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Calvin Baker basses made instruments in New England

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mdcbass, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. mdcbass

    mdcbass Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Seacoast of NH
    Does anyone know anything about this maker? Do you own one? Please post pictures.
  2. A picture is worth a thousand sounds :)
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    This was posted on Ken Smith's website several years ago:

    Has anyone here ever seen a Bass by Calvin Baker? There is one pictured in the Elgar book and looks like a German Gamba design.

    C.Baker trained and/or worked with Asa White. I have seen a Bass that was by Asa White the same day I dropped off my Mystery Bass at Biase's almost 4 years ago and only vaguely remember the Bass. It was a small 3/4 or 5/8 and had a dark varnish and a Flatback.

    I have mentioned before that the Scroll on the 'White Bass although smaller to match the Bass was nearly identical to my Scroll which is on a full sized Bass.

    Although my Bass has some English features as well as an early French style outline, American has also been guessed on it several times but with no match other than the White Scroll and by the way, the FFs on the C.Baker Bass which look close.

    One of the reasons I never considered New England as a real possibility was became I have never seen an American Bass as European looking as mine. The thing to know here is that the Boston and NY school of Violin makers were mainly European immigrants that trained in Violin making before coming to USA. Both Asa and Jay White though were trained by their father John who made about 12 or so violins and is noted as the first Violin Maker in Boston but an amateur. Jay and Asa are I think credited as being the first professional makers in that area. The Gemunder Bros. George and August came later. George from France and August from German. Both initially trained by their father in Germany. George also worked for Vuillaume before coming to USA.

    One thing that concerns me is that many of the Basses in the Elgar book are falsely listed. He accepted pictures in the mail with any named attribution and published it as fact. The 5-String Gagliano Bass is actually an English Bass and has been sold at least twice since as an English Panormo by one of the sons. One of the large d'Salo Basses listed that's in a Canadian Museum is old Brescian but not d'Salo.


    also this: http://www.amati.com/maker/information-on-baker-calvin-violin-maker-in-boston-united states.html
  4. mdcbass

    mdcbass Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Seacoast of NH
    This topic has arisen through discussions on Ken Smith's site. My bass and two others share form, size and a carving on the button. They look German and or French but may be the work of the American maker, Calvin Baker.

    One bass was for sale at allthingsbass.com but is no longer listed so the pictures are gone, too. The others, mine and Carl's are at two links on Ken Smith's site.


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  6. egbert


    Dec 14, 2006
    Portland, OR
    There is supposedly a picture of a Calvin Baker in one of the Elgar books; if anybody out there can provide a scan, it would be much appreciated.

    *I believe it's in "Looking at the Double Bass"
  7. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Baker basses are mentioned in the introduction of H.J. Bulter's "New Progressive Method for the Contra Bass" dated 1881.

    "Some very fine instruments have been made in this country, and those made in Boston by Baker deserve especial mention for their fine quality of tone, and their elegant shape."

    H.J. Butler was the principal bassist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra upon it's formation and the German bow is sometimes called the "Butler" bow because of his method which was popular at the time. Butler studied with Josef Emanuel Storch in Germany which puts him in the same school of playing/teaching as Franz Simandl.

    You can view a scanned copy of the method here.

    Perhaps the instrument that H.J. Bulter is playing on the cover photo is a Baker bass.

    - Steve
  8. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Great link, thanks!
  9. egbert


    Dec 14, 2006
    Portland, OR
    Very cool, thanks for the heads up. You obviously can't be certain given the quality of the photograph, but the bass does actually appear to have roughly the same shape as the three basses that may be Bakers. However, the bass on the cover does have hatpegs, which is a deviation.
  10. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005

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