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Kinda Sorta Mystery Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by azflyman, Sep 23, 2005.


  1. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Greetings all,

    Here we go. I have a line on a bass that could be very interesting. It is represented as a "mid 19th century bass" with a quarter sawn spruce top, maple back and sides. It has been refinished in oil ("red/brown with a golden undervarnish").

    Dimensions:

    Body: 45 3/4"
    Upper bout width: 20 3/4"
    Center bout width: 15 1/4"
    Lower bout width: 27"
    String length: 44 9/16" (yowza!)

    The value on the bass per a 1995 appraisal was $12,000 and it was stated that the bass was in a very good state of preservation. This appraisal, finish, and work on this bass were done by a respected luthier that contributes to this board so I believe the appraisal to be accurate.

    Check it out and tell me what the wise talkbass members think.

    http://300pct.com/basspics/Mystery Bass/

    BEWARE! the pictures are large.

    Thx,

    az
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    First, NEVER lean a Bow on it's tip. Break the Tip and it's a tooth pic.

    This is a Typical German Shop Bass. Period is late 19th- early 20th century. Late 19th is maybe possible because of the gears but I see many of the same in the 20th mostly. Makers bought what they needed and most had the flatter handles. The Brass capped iron dated from the mid-late 19th century Germany as even Northern English makers used them. Still, 1900-1940 is more possible from the Bass design itself. Rubner is a possibility but there were many shops making the same looking stuff. This has Fluted FF hole tabs but with the re-fin, the shape may have been softened as Rubners were more sharply cut.

    Your Gears; http://300pct.com/basspics/Mystery Bass/DSCN0614.JPG
    My Gilkes with Gears from Northern england after restoration c 1880; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/GilkesBass/147.jpg
    I have seen a Joseph Tarr from Manchester,1883 with the same type gears as well.
    Same gears with flat handles; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/Rscroll.JPG
    These were one grade lower cost wise as the handles are a single piece and the Screw head is round and not flat. These are est c 1910.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Looking over the dimentions and the Bass itself as I noticed the neck has been broken and repaired poorly. For a Bass to have it's optimum Value is must Sound good, Look healthy, be in good repair and play well. With the Neck broken, it will need a graft. While that is getting done, make the neck a 'D' if it is Eb and maybe do a Block cut like Arnold did with my Morelli and 'cheat' the Bridge a bit to keep the S.L. as close to 42" as possible. This work will not be cheap and can easily run 4-5k or more depending on the related work.

    Morelli Block cut; b4, http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/pufling.JPG and http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/fullback.jpg

    After; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/705.jpg
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/688.jpg
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/MorelliBass.htm

    A playable friendly Bass is much more desirable than a clumsy one.
     
  4. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Arnold S. made a comment which has since been been deleted (by Arnold I imagine) stating that this was basically a 20th century bass that was worthless due to the unplayable scale and broken neck. I feel the two lines of comment were a little harsh but may have some truth.

    With the comments made, I believe the appraisal was probably for insurance reasons and not market value. Too bad really, I was going to fly out and have a look at the beast.

    Ken, what would an average value be of a bass like this if it were in good condition with modifications as you have described?

    az
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well, that all depends on the sound and playability after the restoration is complete. I would say that if all was done well and 42" was the String length, which is un-likely then it would fall into the range of older Juzeks/Wilfers and similar Basses.

    If it is a good Orchestral Bass, then a student in College or minor orchestra would be your market. If it does not have the required orchestra tone and is for Jazz then the Value drops usually. My Morelli came out better than expected. It was completly re-graduated. The Total cost of repairs and componants was about 10K plus the initial cost of the Bass. The Morelli can be used in any Orchestra. It has 'that' type of sound. It is priced at 21k. I have seen on average basses like yours priced from 6-12k, give or take. Pricing is one thing. Actually selling it is another.

    As far as Arnolds comments go, I agree with him. If you gave me that Bass for free and I had all the work done 100% to my standards, I would be happy to make any profit at all after selling it for what a Bass of that type goes for. It the sound kills, it gets the top $ in "it's" class. If not, it goes to mid or bottom price of the range according to the turnout after completion.

    There are 1000s of these German Basses in circulation out there that are worth less than the repairs to make them usable again.
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    AZ--I deleted my previous post because on re-read it seemed pretty harsh. Sorry...

    The extreme string length is a problem. Few bassists will purchase a bass that long. Could you please measure from the bottom end of the neck to center of the top between the f-hole notches? This measurement is called the "stop". It will give us an idea whether a shorter neck would work on that bass. Since the neck is kaput anyway, that could be the way to go.
     
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Kaput is right.. It's a German Bass. If it was an Italian Bass, the Neck would be Fine'.
     
  8. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    WienerSchnitzer,

    No need to be sorry, harsh is OK if it is the truth. I am in Astoria, OR and I believe the bass is in NC. I would have had to travel but if it had been worth it I would have made the trip, built a crate, and had the bass shipped back to Oregon. I will move on.

    It is really difficult to find a nice old bass for decent money.

    az
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    Why not put a descriptive ad in the WANTED section below Bass Sales here and see what comes up. Tell us what you are looking for, what you will do with the Bass (playing requirements) and what you can spend on it. It's a BUYERS market right now. Buying is EASY. Selling requires patience. I know of 100s of old Basses for sale in USA and Europe. I have bought Basses from here and Europe.

    People selling a single Bass often ask for the 'Sky'. Insurance appraisals often mean nothing when selling/buying a Bass as far as real market value. Try the WANTED section, sit back and fasten your seatbelt!
     
  10. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    I have emailed the owner of this bass a link to these comments. If anyone is interested in the bass PM me and I will shoot you the email address for contact. The bass is located in the Charlotte, NC area.

    az
     
  11. If that bass is mid 19th century, I'm Cecil McBee.
    IMHO, the seller is a liar.
    Why bother?
     
  12. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    The seller knows nothing about basses. There is a appraisal that has all the info I posted. The appraisal may be fake for all I know and I should probably contact the luthier who's name was used. Like I said before, it may have just been an insurance loss appraisal which is usually very inflated. It could be a con but my detectors did not go off so I doubt that seriously.

    az

    BTW, who in the hell is C. McBee? :bag:
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    In the 1960s-'70s he worked in similar circles to Richard Davis in and around NY. I had one Album that had both of them on it. May have been Archie Shepp but can't recall 100%.

    If you ask 'who is Richard Davis?', then go back and study Bassists on record from Jimmy Blanton up to Eddie Gomez (1949-1970 school of Jazz). Then come back and continue talking Bass with us aging Relics.

    BTW AZ, why do you still care to get involved with this Bass. It's nothing more than an out of commission German Shop Bass. Don't waste your time from cross country with it. Call some reputable shops in USA because each of them have a dozen just like it that actually work!

    They appraise it for 12k, while my 7/8 Shen can do more in Jazz and Symphony than that Bass for less $ to own and maintain. Plenty of fish in the ocean. That one's floating belly up!
     
  14. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Agreed :)

    az
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The dog looks like he's having a good time, though...


    Maybe it's just me, but doesn't that look like a rosewood board?