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Unusual grain pattern on old Hitzelberger

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Silversorcerer, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. I saw this one on World of Basses and if you look closely at the wood grain around the f-hole, you will see grain run out at the edge of the top.
    To better illustrate the grain, I enhanced this photo in Corel.

    I have heard of basses with slab grain. This one appears on both the front and back of this one.

    More photos are at:

    Attached Files:

  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have looked at that Bass many times. It is Very early for a German/Austrian/Tyrol type Bass with Violin corners (where is Pfronten exactly?)...Perhaps he trained in Northern Italy. Most definitly of Italian Influence especially with the Slab top... The Label/Origin and the Style of the Bass is not normal for that School of making in that period.

    Here is one more Bass from the Tyrol with Violin shape; http://www.worldofbasses.de/Instrumente_02/Rief/Rief.html

    Slab Tops are very common in Italian Basses. My 1919 Martini is Slab cut with knots and even on the Back..


    All the pics of Martini; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MartiniBass/martini_bass_2.htm
  3. As many times as I've ogled the Martini, Ken, I've not noticed the grain before. I've probably missed it on many other basses I've looked at as well. It's just real obvious in that close-up of the Hitzelberger. Given the dates of the Martini and the Hitzelberger, it appears the use of slab top-wood was common for quite a while. It also looks like the makers preferred to put the grain run out closer to the edge. Are slab tops totally out of fashion now? I'm assuming that in the case of the Martini and perhaps the Hitzelberger the sound is superior to many perfectly quartered tops.

    It is so much easier to find wood in the DB dimension that is somewhat slab-ish.

    That Rief bass looks even more cello-like than the Hitzelberger, Ken.
  4. I believe if memory serves it is at the base of the Bavarian Alps. The Fuessen makers where from this area I think. I saw a sign to that town when I was in Germany recently.

  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    So I guess that is southern Germany then.....

    The gamba shape was mostly the only shape of that area with the exception of a few Busetto models. I think the Hawks Copies and some German Orchestra Basses were the first commercial looking Basses with the Violin form..

    Heres a few early German/Bohemian Basses I found in the Violin form; http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2454.htm http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2294.htm http://www.contrabass.co.uk/2424.htm

    Other than the 2 Basses on WOB 'site, I have never seen Violin cornered Basses from Germany b4 the late 19th century.

    Maybe it was the Cello form the were after rather than the Italian/violin form?.. Who knows...
  6. Was there a compelling reason that the Hitzelberger was made with a slab top, Ken? I have read, but the source was not what I would consider well documented, that German forests were greatly depleted by the mid 19th century and were actually reforested with seed stock from America. I was wondering if it was a case of using what was available or if it was more of a standard practice at that time than it is now?

    Have you ever found or heard anything like this?
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I know nothing at all about this subject... That Bass is a bit rare and at best, an Italian model for some reason.. The Scroll does have an old Tyrol Flavor...
  8. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    ok since we're kind of on the subject, i am wondering what exactly is a slab cut, and what is quarter sewn?
    are there any other "cuts" or methods of creating a single piece of wood before carving?
    i tried searching the web and could not come up with anything.

    are there advantages tone and strength wise to a certain method?
    what is most common?
  9. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Here are the main three cuts used in woodworking; to my knowledge riftsawn is not used [or at least not often] and quartersawn is the most popular in instrument building.
  10. Aaron....great attachment! Thanks......
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Indeed. Very cool.
  12. Ken

    There was a great deal of trade between Italy and Southern Germany in the 1700's. The Fuessen makers, which I refered to before, used the violin shape for all instruments, however, these instruments were different from most Italian instruments in that they did not have corner blocks and had insteresting geometric decorative designs on the back and top. Very few of these basses exist now. The German trade in the 1800's seems to have been almost exclusively in gamba shaped basses, but there must have been isolated small makers who made violin shaped basses although I too have never seen one dated before the late 1800's when German basses started to be sold in the US.

  13. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Aaron- yu da' man. Thanks!
  14. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
  15. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    That's a great diagram. Pretty sure I first saw it in Fine Woodworking or Popular Woodworking...