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Violin bass...hmm..but it's not a violin shape!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Troels Schmidt, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    Wonder why the nice old Hofner 500/1 is called a "violin bass"...

    Because it's not a violin shape at all. If anything near it, it's a scaled down double bass outline... but even so it not a double bass of classic violin design - but a gamba - which is a frettet renaissance instrument played with a bow...

    In the double bass world they talk about two basic types - violin and gamba... hmmm just wondering...

  2. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    Not sure, but fine by me. Why quibble with a moniker like that?

    By the way, I've heard folks in the UK refer to F-hole archtop acoustic guitars as "cello guitars". They don't look like cellos, but I get why they they use the term.
  3. Apolicious


    Jan 16, 2014
  4. A gamba is better known as a viol de gamba, which pretty much sums up the shape of the 500/1. The viol may have been corrupted to violin, which is a more common term, and because the bass is small, like a violin. I don't think Hofner ever used the term until it became known that way by the general public (much like the term 'Beatle Bass').

    At any rate, it's almost certainly based on Gibson's EB-1 design anyway, which was modeled after a double bass.
  5. theNecatoR


    Jun 23, 2012
    I agree, it is the people who gave it the moniker. On a related note, I showed today a Höfner 5001 to my girlfriend and she asked textually "Isn't that a violin?".
    So yes: to normal people, it's a violin. A viola di gamba is too much an esoteric term for not Bass-players.
  6. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It looks pretty violinish to me.
  7. The EB-1 may look like a violin but the Hofner is constructed like one. You have to remember that Hofner at that time was primarily in the business making violins, cellos, uprights, etc. All they really did was take the EB-1 visual design and applied it toward a violin based construction.
  8. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    I've checked with the "Hofner, The complete Violin Bass Story" - and there are a few early officially Hofner advertisments (pages 98, 205, and 264) shown in the book using the term "violin bass". But even so, the term "Beatle Bass" is much more commonly used after 1965. The term "violin bass" is not used in German advertisements at all.

    mcarp555 is right. I can ad that, that the term "violin" origins from Italian language and the violin family is called violin, viola (bratsch) and violoncel (cello for short) the latter being the originally bass in the violin family whereas what we call the doublebass is a contra bass in classical music (at least in Europe)...

    Anyway, why bother at all..? Hmmm... I'm interested in words, their history (emythology) and find small riddles like this amusing ;)
  9. Yeah, I heard that Paul McCartney nearly rejected his Hofner at first because he was so disappointed that it was too much like a gamba.

  10. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    I guess Paul told you himself...??? Well not that Paul of course - Paul in the little room next to yours ;)
  11. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    Yes... except they gave it the shape of a gamba - not a violin. The EB-1 is a sort of cross between a scaled down double bass and a violin :cool:
  12. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    By the way... it's a quite pretty shape...
  13. Given that the gamba is not well known and is pretty F'n close to the same shape, who cares?
  14. Troels Schmidt

    Troels Schmidt

    Mar 6, 2014
    Right... and who cares? I do! ;)