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What kind of bass is this?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by groovette, Feb 26, 2008.


  1. groovette

    groovette

    Feb 10, 2008
    3/4 size, all plywood. Spruce veneer top, maple veneer back and sides. Maple fingerboard and tailpiece. Old-style hatpin pegs. No markings or label inside. I found in the back of a music store in Kansas in 1973 and paid $150 for it. It's had several hundred $ in various repairs over the years, including a full neck repair and re-set.
    Any ideas on its origin? I've never see another, yet it appears to be an inexpensive factory bass. It does have great tone and is plenty loud.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. It does in fact seem to be a German factory bass from around 1920 or so. I had one and it looked very similar. I would guess it's worth about 6K but the luthiers will soon arrive to set the record straight.
     
  3. groovette

    groovette

    Feb 10, 2008
    That reminds me of another question has arisen from time to time... when was plywood invented? Thanks for your info. I think you're probably right in the ballpark on it.
     
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    6k for a Plywood Bass? If that Bass was fully carved, 6k would be a stretch. Also, I think 1920 is way too early for a laminated Bass.
     
  5. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    wiki: "Plywood has been made for thousands of years; the earliest known occurrence of plywood was in ancient Egypt around 3500 BCE when wooden articles were made from sawn veneers glued together crosswise. This was originally done due to a shortage of fine wood. Thin sheets of high quality wood were glued over a substrate of lower quality wood for cosmetic effect, with incidental structural benefits."

    yeah, laminated wood has been around for ages. Commercial plywood is more recent, but then most lainated basses aren't/were'nt made from commercial plywood.
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Although I haven't seen any commercially made laminated basses from before the 1930s I did once have an Italian bass with an old laminated back and laminated center crossbar.

    The Bass was dated 1802. The Back looked to be 6 pieces across. When I later looked inside the bass, the 6 pieces didn't line up with the outside. Then I found an edge by the corner missing its dark varnish and saw the lamination.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Although the back looks old, I don't know if it's original to the Bass or from 1802. Either way, with the 6 piece flame outer layer and 6 piece inner, it is definitely similar to older Italian Basses with multiple piece tops and backs.
     
  7. groovette

    groovette

    Feb 10, 2008
    Who knew plywood had been around so long? A bit of further looking took me to the APA wedsite (American Plywood Assoc). Commercial plywood use really took off in the mid-thirties with the invention of waterproof glue. My assumption is that factory basses are made almost exclusively of commercial plywood.
    My bass? Probably dates to the 30's. Maybe late 20's? I always wondered about those old-style tuning pegs and whether they were an indication of an older instrument. And no offense to Jason Sypher, but Ken Smith is right about the value. It might bring $2500 on a good day. No more than that. Thanks for the info and opinions!
     
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    False, Hybrids and fully carved basses are also made in factories.
     
  9. groovette

    groovette

    Feb 10, 2008
    My bad, Hochberg, of course you're right. What I was trying to say was in reference to plywood--that 20th century bass manufacturers were not making their own custom plywood (as in 1820), they were using commercially-made stuff. Certainly all flavors of basses are made in factories--I didn't mean to imply all factory-mades are plywood.
     
  10. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Do you have any evidence of that ?

    I think you'd have a hard time making a bass from commercial plywood, which is essentially flat and stiff. You need to get the veneers and press them into a form with glue to get the correct shapes. Of course it is possible to bend thin plywood a bit, under heat and pressure too, but you won't get good 3d arching, and I don't think the glues used in commercial plywood would hold up to that too well.
     
  11. I've seen a few basses, probably early 20th century stuff with flat laminated backs. The were in poor repair and I'm not one to say if the backs were original or not, but the varnish and wear seemed to match so I'd say if they weren't original, they were probably installed a long time ago. The thing that jumped out at me was that the plys in the wood were quite thick, looking nothing like what you would see today either in a laminate bass or commercial plywood. These basses were all in the same area at the same time, but were of different models, though each was being sold as just an "old German bass". Dunno what the story was.

    :bag:
     
  12. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    Chicago
    If I'm reading Roger Stowers correctly (www.kaybass.com), Kay did all its lamination work in house. Englehardt has subbed out its lamination work to Jasper Wood Products in Indiana, but this work is done using Kay molds that Engelhardt acquired when it purchased Kay assets back in 1969. Jasper would have some expertise in this task because their parent company owned Kimball piano (now also defunct) and Jasper made many of the laminated soundboards for Kimball pianos.
     
  13. Asetta Strings

    Asetta Strings

    Mar 25, 2007
    Connecticut
    Michael Asetta, Asetta Strings
    Mathew nice info,good research.Commendable even.Could be a german or Czeck,maybe a Schroter. Anyone have an American Standerd out there? That is a seldom seen ply bass.
    The plys are made one at a time,individual veneers pressed in molds at the factory,you won't bend hardened glue from commercial sheets.Basses are formed with thin layers placed in molds,3or 5 layers with glue between each layer then pressed into a back or top mold or rib.Indestrucitble 'cept for heat thats the enemy of the laminate.
    www.mikeasetta.com
     
  14. Asetta Strings

    Asetta Strings

    Mar 25, 2007
    Connecticut
    Michael Asetta, Asetta Strings
    That thing Ken is showing looks like an old Tone King somebody cut the shoulders down with a rusty saber saw.Are those valutes glued on?The Italiens are such leaders in design.
    www.mikeasetta.com
     
  15. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well Mike, the Lable is most likely false form at least the name. There were no Guads. living in Naples either. On the Scroll mention (valutes?), I believe it is an imported Czech Scroll. I have one similar on my Bohemian Bass as well. It already had an old graft and veneer plates under the tuners so this along with the Varnish under UV light looks to be original to the Bass.

    If you followed the link, you would have seen two small raised laminated plates on either end of the Top, each of them Purfled as well as the center Top seam Purfled as well. This looks to be the work of a 19th century Neapolitan Guitar/Mandolin maker, not a Violin maker. Hence, the reason for the 'purchased' Scroll rather than making one. The sound is one to die for. One of the sweetest Italian basses you will hear.

    So, 1802 is the label but anti-dating is not uncommon in this business and Naples owns their share of guilt in this.
     

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