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Gretch Tone King Upright bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by M Ramsey, Jun 20, 2005.


  1. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

    Mar 12, 2005
    North Carolina
    Evening all,

    I own a Gretch Tone King bass, much like a Kay C-1. Is there anyone that knows of a site on the internet or someone who could give me some information?

    For anyone interested, there are a few pics on our website (see link below)

    Thanks,

    Mike Ramsey
    The Linville Ridge Band
    http://www.LinvilleRidgeBand.com
    http://www.CDBaby.com/LinvilleRidge2
     
  2. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Hi Mike --

    Info on Gretsch DBs is pretty hard to come by. I may have a link or two buried in the bookmarks somewhere - if I can find anything I'll post 'em here.

    Meanwhile, Gretsch-branded basses were made by Kay, hence the similarities. I believe the model name "Challenger" was also used by Gretsch. Most I've seen are similar to yours, with plain maple veneers all around and lack of any of the inlaid purfling Kay adorned their upper-level models with.

    Cool bass - certainly rare among the old American plywoods.

    Oh - and speaking of rare (sorry to hijack) - a young man stopped by my booth at the ISB show a couple weeks ago and showed me his *fully carved* Gibson double bass. Now, Gibson plywoods are rare enough, but fully carved?? I never even knew they existed. Incidentally, being a Gibson, the bass had been built (likely some 50+ years ago) right there in Kalamazoo.
     
  3. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Wish I had seen that Gibson, Brent. Did you happen to snag any info on this guy? I'd like to see some pics. I believe(noted jazz bassist)George Duvivier had a Gibson prototype bass that sold for $10k after his death several years ago. It was reported to be very loud. I worked for a former jazz producer in NY that experimented in the studio by hanging an ambient mic over the orchestra. All he could hear was that bass.

    I've tried a couple of the plywoods and they were very light in weight and didn't have a lot of sound.

    BTW, nice meeting you in the flesh at ISB. Hope you did well there.

    Ike
     
  4. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Sorry Ike - I didn't catch the fella's info. The bass was in good shape. I didn't play it, nor did he while he was by the booth, so I can't speak to its sound.

    It was nice to have met you in person as well. :)
     
  5. BTW, the Challenger model name was used on a very early (1937) bass under the K. Meyer brand name.
     
  6. Ike, i've heard you mention that bass of Georges before. I used to do those Dick Gibson Jazz Parties and Concerts here in Denver with George (among many other great bassists, including Ray) George would always bring this little dark bass that he would drive here in his Cadillac. (He wouldn't fly)
    I never asked him, but maybe that was the bass you're talking about. Nothing fancy, sloping shoulders, very dark, violin corners. I always had it pegged as French. It was carved. I have many pictures with George and all the bassists, but none of that bass.
    Anybody got any pics of Georges bass? I'm starting to think that bass is the one you're talking about.
     
  7. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Hey Paul - here's a coupla pics of a Gibson ply that was on ebay a year or so back... Did George's bass (aside from the color) resemble this at all? Pretty distinctive outline...
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Not even close Brent. As I said, Georges reminded me of a French bass in terms of very sloping shoulders, and the varnish, which looked original, was very dark.
     
  9. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Ahh - I caught the dark varnish part, but must've skipped the other descriptors in a dash to find my Gibson pics... :(
     
  10. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Paul-

    As chance would have it, this very bass is mentioned in the current Bass Player mag(w/Darryl Jones on cover) in an article on Jay Leonhart, who bought the bass from the GD estate. It's described as a 3/4 size which "was made in the Gibson factory by an Italian violin maker who used rare old wood." Also uses Spiros, Realist, and/or mic at the end of the fingerboard.

    Ike
     
  11. I'm sure it's the same bass now, Ike. I did those parties for about ten tears and i'd never seen George without it. George had an Underwood on it during those years.
    I have a friend who has a Dizzy big band video that has George on it. I'm gonna take a look and let you know.
     
  12. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    OK, I've made a couple of inquiries about this bass toward a couple of people who have seen/played it and have worked on it. A bassist friend of mine in Orlando, Bob Burns, studied with George long ago, and this is a snippet from his email to me about what he remembers of the Gibson:

    "George D's bass was overhauled by Sam Kolstein many years ago-
    Barry would be a great resource on it. He called me immediately
    after Georges' death to offer me the Bass for 10k.I didnt exactly
    have that much nor did I understand the potential for historical
    significance of the instrument. I dont know how much Jay wants
    for it but I might be interested. There is a player down here,Charlie
    Silva , who has a Gibson bass that actually belonged to Gene
    Autry. It really is a nice instrument, but in my opinion, you
    would buy Georges' bass for historical value rather than it being
    a wonderful instrument. All that being said , I would still be
    interested in the instrument.ok, i just perused the article,i
    dont think that picture is of the Gibson bass, i remember the
    bass as being a lighter finish, i could be wrong but the Gibson
    basses were made with a 5 piece neck similar to an electric bass.
    Lightnin Chance had a gibson plywood upright. When I played georges
    bass he was using Rotosound upright strings- they tended to really
    roll but were easy on the chops.Sam kolstein in-laid a cello
    top underneath the original top cause it was too thin. Hope that
    helps-call Barry for the details
    Bob"

    And here's Barrie's response to the above comments:

    "Yes, we did all the work on the Duvivier Gibson. There was some inlaying into the top that my father did to restore the structural integrity of the bass and greatly improve the tonal qualities.
    In the early 80's I replaced the endblock of the bass which cracked due to the use of an endpin wheel ( George switched to the Kolstein Stroller unit there after). I also replaced the original neck with a higher quality neck, which is presently on the bass and installed higher quality Baker style gears at such time.
    It is a great bass. In fact, I actually have a laminate version from the same time period in my shop, which in the near future I will be making an extremely high quality laminate copies of this bass to fill the void of the lack of a good laminate bass."

    I hope these comments will answer some questions, or they may add more confusion.

    Ike
     
  13. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Barrie Kolstein had written: "...to fill the void of the lack of a good laminate bass."

    That's rich.
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The only lack of a good laminate bass is in my living room cause I ain't got a New Standard...
     
  15. Get him boys!!
    Ike, I wonder if Barry might have a picture of GD's bass?
    I'm really curious now to see if it's the same bass I knew.

    Here's a pic of: Milt Hinton, PW (with moustache), George Duvivier, Frank Carrol (father of Colorado Symphony bass section principal Jim Carrol. Frank was on one side of Charlie Parker with Strings. (Ray was on the other) Bob Haggart and Bucky Pizzarelli. (out of his element with all these bass pickers.) Taken at a Dick Gibson party in about 1987.

    That's not a cancerous growth on the Judges forehead...just a bad picture.
    I miss these parties terribly, but with all the greats we've lost the last few years, it's probably better....i'd miss all these guys. The only reason Ray Brown isn't in this picture is because he was playing a set.
     
  16. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

    Mar 12, 2005
    North Carolina
    I'm glad there's a bunch of discussion going on here about Gibson basses. There's one near me. It is owned by John Shuffler, brother of cross picking great George Shuffler, both guys of Stanley Brothers fame in the bluegrass world. They both served time early on, playing bass for the Stanley Brothers, playing in a very jazzy, walking bass style.

    My question now is back to the original thread. Does anyone know of any new information about the Gretch Tone King basses? I have one, know only that they are kind of scarce and not much else. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Mike Ramsey
    The Linville Ridge Band
    http://www.LinvilleRidgeBand.com
    http://.www.CDBaby.com/LinvilleRidge2