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The Elgar Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Jun 8, 2005.


  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    In Elgars' "Looking at the Double Bass" there are many beautiful Basses and some not so beautiful..lol .. Some of the Basses are NOT what they are named by Elgar or the person submitting the Photo for entry. I have learned of a few of these Basses in his book and where they are. Recently, a few of them have come up for sale. All by different parties and all over the world.

    If you have been in contact, played or know of any of the 'Elgar Basses', then please share your knowledge/experience with us. Here are my experiences with some of these Basses;

    In his section on Maggini he talks of an older example by GP named "The Dumas Maggini" after a famous 19th century collector. I have held this Bass in my hands. I still feel the chill after almost 35 years. One of the Montagnanas on pgs 100-103 sold at auction about 15 years ago for about $250k. Dragonettis' Gasparo Da Salo (pg.69) was recently pictured in a new book by Stefano Pio and he states it was cut at the shoulders a long time ago. The Busan on pgs. 50-51 is also in the book. The Gasparo on pg70 is believed to be an antiqued fake by Fendt. Most likely B.S.. The Gasparo on pg. 75 was sold by a German dealer several years ago for around $200k and I was told "it didn't sound so good" by the dealer recently.

    Most recently I have run across 3 Basses in his book that are now on the market for sale. One is the Gagliano 5-string on pg.84.. Wait, did I say Gagliano?.. It has recently be re-named as an English Panormo (on of the sons) and is now converted back to a 4-stringer. Price?..$90s (that's about $90k or so). Also in the 'Tea & Crackers' section is another fine Bass by William Baker pgs.154-157. This is also selling in the $80-90k range. And the last and final of the trio mentioned is the Chamber Bass by Thomas Kennedy on pg 171.
    _______________________________________________________
    From the seller; "Kennedy Chamber Bass "Trout"

    Description:

    "This instrument (which appears in the Raymond Elgar books) was made by Thomas Kennedy in London, 1835 and bears his label. Probably commissioned for a wealthy amateur player it is known as "The Trout" after the Schubert Quintet for which it was used."

    "This extremely rare instrument is in superb condition."
    _______________________________________________________
    EDIT: I don't know what price they are asking but it is 'Price on Application". I just got off the phone with the seller and it is a very small Bass, just slightly bigger than a Cello with about a 34" String Length. They do not have a definite price on it yet but have had offers. The last offer was refused.

    And some think I went a bit too far on my Gilkes description.
     
  2. I know that the W. Tarr on page 178 (owned and played by Elgar himself) is down under in the hands of a Jazz player. The NOS Gand et Bernadel is pictured on the Knooren basses website, but I don't know who owns it. The bass on page 72 (as well as the supposed Montagnana on 102 I believe) are in the Paris Conservatory Music Museum. That's all I know. I think it's interesting that the way Elgar phographed and cut out the photos makes the basses look much more deformed and old than they look in real life.

    Jon
     
  3. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Does anyone have any details about the 5 string bass labeled a vuillame in one of the Elgar books?

    I would love to own or commission even a copy of that bass.

    Thanks
     
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    That Bass is on pg. 120-121 of "More about the Double Bass" and not in the "Looking at ..." book. I wonder why it was left out of his main picture Book?

    I know that Derezay Made Basses for Vuillaume but not sure who else. He travelled so much that it has been agreed that he didn't make all of the instruments with his name. The Bass in Elgars book does not even look french. The 4-stringer in the Pic book is French though. France was mainly 3-strings in that period with some 4s so it seems odd that Vuillaume would make a 5-stringer.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Is this any relation to Sir Edward, the composer... I know he actually conducted regularly, at the concert hall in my home town - they recently had a project to restore the acoustics to what they were in Elgar's time --- they had since stuffed the ceiling area (Dome) with electronic lighting equipment which affected the sound!! ;)

    Now we can hear the orchestras, exactly as Elgar would have done!! :)
     
  6. Bruce

    I don't think there is a direct relationship, but with the same name and both being from England, they are probably distantly related. I would like to find out more about Raymond Elgar if anyone has any info. I seem to recall reading his biography or obituary or something like that at sometime but I can't recall where. I haven't been able to find any info about him on the internet or in any double bass publications other than regarding the books he wrote. He also claims to have done alot of playing, but I can't find any recordings he may have appeared on. Does anybody know anything about him?

    Jon
     
  7. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    thanks Ken,

    Is it even referred to as a Vuillaume bass in the book? The Bass I am thinking of has a pretty slim profile at the upper bout and was a 5 stringer.
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The 5-str Vuillaume is the one I mentioned from that book with sloaping upper shoulders. Looks later french if french at all. Where did u see the one you mentioned?
     
  9. The Prescott fiver pictured on pages 200-201, was the bass that made me fall in love with the Prescott Busetto pattern.
    The Montagnana 0n page 100 is my all time favorite bass to oogle....Oh no.... now i've done it .....to the bathroom!
     
  10. I spent a day with our man Olivier, visiting the top luthiers in Paris. They told me that Vuillaume sub-contracted his bass orders, as did Georges Apparut. (One of my basses is a gorgeous fraud with a bogus Apparut label.)
    Another surprise was learning that it was customary for great makers to sub-contract scroll carving to furniture makers.
     
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    A recent issue of Double Bassist Magazine from the UK had an article with 3 Vuillaume Basses. I wonder if they are Derazey or whom ever and if the 3 Basses are even from the the same shop?

    The Derazey at Biases' Shop is one monster Bass. The tone kills and stacks up in power with his Guads and Forster.

    I am also skeptical about the many Panormo and Fendt labelled instruments. Panormo worked a good part of his time in shop of 'olde' John Betts as well as Fendt. Fendt worked for 11 years before that in the shop of Thomas Dodd as well. The instruments were Labelled Betts or Dodd back then. If the maker worked at home or after hours in the shop then maybe they were able to use their own Label. The Dodd instruments are mainly Lott and Fendt whisle Betts had about dozen of Englands finest over the years! Forster on the other hand, the 3rd great shop of that time had both Gilkes and Kennedy on the bench. My Gilkes is 1811 which is the earilest documented Label of his I have seen. Most of Gilkes works carry the Forster III or Charles Harris label (on the eariler works).
    Italian what?.. I think I'll work on my English collection... It's like a Cracker Jacks Box. You never know what's in it.......
     
  12. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I don't know anything about him, and I can't afford the basses in his books, but here's one for you: I own a copy of one of the volumes in his series that he personally inscribed to bass pedagogue Lajos Montag. I bought it from an English used book dealer.
     
  13. That must be 'More About the Double Bass' that has a picture of Montag playing that lions head bass with the 'F' holes that look like bats.... made by Lajos Kovacs?
     
  14. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    sorry for the late response, that was the bass Ken, I just really like the shape. Pedigree is a funny thing, isn't it. I don't know enough about different makers to tell who made what. Since the Elgar books seem to have a lot of now known, or assumed incorrect Identifications, do you any good books with good pictures?

    And no, I don't want Paul's Second hand ones.
     
  15. Second hand ones??

    Picky-picky...
     
  16. I have seen and played the Jacope Lorenzelli shown on pages 94 and 95 of "Looking." It's sonorous and its sound is huge. It's owned by Lou Kosma of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Lou took a chance on it. He bought it even though the shoulders were so high that it was virtually unplayable. He asked Kolstein to cut the top, back and ribs to lower and slope the shoulders. Sam refused, but Barrie agreed. So instead of being a museum piece, it is now played every night in one of the world's great orchestras.
     
  17. ispider6

    ispider6

    Jan 30, 2005
    Alex,

    When I was in school, the university's music library had a copy of Contrabassi Cremonese by Duane Rosengard (his name always reminds me of Lord of the Rings). It features several incredible Italian basses (Da Salo, Bergonzi and Ceruti just to name a few!) and has lots of pictures. Not to mention Duane's incredible expertise spelled out in wonderful descriptions of the basses and biographical information on the makers. It's definitely worth checking out if you can find a copy. I believe it's rather expensive to buy though.
     
  18. My late wife, Barbara, bought this beautiful book for me for my birthday one year. As I remember it was well over $100. Unfortunately, you're paying that price because the book is half in Italian and half in English. The plates are huge and beautifully done....this book has a permanent place in my well known bathroom.
     
  19. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    The most interesting thing happened to me today.... I ended up taking my bass to Constantin Popescu's place in Westport, CT for some minor repairs. When I got there, I noticed the most striking bass in the corner.... After I was done talking to the guy at the shop, my brother (who was with me) asked by chance what was the most valuable bass there at the time. Sure enough, the man pointed to that bass in the corner. He said that it would sell for around $100k, but it seemed as though he wasn't really sure. Then he explained what it was....

    Turns out the bass I was looking at and even got to touch, was the alleged Amati formerly owned by Fred Zimmerman. The man took out one of the Elgar books, and there was a picture of the bass in it! In fact, it was the very first bass pictured in the volume.

    What a beautiful instrument... but I was scared even to lay a finger on it!
    :)

    So that's my Elgar bass story..
     
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The Elgar 'William Baker' Bass is now in NYC for sale. The current asking price is 100k/Euros or about $120k/USD. I talked to Biase last year about this Bass coming available and it's here in the USA now. I think the 80-90k price was an estimate last year but now has a firm and stiff price tag.

    Asking is one thing but getting is another!

    I hear this Bass has a great and powerful English sound but not quite as much 'umph' as Biase's Forster currently priced at $140k. I think my Dodd needs a little boost on the price tag so it can be appreciated for the asking price I now have on it.

    Ofcourse we are talking about fully restored English master Basses here and not the run of the mill wannabe. The only Basses I have seen beat these in tone have been the top classed Italian Orchestral Basses.