Info on my Dad's old Double Bass, please!

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Gravey, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. Gravey


    Feb 22, 2005
    Arundel, UK
    Hi, i'm a new member. It would be great if any of you could give me some information about my double bass.
    It was my fathers bass which he played in his own dance band. He bought it in the late 40's or early 50's from the Ivy Benson band, it was already quite old then.
    I have been told it is possibly french from about 1890.
    The bass is STILL a THREE STRING BASS and has never been converted. It has had a very hard life, being carried around in the sidecar of a Harley Davidson probably didn't help!! I would like to tidy the bass up a bit but as I don't play i'm not sure if it is worth a full restoration. If you would like photos I can e-mail to you.
    Any info or comments would be great.
    Thanks, Gravey
  2. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Gravey - I had a problem attaching pictures myself sometime ago. Ed F. suggested that I open an account on It's free and it properly resizes the photos for attachment.

    Give that a try and see if it works.
  3. Gravey


    Feb 22, 2005
    Arundel, UK
    Thanks Tim, have opened an account on "Photobucket" hope it works this time.
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Yes, it looks like you have a nice old French bass. It may be fairly valuable in restored condition. I think it's older than 1890. Probably around the middle of the 19th century. Is the back flat or arched? I can't tell from the pics.
  5. Gravey


    Feb 22, 2005
    Arundel, UK
    Thanks for the reply, the back is flat and curves into the neck slightly at the top. I have just bought a bridge on E-bay but think it is a German design and is cut for four strings. But at least the bass can make some noise now!!
  6. I'm guessing it's a round back. Nice carving around the edges and below the button, and the top view shows no evidence through the G side f hole of a back brace under the sound post.

    Gravey, interesting old instrument. I think we could safely say it's definitely worth restoring, whether you have it done yourself or sell it to someone else who will. Don't know where exactly in the UK you are, but you might consider contacting one of the following:

    Don't attempt any 'tidying up' yourself without at least the guidance of a professional luthier, preferably a bass specialist. You could end up unknowingly doing more harm than good.

    Please keep us posted, I'm sure lots of us here on this site will be interested to know more about this bass and its resurrection. Welcome aboard.

    Edit: Oops, I guess I was posting while Gravey was. Flatback it is.
  7. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Hi Gravey,

    that instrument looks like it could be very nice if restored by someone with decent skills. I dont' know how much money you're looking to sink into it, but it could be a decent sum. However, once fully restored, a bass like that could be worth a lot more than it is. Right now, it looks like its in a fragile state and any attempts to 'clean it up' could make it even more difficult to fix.

    A bass deserves to be played, and will be in better condition if it is played, so I'd get it to someone who can fix it up properly. If you are thinking towards selling it, the restoration work could be a worthwhile investment for letting the bass demonstrate its full potential. If you want to play it (Even better..) then you'll want it playing right.
  8. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Hi Gravey,

    I want to warn you against putting that bridge on, as I'm inclined to think that the soundpost is down. Putting string tension against a bridge that is not supported by the sound post is a recipe for disaster.

    Good luck, keep us posted!
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Looks like mebbe a Jaquet to me. I'll bid on it.
  10. Gravey


    Feb 22, 2005
    Arundel, UK
    Thanks for the info and comments everyone! Just to let you know, the sound post is in place and the strings are not tight.
    Any more comments or info would be great.
  11. Hmm

    I'd bet Possibly French

    The purfling is a hint
  12. Speaking of French Bases

    Ken have you ever played a Gand and Bernadel?
  13. Gravey


    Feb 22, 2005
    Arundel, UK
    Thanks Ken, I have already spoken to ContraBass in London, they have quoted around £7,000 to restore the Bass, so needs some thinking about!
  14. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    OUCH......did they tell you what it'd be WORTH after that? and did you want to keep it a three-stringer?

    I wish (after the lottery ticket win) that I had a 3-stringer tuned DAD, Bouzouki/Baglama tuning - but it would only be for specific musics!
  15. My guess is that would be money well spent. You might find the restored instrument worth many times your investment.

    If you can't afford to have it restored yourself, please sell it to someone who can. Old, handmade basses are very unique, they have very different, individual voices. It should be repaired and returned to service. You've taken the right first steps in posting here and contacting The Contrabass Shoppe. You say you are not a player yourself, please ensure that this intrument ends up in the hands of someone who does play. I would guess you could sell it for a tidy sum in its present condition if it is indeed a mid 1800's French bass.

    Serious bassists (lots of 'em on this site) all seem to be fascinated by old instruments. Once again, please keep us posted.
  16. How about we ALL chip in to have it restored?? :help:
  17. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    And have a super BINGO Talkbass night to see which lucky bastard gets the bass..... :p

    OK I'd be in.....but uh....what happens to the bass after it's restored?
  18. Just let Gravey keep it. When we all get together for that TBDB Summit we were talking about once, we could ask him to bring it so we all could see it and play it.
  19. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
  20. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    That's a lot of money...

    Did they specify what would have to be done?