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Lion Headstock!??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by TizzleNizz, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. i've seen several pictures of bassses with lion headstocks!! what's up?? is there a reason? i'm not saying they dont look cool.. but did i miss the memo? when did this lion craze start? and why?
  2. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Have you seen Our Man Jeff's? Stunning carving detail, extremely beautiful and cool. Do those sound like good reasons?
  3. Ornately carved scrolls have been around for centuries, starting, I believe, back in the Gamba days. The lion's head appears on Bernadel basses from France (late 19th century?) and on modern Pollmann basses. These lions appear fierce and menacing, but I like Jeff's a lot better: a serene and regal.

    Check it out here:

    If I had the jing, I'd have a bass made with a bear's-head scroll, rather than the lion (inspired by my kid's favorite book, Berlioz the Bear)

  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Obviously a German -- not a French -- bear.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    You'd think the bear would have a human head carved into his scroll. :)

    I saw a couple of scrolls yesterday ( I think came from here) of integrated extensions carved to look like a dragon. Wasn't my cup of tea, but the artistry and craftsmanship was excellent.

    On ebay, you occasionally see instruments offered by a maker who does very ornate carving all over the bass, including the back, sides and table. I don't think I would spring the extra loot for the pretties. I'd rather spend the money on a better sound, but they are very enjoyable to look at.

    Anyone here recall that maker?
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I knew I could find them. Certainly a bit ostentatious for me, but certainly a joy to look at.

  7. I wonder how much of that carving is done by a CNC machine?
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    I hadn't really thought about that, but now that you mention it, It seems very possible that much of it could be. That doesn't make it any less attractive to me, but it does taint the charm a bit.

    I don't know anything about CNC. Would it be possible for such a machine to do all of this?
  9. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    With how powerful software has become, it seems there's very little that CNC machines *can't* do.
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I hope this won't offend, Chas, but I find that bass hideous. I like a little bit of the scroll carving, sort of. Some of the elements by themselves, with nothing else, might be nice. All together though? Looks like something the dog chucked up.

    My opinion only. My taste runs more to classicism or modernism than it does to anything baroque (roccoco!) like that.
  11. I understand the elaborate carving in the scroll has been around for a while, more a or less popular at times, but when did the whole body carving become popular, if indeed, it ever was? And also....would it change the sound or the structure (IE, would a bass carved this way be weaker, more likely to break?)
  12. That reminds me of makeup--a little goes a long way--too much and you have Tammy Faye Bakker.
  13. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    Fair enough. I may be more smitten by the novelty of it than anything else.

    I am not inclined to call it excess, but I will say that the beautiful flamed wood in the ribs could be much better displayed without all of that carving on the sides.

    I am fine with the back and the table.
  14. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Vasile Gliga also makes basses w/o all the fo-fo. I've played several and own a 3/4 flatback that sounds great and is nicely flamed. Bob, may be a combination of CNC and extremely cheap labor. His instruments carry a fairly high "retail" price, but the mark up over cost is huge.
    I've also seen a couple of his Lion's head scrolls, and to me they look downright amaturish (Spelling?).
  15. For me, the Gliga looks way, way over the top...It's also too perfect, which makes you think there is a machine involved.

    Berlioz the Bear is a wonderful book. The bears' bass is so wonderfully true to the real thing. A five stringer, and at times, you can see where the lady artist actually made a great attempt at including the arching on the top of the bass. There are three machines on the bass' left side and two on the right side and she never goofs up that pattern! In one picture, the bear is playing in the thumb position, and looking pretty damn good.
    For you luthiers, the plot of the book revolves around the fact that there's a bad buzz in Berlioz' bass and well, I don't want to give it away.
    If i didn't have this book, i'd certainly find a way to get it.
    If anyone wants any numbers off the book, just let me know.
    And Mike, thanks for introducing Berlioz to the rest of TBDB!
  16. I became aware of that book when my first daughter (now 9 years old) was born and I was totally knocked out by the accuracy of the detail not only on the bass, but on ALL the instruments depicted (even the notes on the sheet music were right!). So often, especially in children's books, the way musical instruments are depicted is just pathetic, but Jan Brett got it perfect. The detail throughout is just astonishing -- you see something new everytime you open it up.
  17. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    My kids are a little old for them now, but any of Jan Brett's books were very popular in our house. The artwork is always very carefully done: full of detail and a joy to look at. The kids would get impatient for the next page as I hung around to check it out. "The Mitten" was a particular favorite...
  18. I think most of the time you see a DB depicted in art....the F holes are usually down on the bottom bout, or most of the time it's a hole. And, of course, they really get confused with the scroll and machines.
    Berlioz' German grip on the bow is great too. That thumb position picture really reminds me of Gary Karr!
  19. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Speaking of Human head scrolls there is a gamba in the Smithsonian with a human head scroll.

    I'll try to find the picture...
  20. Paul Chambers' bass had a human-head scroll, poorly pictured here:

    Anyone know who has it now?

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