JM Zimmermann Flatback Bass ID

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Levi Dover, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. Levi Dover

    Levi Dover

    Jul 30, 2015
    I recently purchased this bass, and it sounds fantastic. It seems all original, except that it has had a new neck built at some point. (with a nice 41.5" string length and a D neck) The original scroll appears to have been grafted on. I am curious if anyone can help me identify it, or if someone has a bass with a similar label. IMG_0208.JPG
    There are two labels inside, one which is just text stamped directly onto the back, and the other which is an actual label. They are identical, except the actual label has additional text which seems to denote a repair. IMG_0240.jpg
    The additional text on top translates to "Repaired in year 1920". The rest of the text seems to indicate that it was manufactured by J.M. Zimmermann, specialist of violin-makin, repair and fabrication of various musical instruments of Italian and German style/origin. The workshop is located in Konigsberg, Prussia. There is even the area in Konigsberg where the the workshop would have been.

    I have done a bit of research, but i haven't found any information on J.M. Zimmermann. However, the Zimmermann family, notably J.H. Zimmermann in Germany, are known builders of instruments, and also publishers. Zimmermann also would become a big music book-publishing firm, as well as instrument manufacturers. I believe that for the most part, these were not single-luthier instruments, they seems to be coming out of several different shops in many locations in Europe.

    Konigsberg is now Kaliningrad in Russia, but at the time was controlled by the German Empire, until World War II, where it was taken by Allied Forces. So it seem to me that this bass still qualifies as a German bass.

    I am curious if anyone has seen a similar bass or label, or has any addition info about JM Zimmermann. What strikes me as different about this bass versus other German shop basses is the absence of outer linings. It seems to resemble a Bohemian or Tyrolean bass more than a typical German bass.

    Anyone know anything? I'll include some additional photos as well.

    IMG_0208.JPG IMG_0240.jpg
    IMG_0212.JPG IMG_0213.JPG IMG_0215.JPG IMG_0217.JPG IMG_0220.JPG IMG_0222.JPG IMG_0223.JPG IMG_0227.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  3. Levi Dover

    Levi Dover

    Jul 30, 2015
    Will do, thanks!
  4. bassmanbrent

    bassmanbrent Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I think it may be possible that it’s a repair label that was put in when the restoration was done. Bear in mind that I’m not a luthier:)
  5. Levi Dover

    Levi Dover

    Jul 30, 2015
    There are actually two "labels" in the bass. One is the repair label I posted a photo of - the other looks exactly identical, but there is not the handwritten text about repair or a date - Just the rest of the text about JM Zimmermann stamped directly onto the wood. It's possible both labels were put inside the bass when it was made, and someone else added the repair text, but it's also possible that the same workshop who built the bass also restored it, hence putting in a second identical label. I'm just wondering if the JM Zimmermann workshop actually built this bass, and if anybody has seen this label elsewhere!
    bassmanbrent likes this.
  6. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    The body proportions and scroll look similar to my own bass, which I have no firm information on but is also likely to be from eastern Germany or nearby. Mine has also had a neck graft at some point, as the neck is maple but the scroll is beech.
    Double Bass Slideshow by MJBeer
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
  7. Levi Dover

    Levi Dover

    Jul 30, 2015
    Nice bass! From the side it definitely has similar proportions, but from the front your bass appears to have shoulders that are more gradually sloped towards the block than mine. Also, the button is a different shape, although mine was probably altered at some point, The string length is shorter than usual for an old German bass, so it’s possible the button was cut down and the neck was set deeper into the block. It looks that way anyways. No label in your bass?
  8. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    No markings at all inside mine. That seems to be the norm for these old Germanic basses, so the labels in yours are quite unusual.
  9. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  10. Levi Dover

    Levi Dover

    Jul 30, 2015
    Cool! When researching the Zimmermann name, I came across Julius Heinrich. Seems to be quite well known as a violin maker. Probably also produced many other instruments out of his shop. But I have yet to find anything at all about a JM Zimmermann, although apparently it was a family business... Could have been a brother or son, or maybe just a made up name which resembles a known maker on the label in my bass to increase the value when t was originally made, or at a later date.
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
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