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Cool tool, worth it's weight in gold...also, questions on wood source and your builds

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Basschair, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I got a new Delmhorst moisture meter on Ebay this week and tested it out yesterday. Really easy to use and provides good piece of mind (of course, that's assuming it works :D, but I have no reason to think it doesn't).

    Here's my questions:
    first, has anyone here purchased from Old World Tonewoods? John responded to my email quickly, the woods look nice (more figure than I'd planned, but I'll work it), and the price is right. Basically, I'm just looking for some feedback.

    Second, I know that 1st bass makes other string instruments as well. Does anyone else here also make other string instruments from the violin family? I ask because I'm curious about the uniformity of design: how similar is a cello's construction to a DB, albeit on a smaller scale?
  2. I wonder if the prices on the website are up to date. That's much cheaper than anything I've been able to buy recently.

    I've made a couple of cellos. All of the instruments of the violin family are similar, but a bass has certain unique properties. On a cello (as well as violin and viola), the back and the top are basically the same shape with the exception of the button. The sloping shoulders of the doublebass make the upper body of a bass quite different. Otherwise, construction is very similar. The mould I use for bass is a scaled up version of the one Henry Strobel uses for cellos in his cello book and videos.
  3. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I have some lovely salvaged wood that is too small for bass but will do well for a cello. I've been mulling over the idea of scaling *down* a bass design to make a flatback cello. Why not?
  4. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    The smaller instruments are more similar to one another than to the bass. The sloping shoulders are one obvious difference, the upper break in the back plate is another. (some basses avoid this by a dramatic taper from bottom to top, some have a smooth bend, others a clean break--sharp bend.)

    Many of the skills sets are identical, but on a larger scale (bending ribs, graduating, purfling, etc.) but the sheer size of everything makes it a whole different animal. A violin feels like a toy, now, by comparison.

    On the other hand, the discontinuities are easier to see (from the maker's perspective), and yet harder to notice (from the player's perspective), as the eye tends to look for fair curves, smooth transitions, clean workmanship as a whole. I find that I see my errors more glaringly, (and work to correct them), but others don't tend to see them at all. Strange....

    I am really glad I built violins and violas first--I am not sure I could have done the bass without some help, otherwise--as it was I had a fair number of questions for more experienced makers, and still sometimes got discouraged. The previous experience helped a lot. I think the next bass will be better, and will probably go a good deal more easily.

    I still want to build a cello, but it will have to wait. I have three cellos, a bass and a violin to repair right now, and am not able to touch new instrument making for now. :-(

    Chet Bishop
  5. On a similar note, I once had the opportunity to buy a large 3/4/-7/8 size bass that was in fact made as a super-size cello. Playing it was a very strange sensation and it was very difficult go get around on beyond the heel. The upper bouts were much larger than a typical doublebass, but from a distance it looked like what it was - a large cello. Some of the church basses were built along this line too. Once you've played one, you know what they aren't around today.
  6. Darren Molnar

    Darren Molnar

    Nov 6, 2007
    saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada
    humble instrument maker
    ""I'm curious about the uniformity of design: how similar is a cello's construction to a DB, albeit on a smaller scale?""

    Tuff question to generalize on, only because the basses vary so wonderfully wildly from one another. It would be easier to generalize the differences of, say, a viola to a violin. Or a violin to a cello, than it would be to generalize between two different basses!

    Two examples of a bass design based on a cello. Imagine the first one drawn as a cello, with the sloping shoulders drawn on top of that shape. Second one, imagine drawn as a cello, with the sloping shoulders " taken out" of the upper bouts. Two very different shapes! I'm pretty sure these have both been tried out.

    But, well designed , playable basses seem (?) to follow some rules, sort of. It seems the ratio of the widest width to the length is smaller than a cello. Meaning, if a cello was eight part to ten parts, a bass might be seven parts to nine. ( not actual numbers, just an example). and the ratio between the width of the lower bout and the upper one is greater, some times, sort of.

    I wonder if the bass is actually related to the gamba family, and not to the violin family, some days.

    as far as construction goes, a lot of the tools are the same but sometimes supersized, it's a lot more of a physical activity, for sure. I seem to do a lot more of this :bawl: when I'm making basses. But I think I'm a bit of a wuss, compared to some other makers.:( It is more fun, though, making basses, in its own way. More freedom. No old ghosts looking over my shoulder.
  7. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
  8. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    There was a time when they were commonly referred to as a "bass viol", and in a lot of ways they seem more closely related to the viols. But I am speaking from ignorance, and do not pretend to know for sure.
  9. The 2nd one looks like it might be one of the instruments that Hammond Ashley made as part of the New Violin Family. He was a close friend of Carleen Hutchins and made a couple of the sets as I remember. I believe at one time the big bass that Hammond made was being used by a player in the Seattle Symphony.

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