The Mystery that is Monte's Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Monte, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    While attending the Dave Pietro concert last night, I was amazed to see John Hebert playing a bass that was an almost exact copy of my bass, other than his being a 7/8 bass. I mean the varnish was the exact color, same purfling, same exact tuners, same fittings. It was so close that I had a tenor player and a pianist that I occasionally play with ask if he was borrowing my bass!!

    Some of you might remember that my bass is unlabeled, a 4 string that was later converted to a 5 string and then converted back. To complicate things, a label that says Jan Kriml was found in the bottom, although it appears too small to have been a bass label. My luthier guessed c.1930 Juzek based on others he had seen with the purfling, shape, and lining.

    When I talked to John about his bass, he said his luthier at David Gage had guessed it was a Mittenwald factory instrument of the approximate age of mine but not a Juzek due to the varnish. That is something that has always puzzled me, because I've seen lots of Juzek's, but none of this yellowish brown color.

    Anyway, it doesn't really matter what it is, and I'm aware that several basses were carved in the same factory and finished in another and given different names, like Wilfer and Juzek. I was curious if any luthiers had seen Juzeks this color, as most I've seen had more of a reddish cast. You can see a pic of the front here or the back here .

    As I've said before, a rose by any other name............but I thought it was interesting and thought maybe some of you would too.

  2. That's the color of a Juzek I had. Coincidentally, I bought the Juzek when I came out of musical retirement, and my first gig was to replace John Hebert in a trio; John had left to go with the Dorsey band. I had met John before...a very good bassist and a very good person. His time had that quality not easily achieved: swinging, but at the same time, relaxed.
    But yes, most Juzeks I've seen were the color in your photos.
  3. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    The Juzek that I play is that color also. How's the carved Juzek's sound?
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Better than it has a right to. My orchestral teacher and stand partner jokes that Guaneri had a grandson working in the Juzek factory the day it was made.:D

    I've turned down offers of nearly 3x what I paid for it ($3500 in '97) because I have yet to play a bass in the $10k range that I like nearly as well. It also is unusual in that it has virtually zero repairs to worry about opening up, and sometime in the 50's it was converted to a 5 string, so if someone ever wanted to convert it back, a new bridge and nut would be all that would be required. Now, if the guy in Texas who is selling this incredible Barbe bass wants to trade straight up, I'll listen to offers..........

    Thanks guys for the input. I have heard the same thing about the color on the 2xbasslist, so I'm gonna keep on callin' it an unmarked, probably 30's Juzek. Should have trusted my luthier; he is usually right on these things.


    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    If that is the Barbe that he bought from Canada, then I have played that bass. In fact, I almost bought it! It was a wreck though. Really poor repairs.
  6. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Hmm, must be a different one. This one was in excellent shape, and I think was owned by a symphony guy from Houston.

  7. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Great post, Ken! Thanks.
  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Thanks Ken. What else do you know? :D
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Rumor has it he knows a thing or two about high end slabs, too....
  10. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS

    I finally saw this bass at Graham's in Arlington. It had a really weird looking neck repair. I wouldn't give $15,000 for it!!