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Late 19th century German bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by lazlobaggy, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. lazlobaggy


    May 29, 2011
    A couple weeks ago my dad was at the flea market and called me when he met a guy selling an upright bass that was over a hundred years old. Since it was only 150 bucks I told my dad to pull the trigger. I already have a nicely set up hybrid czech bass that I've played the last 15 years. I'm not sure what i want to do with this new purchase and some advice would be very nice to have. I have a relatively large budget since I've been saving for a carved custom bass from a luthier in MI (could add it into deal with luthier possibly). From seeing it last weekend at my Dad's, the top and back are pretty solid and sturdy. I really didn't know what to expect for 150 bucks. One of the ribs is pretty beat as well as some of the edge of the back. Hatpeg tuners and the neck angle is pretty flat. Like I said, it feels like it is solid when you hold it. The fingerboard is warped and the bridge is wacky. Thanks for any comments and suggestions! I currently reside between Chicago and Wisconsin.

    Here are a couple pics of the bass and a bunch more at photobucket.

    http://s1292.beta.photobucket.com/user/lazlobaggy/library/Old Bass

    2012-10-27 15.32.05. 2012-10-27 15.29.08.
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    It looks worthy of a a neck reset and restoration with a new fingerboard, bridge, and endpin. The tuners don't look very worn, so they can probably be saved. Good luck!

    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Nice bass!

    I recently picked up something similar (for more than $150!)...flatback gamba, two-on-a-plate hatpegs (not individual machines like yours), outside linings, very delicate and light. I sent pictures to Ken Smith, who called it Bohemian or German circa 1900 and told me to insure it for $10K.

    In addition to what Steve said, if it were mine I'd have the top off to have those cracks addressed and the ribs reinforced with strips of linen soaked in hot hide glue. The ribs on my bass are paper thin, and at some point somebody had the top off to glue in wooded rib reinforcements to keep any future cracks from spreading more than a few inches. You may wish to consider doing the same.
  4. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    I may be wrong... I think this may be a 1920-30's bass. I rebuilt a very similar looking one a few tears ago, and it sounds wonderful. Extremely fast response. You scored big time.
  5. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Judging from your second pic, that bass is WAY too large for you! I would be willing to take it off your hands, and would be prepared to pay as much as $175.

    Paul (Eh_train)

    (Seriously, an amazing score)
  6. lazlobaggy


    May 29, 2011
    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to take a look and give me some feedback. Does anyone know a decent shop they would recommend in the Chicago area? I'm hoping to stop by Dan's place in Muskegon the weekend after Thanksgiving. I'll keep everyone posted on the feedback I get.

    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
  8. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    A440: 2222 West Roscoe St. Chicago, IL 60618
    Michael & his crew are excellent

    ClassicContra Bass: Wheeling, IL60090
    Michelle is outstanding

    Sonksen Strings: Chicago, IL
    I have not done any work with Mark but he has an excellent reputation.
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Doublebassworkshop.com in Morona Wisconsin is reputable.

    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
    They named their town Morona? I thought Climax, NY took the cake but I was wrong.
  11. Uh, that'd be MoNOna, right near Madison.
  12. LHbassist


    Apr 4, 2003
    Reno, Nevada
    I scored a roundback 'Herman Lowendal Berlin' carved bass in 1997, for a hundred bucks. I'd been looking for a rebuilder for about 5 years, while still playing my righty strung lefty - Kay M-1. It needed a LOT of restoration work. I took about 4 months and finished it, re-barred it lefty. It has been my main bass ever since. I love it.
    Can't seem to find much info on Herman, except for violins in New York...I do not know when this was made- but there WAS a Berlin- likely pre-WW2. I think 1920's or 1930's. I've only seen one other Herman Lowendall bass, a flatback, on Ebay about two years ago. His father, Louis is a more well known bass maker.
    My bass is similar to yours- hat tuners, mine are individual with rivet cloverleafs. Mine has the most outrageous flamed Macassar Ebony fingerboard.

    I'd have the bass looked over by a good luthier, and inspected inside for old repairs, and the extent of the newer issues. I never charge anyone to look a bass over, and I never tell someone they need something they don't. There are likely some luthiers in your area that will do that, maybe for an evaluation charge- but it'll be worth it.
  13. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Did that adorable toddler come with the bass? What a deal!
  14. lazlobaggy


    May 29, 2011
    I was able to take this bass to Dan Seabolt in Muskegon, MI over the weekend. He suspects it is late 19th century, it has a block, and the bass bar is separate and not carved into the top. I left it at his shop and it is going to undergo a full restoration. He estimates the bass will appraise around 15k after restore. Hopefully he can find the maker when it is opened up.

    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Congratulations on your continuing good luck!