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Definitive Double Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by toman, Nov 12, 2003.


  1. Hey guys, I'm curious as to what you would consider to be 'the' bass to have as far as old, master quality orchestra basses go. Now I know it's kind of a subjective thing and there are a lot of great instruments out there, but I'd really like to read about and see pictures of what would be considered the very best. Maybe some of the history or stories behind these kind of instruments? Anything really, I just can't get enough of old basses!
     
  2. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Here's my vote:
    Vincenzo Panormo
    Joseph Panormo
    John Lott Jr.
    Bernard Simon Fendt
    Thomas Kennedy
    The 1690 Rogeri
    A. Prescott
    Not necessarily in the above order.
     
  3. Since the question asked if there was a "THE" bass, my anwswer would have to be that unlike the violin world where Stradivarius is King, there is no single bass or single bass maker that has a consensus of being THE best.
     
  4. I guess I didn't word the original question exactly how I had intended; I know there is no one best bass. I'm just interested in knowing more about the basses that are considered to be the best ever made. ;)
     
  5. When I was in Europe wiith Pharoah Sanders, we played in Brescia, Italy...Pretty much considered the birth place of the double bass due to being the home of Gasparo Da Salo...And i'm not interested in getting in an argument with certain people on the forum about this, so please take this with the caution that it's all in my opinion. Having said that, I did play a Gasparo Da Salo and that would be my numero UNO!
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Domenico Montagnana, Venice, 1740s
     
  7. DaSalo would certainly have be one of the top candidates for THE bass/maker title. In terms of being historically significant, DaSalo is definately at the top of the list.
     
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Interesting that nobody's brought up the Koussevitzky/Karr "Amati."
     
  9. That's the alleged "Amati". More than one expert say that the "Amati" was not made by Amati and further that is no record of Amati ever making a doublebass.
     
  10. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Duane Rosengaard told me he didn't include the Karr Amati in his book because no one who knows Amati's work believes that the Karr bass is an Amati, and none are known to exist. Same with Stradivari, but I've always found it hard to believe that they would not have made basses if someone was willing to pay for one. The Stradivari factory made violins, violas, cellos, guitars, pochettes, cases, hinges, bridges, fingerboards, harps, pegs...you name it.
    Having said that, we bass makers know that there's about six hundred hours in making a bass versus 300 for a cello and a hundred or so for a violin or viola. So a lot of the good old basses were made by carpenters. Strad and Amati may simply have felt that it was a money loser to do it unless the bass player was willing to pay for the difference in time and materials; material cost being a reason why most old Italian basses from the golden period have slab cut tops and plain maple sides and backs, or sides and backs of other material like Lombardy Poplar and willow.
    Peter Lloyd's Rogeri has a slap cut top of 3 or 4 pieces and the wood goes this way and that way, and has a few knots too. It is one of the most fabulous sounding basses in the world.
    I've seen a number of big name Italian basses that I don't believe were made by the makers they are attributed too, because I've seen violins by the same makers and they don't bear any resemblance. Perhaps they were made in the shop by an assistant, shopped out to someone outside the shop, or they are the beneficaries of wishful thinking or outright fraud.
     
  11. While he may not of specifically named the Koussevitzky/Karr "Amati", he did talk extensively about Nicolo Amati and commented that he believed that no contrabasses were made by either Nicolo Amati or his ancestors. He further comments that "a double bass by the Amati workshop would have been prohibitively expensive, if only for the materials, labor and varnish". (pg 68 - Contiabbassi Cremonesi)
     
  12. Since W.E. Hill & Sons is no longer around, can you point to anything in print that shows that Hills certified (issued a W.E. Hill certificate) an Amati bass? However, even if there were a Certificate, does that make it genuine? Does anyone here doubt that there have been fakes that have fooled some experts only to be proved fraud by other experts at a latter time based on more accurate information than was available at the time of the earlier experts?
     
  13. Ken, your post is the first I ever heard of Rays old bass being an Amati...Although after looking again in Elgars book, that picture of Nicolos Amati does have similar lines.
    I asked Ray about that bass, and anybody old enough to have spent some time looking at Ray playing that big beautiful mother of a bass must remember having fantasies about owning it, he said nobody ever came up with a difinitive answer as to the maker. He said that one of the most expert of people he paid money to for valuing for insurance purposes thought it was Scottish!
    Those machines were something! When I was a teenager, instead of taking a Playboy into the bath room, I would take a record jacket with a picture of Rays bass on the back! JUST KIDDING!:D
     
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  15. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    I wondered how long it would take to get a comment on my chocolate remark. I'd write more but I'm going to go play my popcorn bass.
     
  16. I've been a Ray Brown fan since I started playing in the 1950's. I don't ever remember hearing anything like this until reading it here.
     
  17. Shornick

    Shornick Scot Hornick

    Dec 18, 2001
    NJ
    I too remember hearing stories of Ray and his Amati. In Oscar's book, which is a fun read too, he makes a mention of Ray and his Amati fiddle. I hadn't heard about Ella buying it, but why, not they were married for a bit, now if I could only talk my wife into buying me an Amati, hmmm... Who knows what the truth is, I think just about any instrument Ray touched sounded huge right away.
     
  18. Since Paul Warburton actually knew and talked to Ray Brown for many years, I'm inclined to believe him.

    OTOH I'm sure there are a dozen or more basses that were sold as being Amati's at one time or another based upon how they look or some appraisal that was done by a shop in the past. Modern researchers have combed through historical records (census, tax, guild records, existing original instrument patterns, performed CAT scans, etc.) rather than trying to guess who made an instrument on looks. Dishonest and inept dealers have perpetuated questionable appraisals for one reason - Money.
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The participants in the debate may be interested to pick up the Spring (36) edition of Double Bassist magazine which features a Nicolas Amati bass from 1631!! :)

    On the cover and lots of pics!
     
  20. In John Goldsby's book..."The Jazz Bass Book"...he states the following...

    "Peter Ind carries his bass close to his body when he walks onstage, and when he plays, the man seems at one with his 300-year-old Amati."

    Does anyone know of Peter's instrument?


    Chris