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  #1  
Old 03-09-2013, 09:41 PM
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Arrow old Viennese school bass

I played this bass today and I am not totally sure what it is. Just that it is old and from the Viennese school. It could be from Vienna, Prague or even Hungary but I will have to research this over time with more than just the picture below. Nice bass regardless..
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  #2  
Old 04-22-2013, 07:25 PM
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Thumbs up New Pics..

Ok, this Bass is home now and it is one sweet Bass.
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  #3  
Old 04-23-2013, 11:48 PM
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Lightbulb Possible/Probable ID

After quite a bit of research I think this is really a Prague-made Viennese 'style' bass and not a Viennese made instrument. There was one Bohemian maker that worked for a short time in Vienna as well as other border places who finally settled in Prague. I found another bass from this maker that in detail, style and measurements, could easily be its twin. That maker is Joseph Anton Laske. I would usually go with school of origin or maker but in this case finding another bass that is its twin and labelled as well, I have to say 'attributed to' for lack of having an original label inside the instrument. In an auction house with a twin to compare it to, would more likely list it as "probably or possibly by" or, "IS BY" the named maker.

The details that match are the near exact shape, F-holes, measurements, scroll, pegbox fluting from the top and then flat all down the back, the top purfled and the back not and the back angle break position to name the main features. Of the 4 other Laske basses I have seen (pictured only), 3 of them, have the exact same scroll/pegbox as this bass. Only one is of this exact size and model within a few millimeters. Being over 200 years old, time, repairs and usage has added to its slight distortion of exact measurements. From condition alone, I would say this is the oldest of the 5 basses but in style, I think it's in the middle. The near twin to this bass is dated 1788 on the label. If I had to make a wild guess, I would date this to the same or a year before, about 1787.

I have sent some emails out to people in Europe that knows these types of basses well. When I first sent that pic of me playing it, they thought it was probably not Vienna but more likely from Prague. I should get some confirmation on this soon.
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  #4  
Old 04-24-2013, 08:40 AM
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Whatever the hell it is, it's a beauty, Kenny.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Warburton View Post
Whatever the hell it is, it's a beauty, Kenny.
Thanks Paul. It was love at first sight. I just had to have it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:04 AM
Steve Alcott Steve Alcott is offline
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How's it taking to the steel strings? I ask out of curiosity because I know this bass well as a gut strung early music instrument.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Alcott View Post
How's it taking to the steel strings? I ask out of curiosity because I know this bass well as a gut strung early music instrument.
It is taking them like a champ. Although it was used previously with guts as you say, it was not that way when it was last acquired. Basses from this period regardless of origin ALL had gut strings originally and they are all over the worlds orchestras and stages now. I played on gut in high school because all of the basses there had gut. They were mostly old Juzek gambas (Langs?) then, probably pre-war because the basses were old in 1966 when I got there.

I have it strung currently with Passione regular gauge. Perhaps you could tell me how it sounded for normal playing when you knew the bass with guts on it?

It sounds pretty good now but until I take it on a gig, I wont know how it works in a section.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:28 PM
Steve Alcott Steve Alcott is offline
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My impression of it was that it had a nice but not huge sound, good for early and chamber music.

I do know, BTW, that all basses had gut strings before the advent of steel and other non-organic materials.
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Alcott View Post
My impression of it was that it had a nice but not huge sound, good for early and chamber music.

I do know, BTW, that all basses had gut strings before the advent of steel and other non-organic materials.
The sound now is pretty big but for a bass its size. Larger basses can have that thicker organ-like bottom. This bass I think still has more to give and is not small sounding in any way.
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Old 04-24-2013, 10:27 PM
Gregory Dale Beasley Gregory Dale Beasley is offline
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I know nothing of basses this old so pardon my ignorance. Do I see repairs to the top and back at some point? Or is that just age?
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  #11  
Old 04-24-2013, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregory Dale Beasley View Post
I know nothing of basses this old so pardon my ignorance. Do I see repairs to the top and back at some point? Or is that just age?
Yes, many many repairs. This is fairly common with old basses. Depending on how they are built, how that are cared for, how they are repaired and how they travel around the world climate to climate and all combined is what determines how much 'experience' will show on an old bass like this.

Many of the trade basses made later in both France and Germany from the mid to late 19th century thru the 20th were made more robust for travel and export to the USA and around the world. The sound though on these basses will not develop usually in ones lifetime and many have had modifications to achieve a better more pleasing mature type tone.

The bass listed here within is one of those older handmade basses that were built on the lighter side by today's standards. Had it stayed in one place all its life, it might have gone thru much less trauma. Still, the sound is beautiful and the bass is holding up well despite its current looks. Only a full fresh complete restoration could make it look better. If that were to happen, it would take a few years or more for the sound to come back to where it is now.

Usually when I get in an old bass that is in fairly good repair, I only fix what is necessary and then play it. In this case, a few cracks that were previously repaired were re-glued to tighten up, the fingerboard and nut replaced, a new adjustable bridge and tailwire put on to complete the set-up. I left the endpin and the gears alone as they work just fine. If something breaks and the bass has to come apart, then I would consider a full restoration while the bass is apart.

For now, it's set-up and ready to play.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:34 PM
Steve Alcott Steve Alcott is offline
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Good. I'm glad it sounds good and is getting played.
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  #13  
Old 04-25-2013, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Alcott View Post
Good. I'm glad it sounds good and is getting played.
I need a C-extension for this week but my on next concert (with a different Orchestra), there are no low notes in the program so I will bring this bass out for that. Next season it will get more play. Putting a c-extension on it in the future is not out of the question either. Then I can do more with it. I will probably bring this bass home as my practice bass for the summer rather than leave it in the rack in the office. I have plenty of other basses I would rather sell and keep this one for myself.

How many times have I said that? lol
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:43 PM
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Arrow Prague Bass, c.1850 (Viennese model), opinion changed!

Here is a beautiful old Vieneese/Prague style bass. In researching this bass originally, we found one that was labeled "Joseph Anton Laske, Prague 1788" and then another near identical bass labeled "Eduard Heidegger, Linz 1877". With nearly a century between the two basses of the same model, what is one to think? Well, the condition of the Linz bass looked far younger than the Prague bass. The Laske labeled bass and this Prague bass here are more similar in age. I have also since found a few more basses of similar design and scrolls combined which was what connected them in the first place. I also have a book with two actual Laske basses pictured but they look older in design than all of theses basses. So, I think the labeled Laske bass is possibly incorrect and the Heidegger bass from Linz is actually a Prague made bass with the dealer's label in it like you would find with imported basses from Hawkes to Morelli to Juzek. Basses made by others for the trade by design.

Since than, I have looked back at a few basses made by Jan Bina who worked in the 19th century in Prague but also traveled earlier and worked in Vienna, Pressburg and Budapest before settling back in Prague around 1853. We have since acquired another Prague bass that was nearly identical to this bass with the exception of the Scroll which was not Viennese style and we have attributed that bass to Bina. I have seen Bina basses with both normal and Viennese style Violone scrolls. So, this bass can also be attributed to Bina matching up the work of the two basses.

String Length; 41 1/4"
Top/Back Length; 42 1/2" top, 44 1/4" back
Upper Bout; 20 1/2"
Middle Bout; 14 1/2"
Lower Bout; 25 3/4"
Ribs; 8", 6 5/8" at neck



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