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Hungarian Solo Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by AMJBASS, Oct 24, 2005.


  1. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I came across this instrument just last week and liked it so much that I bought it! It is a small 3/4 or 5/8 Hungarian bass that has been antiqued. You can see the use of "candle black" inside to make it look older, as well as quite a few cleats that aren't holding any cracks together! The bass has nice straight grained Spruce top with a really nice 1 piece maple flat back. Good quality maple with some nice figuring. The sides are matching. Beautiful Viennese style scroll. The body is fairly small but still has a 41" string length. It really is a wonderful bass with a very loud and warm tone. While not nearly as deep sounding as my other bass, it projects better and has a sweeter sounding upper register. Check it out:
     
  2. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    A couple more pictures...
     
  3. 61pollmann

    61pollmann Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    Wisconsin
    Is this one of the newer Hungarian basses brought recently into NA? I understand that they are very good at faking age. Regardless of this, I've heard that some are quite good sounding. How did you find it? Do you mind saying how much?

    Thanks,

    George
     
  4. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    I've never heard the bass, nor have I any knowledge on luthiery (is that a word?) but that bass sure is beautiful! congrats!
     
  5. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    hey, where did you get that? how much? who is the maker / brand? i think i want one!
     
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    IMO, that pegbox is sexy, in a really funky way. ;) :p
     
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    It looks a tad similar to my recent Hungarian purchase which also came from Canada. This is how it looked when I got it; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/Mystery2.htm

    This is how it looks after 8k worth of work on it; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/Hungarian.htm

    Most of the work was internal. I hope your Bass is as nice inside as it is outside. Mine looked sweet on the outside but a nighmare on the inside. Still, after all the work, it sounds good and plays great. That's all that matters I guess. Best of luck with your new Goulash...
     
  8. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    what was wrong with the insides of your bass ken? and were you the first owner? also, to the origional poster, are you the first owner of your bass? (new or old?)
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    First, the guy selling it had an Old Italian bass for sale about a year earlier. It was a wreck but worth the restoration. When I saw his ad for a 19th century Italian Bass and called him, he said this was his other Bass he uses acquired from Gagnon as well in the 70s in Canada. I believed him. As agreed, his wife drove the Bass down to me. He had the Bass looked at so he said and changed it to European maybe 50 years old b4 we made the deal. Still, I liked the Bass and it was a fair price.

    When I showed pics to Biase b4 buying it he said "I know that Scroll. It's a newer Hungarian Bass". When I showed the Bass in person to Arnold he was sure it was not much more than 40 years old but maybe only 20. When he took off the top........ YIKES.......
    I had wiped some black dirt from around the edges b4. Gun powder? The Bass bar was touching in about 2 spots. We were making it a 5-string so it didn't matter as we had to change it anyway. The Center crossbar was too low and the Sound post on its edge. It was replaced. The lower block was replaced. The top was not graduated evenly as expected but too thin around the center edges above to below the ff holes. This was beefed up. As he regraduated the Bass, you could see the fresh white wood. The stuff they put inside blocks the natural aging I think and seals the grain. The wood almost had a fresh smell as if opening up a bottle. The neck was too big and thinned. I had Arnold put Graphite in it as well. Worked great for the Morelli so it's my usual now as I have done this with my EBs since 1980. The back cross bars had to be glued down in spots and you could see the age-stain they used as some dripped under the loosely glued bar. The entire Bass was put together with some type of local white glue. The Bass had a few cracks repaired but looked deliberate. The top seems to have been on and off a few times as well as the gears changed. All these repairs and defects were built into the Bass to make it appear older. It also got a beautiful 5-string Ebony Board, New Adjustable Bridge, Pecanic tailpiece, the peg box lengthened inside for the 5th gear, new gears, strings, sound post, etc, etc, etc.

    The Bass does not sound new at all but then again I played 3 new Basses by Arnold, one by Jeff and one by Thomas Martin and heard one by Jackstat and they didn't sound new either. So I guess a good bass is a good Bass. None of them sounded 100-200 years old but they did not have that rough 'green' sound many newer Basses have. This Bass had one of the most powerful sounds of all my Basses. It was as loud as my Martini but not as sweet tonally. I am using this as my 5-string orchestral Bass unless I find a buyer and trade up. I like having a 5-string for that occasional time the Extension seems difficult to manage.
     
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    About the third time I took the Bass to Rehearsal I was tuning and it went flat quickly. After an hour I had retuned 4 times. I looked back at the button and saw the Neck coming out of the Block in the rear. Only lifter about 1mm but gave me a scare.

    This is how it looked b4; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/5str_imgs/m2_hp.JPG

    I could see the butt end of the neck slightly over the back button. Fresh white wood was staring at me. I told the conductor as we were just taking a break that I should go b4 I kill a Cello or Viola player. He thought that a good idea as well when I showed him the problem.

    I loosened the Strings and packed up. The next morning after breakfast I drove straight to Arnolds. I called him the night b4 so he would be expecting me. When he got the Neck off he saw first hand the problem. Although it looked tight as a drum during the restoration, we never suspect a shoddy block fit on a Bass like this. By the way, I noticed sawdust on the edges of the cross bars and against the Bass bar joint. Turns out it was barely touching and they shoved sawdust in to hide the poor joint. The Bass neither rattled nor had a wolf tone. It was a Cannon!!

    The Neck/Block job is near completed as Arnold has re-built the Block back towards the button. The Maple cappings will probably not survive the 'surgery' and will be replaced with ebony. I told Arnold I could live with that...lol

    Sorry for the long post but this was a loaded question. Perhaps others can learn from my experience. I was lucky to get the Bass at a fair price and not pay for a 19th century Italian bass as advertised. Still, I would have liked to pay a bit less than I did but Hines sight is 20/20. I now have a beautifully restored/converted modern 5-string with Italian dimensions. :hyper:
     
  11. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    very cool ken.. graphite in the neck huh? i'm having a new fingerboard put onto one of my basses. nothing wrong the the board on there now, but i want more mass. perhaps graphite would help too, but i doubt that gage does that type of thing....also, i just checked the contra bass shop site (the one in england) and saw a 5 string newer hungarian with the same kind of scroll as the one the origional poster has, and it's not so cheap!
     
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Yes, I have seen that Bass but it is beautiful and restored as necessary. They do a great job selling only healthy restored Basses. I think the est. 18K/U$D they are asking for is a fair price for a Bass like that. If you’re in USA, add a bit to get it over here. After they are done restoring it, only the Wood is from Hungary, and maybe the Varnish but who's complaining. Mine had the same exact gears when I got it and after restoration is listed at 16K so it's not far off. I tried a 1977 Pollmann 5er for 18k so they are all in the ball park.

    If you look up at the turns and ears of the Scroll, you will see how all 3 Basses mentioned here are similar. Same region or same shop or same Scroll carver supplying them all.
     
  13. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    cool, thanks for the info... i cant wait for the origional poster to get back to us with more info on his bass including price and hopefully maker.
     
  14. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Ken, my bass has that blackened look inside. I am not sure what it is...my best guess is candle black. Like yours, the center cross bar is a bit low, but not enough to warrant moving it. Other than a couple of open seams the bass is solid. The top is a little thin towards the center, but there isn't any sinkage, and it has been at full tension for a few years now(I saw it 2-3 years ago but didn't play it). It is very loud for a small bass. Really projects. It is currently at Heinl's in Toronto having some setup work done.....Nut, bridge, fingerboard dressed, new soundpost, new Gotz endpin, and a couple of back seams closed. I knew what it was when I bought it even though it was advertised as a much older instrument. Heinl's confirmed my observation as soon as I took it out of the case! It must have been made by the same makers as yours Ken. It has the same varnish and aging techniques. Can't wait to get it back!
     
  15. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Shwashwa, I don't we could find out who made the bass. The Hungarian makers are building these things to look like old German basses and Italian basses. They are being falsly advertised on purpose to make the buyer think they are getting a much older instrument.
     
  16. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    do you mind telling us the ballpark price you paid?
     
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Adrian, when I questioned the age of my Bass, the seller said he took it to Heinl's in Toronto. After the visit he came up with the newer Bass from Europe story but did not say more. They might remember the Bass if you show them my Mystery II pics/page. Anyway, mine has a high arch in the center and was strong with the Bass bar barely touching.

    I guess they are not as consistent as makers as they are as fakers.. Poetic huh?
     
  18. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Steve and Troy at Heinls both told me that they have seen, and worked on several of these basses. Steve said he wouldn't be surprised if they were only a few years old. Actually, I remember a bass very similar to yours if not the exact same model last time I was at the shop. These instruments are usually quite impressive. I am not sure why they don't just drop the antiquing and sell them for what they are.
     
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I got mine this last February 2005. I agree they are good enough makers to sell on their own merits if they just stop making these fakes which fools no one except a few and even then the prices are lower than modern German Basses and often in the mid-upper Chinese range. With restoration they are 15-20k Basses as far as the newer stuff goes.

    The Hungarians made great Instruments in the 18th and 19th century following the Italians like the Viennese did. The Basses were usually Gamba shaped from Vienna but Hungry did make some Basses in the Violin/Italian outline as well. Perhaps the 20th century cold war has suppressed their self confidence or they need to fake the age to get the price in the competitive world we now live in...??
     
  20. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA