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  #1  
Old 01-20-2007, 09:40 AM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Lightbulb Pfretzschner & Morelli

A few years ago I took in trade a large 7/8ths Bass with a Morelli Label. I had seen at least one other Morelli back in the '70s but it was a completely different Bass. Soon after acquiring this Bass I started my study on them and found quite a few identical Basses labeled G.A. Pfretzschner. I also found a few others that were labeled Morelli as well. In searching my violin makers books I would learn that G.A. Pfretzschner and all the other Pfretzschners were Bow makers exclusively but with one exception. There were 3 generations of C.F. Pfretzschners recorded in the books from the late 18th century and into the early 20th century as well. They are known as C.F. I, II and III. I believe that the shop of C.F. III made many instruments for export into USA to distributors and at least two labels were used. Andreas Morelli and G.A. Pfretzschner.

I have also seen two other Morelli type Basses that I know for a fact were made by either Karl Herrmann being the better quality Morelli Basses and Saumer Morelli being the last shop to produce them in Germany for the US market.

Here's the webpage on my fully restored Morelli which has come and gone. By the way, this was a machined carved Bass with an integral Bass Bar. When the restoration was completed, it sounded like an Italian Bass. Arnold noted how good the wood was that was used in the Bass so re-graduation was possible due to the over thick Top and Back.

http://www.kensmithbasses.com/Double...orelliBass.htm

For other Shop type Basses, read about Juzek/Wilfer here..

Last edited by Ken Smith; 08-11-2007 at 12:54 PM. Reason: link added
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:53 AM
Jeff Campbell Jeff Campbell is offline
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Default Morelli Bass 1910

Hi Ken,

Here are some photos of my Morelli bass. I paid $300.00 for this about 20 years ago. It was in very rough shape and someone had refinished it. Originally, it was a golden color. I know this because the old varnish was visible under the original tuning machine half-plates. Eventually, I replaced the half plate machines with some very old ones I found at a local guitar shop. They look 'Frenchy' to me but am not sure of their origins. They were attached to a very old scroll and neck which I gave to Paul Strelau and he put the scroll on a big five string bass he and Jesse made.

A few years ago, the Morelli bass was damaged and the scroll at the neck joint was broken. My repair person felt that the only way to guarantee the work was to replace the entire neck and scroll. I still have the old scroll.

The bass has both a stamp and a label. The label is dated 1910.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/4019654...7621000224037/
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  #3  
Old 07-08-2009, 12:41 PM
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Thumbs up ok..

The Gears are very nice old German work, not French but French style. The Bass is a bit Wilfer-like but looks like it could be Herrmann as well who made Basses for the US importer that Labeled it here in USA. They bought basses and later labeled them in USA. I have seen a few like this but not many. The date was added by the distributor as well. The same one that sold and labeled all of the Pfretschner basses. Some of them got Morelli labels as well. I have seen identical basses with either label.

On your bass, the whole neck/Scroll thing it fine being it is in the German-shop class and not handmade pedigree class. It would cost a bit more to have done the graft and repair. The finish looks fine as well. Probably as good or better than the original and old enough now not to matter,

You have two nice basses there. I spoke with Paul just a few minutes ago as well on some other unrelated business.
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:05 AM
Jeff Campbell Jeff Campbell is offline
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Default Blockless?

Hi Ken,

Were Morelli basses a 'blockless' bass that I've seen you write about?
It seems that this bass has blocks in the all the corners but I'm not sure what a blockless bass is.
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  #5  
Old 07-09-2009, 01:33 AM
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Lightbulb no, and I will explain..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Campbell View Post
Hi Ken,

Were Morelli basses a 'blockless' bass that I've seen you write about?
It seems that this bass has blocks in the all the corners but I'm not sure what a blockless bass is.
The Blockless Basses were mostly made in the south of Germany or in the Tirol between Italy and Germany which would be Austria or maybe even in Fussen. I do not really know for sure. Mittenwald may be involved as well. This is what I have been told. Some of them have been attributed to Bohemia but that doesn't make sense to me.

By the term 'Blockless' they mean in the Neck only. The Neck extends into the Body like an upside down heel that is like a boot aka boot neck. The 'boot' is glued to the back and top holding the two together. The Ribs 'tuck' into the Neck as well being that there is no neck block to glue them to.

These basses are hard to keep in tune as the plates move and take the neck with it every which way. They also fall apart easier and in 100 years, they look 150-200 years old after repairs. Like with most things, they were made in various qualities. The raised upper ribs going into the neck is a sign that the bass was most likely blockless if not still that way unless altered and improved.

Besides the link I provided, do a search for 'blockless' on the forum here and see what you find.

On the Morelli basses from the north, one thing to note is that many of these 'shop' basses were made without real bassbars. A section of wood is left in the top and shaped like a bassbar but it is just mass. It does not slightly oppose the grain like a real supportive bar should. Also, when these basses get repaired for the first time the lump they call a bar is shaved down to top and a new/real bar fitted. The problem at this point is the springing of the bar. This in itself can cause the top to collapse at either or both ends. The 'improved' bar can turn out to be a death sentence for the bass. In other words, unless it can be improved and done correctly, leave well enough alone until it can be done correctly. What is correct is not something that is agreed with by all as far as a bar and spring goes.

For this, read Jeff Bollbach's rant on Bassbars. This guy tells the plain painful truth. I like him for that.
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Old 07-09-2009, 09:17 AM
Arnold Schnitzer Arnold Schnitzer is offline
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Default

I saw an old Sears catalog from around 1900. In it many musical instruments were sold, including several "blockless wonder" basses in standard and deluxe models. I believe they sold for $25 and $35 plus shipping...

I wonder if someone more internet-savvy can find these ads?
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:08 AM
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Wink lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Schnitzer View Post
I saw an old Sears catalog from around 1900. In it many musical instruments were sold, including several "blockless wonder" basses in standard and deluxe models. I believe they sold for $25 and $35 plus shipping...

I wonder if someone more internet-savvy can find these ads?
No, BUT I have an old Dealers catalog with these as well as the importer of the Morelli and Pfretschner lines. Also, the French Lamy basses. The 4-string models are $6. more if ordered than the standard 3-string.

How much was a Hamburger then?
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:20 PM
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Anselm Hauke Anselm Hauke is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
...an old Dealers catalog ...
its off topic here, but regarding old catalogs:
here http://www.luthiers-mirecourt.com/do...lioth%C3%A8que

you can find MANY scans of old french instrument catalogs, scroll down and click...

for example: thibouville catalog from 1901, page 63: 3-, 4 and 5string basses, 130 -770 francs
http://www.luthiers-mirecourt.com/thibouville1901_1.htm
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:54 PM
Jeff Campbell Jeff Campbell is offline
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Default Calogues

Ken,

Are the photos/(drawings) or other descriptions of Morelli basses in your catalogue?
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:08 PM
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Cool no..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Campbell View Post
Ken,

Are the photos/(drawings) or other descriptions of Morelli basses in your catalogue?
No, juts a dealers ad for instruments by various shops. Mainly for Violins but all string instruments were imported by the same firm. They can put any label in any instrument. Like a Juzek, it's just a label. With Morelli, there never was any such person born. With Juzek there was but he didn't make any of the basses or much else for that matter. His Brother Robert ran the NY import company and used John's name on the lables they put in. With Pfretzschner, there were several bow and instrument makers with this last name but the G.A. Pf.. is fiction. There was a commercial shop/factory known as A.G. Pf. but who knew, who cared? People were and still are taught to believe and eat the Bullxxxx that the dealers feed you or the ads you/we read. It is also known as .. 'Marketing' ..!

Basses 'SOLD' with Morelli labels or brands can be wither Violin/roundback, Gamba/roundback or possibly Gamba/flatback but those were usually sold as G.A. Pfretschner's.

The Morelli labled stuff was supposed to be the higher quality of the line according the the dealers ad.
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