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  #1  
Old 10-29-2010, 01:10 AM
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Cool Broad Shouldered Italian Basses

Here is a Bass I recently acquired with some fairly broad shoulders in a medium sized 3/4 length Italian Bass. According to the *label it was made in Florence by "Petrus Antonius Malvolti". His work period was from about 1700-1733. He is also listed by Jalovec as the possible teacher of Gabrielli whose style is considered to be similar. *It is not known for sure if the label is a match for the bass. It might or might not be. Malvolti is not a very prolific maker with much to compare it to.

A few years ago, the former owner took this Bass up to Mario Lamarre in Montreal and had it modified with a detachable neck for travel. The work is beautiful and the Bass feels as solid as can be.

Although the shoulders look huge, it plays quite easily. Playing high up in thumb position however is difficult for me. I guess it was made before the thought of a Bass solo was ever considered..

Note: These pictures were borrowed from Mario's website. I hope he doesn't mind the free advertising.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2010, 11:37 AM
Ken McKay Ken McKay is offline
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Nice bass.

What do you think of the way the heel was cut down and the large thumbscrew?
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2010, 12:13 PM
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Thumbs up the Heel..

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Originally Posted by Ken McKay View Post
Nice bass.

What do you think of the way the heel was cut down and the large thumbscrew?
I have been playing the bass every day now and I can tell you that I never feel the heel or screw while playing unless I rest my hand back there to feel it.

The first thought you get is that the bass needs a new neck graft and everything put back to normal to be a pedigree Italian in an original state but after playing it, it feels as normal as any other bass I have.

I might in the near future put a C-extension on this which in turn will need a new thicker fingerboard as this one is quite thin now. Still, thin board and all, the bass plays like butter. It is sitting in my rack between the Panormo and the Hart.

If any forum members are passing thru my area, you are welcome to come by and see the Malvolti. I plan on using it for any programs that don't require a C-extension. When I get the Storioni back from restoration, I will put this one in the shop for a C-Ext. and a few other tweaks as well.
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  #4  
Old 11-08-2010, 06:07 AM
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Lightbulb Malvolti

Ok, here is the link to the current page in progress on the Malvolti.

To highlight a few features, look at the shape of the Back of the Bass from full shot to body shot to button shot. Enjoy..


And the label..
I am still not 100% if the label belongs. Mostly we think not but I could be wrong. I played the Bass all this week and the only other Bass I have that plays and sounds as smooth is my Cornerless Italian formerly attributed to Storioni. It feels and puts out sound in a similar way. A sweet deep organ sounding Bass. The condition of this Bass is great all things considered. Speaking of Organ sounding, I am using the Bass to play the Organ Concerto by Saint-Saens this Saturday.
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  #5  
Old 11-10-2010, 11:14 PM
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Lightbulb Button design ~ Fleurs-de-lis

I did a search and found this Coat of Arms from Florence.


This is the basic design in the back of the bass but facing down from the neck.
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  #6  
Old 11-11-2010, 08:01 AM
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Adrian Juras Adrian Juras is offline
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The bass looks just gorgeous Ken. I'd love to hear it one day. I have always been attracted to the broader shouldered basses not only visually, but it seems tonally they tend to have a fairly big sound to them as well.
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  #7  
Old 11-11-2010, 04:28 PM
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Cool big sound..

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Originally Posted by Adrian Juras View Post
The bass looks just gorgeous Ken. I'd love to hear it one day. I have always been attracted to the broader shouldered basses not only visually, but it seems tonally they tend to have a fairly big sound to them as well.
Well, the sound is deep and smooth but not super loud under the ear. Playing it though in a room with a listener 2 rooms away, the bass does cut thru the walls as well as the larger Panormo School bass I have. The program I have this week doesn't have much to play in the higher register. Maybe some notes up on the G up to about C in the Gorecki. I don't seem to have much problem playing up that high at all. In practicing the Valse Miniature(Koussevitzky) though, the high 'A' is a bit of a stretch but I can reach it!
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  #8  
Old 11-11-2010, 09:24 PM
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Arrow and..

Side by side, the 'Florence Coat of Arms'..

Not exact, but you can see the idea.
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  #9  
Old 11-19-2010, 10:37 PM
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Lightbulb update..

Recently, I sent a link of this webpage to a top Italian Master in Italy who had done a story on Bartolomeo Cristofori who was the keeper of instruments in the court of Prince Ferdinand de Medici of Florence along with his too apprentices. One was a Harpsichord maker and the other a Luthier, Pietro Antonio Malvolti who took over Cristofori's role after his death in 1732. In answer to my question of this well preserved Bass being the actual work of Malvolti he replied "Complimenti per il suo strumento certamente toscano e possibile Malvolti. Molto bello, cordialmente (and his name). Roughly translated, Compliments on the instrument is certainly Tuscany (Florence is the capitol) and possibly Malvolti. Cordially (and signed).

With so little of Malvolti's personal work known to exist, I can only conclude that most of his Lutherie was limited to his time working for and training with Cristofori as Malvolti's known work period is recorded as being from 1700-1733. This only gives him a year after the death of his master. His Violins (only 4 that I have seen reference to) and possibly this Bass were either made at his residence where had his own shop or, using the shop of Cristofori as the dates overlap between his work and his employment.

This Bass has been beautifully preserved over time. Perhaps the broad shoulders account for its condition as even 300 years ago, there were Basses available with sloped shoulders and angle bent upper Backs. The Cello-like shape of this Bass may have helped in its preservation.
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  #10  
Old 11-20-2010, 02:13 AM
Adrian Levi Adrian Levi is offline
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This is such a fantastic looking bass , the varnish is just superb,not to mention the general condition of the beast. Mazeltov :
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2013, 04:11 PM
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Lightbulb currently..

This bass has been in restoration since my last posting. It is getting a new neck graft as well. Because we were not sure who put the last bassbar in and because the top felt stiff, it was decided to take off the top and investigate. A bass of this class deserves any and all expense to make it 'whole' again.

After careful internal and external examination, the following was determined and assumed as well.

-- The bass is all original including the Scroll as the workmanship is believed to be a match.

-- The previous rib cracks have spread slightly past where they were cleated so, it's a good thing I had the top removed because these need to be re-repaired.

-- The top looks like it may have been re-graduated at one time. It is made of 6-pieces of wood and all of the cleats which are MANY, look to be about 50 years old or so, the same age as the bassbar. The back as well was at the least cleaned inside because the oxidation close to the corner blocks looks way older than everything else. Therefor we think all of the wood was cleaned and 'de-oxidized' if that is a word! The tint/color of the woods are still oxidized to a degree but look less old than the block areas which look untouched from its birth.

-- The type of wood used for the top which is fairly hard and stiff and the way it is glued up as well as being askew at the center center joint looks to be a Harpsichord top as used in that period and possibly made of Cyprus, not spruce. The top is also 2-toned in color, tan and brown like the heart and sap wood of a Cyprus tree which is native to Florence. The sap (outer) wood being mixed within the same pieces of the heartwood means they were cute from nearer the center of the tree and not the outer sap area usually used for the violin trade. This in itself would make the wood much harder than the outer cute. Being two-toned in color, this may have been pulled from the stock of glued up blanks for Harpsichords and given to the maker to use for a bass.

-- The top has been completely re-edged all around which could mean in time, it was quite chewed up. Also, most of the internal linings look newer than the bass. Possible done when it was last restored.

-- The pegbox shows quite a few repairs and modifications showing that it had at least 2 other sets of gears before the current ones on there.

With all this discovery from a closer examination, we believe the label might be original as well as the period of make and erasing some original doubts. Also, there were sloped shouldered basses made at that time but this seems to be made an an exhibition or masters test model for show or display.

Here are some pictures of the inside including the Top after it was repaired with new half edging, bass bar and some clean-up.
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  #12  
Old 01-10-2013, 10:34 PM
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Nice bass. I like the FFs very much.

I don't get how the top could be made from a harpsichord top - if you mean harpsichord soundboard, then wouldn't it be way too thin to carve a bass top arching from?

I'm glad you're replacing the neck. I never did like that knurled knob :-)

Who's doing the restore work?
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:21 AM
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Tucker View Post
Nice bass. I like the FFs very much.

I don't get how the top could be made from a harpsichord top - if you mean harpsichord soundboard, then wouldn't it be way too thin to carve a bass top arching from?

I'm glad you're replacing the neck. I never did like that knurled knob :-)

Who's doing the restore work?
Yes Matt, I meant soundboard. The top inside a keyboard. I don't know what the thickness of the planks were for a Harpsichord 300 years ago but it was a piano restorer that made that comment. He is an friend of the restorer, Mike MaGee in Pittsburgh.

The pic from above is some of his work, the half-edging and the bass bar. Some fitting and trimming is yet to be done when the Top gets fitted to the Ribs.

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Old 01-17-2013, 06:54 AM
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From here, that top looks a bit like a viol top, sometimes made from bent planks fitted together. So I guess it could be made from a harpsichord soundboard.

Incidentally my godfather is Andrea Goble of Robert Goble and Sons in England

http://www.gobleharpsichords.co.uk/index.html

When I was there a few years ago I was shown some very nice instruments ... and some LOGS of ebony!
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:43 PM
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Tucker View Post
From here, that top looks a bit like a viol top, sometimes made from bent planks fitted together. So I guess it could be made from a harpsichord soundboard.

Incidentally my godfather is Andrea Goble of Robert Goble and Sons in England

http://www.gobleharpsichords.co.uk/index.html

When I was there a few years ago I was shown some very nice instruments ... and some LOGS of ebony!
If possible, have them research Cristofori who invented the Piano from the Harpsichord. I think it was just 5 octaves. Malvolti was his apprentice in violins and he had another for the keys.

Here is the article that connects it all.
http://arteliutaria.com/article_cristofori_scuola.shtml

Unfortunately, all of the violin books were written before this research was done. Prior to this article, the history on Malvolti was limited. Now we know that for most of his working life, he was employed between Cristofori and the Medici family. This helps to explain why so little of his work is known. Maybe 4 Violins I have heard of listed and this one Bass that appears to be made as much for show as to be played.
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