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Medieval-Rennaisance Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by powmetalbassist, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    So I am part of a historical society, and I have always been interested in transfering my bass playing to something period (time period) in the society. A friend of mine mentioned the Viol and I was wondering if anyone in the bass expanse of Talkbass had experience or knew more about the instrument.(ie sound, quality, price, luthiers, etc.)

    I found a wikipedia page with general wikipedia like descriptions and tuning.
    Viol - Wikipedia

    I apologize if this is the wrong forum, it is a distant relative to the bass guitar so I figured bass guitar forum would be appropriate.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  2. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Well, I know what they look like, and I've heard them in their usual settings, but other than that? I got nothin'... You'll probably get some answers here, but I'm thinking that this might be a good question to ask over on the Double Bass side of TB...:thumbsup:
    lz4005, powmetalbassist and bholder like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I have a bass that the builder calls a "viola da gamba", but it's really just another compact URB. The actual half-fretted antique ones must be pretty rare by now, wonder if anyone makes repros.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, closer to an URB / DB than an ABG.
  5. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    Viola de Gamba is the other name for the instrument
    bholder likes this.
  6. Oklahoma Hank

    Oklahoma Hank

    Jan 18, 2017
    There was an instrument called the violone or double bass viol. Bach wrote for it; I do not know how far back it goes. Other similar instruments were called the division viol and Lyra viol.
    All of these had six strings, were fretted, and played between the knees or legs.
    I think the viola da gamba was smaller than a modern cello; the bass viol about like a cello, or a little larger.
    There are drawings from about 1720 showing musicians with something about the size of a modern double bass played across the knees.
    Sorry for the long response. Retired history teacher.

    This family and company made them:

    Dolmetsch Online - The Dolmetsch Story

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
    Robert B likes this.
  7. Oklahoma Hank

    Oklahoma Hank

    Jan 18, 2017
  8. stringtapper


    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    Just know that most music you would likely end up playing on viola de gamba in an early music setting is going to require arco technique (use of the bow). So your finger style or plectrum picking techniques on electric bass aren't going to be a ton of help beyond providing a basic foundation for pizzicato playing.
    TolerancEJ likes this.
  9. HeebHammer70


    May 29, 2011
    Somebody call Sting!
  10. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    What about a theorbo?
    Jim Carr and bholder like this.
  11. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    Late 16th century Itallian operatic instrument....no thanks.
  12. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    oh man, I didn't need to see that - where can I buy one! :roflmao:
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Once you get your Viola da Gamba you can add to this!

    I have seen Sarah perform this music a couple of times. :bassist:
    40Hz and vishalicious like this.
  14. You must go to the dark side.

    There are a few threads about the Viola De Gamba (and other related historical instruments) there. You will have better luck fishing for info in those dark waters, but beware... the pool is deep and the bank leading up to it is a slippery slope...

    Yes, they are still being made. Not mass-produced, but still being made – gut frets and all.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I played a viol da gamba in a medieval consort back in college. Interesting instrument. Fretted so it was pretty straight forward to get a handle on it. If you have any upright bass or cello experience it's pretty easy to get a workable proficiency on it fairly quickly.

    There was a company called Lark in the Morning that used to offer kits that let you build a decent enough one to get started on. I checked and they no longer carry viols of any flavor in their catalog however so you'll have to do some digging to see if anybody else is selling a reasonably priced one. They are expensive. Really good ones go for what any other good orchestral instrument goes for. So be prepared for some sticker shock when you're shopping. The one I played belonged to one of the other musicians in my ensemble. No way I could have afforded one. (Still can't either.)

    Note: bass range instruments are rare in Medieval and Renaissance music groups. Getting a proficient player who owns a Viola da Gamba or other period bass instrument is a real score for these groups. (Some groups not concerned with absolute authenticity will allow a cello played pizzacato to get some bass in the music.) So if you're a gamba player, you'll have as much work as you can handle with the Collegium Musica and Terpsichore crowd. Ancient music is a small select pond you can become a big fish in if you're ambitious and willing to put in what it takes to be one of "the few, the proud."

    You might want to start your quest with The Viola da Gamba Society of America. They can probably help you out with any questions you have.

    bholder likes this.
  16. Robert B

    Robert B Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Hampton, Va USA
    I always wondered if a cello could retuned and used as a substitute for a standup bass in an acoustic setting and if so, if it could keep up volume wise with a couple acoustic guitars.
  17. definitely not my style of music, but that electric bass player was tearing it up.
  18. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    2016-05-07 18.57.36. 2013 and 2010 Renaissance basses. :smug:
    mikeGJ and 40Hz like this.
  19. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Really nice basses. I've gassed for one of Turner's RBs since forever. :thumbsup:
  20. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I had forgotten all about them, thanks for the reminder - time to get back on their mailing list! ;)

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