Pöllman basses ? What am I missing ?.....

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by C.Veltman, Sep 16, 2000.

  1. http://www.bassviolins.com/viols/c3777f.jpg
    Pöllman basses ?

    Can someone please enlighten me ?
    I have tryed three very goodlooking Pöllman basses. Very fine woods such as
    curly maple and thighly grained spurce. All basses had very fine carved bindings
    and were very clearly made by skilled luthiers.
    The sound ??? Imho the tone is very boring, no deepth, no sonority and lack of sustain.
    Basses i would never considore buying although theire beautiful appearance.
    Yes, I am aware these basses had orchestra strings fitted
    but still, for that pricelevel ?

    Likely I am missing the point as Pöllman basses are used by orchestra players around the globe. What is attracting other players and not me ?

    Kind regards,
    Christian Veltman

    [Edited by C.Veltman on 09-16-2000 at 06:14 PM]

  2. I agree, I don't know why the Pollman has such a big reputation, other than the Company has been around forever.
    I tried several of them at the last Musikmesse in Frankfurt and I was Equally unimpressed with all of them.In their defense, I must say that they were beautiful instruments, with intricate woodwork and purfling, but that didn't make them sound any better, unless you hear with your eyes.
    I think the reason they are so popular is that people see big names like John Patitucci playing them and assume they must be the best. True, Patitucci plays a Pollman, but it was a supposed "factory reject" Maybe it sounded too good...
  3. Well, yes, Ed, I must say that the ones that I played were Brand new,right from Pollman, so yeah maybe I judged them a bit harshly.It is hard to get an Idea of the sound playing in a cubicle with about 3000 other people walking around.
  4. I just re-read that article, Ed. Here is what Auray said:
    "In this country,makers tend to make instruments with a thick table but a thin Bass Bar. After five years, the instruments deteriorate; the wood is changing and the varnish crystallises, so inevitably you can develope problems" He also said that what he is doing now, is making a thin back table with double struts for support, and this makes for a strong, sweet-sounding instrument.
  5. The basses I have tryed were about 40-50 years.
    One was dated 1966. All of them had rather thick tables
    obviously they hadn´t opened up yet...

    Kind regards,
    Christian V
  6. CV - Your complaint is nothing new. I've heard one Pollman that is great, but the majority were not. Pollman is somewhat like Juzek, in that there is a wide range in quality of sound. Most are good, not as many are sensational.
  7. my maybe naive questions !
    Hello Don and thanks for your reply.

    As you know I am new to the subject and am
    very interested and curious.
    I am trying to learn and testing my own
    "taste" regarding sound and pricing.

    Just talked to a symphony orchestra player,
    he mentioned his orchestra buying at least 4
    Pöllmans and none of the players are happy with them.
    Other bassplayers I have asked the last days all
    seem to be of the same oppinion.

    "Eager to learn..."
    Kind regards,
    Christian V
  8. C. Veltman:

    Have you tried any basses by Canadian maker Peter Elias? He now lives in Switzerland though. His basses are very beautiful and almost all have a very clear, warm and mature tone.

    I noticed that you are from Stockholm. I studied with Thorvald Fredin for a few summers when he taught for The National Youth Orchestra of Canada. As you may know, he was the Principal bass of the Opera in Stockholm. I seem to remember he was looking into getting one or more Elias basses for the Opera company. I'm not sure if he did. You may in fact have some Elias basses in Stockholm then - but if they are the age I think they may be, they may not be quite as pretty as some of his more recent instruments which are absolutely stunning. I'm sure they still sound nice though. :)
  9. Hello Rob W !
    Thorwald Fredin is wellknown amongst the classical palyers here in Sweden.
    Yesterday one of the players from the Opera visited my house and we talked about the famous Maggini bass wich is used by the Principal.
    He did try it and mentioned it beeing FABULOUS
    and played for about two basses in strength and tone...
    His own 300 year old Italian was good but the Maggini was realy something special.....

    Unfortunately I am not aware about the other basses used by the Opera.Elias is still unknown to me but I will of course ask about the next time,it would be very interesting to hear and view one.

    Kind regards,
    Christian V


  10. Are there several luthiers at Pollman? That they are able to fill orders for several basses at a time might lead me to think that they are not able to pay the same attention to detail that an individual bass maker like a Barrie Kolstein or a Rumano Solano, etc. do, not to mention disparities between individual makers at Pollman and materials. But I'm just speculating.
  11. Susimeow


    Jul 27, 2000
    I purchased a Poellmann bass last November and am extremely happy with it. I had the opportunity to check out both Gruenert and Poellmann in person and was impressed with the latter. Michael Krahmer is 4th generation craftsman. My bass was created in early 1999 from 40 year old wood. It was played intensely by the principal of the Vienna Symphony for 4 months. While I was in Mittenwald, a member of the Munich Symphony was there having work done on his instrument. I narrowed my choice to an older instrument and this one, but when I heard this fine musician play, I coudn't believe the deep, rich tone! He couldn't believe that it was such a new instrument. Steve Reiley appraised it at almost 1/3 over what I paid for it. Next month I'm returning the bass trunk that Michael Krahmer lent to me last year. Everyone has their own opinions, but I've gotten nothing but praise from others that have tried my Poellmann.
  12. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I played several poellman fives recently and none of them were nearly loud or responsive as my Solano five. Much more expensive as well. They sure look nice though. Too bad...
  13. I've played Pollmans that were all over the place, and both new and older. All are nice looking and feeling instruments, but some don't sound so great. A few a pretty sweet, but none of them are, IME, amazing and they're generally a little over priced, I think.
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have played a few and owned two myself. I also borrowed a 5-string and did some Orchestra concerts with it. It was very powerful and deep sounding. It was a 1977-78? made Bass. I believe the Top and Back were on the thick side.

    The two I had owned both from the late '70s as well were smaller 3/4 models with those deep Ribs. They were not as loud or deep sounding but were good regardless. The latest one I had was re-graduated at some point so I don't know what it was like originally.

    As fas as the comparison to Juzeks mentioned I will disagree to some point on this as well as Kolstein. Solano on the other hand I believe works mainly alone but I don't know for sure. I just know he doesn't have a huge shop and several employees like Kolstein does. The Juzeks on the other hand were made mainly by various generations of the Wilfer family and sold to Juzek in NY and labeled there. Pollmanns are made by the family and now the Krahmer Bros. who are descendants of the Pollmanns.

    Playing a Pollmann 5 in an Orchestra you don't notice the color of the sound or lack of it. For me, the 5er worked just fine and was quite powerful. The smaller 4 that I recently had briefly was used for only one Concert as I have several other older Basses that I would prefer to play. The Bass felt and sounded great to me in the section and was a sweet sounding Solo Bass as well.

    As with any Bass 'brand' with various models, price points, generations of makers etc, it's hard to make general comparisons. Most of the Pollmanns I have seen had beautiful high quality wood on them. The sound was always from good to better.
  15. True about Barrie's shop. However, he's told me that he's the only one that does any of the work on commissioned basses.
  16. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    When Craig Wensell was in London, Ontario before moving to the Philly area, he played a huge Pollman 5 string Emperor model. I believe its their top-of-the-line model. He said it was made of aged wood (I think he said it was stored for about 50 years).

    It was huge, about 31" across at the bottom bout! When he pizzed, it sounded like someone was playing a little bass drum inside in perfect sync. The arco had a nice puffy bottom end as well. The tonal quality had a little aging to do, but it was only a year or two old at the time and it hadn't been shaken p yet.
  17. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Our orchestra owns 4 Poellmann 5-stringers. The one I play is from '95. It has broken in somewhat since I started playing it, but the sound is not what anyone would call sweet, as the tops (and sides and backs) are quite thick. My reckoning is that the point of these basses is not to make a pretty solo sound, but to blend in a section. It is not my favorite instrument to play, but I must say that they are very even and predictable, not to mention durable as hell! Also, don't forget that what you hear at the bass is different than what the audience hears. When playing, I don't have the feeling that we're making much sound, but when I sit in the audience, there is good clarity and plenty of bottom. Just not sexy!
  18. CPike


    May 28, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    +1 - I have a '77 Pöllmann that I've always thought sounded weak and thin under my ear, but most sections I play in tell me the sound is huge. In chamber music I frequently get comments from the audience about how dark, clear and even the sound of my bass is. Also that it blends well. The top and back of my Pöllmann are what I would consider "normal" as far as thickness goes, but the sides are very thin, unlike more recent Pöllmanns, making my bass quite light to handle (well, it was light until I put the heavy brass KC strings extension on it, ha ha). One of the bassists in an orchestra I play in tells me that having me in the section feels like there's a big subwoofer on stage, but I can't tell from where I'm sitting.

    Likening basses to cars, Pöllmanns are not Ford Pintos, nor are they Beamers. I think it's like having a nice Toyota Camry - solid, dependable and comfy.

  19. I just returned from California where I purchased a 2006 Busseto Poellmann 4-string from Jerry at Lemur Music. Equipped with TI BelCanto strings, we spent the day together narrowing about a dozen Basses down to the one I bought. What fun! Thoughtfully, when I first arrived, Jerry asked me what the 2 or 3 most important things are that I was looking for in a new bass. My #1 was loud sound projection to the audience, followed by quality and balance of tone, and finally playing comfort, quality of build, and overall looks. Interestingly, from a wide range of makers, 3 of the 4 finalists were Poellmanns, the other a wonderful big Bjoern Stoll.

    The four finalists were then subjected to what we named the "Lemur Test Cycle", a comprehensive test and analysis of volume and tone conducted both indoors and outdoors. Each instrument was played in the high, medium and low registers. Performance was measured by the observer and recorded on a 1-5 scale, 5 being best.

    Three tests were conducted. The first with the player being the observer, to judge sound volume quality and tone from the player's perspective, indoors in a studio. The second test was also conducted inside with the observer positioned 5 yards in front of the player/bass. The third test in the cycle was conducted outdoors, with the observer 25 yards from the bass/player, to judge the long-distance sound projection from the instruments.

    Amazing results were obtained. The louder bass inside was not the loudest at a distance on all tone ranges. The Poellmanns had the best volume, projection and the best overall balace in tone quality low to high. I was impressed, and got the feeling that decades of experience, selected woods, impeccable craftsmanship, and maybe a few top secret techniques really pay off in performance, and justify the price.

    Attached Files:

  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Interesting discussion - started 8 years ago - by somebody who seems to be a Jazz player from their profile!! :p

    It's an intresting topic to me as someone who loves playing Jazz and the sound of DB in Jazz, but who is also a big fan of orchestral music, going to the Proms and hearing the great European orchestras.

    So when I am in the audience at the concert hall I very rarely notice the sound of the DB section and I am sure it is one of those cases where you know you would miss it, if it wasn't there - but it is part of the "whole" sound of the orchestra, rather than anything noticable?

    There have been rare occasions - say in a Shostakovich symphony where it was noticable that you had a low C (below the E string) being played for several minutes, by the DB section of a Russian orchestra - quite a stunning sound!

    But generally with the best Orchestras - say the Berlin - in the concert hall, it is the overall richness of the orchestral strings as a unit, rather than hearing the sound of the basses.