identifying old basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by toman, Sep 30, 2003.

  1. Recently I was reading some material on the web about old English basses. One thing that I found interesting was that some of the great basses were such exact copies of the italian models that they could hardly be told apart. This leads me to the question; How are basses (and other instruments) truly identified? Because I know many of them are made to be as identical as possible to allready existing instruments, so what are the details that separate them from the real thing? Obviously labels mean nothing, because I've seen really expensive, big name instruments sell at auction with no label. And I would think a maker would try to leave no detail different from the original. So how does anyone know which ones are the real deal?

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    There are several ways of determining wether an instrument is original. I am not by any means a professional, but you can tell differences between makers by looking at the scroll, tool marks, table graduation, etc.
  3. yeah, I realize those things are going to be good clues. But if someone is making an exact copy of an instrument, something good enough to pass off as the real thing like some of those instruments were, wouldn't he make a point of making all those little details perfect?
  4. Yes, making for some great stories. No doubt our luthiers have many.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I can't remember exactly where, but there was a Doublebassist article on a bass that at one time in its history was stolen by a luthier who did exactly that - make copies of original instruments and push those copies on the unsuspecting owners who brought the original in for repairs.

    Goes to show talent can come in many forms.
  6. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    If the instrument is of very high value, then dendrochronological science can be applied to determine if the instrument was made during the correct time period. Though it doesn't positively give a "yes" andswer as to who made it, the process can weed out some fakes.

    Here's a bit more regarding Strads and dendrochronology.
  7. And I was told of an 18th century English violin maker, who was given a Strad by its owner and told to make a copy. So he made two copies...
  8. Where were you reading? What site? I'm always curious to learn about old instruments too.
  9. I think this description of a really beautiful Fendt and it's maker was what got me think about it, and from there I just started looking for whatever I could find on the subject.
  10. Oh, and thanks for the replies guys. I hadn't thought about forensic type high tech stuff like John was talking about, but that makes sense especially for super high dollar stuff...