What do I have?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by People's Cowboy, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Repair bass cosmetically as a "work of art"- not for playing.

    1 vote(s)
  2. Repair bass as it is- a three-string instrument- for performance.

    7 vote(s)
  3. Repair bass- but make it a 4-string.

    20 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. People's Cowboy

    People's Cowboy

    Apr 17, 2005
    I am an electric player that has recently started playing uprights. To start I got myself an Antonius to make sure this is something I really wanted to pursue. And I do.

    I've recently come into the possession of a 3-string instrument that I at first thought may have been a "church bass". But I've done further research to find that it isn't a church bass- for it is way to large.

    I took it to the Cincinnati Bass Cellar- they are pretty sure it's not a church bass because of the size- it's a 5/8 they think.

    My needs are two-fold:

    1) To find out what it is that I own.

    By all accounts this is an older instrument. It has seen some repairs.
    I want to know what it is before I decide what to do with it.

    2) What to do with it. My first inclination is to repair it as is and play it as a 3-string. But that begs other questions- tuning, string size, how I authentic I should get with repair parts.

    Can anyone help me determine what it is that I own? Here are some images of this bass:

    Attached Files:

  2. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    IMO I would not see much value in a 3 string. Four strings is pretty much standard and would save you from conversion costs down the road if you or a buyer wanted four strings. It would make a great little solo or chamber size bass.

    To my eyes and from the limited pictures, I think it looks Czech. What did the folks at the Bass Cellar say?
  3. People's Cowboy

    People's Cowboy

    Apr 17, 2005
    They were very unsure- but said they thought it might be German. And they estimated somewhere in the late 1800s. But they didn't say much more than that.

    I can't afford to have the work done on it that it needs presently, maybe they could tell more if they opened it?
  4. The fingerboard and tail piece are interesting. What kind of wood does that look like close up? Light wood is unusual.
  5. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    As for the tuner plates. Have you looked on the inside of the scroll to see if it has always been a three string bass? The plates may be covering up some evidence of previous tuners.
  6. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Neat bass.

    I'm inclined to doubt its germanic origins, but thats me. I could see some kind of American school of maker - who, I coulnd't guess. The boss of the scroll has that prescott-like robustness, and the pegbox and scroll are heading back on more of an incine than you see in most german instruments.

    Whatever it is, when you decide to restore it, do so as four stringer. If you decide not to restore it, PM me.
  7. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    That's what I thought, too, until I was in Italy a couple of years ago and saw two of the most jaw-dropping bass performances ever by bassists playing in the street with traditional ("folk?" "gypsy?") bands. Both bassists had three-stringers, strung with gut, and they played the sh!t out of them! No amps, either, and they both filled the square with sound. I thought "Oh, that's where Tony Levin got the idea for his three-string bass guitar..."

    If that bass were mine, I'd convert it to a four-string and PLAY it. But if I just wanted to deal with it as-is, I would tune it F-C-G (bottom to top) and have a novelty item with almost the full range of a four string bass tuned in fourths.
  8. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I saw the same exact thing 2 summers ago in Rome. It was bas, mandolin I think, and accordion. The bassist let me check out his bass, and it sounded great. He had solid nylon strings on it too. He said he was selling it, but I had no way of bring it back to the US.
  9. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Ha! It was in Rome that I saw them, too, but three summers ago. In the square right outside of the Pantheon. Probably was one of the same guys, but this band was a bit larger.

    BTW, Phil, you will soon receive money in the mail...
  10. Hey Cowboy....Would you mind telling where you found this bass?
    What's an Antonius?
    Please do try to post some shots of the back of the scroll box and the back...as Ken suggests. Try to get a close up of the button ( up where the back attaches to the neck area)
    Also the ribs.
    I love the turned end-pin.
    Thanks and congratulations!
  11. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Cheapo EBAY-style bass................
  12. form52


    Mar 17, 2005
    For one reason or another this thread fascinated me.
    I love a good mystery, I guess.

    My grandfather is a music historian so I figured .. "Hey .. maybe he'll know a lil somthin about it", so I emailed him the pics.

    He too wants more pics... and ... as odd as this may sound...
    Get one of those little dentist mirrors shine a flashlight into the body and use the mirror to look at inner piece of the front between the F holes. See if there's either a name or some kind of etching there.
    He seems to think it's a late 1800's (1880's) Russian made bass, made by (name escaped him at the moment) who primarily made violins.

    If you could look at that and get some more pics, I'd like to send him as much as you can dig up.
  13. People's Cowboy

    People's Cowboy

    Apr 17, 2005
    I took this to a luthier in Chicago. He seems to think this bass was made in Southern Germany/Northern Italy/Austria- because of the type of wood and the construction. Although it spent some time in England- as can be seen in the headstock style (only the British used that fashion of brass-plating). However it didn't spend much time there because the wood on the inside of the bass isn't black (it didn't stay long enough to collect soot).

    He also seems to think it's dated late 1700s-early 1800s.

    This is all mere speculation. Any help would be appreciated.
  14. With these pics, and what little info we have, it's a silly guessing game....but my first thought when I saw the full length shot was Tyrolean.
    Kenny Boy, I can't see why you're thinking blockless wonder when you can't really see that area.
    Cowboy, when you do take some more shots, please be sure to include a shot of that button area I mentioned before. Kenny Boy and myself do respect each other( you'd never know it) but we do enjoy our our little bass squables.
    Thanks Man.
  15. Looks Tyrolean to me. Some countries that imported from Bavaria in the 1800's used 3-strings (England for one) not to mention folk players who still use 3-strings. Check to see if it were originally 4-strings and converted. This would make since. I dig the boxwood (?) fingerboard and tailpiece. That bass looks like it would be good for a period specialist since it is small, has older fittings (and no doubt a low overstand, etc) for gut strings. Convert it back to 4 and set up for baroque.
  16. Where did I say anything negative about blockless wonders?
    Where, also, did I say it was a crime or an indication of a bad bass?
    If you dig back in our archives, you'll see i'm as much of a Prescott freak as anyone in the forum. I know it was a style for quite awhile.
    Remember I play an American bass myself.
    Prescott's basses were the first basses that I ever got a woody for.:)
  17. Fendt? When did I miss that?? You're getting a Fendt? I muust have missed that when I was sick. I'd love to have it be called Mr. Woody. I'll come out and we'll christen it!!!!