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ORESTE MARTINI

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Apr 6, 2004.


  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Luthiers, Dealers and Orchestra Players: Have any of you seen or plays a Bass by Oreste Martini? Mantova-Italy, First half of the 20th Century. Dates from around 1918 to 1957 or so.
    I am looking into a Bass by him but it's in Europe and can't play it before buying it. Curious as the the tone or sound of this makers Basses. Have seen two in pictures. A 1921 flatback and this one I'm looking at from 1918. Beautiful Violin form but can't hear the pictures!
     
  2. Ken - Sorry, but I can't believe that you, of all people, would consider buying this instrument without playing it. Unless you are able to buy it at give away prices, I would think that a plane ticket to Europe and back would be a wise investment. Don't forget that there are a few Strad violins around that are less than wonderful despite the sound of so many others.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I am waiting to hear from the seller about a trial period. The Bass looks hot. It's one of the makers' earilest Basses but I have never heard one from Martini! I played a few early 20th century Italian Basses in the past and all were nice. I know the seller and their rep. is good. Just looking for those that may own or have played one of the reported 45 or so Basses to his name.

    Believe me, If I had the time to travel, I would borrow a few Million$s and fill my building up with classic Basses. Ever since I got my Batchelder about 3 Years ago I got the bug again. Buying the Shen 3/4 1000 model(1of 2 made) in '97 lit the fire. The Batchelder Fueled the fire. Good thing I have good fire insurance....lol

    BTW, I'm am also looking at a nice Gilkes I played a few weeks ago.
     
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Watch yourself! There are tons of Eastern European basses floating around with Italian and French names inside them. The makers are quite skillful in making them look aged. And the workmanship is generally good. Some features to watch for: massive scroll volute; 4-piece top and/or back; lots of "dirt" in the margins; a sweet/spicy smell inside; stained interior. Some of them even have been deliberately cracked and repaired before assembly. The neck joints are generally poor. Most of these fakes are made in Romania or Hungary; in pics and at first observation they look like the real thing; even the labels are realistic. Europe has been so picked-over for basses I'm skeptical of every deal I hear of, even if I know the seller. Often the seller himself has been fooled! Beware a low price...
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Arnold, thanks again for comming forward with your opinion..... What do u think a low or correct price is for an early 20th century Italian Bass?

    like I stated eariler, I have seen pics of another Martini and they look very similar. I would think they would pick an older and/or more famous name to imitate or copy.
    The condition is quite good and is from a very reputable source in Italy.
    Btw,he took one look at my new Bass in restoration and said "not Italian".

    I don't think the asking price is too low. The scroll looks quite Italian and not eastern Europe at all. All is supposed to be original on the Bass according to the seller. They sell mainly Violins, violas and cellos and only occasionally a D. Bass.
     
  6. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    oh,a ,Ken...I bought the Gilkes...





    lol
     
  7. And I have one. It's pictured above. It has a false Apparut label, and a neck graft to make it look older. The irony is, it's an amazing bass, worth more than I paid, and it outplays much more costly instruments. It's good enough that I can't understand why the maker didn't put his own name in it. But the bottom line is, I was just lucky.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The Bass is from Mantova, Italy. The wood used has been tested and is from the local Maple groves of Mantova and would never be found in Romania or Hungry. Sometimes,the materials used is the biggest clue you will find.

    The Bass has been known in the area for quite some time according to the seller.

    I will post pics of both the Martini's when the time is right.

    On second thought, Here is a link to the other Martini I found on the 'net from 1921. The one I am looking at is a 1918 Round Back with the same FF Holes and Scroll but with larger Upper Bouts and Shoulders. The Unique Neck Block on both Basses are of the same design. The 1918 Round Back had a bit more detail; http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~atto/MARTINI/MARTINI1921.html
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I got the final pics and specs of the Bass today. According to the seller, "the Bass looks very similar to Scarampella's work" from which Martini studied and trained with. I think Martini was only about 26 years old when this Bass was made.

    1)The Ribs have outside linings that are on the wide side.This is the same as the other 3 Martini's seen in the area.

    2) The Varnish is 100% original and is a deep red oil.

    3) There is NO purfling on the Bass. It seems to be painted on the Back and scratched in the Top. The Edges are cut extremely deep and not flat like many cheap immatations.

    4) The Neck and Scroll are still in its original state. The Block area is beautiful. Much more detailed than the 1921 flatback from the Japan website I posted earlier.

    5) The label (printed and signed) actually reads 1919 ( and not 1918 ).

    6) The Back is 3-piece with a center and two wide wings almost equally sized to the center.

    7) The top seems to be 2-piece but the center joint is perfect and invisible. The partial flat sawn wood is symetrical from side to side and obviously a Bookmatch.

    8) There is some minor worm damage in the top but seems only superficial and very old under the Varnish. It does not show thru on the inside.

    9)There are no crutial cracks or damage to the Bass. It seems as if it has been well taken care of all these years.

    Any questions on the Bass or it's specs? Let me know......

    I will finalize the details this week and hope to see it this month. Hopefully, Italian customs will let the Bass come to USA.
     
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The Martini should be here in a week or so. I will post pics as soon as I can.

    As Don Z. joked about stealing the Gilkes out from under me, the joke is over. I am sitting about 6 feet from it. At first I though is was a William Gilkes as he made many Basses but it turns out to be the fathers work, Samuel Gilkes. His Basses and 'Cellos are very rare. It is Branded and labeled (as it should be) by him.
    Since I was looking at mainly Italian Basses on my last trip I didn't even ask which Gilkes it was. The short time I played it left an impression in my mind. Even my Wife Claudia kept saying, "Ken, I like that last one you played. Why don't you get that one?"

    Well, my Wife was right. We went today to NY and came home with the Gilkes. I will post pics and specs when I can as well as the Martini. Although I just have it on trial, I doubt that it will go back.
     
  11. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Cool; I'll be by on Monday ! Well, what about he Gagliano ? 2 fer 1 ?
     
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Don, are you referring the the Neopolitan Bass I mentioned to you labeled 'Raffaele Guadagnini? I measured it and it's a 39" string length with a 40" Body. I guess you would call that a 5/8 size. Sounds beautiful and sweet. It has a much bigger sound than you would expect for it's size. A great solo Bass and good Orchestra Bass for a smaller person. For Jazz it would 'kill' if one could afford it now.

    I had my hands full. I brought my Batchelder Bass in for an apprasial for my insurance company. At the last moment I decieded to take the Gilkes Bass home for trial but couldn't fit two Basses in the car. Paul has a customer looking for a Bass in the price range of my Batchelder so I left it there. If he sells it..... that's fine with me.... I have a full house with the Gilkes (if they accept my offer), the Martini, The Shen 7/8 and the mystery 7/8+ sized Bass in restoration. The Batchelder can go if I get my price for it.

    The Gilkes BTW needs some rib repairs. The top and back are in excellent shape without a visible crack anywhere. There might be a tiny crack here or there on the top but nothing on the main body of it. The Neck believe it or not is the 'Original' with the Scroll. You can see the 2 plugs in the peg box where it was converted from a 3-string to a 4-string as the re-used the bottom peg hole. The shoulders were cut and a beautiful job at that. It was more like a Cello shape before from the purfling outline but it was restored beautifully about 100 years ago possibly in Germany as the Gears look German but work fine. They just dont' match the Bass so I will probably put English style gears on it when the ribs get fixed in about a year when my other Bass is done.
     
  13. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Man, that bass sounded so good over the phone I cannot wait to hear/play it for myself ! Ah, it's nice to be able to live vicariously through someone with nice basses !
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I just got the Airway Bill from Italy. The Martini should hit JFK on Sunday. I plan at this time on picking it up myself at the Airport.

    I will probably bring it to Paul Biase's as he just got in a Martini Cello for consignment and we will be able to compare them to some degree.

    As with the Gilkes, I will post pics on my website as soon as I get some time.
     
  15. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sam, Thanks for looking out for us by re-posting the Martini. I will copy 'n' paste my message from the Gilkes thread.

    Here it is;

    The Martini is here!! Don helped me open the crate and un-pack it yesterday. He also lent me his sound post setter to put the Bass together. Don had to get back to work and left just before I got the strings on it. The tail wire was 'solid' but Jeff Bollbach gave me some cable last year to use down the road if I needed it. Don assisted me in measuring the length, cutting and clamping it just before he left.

    A few notes into the test and a shop employee came to let me know it the floor was shaking two rooms over. I went and got the Gilkes to compare it and sure enough you could see the difference in the type of sound a fine Italian Bass produces as compared to an English classic.

    The Gilkes plays like 'butter'. The Martini is a bit stiff and needs a real good set-up as well as a new bridge with adjusters fitted.

    I have my last concert for the season tomorrow, Sat. the 8th. I'm gonna take a chance and bring the Martini to dress rehearsal. If my hand doesn't fall off after "Jaws" (we're doing all movie themes with film), I'll play it in the Concert. I think the Martini will be better for "The Godfather" !!....lol The Gilkes however does sound great on "Star Wars" !

    Don will be by next week to test it and do his own comparison. I'm sure he will post his personal opinion of the differences shortly after.
    __________________
     
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I just got back from the dress rehearsal and my hands are okay. That means as I mentioned in the eariler post that I will Play the Martini tonight in Concert.

    It is the Martini's first performance in USA. I am the first owner of it in America and the History doesn't show anything about the Bass ever leaving Italy before now. Kind of a Double-Debut I would say.

    What does hurt is my Neck. Looking up at the Conductor from my stool as he is above the Orchestra and because the Basses could not fit on the stage as well. We usually stay on the side on the floor there anyway but he is more forward than usual. Due to the Films of the Movies being shown as we play the scores, the Screen has pushed us all back a bit.

    I'm gonna 'Ice' up my neck before I go and my hands as well just in case. Rehearsals are always harder than the actual performance because of the 'stop 'n' go'. You end up playing it several times over and that hurts my hands sometimes.

    Don Z. is supposed to come to the Concert tonight. He can tell you how the Bass sounds 'IF' he can hear it over the Orchestra. I have a few tiny solo parts so I guess he will hear a little at the least.
     
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

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

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    WOW! Thank you Ken. Absolutely beautiful basses.
     
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Soft, There are no deals in Italy or anywhere else that I know of. An Italian Bass can run from 45-60K for an early 20th Century maker. My Martini which shakes the floor and the walls with a deep mature sound is only 85 years old. There are some non-Pedigre Italian Basses that sometimes go for less but they are no bargan. You 'bassically' get what you pay for.

    Yes, I do have the Martini now that I brought in from Venice. I happen to know someone over there in the business so I guess I was the lucky one to have first 'dibs' on it. The price which I won't disclose for professional reasons was no bargan, but was a very fair deal.

    If you haven't seen the Martini, here it is again; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MartiniBass/martini_bass.htm

    The entire world knows what things are worth. The Internet has made the world smaller as far as 'trading' goes. With the US Dollar being so weak to the Euro, any price advantage you can find will be eaten up with the Currency.

    Have a nice trip. I wish I could join you. While you are there, go to the Church of San Marco and see Dragonetti's Gasparo Da Salo. I know the Curator of that Bass and have some recent photos of it. Did You know the shoulders were cut and not original? I just found that out.......Live 'n learn....
     
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    What is his name? There are several builders in Northern Italy right now. One of them 'restored' my 'Martini' Bass in 1999 in Italy as he put his label in the Bass as well. Even though the Basses made there are good, they are still 'new' and not 'Cheap' either.

    I have see some older German, Czeck and Viennese Basses selling from $25,000. to E40,000. The Dollar is 20% weaker than the Euro right now. It will be easier if and when the Euro is 1:1 to the U$D again.

    In the mean time it might be better to get German and Czech Basses that have been in the USA for awhile and maintained here as well. Shipping, duty and brokerage is not Free either.

    The German Juzek import style Basses you are used to seeing here is a bit different than the handmade for domestic(Europe) use German Basses of the last 100+ years.