Aluminum Acoustic Double Bass Club

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by dhergert, Apr 8, 2019.


  1. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    They must have them in Australia:

    Ali Kat Double Bass


    :bassist:
     
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  2. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    dhergert and james condino like this.
  3. I just bought that one yesterday. :)

    Apparently, the day after I first contacted him, his email notifications went crazy. Inquiries from all over western Washington and then across the world. :wideyed:
     
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  4. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    Congrats, Jay! Hope it sounds as good as it looks.
     
  5. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Yes, Congrats!!! I hope you enjoy your AADB as much as I enjoy mine!
     
  6. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    So, I gotta ask, does anyone with an aluminum acoustic double bass use SuperFlexibles? If so, what are your observations?

    In particular I'm considering either SuperFlexible Solo complete set or a bumped (superlight) SuperFlexible complete set.

    1) My biggest concern is metallic tone both acoustic and amped; I've been able to avoid a lot if not most of the "metallic shock" while playing my Alcoa among my various band and jam mates by using synthetic strings, and I don't want to increase the metallic tone.

    2) My next serious concern is playing comfort/hand-safety; with my synthetic mixed set I can play literally for 4 to 6 hours or possibly more without hand injuries including blisters, and I don't want to give that up.

    3) My last concern (currently) is that my fingers like thick strings and I know I'm going to have to give that up if I use SuperFlexibles.

    Background info:

    My current strings are Innovation SilverSlaps EA under SBW Deluxe Dirty Gut (medium) DG. I'm playing slap / pizz / arco (~45% / ~45% / ~10%). While I don't bow often, I don't want to give up arco, which is working ok with my current strings. I've used this mixed string set for over a year now and have really loved them on all of the above counts.

    Also in the running for me are SilverSlaps EA under gut DG, but that's a whole different discussion.

    I'm not looking at any immediate string change, just sort of testing the waters again. My current synthetic string mix is still going strong. But there is so much else out there among strings that I haven't tried on my Alcoa.

    Edit: I am also interested in pertinent SuperFlexible observations from non-AADB owners.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I took in 5 basses from the estate of a trad jazz player who often used Superflexible solo strings in part or for all four strings. He used various combinations of gut strings and Innovations in all of their forms as well.
     
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  8. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Cool. Did you get a chance to play them?
     
  9. KOakley

    KOakley

    Sep 26, 2002
    Hampton Va
    The evil old welder/fabricator in me is intrigued. Are any blueprints available? From the look of things, my workplace has everything needed except an English Wheel. Kerry
     
  10. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Are you referring to the folks at Alcoa in the 1929-1934 time frame? Or the Pfretzschner builders in Germany during that same time frame?

    To my knowledge, the expert on these old sardine cans is our own @james condino and he has an excellent alluminum instrument webpage here. If there are blueprints to be found, I suspect he would know about them.

    There are patent drawings online here.
     
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I'd guess the blueprints got melted down with the leftover pile of the old parts long before WW2. I've seen all the original remaining factory documents stashed away in a museum and I've never seen spec sheets.

    I've heard of a house fire in Buffalo in the 1950s where a former ALCOA employee had stashed about 50 basses worth of necks and leftover parts that all went up in a blaze......

    'Gotta brand new website that I'm working on just for my aluminum bass buddies:

    Vintage ALCOA & Pfretzschner aluminum bass repair and restoration
     
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  12. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    That blob of melted aluminum was probably just melted Beer Cans.
    (I grew up in Buffalo.)
    Thanks.
     
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  13. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I remember buying $11 kegs of Genessee ale in the early '80s there!
     
  14. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    "$11 kegs of Genesee ale...." I see you're very fond of just about ANYTHING Aluminum!
    Did you ever try Molson or LaBatt's from just across the border in Canada??? Yum!
     
  15. KOakley

    KOakley

    Sep 26, 2002
    Hampton Va
    Melted down...… more's the pity. I showed this thread to my boss, who like myself, is a bassist and mandolin player. We both said at the same time "that looks like it would be fun to make". It's good to see Mandolin Café' people on this site. I will definitely check out James' new site. Thanks, Kerry
     
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  16. gigetto

    gigetto

    Sep 25, 2019
    Italy
    Interesting, i never seen Alu double bass in Italy....
     
  17. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Double basses are generally rare compared to most other instruments... Acoustic aluminum double basses are exponentially even more rare. While I've seen a lot of double basses in person, including mine I've only seen two acoustic aluminum double basses in person: I've personally seen and talked with the owner of a Pfretzschner who occasionally plays it at Disneyland (Anaheim, California). But I never have seen or met in person an owner of another Alcoa, nor of any other acoustic aluminum double bass.

    Almost everything I know historically about aluminum double basses comes from materials that @james condino has painstakingly researched out and generously provided here on TalkBass or on his personal websites...

    Geographically speaking, in Italy you might be more likely to see an aluminum Pfretzschner double bass, which was made in Germany, than an Alcoa double bass, which was made in the USA.

    If I understand correctly, the same retail marketing companies that sold Alcoa double basses to the public in the USA were also importing Pfretzschner double basses from Germany to sell, and my understanding is that if you ordered one from a retailer, you couldn't always be sure which builder's aluminum double bass you were going to get. I do not know if Alcoa double basses were exported overseas.

    While it's just anecdotal, I routinely play my Alcoa at a respectable number of bluegrass festival venues throughout California, I also routinely play it on a number of bluegrass-cruises with destinations ranging from Mexico to Alaska, and it is on my band's newest album which is getting a fair amount of distribution, so this Alcoa is being seen and heard a lot by a fairly large number of music-oriented people. Along those lines, people stop me all the time to talk about my Alcoa and about aluminum double basses in general, but only on extremely rare occasions will someone mention that they've seen one before.

    I think I've read estimates from James Condino that perhaps half of the Alcoa double basses -- roughly 500 of them were built -- are still somewhere alive out in the wild. Of those, whether they're being regularly played or not is a fair question.

    It's important to remember that with musical instruments, availability and demand are the primary drivers for monetary value. By pointing out how rare they are, I'm not trying to imply how much aluminum acoustic double basses are worth, nor how important or valuable they are either to the general double bass community or to the public at large. To many if not most people, they are simply an interesting oddity from a pivotal period in modern history.
     
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  18. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Welcome to official AADB Member #2, @TexasBrad , Alcoa #421 (body #).

    (Sorry for taking so long to add you!!!)
     
  19. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    And along those lines, if anyone else wants an "official" AADB number and membership posting, just PM me.
     
  20. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Welcome to official AADB Member #3 @RSBBass , Pfretzschner AADB.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
    RSBBass likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Sep 26, 2021

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