Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Mystery Bass II

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Feb 16, 2005.


  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Here's a new and interesting Bass I just got. Full of puzzles as far as Age and Origin goes.

    Have a look.. Express your opinions Freely. Post pics from the link if you like for discussion or interest. Posting the link maxes out my computer skills..lol

    Here goes; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/Mystery2.htm
     
  2. Jazzman

    Jazzman

    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    That is beautiful! I love the varnish color. How do you find all of these basses you sell? Do people bring them to you, or do you just hunt them down?
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Bass is my Hobby. I buy Basses to Play them. If I happen to sell a Bass, it's usually because I have another to replace it and it's an offer I can't refuse.

    This will be done up as an Orchestra Bass most likely but all of my good Basses works for Jazz as well. My tone is that of a little meat on the note and less growl than I used to get with Sprios. I prefer Fundamental on the bottom strings so I go for a clear Orchestra type set-up tone. This way I can do just about anything with the Bass.
     
  4. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    that bass is really beautiful.

    from your description the top is one inch smaller than the back is around the whole perimeter, so the sides taper or angle in from the back to the front table......am i reading that right?????

    i too am curious how you find all these wonderful vintage instruments.

    EDIT: you replied about finding basses while i was posting
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The sides push outwards a bit at the lower Bout only so the Back has to be wider at that point. I don't know if it twisted in time and needed a new Back or was made like that. Everything from the inside seems to be the same age.

    The Bass pushes sound like a Cannon..It's deep and powerful on the bottom and sweet and musical on the top. It's more powerful than my Martini at this time but similar from when I First got the Martini..The repairs and set-up on the Martini softened it up a bit but made it sweeter and easier to play as well.... Go Figure..
     
  6. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Ken, you need to stop spending so much time on ebay...
     
  7. prelims222

    prelims222

    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Nice bass..


    I see where you're getting the Testore and Panormo references to - although the bottom is a bit wide, the C-Bout and overall outline of the instrument sure does remind me of a C. G. Testore - although it looks like the left shoulder is bigger than the right, which is unlike the one C.G. Testore I've been personal with. the Scroll is well carved and proportioned.

    The Scroll:
    To my eyes, the 'ski jump' at the scroll button is nearly flat, and the rest of the pegbox seems to meet that button at a 90 degree angle. Also the general shape of the top of the scroll seems round, as opposed to oblongish, and seems to aim straight away from the instrument. The overall shape, from the rear-shot of the scroll, is one that tapers gracefully upwards, as opposed to the more 'boxy' shape of many scrolls on older basses. The eye of the scroll is fairly centered.

    The arching seems to be gracefully executed along the top, and the F-holes look like the were carved with the arch. The fluting seems pretty good, although it pinches in a little more in the left upper corner, from what I can see on this picture.
    The bee-stings are dead-center, as opposed to golden section, but the F-Holes are not symmetrical. This is common on a lot of old italian violins (the f-holes), not sure so much with basses.

    It looks to be a well-inspired instrument, in addition to Panormo and Testore, I can also see the possibility of Ceruti, particularly with regards to the scroll, although overall body still says CG Testore more than anything.
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks prelims222, nice dissertation on the Scroll and stuff. This Bass is not old enough to be any of those names. I just meant it had some similar features. I am not even sure it was made in Italy.

    A few years ago when Shopping for my First good 'post retirement' Bass I got some pictures emailed to me from a dealer in Norway. The Bass was a 5-string and I thought for sure it was Italian.. Amati kinda looking sorta speaking. It was a 19th century Prague Bass by Homolka. He had several others in the same class from Hungary and Vienna. These great Eastern European Basses Rarely make it west of Germany let alone to USA.

    This Bass may be from Eastern Europe or even Italy, but I think it's less than 100 years old if even that. I have to go to Arnold's this Saturday to pick up my Morelli. I will bring it there and let him have a look. Maybe he will have a little more insight than what I already don't know!! I sent Black & White Pics to Biase in NYC and he thinks it's Hungarian but the Pics were not very detailed at all.. Seeing it in person, inside and out is the best way to make a guess.
     
  9. cabin dweller

    cabin dweller Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Ridgeland, WI
    I would give my left nut to own that bass!

    cabin dweller
     
  10. she is indeed a real beauty.
     
  11. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    Ken........contact me if you'll ever need a kidney :D
    Great looking bass...


    NUNO
     
  12. I love this guy!! :D
     
  13. To the printer.....to the bathroom! :hyper:
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    A Kidney, A Left Nut... and Paul's on his way to the bathroom doing who knows what....

    I just wanted to 'crack' the Mystery a little..oops.. Sry.. Did I say Crack?... My thoughts are pure and clean (about this!).. I was not shopping for these last few responses... Buy Hey, I'll take whatever comes up I guess....lol
     
  15. prelims222

    prelims222

    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Ken, I didn't mean to suggest that it is a panormo or ceruti, but that the maker may have been taking inspiration from one of those.

    Either way, it looks like a nice bass, with an interesting sounding cavity (how would that disparity between front and back widths affect tone/projection .. especially with a flatback?) How's it play?
     
  16. I wouldn't touch this last sentence with a ten foot pole Kenny Boy......LOL, indeed!
     
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Last Sentence?.. You see, my thoughts are SO so pure, I didn't even see the possibilities of the verbal loop holes in it.. Oops.. did I say holes?... Sry..........
     
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Ok, sound cavity and playability.......

    The Bass has a huge sound and I am sure it projects like a cannon. The Neck up by the nut is a bit wide and not my personal taste as far as string spacing. The Strings are also a little high at the nut and bridge. The bridge, without adjusters is a tad over 6" now. I would think of shimming with a wedged shaped piece of Ebony under the existing Fingerboard to get a better height 'with' adjusters or just move the neck out a bit and trim the sides of the block with decorative ebony.

    That aside, I can play the Dragonetti on this with ease as far as reach goes. The highest note on the FB is 'C'. I think this can become a great all-around Bass for anyone in any situation from Jazz to Classical. I will most likely have a full restoration on this so there are no surprises in the future after I get it into use. I think this Bass is worth it regardless of its origin. Sound is sound as we all agree on that.. It does not have a 200-year-old sound nor does it have the 'Tone Color' of a Joseph Gagliano.

    I think I could make this Bass work in a Section, Solo, Jazz Trio or Big Band with the same set-up and set of Strings... Bold statement I know but, 'Been there, done that' so I know one when I see one...
     
  19. billybass

    billybass

    Oct 14, 2003
    New Orleans
    Ken


    You may want to contact Jacques Gagnon about the authenticity of this bass. I saw the ebay ad for this and immediately thought of Jacques Gagnon. He was in The Montreal Orchestra at the time the previous owner got it. Jacques Gagnon was known for finding, importing and even having reproductions made of fine basses. The antiquing done on his reproductions is excellent. His current business is
    http://www.cremonasia.com/

    Bill
     
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Yes, I was told it was him that brought this Bass back from Italy in the 70s. The owner has another older Bass which I almost bought as well last year also from Him within the same period.

    Thanks for the info. I know him and his company but not in person. I will email him and check out the story.

    I have the Bass in my hands and the tone is great regardless of who and how made it...

    I will post any news when I get it.