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Dragonetti's Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Alexi David, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
  2. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    "Dragonetti speculated widely in basses -- the major source of his considerable wealth was through the sale of fine instruments. His pride, though, was a magnificent instrument made by Gasparo da Salo, given him by nuns after a stunning performance in their convent.
    Today, the Bass is on display in an upper room in San Marco, Venice, where it was sent by Dragonetti's wish after his death. It stands in a cabinet between a narwhal tusk and an antique Turkish crossbow. No one, not even a renowned Bass scholar, is allowed to touch it; Bottesini himself once asked if he could sample its power and was refused. For 150 years, this fine bass has stood a museum curiosity, tucked away where the only people who will see it are those who know to ask chapel personnel, "Dov'e il contrabasso?" Perhaps a fitting end for Dragonetti's enigmatic legacy."

  3. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Well that's too bad. For me, an instrument is worthless if it's not being played. So I assume no luthiers have touched it to get its specs...argghhh..... :mad:
  4. That is one of several basses attributed to Dragonetti. It is certainly a large bass - probably too large for one person to play. His famous bass was made by Gasparo DaSalo, and is the normal large 3/4 or small 7/8 size.
  5. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Fascinating............what I wouldn't give to hear one of these guys playing these basses with the strings and setup and bows of the period.................
  6. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for sharing the link with us.

    I was lucky to play one of Dragonetti's basses. Not "the one" ....but still one of his. It is currently owned by a bassist in the Toronto Symphony.

    It was a real beauty from the late 1700's. It sang.
  7. Why did the bass in the picture only have 3 strings? Why not the normal or atleast todays normal 4?
  8. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    3 strings was normal at one time. It is now extinct. Basically, they were without the lowest string.
  9. The shoulders on the Viola D'Amore in the museum remind me of my Bohmann.
    Ken, I should be getting the pics of my last Morelli up later today. The only excuse I have is my lack of computer chops!
    A few years back, I saw an ad in an ISB for bass strings. The symphonic bassist endorsing the strings was playing a Gasparo that had been changed over to a FIVER! It had A carved head of some kind on it and an OUTRAGEOUS French polish! Talk about guilding the lily. You know, those old Italian basses are not perfect in terms of perfection of carving and everthing being measured up and very straight. In fact, some of them look like they were carved with a butter knife....I think putting a very heavily shined French polish on one of those Mothers is not a sign of good taste!

    I had the honor of playing two Magginis and a Gasparo in Bresia (Brecia?) Italy. All three were three strings. Gut strings as thick as ropes. None of these basses were real big.
    Ken, what was the mensure of the Gasparo in the book? And what's the best price on that book?
  10. Am I missing something here? I think I see Nessie in the photos. For one, these are exceptionally poor photos and the only scale indicator is the silhouette of a person to the right in photo one.http://charon.sfsu.edu/Corey/london/10-19-02/Pages/Image0.html If you will notice, the person silhouetted is somewhat further from the camera than the bass, and if the same lens took this photo also http://charon.sfsu.edu/Corey/london/10-19-02/Pages/Image4.html then it was a wide angle lens. There is nothing to substantiate the actual dimensions except the word "giant". "Giant" is a subjective description, not an actual measurement. Is there anything that actually establishes what this bass MEASURES?
    As an expert photographer, specializing in architechture, interiors, products (musical instruments included), I respectfully submit that this photo is a very poor indicator of actual size. There is nothing to indicate whether the person pictured is tall, short, etc. There is no good indicator of a perspective line that one could follow from the top of the persons head to a point of intersection in the bass neck. We also know that the bottom of the bass is elevated from the floor, so there is no way we can even establish the height relative to the unknown height of the silhouetted person. Where are the measurements?????

    Be careful what you swallow without chewing..... :smug:
  11. One photo of Dragonetti with a bass, not sure which one:http://www.billbentgen.com/bass/players/dragonetti.htm

    One must be careful when making spot judgements from photos. The bass in this photo looks "giant" as well. However, we must consider the context of the time in which it was taken. Photography at the time required stillness to preserve sharpness. This required either seating a person, or using a head brace because the exposure times were several seconds even in daylight and the use of magnesium powder for flash was still decades away. So again we have the bass in front of the subject, which will exagerate its relative size (something a photographer might do deliberately for dramatic and impressive effect) and it appears we may also have a seated subject. Just curious if anyone knows how tall Dragonetti stood? :eyebrow:
  12. That looks like a Klotz or Seitz to me. Interesting that he was never linked to German basses in anything I've read.
  13. I gotta agree with Ken, at least in the case of Klotz. I think they were either Busetto or Gamba.
  14. Domenico was 6'4". :D
  15. In his day he would have been regarded a giant, and could probably play even the largest instruments with relative ease. I'm still thinking he is seated in that photo with the bass. It looks like a chair back is just to the right of his right arm.
  16. Sorry man....That was a joke!!!
  17. Yeah, sorry guys. I guess I need my eyes checked. I reinspected that picture and realized those bussetto corners are actually violin corners. Oops.

  18. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Here is a real Klotz. Its even for sale if you have the money.


  19. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    LOL.............I bought into it too, which made me think that that bass must be like a 7/4 size bass lol......hmmm.....actiually he looked kinda like a midget......
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The bass pictured with The Dragon seems to have much more slope in the shoulders to me.