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Old 01-01-2009, 02:17 PM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Lightbulb Talk of Fakes (or Antiqued newer Basses) came up......

While bringing in the New Year, talk of Hungarian Fakes came up so I am starting this Thread to continue the discussion.

Ken McKay brought up the dates of the Bisiach Family when I showed a bass with Jeff's first Chromatic C-Extension that he made for me which I loved but then sold the Bass.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken McKay View Post
Nice work by Jeff there. I appreciate the clean lines and simple design that is not fussy nor takes away from the original as much as possible.

Ken , in your link to that bass you state it is signed by Leandro Bisiach who died in 1946. It was signed by Leandro Bisiach Jr. At the top of the page shouldn't it read Bass by Giacomo and Leandro Bisiach? I have seen some cellos that were labeled Giacomo and Leandro Bisiach and a couple violins also. These were the two youngest sons, of four, of Leandro Bisiach. I think Leandro Bisiach Jr died in the 1970's.
Yes, I know the dates of the father and the sons but this Bass is NOT Italian. It came to me from Italy but after showing it to several people, we determined it was not Italian but some kind of copy.

I have some good information on its origin and some good info first hand from 3 sources IN Hungary about this Bass directly and some other suspected antiqued Basses.

Now that we are up to speed, let me fill you on on what I have learned in the following Post..
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:46 PM
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Lightbulb The Gypsy Fake/Antiquing Clan..

Awhile back there was a Bass on Ebay that caught me eye. It was advertised and an Ongaro Bass (18th century Italian) and was still a 3-string Bass. The Gear holes looked like they were drilled yesterday and with no other holes plugged up. That was the first smoking gun. The Varnish or rather 'finish' was dull and 'burnt' looking and the overall Bass just looked a bit, 'exaggerated' to me.

I email the seller and made him an offer. IT was listed for $25k so I offered $30k IF he came with the Bass and I could get it authenticated here and would pay him for the trip as well. In his reply he mentioned that shipping the Bass would be difficult and could result in damage but that I was welcome to come over there and try it out (another 'claimed' Ongaro is pictured in a Book published in Italy a few years ago and I also got to see that exact Bass in person briefly not long ago.)

In today's world $25k is an average price for a handmade Bass by a top Luthier. Some more, some less so his price was ok if it was good but way low if it was real as advertised.

Then in his Reply to which I questioned that 3-stringer he mentions to me, "Hi, and by the way, that Bisiach you got from Italy, it came from me!"

Confirmation in the biggest way. The first day I got that Bisiach something smelled funny, for real. The inside was treated with scents, varnish smells, shavings, dirt, dust.. etc. I blew it out as best as possible with an air hose but almost made myself sick.

After restoration, I sold the Bisiach labeled Bass as most likely a Hungarian Bass recently made but from an unknown origin. The Scroll however may have been older. When Jeff opened her up he pointed out how the Bass was made and antiqued as well as in what order things were done.

Recently I brought in another 'known' antiqued Gypsy Bass but this one a HUGE 5-string. After seeing a few published Hungarian Basses I emailed one of the makers from his website and another who makes and restores Basses over there as well. These are two of the 'good guys', not the fakers.

I asked them about this practice over there after owning a few of them and seeing others as well as hearing about a few HIGH priced counterfeits as well. The Antiqued Basses they say often are made in Romania and then sent to Hungary where they are antiqued internally as well as externally. This includes acid washing the inside of the the Bass to make it look old. Some of the work is not done so well but every one I have played sounded fantastic. The people doing this are not easy to find but they do this practice with all string family instrument. Some of them can fool you without a thorough examination.

My Bisiach labeled Bass dated 1951 sounded comparable for its 'stated' age and origin to my authentic certified 1919 Martini. That is sound only. A first look by an experienced Luther of Basses can see exactly what steps were taken to make this Bass look old. How they make them sound old and sound so so good is a still mystery. Maybe they are just well made Basses for the most part and the 'shadow' over them is just the deceitful antiquing and labeling.
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:52 PM
Eric Rene Roy Eric Rene Roy is offline
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...the 'shadow' over them is just the deceitful antiquing and labeling.
I think the labeling and misrepresentation of pedigree is deceitful, not the antiquing.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:24 PM
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Cool true..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Rene Roy View Post
I think the labeling and misrepresentation of pedigree is deceitful, not the antiquing.
Yes Eric, true but the labeled instruments are Antiqued to deceive.

I had a 5-string in my hands a few months ago that was a huge 4/4 sized Bass with an early 20th century Italian label. The price was too good to be true and it was. I looked over the Bass which by the way sounded and looked fantastic but came to my own conclusion that it was a fake or misplaced labeled Hungarian Bass.

Then I was offered another huge 4/4 5er but was told that the Bass was fairly new. It too was antiqued as well but unlabeled. On both Orchestra concerts I used it on I was asked "How old is that Bass?". It looked and sounded old or rather it did not sound new.

My Pollmann is antiqued somewhat as well as my Lott copy. These two Basses are labeled correctly and honestly. I agree that it's the labeling that is the deceit but they are antiqued as well. This does not stop people from putting labels in at the shop level afterwards. My Lott copy could easily be relabeled as a late 19th century English maker and no one would blink!

To make my point, please look at the 2 Scrolls pictured and try to date them from looks alone. Do not use my website to look up the dates. Try and give your first impression from looks alone. If you can, look at the webpages for each Bass and disregard the names and dates as if they are not there and tell me how old the Bass itself appears to be on its own.




Have fun...
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:01 AM
Ken McKay Ken McKay is offline
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Here is something odd to me. Look at the contrast in work on the same bass. The corner work is first class showing a superb bee-sting, yet the f-fluting looks as if the maker didn't know how to sharpen a gouge or plane.

I have done a lot of faux antiquing myself (still working on making it convincing ) so I have developed an eye for a fake. Most antiquing done for artistic reasons does not involve wood destruction except maybe a few dings and dents. And corners might be worn in a realistic way, but that seems rare to me, at least in violins. And the lack of cracks is also a tell tale as Ken said.

Varnish wears in different ways but creates patterns that are very difficult to duplicate. Good varnish does not stick completely to the ground underneath and flakes off in large sections early on in its life. The sections that do stick, however, seem to stick forever. The sections where the varnish is gone should show old wood.

The wood underneath the varnish is the hardest to get to look old by artificial means. A general aged gold/yellow will do the trick but does not have the subtle dark honey tone of real aged wood.

Makers like the Kramers (Pohlman) have a "stylized" aging that the Germans are known for. It is very nice looking but easily recognizable.
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2009, 02:37 AM
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Cool example..

Forgive me for only having the Back 'bee sting' displayed. The Top and Back rarely match on any Bass as working Maple or Spruce is quite different. The Top usually looks much older than the Back on old Basses because it takes more of a beating.

Look here at the Top and Back pics of the Bass.


There is some gouging in the C-bouts that looks like 'after' graduation work;


On this Bass Ken, the maker was NOT the same person that antiqued the Bass. The Scroll work however matches the antiquing process. The Corner work was done by the maker. A different hand entirely. All the Corners on this Bass are 'stung', Top and Back. The extra gouging in and around the 'F' flutes were done as antiquing after the Bass was made. That was a 'red flag' as well to my eye.

This Bass however sounded great in the Orchestra and even did a few jazz gigs with it. It stood on its own and sounded at least as old as it was 'trying' to look. It was a good Bass, period!
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:47 AM
Matthew Heintz Matthew Heintz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken McKay View Post
Here is something odd to me. Look at the contrast in work on the same bass. The corner work is first class showing a superb bee-sting, yet the f-fluting looks as if the maker didn't know how to sharpen a gouge or plane.
Educate me. I'm ignorant. What exactly are ya'll seeing in the f-fluting?
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