420 Year Old Gasparo da Salo - as played by Owen Lee

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by CaseyVancouver, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Here is a wonderful 7 minute video of Owen Lee playing a 1590 Gasparo da Salo after it's 2.5 year restoration at the Cincinnati Bass Cellar. I recall my teacher Alex Nichol many years ago talking about early basses that were originally strung with 3 gut strings. This must be one of them! Or was this a 6 string violone?
    Owen plays some Koussevitzky, Bach and Beethoven...very beautifully.

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  2. Powerful
  3. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    For sale, hunh?


    Sure, let me just get my MasterCard and see if they'll up my credit limit by $700K.
  5. MR PC

    MR PC Inactive

    Dec 1, 2007
    Bunny, ah sweet Bunny. So tempting..:)
    bass08053 and misterbadger like this.
  6. Beautiful but to me restoration is returning something to it's original form. Restoration of this bass would be the new bass bar and everything sprung up to accommodate three gut strings as you say. Probably a new neck with increased string length if it has been changed not just modified to accept four strings.

    So many great new instruments out there and great luthiers etc, copies can be made to fit regular bassists needs but what's the point in copying something that's not original. The modern sound of this bass is great but the original sound of this bass is just impossible to achieve on any modern instrument. How can you make a step forward if you don't know your roots.

  7. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Modernizing an instrument so it's usable by living, working musicians? Works for me. Nothing sadder than a viable instrument dying in a museum. That said, I do wish demonstrations began with simply playing the open strings and a major scale, two/three octaves, just to get a basic idea of what the instrument sounds like.
  8. well since we now live in the new reality with lots of interest to period music and historic performance practices its hard to believe the bass wouldve been dying in the museum. Id say why make a tool for an average wotrking musician out of a unique anicent instrument. This idea is about 200 years old, coming form XIX century old violins modiernisation to force them sound like the modern instrument of the day. Again, restoration would be returning this bass to its original conition, in this case that was just the repair job, to me.

    regarding the sound demonstration, since the double bass is not a solo instrument, i would love to hear it played in the orchestra or any group rather that listening to open strings scales or koussevitsky solo


  9. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    I sympathise with the idea that a restoration should bring the instrument back to its original state, rather than to a state which may be currently more desirable. But practically there are more considerations:
    • Uncertainty: what was the original state? Instruments like this come with centuries of repairs & modifications, and the 'original' is not necessarily well documented.
    • Time. After centuries, these old instruments have deteriorated, and repairs were done in order to remain usable. Now we may hope or believe that these repairs do not impact the sound & character of the instrument, but in reality they will, to some extent. Even a small cleat over a crack impacts the sonic properties of a top. At that location, the top has become a little bit heavier, and a little bit stiffer. On its own it will make a very small difference, probably not noticeable, but many small steps culminate in a bigger change. After enough time, the original is gone... A modern replica of an ancient instrument (there are luthiers who specialise in that) might be closer to the original, and can be more cost effective.
    • Economy. Restoration work is initiated by the owner (be it a luthier, a musician, an orchestra, or a museum), and it costs money to execute it. He who pays for it will drive which way the work is going, and that may bias in the direction of the currently more desirable. Of course, if so preferred by the owner.
    In demonstrations of an instrument I would prefer the focus to be on the voice of the instrument, rather than demonstrating the capabilities of the musician, or demonstrating how nicely it fits in a mix. True, those are also viable demonstrations, but if the topic is the instrument, for me then that's where the prime focus should be. But of course you will never hear the instrument alone, only what the player does with it. And then there's the room acoustics, and the pick-up/mic system, and ... .
  10. If anyone uses the phrases "upright bass" and "violin corners" in the same minute, da Salo and Maggini basses are what my brain envisions. The Brescian profile is truly iconic.
  11. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    What a wonderful sound! Love the thump in the low registers which really have character. Electric guy here, but always have admired good DB and cello music. Columbus Ohio Orchestra has like 8-10 DB's on stage during concerts I have attended and they grumble and rumble and accent and soaringly sing. A real pleasure. I'll never be a DB'er but love'em.
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  12. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    the few recordings we have of d'salo double basses are all by a wide margin the best sounding i've ever heard.

    the upper register is so focused, full of life and character. the low end is so present, it seems to grab the listener in such a strong way. it demands your attention.

    stunning. i wish da salo copies were more common. i love big, giant italian basses.
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  13. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  14. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Yeah me too! I have a copy Busan 7/8ths that is nice and punchy.

    Mine was made in 2001 by Peter Chandler in Ontario. Edward Tait then assistant Principle of the TSO wanted to restore his 1750 Busan bass, and Joel Quarrington suggested he get a copy made to play while the Busan was in restoration. Chandler drafted up Tait's Busan and made him a copy of his bass. My Busan copy was made with Reid Hudson wood from Vancouver Island and I also have a nice professional construction drawing of Tait's Busan.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
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