by just making. Makers that turned to dealers include Dodd, Forster, Betts, Davis, Hart and Hill. Everyone mentioned was a maker first. I suspect that both Corsby's are possibly one and the same. While up in Northampton he made chiefly Basses and then moved to London making some more and then turned Dealer.

I have been told by many that my Bass is made in Northern England but I have yet to find a single maker with FFs like mine and the balanced Gamba Form as well. London Makers made this more balanced form than those in the northern areas and most of them date much later. The fact that my Bass has Yankee repairs from the mid 19th century indicates that it was an old Bass already by then. This Bass was used very little in the 20th century with some old C-extension scars as the only evidence. The Coal dust in the cracks indicates it was out of use for a very long time as well as the ribs peeling off the blocks. There were even patched floating around inside that just 'fell off' as the Bass was drying out.

I am not conclusive that Corsby (London or Northampton) is the maker but that London did have Gamba form Basses as well as the later makers up north including Tarr. Before Panormo and the Strad influence in London Stainer and makers of the Tirol were the biggest influence in London. This is why we see that Germanic flavor in many English Basses because that's what they had seen to go on. at the turn of the 19th Century we have Panormo who was big on Strad as well as Dragonetti with his d'Salo and at least one Maggini Bass floating around in town. I see Maggini as the main model that many used including Dodd, Lott, Fendt, Kennedy, *J.Hart and Wlm.Gilkes from 1800 -1840 (later Hart Basses were made by William Vallentine who became his son-in-law). Earlier London Basses included the Cello shape and some other ideas for a Gamba shape like those used by the Hills of the late 18th century. The more rounded Gamba design is mostly Germanic but the softer corners and the sloped shoulders are straight from the viol d'gamba form.

On my Bass it also has some old style French flavour in the upper back in both shape and bend style. The Back bends gently from the corner block to the neck block which is French in tradition. The Ribs are 8.5" from the lower block (endpin) to the upper bout corner and then tapers to 5.75" at the neck. The French and some English moved back and forth learning from and working with each other. That is fact and not speculation. Germany was also a big trade partner with England as well. Many visiting Orchestras and Musicians came to London as well as several from Italy. It is this 'visiting' factor from France, Germany and Italy that gave London its flavor more so than any Londoner traveling thru the continent which was not the case at all.

If you look closely at my Bass you will see French, Italian, Germanic and English flavors all rolled up in one Bass (the Yankee flavor being only later modifications and not in the making). You almost never see any English flavor in the other countries mentioned. Why is that? Because they had their own recipe and English was never a flavor in the continent with the exception of New England Yankee Basses which were a mix or English and German mainly. The English were mainly Copyists, period! Makers often copied Stainer and Amati in the same shop with the occasional Strad. The French thing is not that common with the exception of a few that may have worked there or with someone from France in the UK. This Bass is somewhat of a 'melting pot' example with the 'gamba flavor added both inside and out. When I showed the C-bout corner blocks to Jeff Bollbach up at 'Biasie's, he mentioned he has seen this style only in old French and English Basses and furniture as well.

So, with that 'brief' explanation, how does London/Corsby style sit now in your mind?
  #9  
Old 07-20-2007, 11:20 AM
Brian Glassman Brian Glassman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith

On my Bass it also has some old style French flavour in the upper back in both shape and bend style. The Back bends gently from the corner block to the neck block which is French in tradition. The Ribs are 8.5" from the lower block (endpin) to the upper bout corner and then tapers to 5.75" at the neck. The French and some English moved back and forth learning from and working with each other. That is fact and not speculation. Germany was also a big trade partner with England as well. Many visiting Orchestras and Musicians came to London as well as several from Italy. It is this 'visiting' factor from France, Germany and Italy that gave London its flavor more so than any Londoner traveling thru the continent which was not the case at all.

If you look closely at my Bass you will see French, Italian, Germanic and English flavors all rolled up in one Bass (the Yankee flavor being only later modifications and not in the making). You almost never see any English flavor in the other countries mentioned. Why is that? Because they had their own recipe and English was never a flavor in the continent with the exception of New England Yankee Basses which were a mix or English and German mainly. The English were mainly Copyists, period! Makers often copied Stainer and Amati in the same shop with the occasional Strad. The French thing is not that common with the exception of a few that may have worked there or with someone from France in the UK. This Bass is somewhat of a 'melting pot' example with the 'gamba flavor added both inside and out. When I showed the C-bout corner block to Jeff Bollbach up at 'Biasie's, he mentioned he has seen this style only in old French and English Basses and furniture as well.

So, with that 'brief' explanation, how does London/Corsby style sit now in your mind?
I do see what you mean about all the different influences.
I'm not so experienced w/ 'f' hole ID, but to me the upper bout shape definitely has a French feel to it. Almost "Lamy"-like http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2453.htm , although we know that this bass is earlier. How about these English guys?; http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2114.htm , http://www.contrabass.co.uk/1900.htm , http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2657.htm ,or these German guys?;
http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2657.htm , http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2579.htm

Bri

Last edited by Brian Glassman; 07-20-2007 at 04:46 PM.
  #10  
Old 07-20-2007, 01:24 PM
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Just looking at photos and not considering the other clues that point to England, the f holes are the most similar characteristic to the G. Corsby DB. The arching also looks similar. The outline just doesn't seem the same at all. The bouts are almost taken from a perfect circle on the mystery bass. The Corsby is much more anglular in the bouts. But shape alone doesn't necessarily mean that much. Weren't the shoulders of the mystery bass altered as well?

The Prokop bass certainly has a lot of the same general shape characteristics, but the other details of making don't really match at all. The shape is definitely heading the same way, but the mystery bass has bouts that are much closer to the same size. Also, I would reason that it makes sense that outlines might be copied more frequently than construction methodology. So you see borrowed forms "by the English hand" so to speak. In any case, it has one of the most pleasing outlines that I think I have ever seen. I guess there are only a few makers that could have plausibly made that bass given the factual evidence of it's origins, the wood type, etc. So it is at least narrowed to an English maker. If not Corsby, then who? That becomes the question. So we look at the f-holes again.....
  #11  
Old 07-20-2007, 11:11 PM
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Cool Ideas and Views...

Brian, thanks for the links of reference. Period wise, we are near c.1800 or earlier on this Bass. As you can see, so many Bass have sloped shoulders that are actually taken from the Viol family and not the Violin. Many Northern English makers worked on German patterns while the London School favored the Italian style and often Maggini within that school. Basses from London in the Gamba form are usually closer to c.1800 or earlier. Cello form was used in both London and Germany as well but not much after 1800. When a dealer sees an English Bass with Gamba form, he cries out 'Northern England or English midlands'. When they don't see the English connection right away or at all, they usually jump to Bohemia or Germany. It is not always as simple as that all the time and the Bass of mine is a clear example of straying from the norm in every possible way!

David, the bouts were not actually Altered other that Wear or trim at the outer Purfling line of each side on the upper and lower bouts. No more than 1/4" from what I can see from where the Purfling runs off the Bass. The C-bout is warn as well but I can see all or most of the Purfling on the inner curve where mainly only the edges are worn.

One point I was trying to make is that I cannot find a single Northern Maker of Basses that made FFs like this or a bass for that matter. Not a single person in the world to date has shown me anything similar as well is a Bass inside or out.

The original internal construction, some of which only has 'scars' left in place is something else I have not seen in any other Bass or at least all of these in one single Bass. Clearly, this Maker made Viols in the olde English tradition which died out in the 18th century for the most part.

On the subject of Hill, I don't doubt him as a possibly either as well as Corsby. I just wish there were other Basses like it in some way to make better comparisons.
  #12  
Old 07-21-2007, 02:24 AM
Brian Glassman Brian Glassman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
The original internal construction, some of which only has 'scars' left in place is something else I have not seen in any other Bass or at least all of these in one single Bass. Clearly, this Maker made Viols in the olde English tradition which died out in the 18th century for the most part.

On the subject of Hill, I don't doubt him as a possibly either as well as Corsby. I just wish there were other Basses like it in some way to make better comparisons.

Well, yes. I think it's closer to that Joseph Hill bass than the Corsby. Are the F's that different? Imagine this Hill Bass w/ more rounded upper bouts..pretty close.

From the pics the back has an almost Pearwood look to it. Is it deffinately Sycamore? If so where else could there be fine Sycamore during that period?

It's shape deffinately doesn't point one way or another too clearly.
Is there anything else that points to some other early European school like Dutch or Scandinavian, Vienese? or does it only seem English or Germanic now?

Sounds like you'd need to explore that viol/gamba or bass violone transitional period a bit more, but I wouldn't leave out that same period in France either. I don't know now, the more I look at the your bass the more it's outline feels French to me.

W/ it's large dimensions and internal bracketing issues could it only be a true double bass or may it have actually been a modified later Bass Viola Da Gamba or "Bass Violone" of some type?

BG
  #13  
Old 07-21-2007, 04:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Glassman View Post
Well, yes. I think it's closer to that Joseph Hill bass than the Corsby. Are the F's that different? Imagine this Hill Bass w/ more rounded upper bouts..pretty close.

From the pics the back has an almost Pearwood look to it. Is it definitely Sycamore? If so where else could there be fine Sycamore during that period?

It's shape definitely doesn't point one way or another too clearly.
Is there anything else that points to some other early European school like Dutch or Scandinavian, Viennese? or does it only seem English or Germanic now?

Sounds like you'd need to explore that viol/gamba or bass violone transitional period a bit more, but I wouldn't leave out that same period in France either. I don't know now, the more I look at the your bass the more it's outline feels French to me.

W/ it's large dimensions and internal bracketing issues could it only be a true double bass or may it have actually been a modified later Bass Viola Da Gamba or "Bass Violone" of some type?

BG
I don't know how big a Bass Violone would be. I have seen only a few and only one was DB size. Viol d'Gambas were small like Cellos I think. As far as the English thing goes and not French or otherwise the materials and Viol construction all point to England according to Biase. On the Back wood, it is the same highly flamed Sycamore as seen on the inner Ribs. If it is French then it would be an 18th century Bass before all the Bernadel, Gand etc type makers with that Cello outline. This Bass from LeJeune (Paris, c.1785 from World of Basses, Germany) looks slightly similar and completely different that the later French Basses we are used to seeing. Look at the LeJeune and the Mystery Bass side by side!





On another website (Healey Violins, UK), we fine the exact Bass in different lighting and also dated c.1790.



On the LeJeune, it has a clear angle break in the upper bout and not a long gentle bend like my Bass.
  #14  
Old 07-21-2007, 11:58 AM
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Is it possible to learn anything more definitive about the age of the top, perhaps through dendrochonology (I think that's the word), you know the way they look at annual rings and match them to the pattern in instruments with known dates of make.

It is plausible from the shape that it could be a converted violone. The back construction is more like a double bass though. There were not too many standardized forms of violones and there are records of very large violones with mensurs of up to 114 cm. In Bach's time in Germany the violone grosso was a four stringed instrument tuned in 4ths from low C. These were definitely double bass size instruments. Probably the reason not too many of these large violones are still around is because most of them might now be living out their lives as double basses. But were any of these in use in England and at what period and what configuration? Isn't the first reference to the "great dooble bass" pretty early on in England?

I'm thinking if there were a way to nail down the age of the top within a few years. Attributing the bass to a "best guess" builder would be easier if we knew when the tree lived. Even then, the wood could have been seasoned for many years before use. The age, the remnants of the original methodology of construction, the origin of the wood? I guess if there is no documentation at all, this is real detective work.
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:31 PM
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Cool Violone..

My Bass would measure about 118-119cm or 121 or so over the buttton. The Top is over 119cm to the tip so the Back is close to that. I have heard of Violones in England as far back as the 17th Century but not much before that. I don't know what this was originally other that just 'BIG'.

On the Top age, we know it's from very old growth but being as wide as it is and relatively few cracks and no sinkage, it was something that was either well aged and/or something that came from an old Building and was cut way way before the bass was made. Luthier Peter Eibert told me the Top was so strong because or the winter growth rings combined with the species, age and grade of the Spruce combined. The 'patina' of the Top shows signs of a long life but part of it sheltered in storage. The Varnish is fantastic. Original golden Varnish under the later added red which almost looks original except for in a few spots. This Varnish has help to protect the instruments wood thus far.

I have owned many Basses in my life and have seen tons more. Nothing like this has ever crossed my path.
  #16  
Old 07-31-2007, 08:37 AM
Arnold Schnitzer Arnold Schnitzer is offline
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French, early 19th century.
  #17  
Old 07-31-2007, 10:31 AM
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I agree it looks french to me

OK the ffs don't match ... but the outline is close

7/8 french 1800
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  #18  
Old 07-31-2007, 10:49 AM
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Question French?

While it does have some French flavoring it also has a lot of English on the interior not to mention the wood itself being English Sycamore on the Back and Ribs. Biase thinks it could be a French 'influenced' maker or even a Frenchman itself working in London.

Arnold, for education purposes mainly, please tell us how you will inspect this Bass inside and out to take another guess at its origin once the restoration is complete. This would be your first time seeing this Bass in person unless you have the chance to see it at Biase's shop before he has it all together.

What are the points you look at both directly and indirectly as well as overall?
  #19  
Old 07-31-2007, 10:53 AM
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Cool outline...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Tucker View Post
I agree it looks french to me

OK the ffs don't match ... but the outline is close

7/8 french 1800
Matthew, I would also look at the edges, arching, upper and lower corners as well as the FFs. I have yet to see a French Bass with FFs like on mine. I agree the upper bout is close but only slightly in outline. In fact, they both look sort of Germanic which was a style both the English and French worked on as far as the Gamba model Basses.
  #20  
Old 08-06-2007, 06:23 PM
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Arrow About the French...

I agree that the Bass looks just about as French as it does English. I was reading now that one maker (Barbe Pere') gradually tapered the upper bout to the Neck without any angle bend. I have heard this trait before about the French. I am not 100% sure though that the Bend is original. Or is it?

If this is a French instrument (Bass or Violone), then who were the makers c.1800 (+/- 25 years est.) that might have made large Gambas like this? I wish I had as many books on French makers as I do of the English. Probably very few were written and even less written in English!

So, broadening the search to include France adds more possibilities. Now it seems that instead of looking for a Frenchman or French influenced maker working in England we are also be looking for a Frenchman with some use of the half-Purfled style (English Ink Back/Purfled Top) that 18th Century London had occasionally produced.
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