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Worlds oldest basses!

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MartinBorgen, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. Just got thinking. What are the worlds oldest basses, and how old are they? I got the idea from reading my christmas present (book about the royal Swedish Opera's basses), and in particular the Maggini bass from 1597! Image from their website, that's unfortunately only avaidable in swedish: maggini_kontrabas.

    Sure there must be more extremely old basses out there? Let's hear!
  2. dhines


    Apr 22, 2008
    Lawrence, Kansas
    Wow! That is simply gorgeous. Feel free to post more pics. I am curious myself.
  3. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    I don't own a DB, nor am I very proficient at the art, but I'm obsessed with history and old stuff. Can't wait to see more pictures and hear more on this topic!
  4. I'm not sure if there are that many more pictures. However, the best thing with this bass is that it's still played regularly - albeit only by the first chair. The opera cannot afford to insure it because of the enormous fee they would have to pay...

    From what I can read, the bass has been inwards "foddered" (litterally translated here) in 1941 with another piece of wood on at least the back and sides (the lid isn't mentioned), as the original wood has cracked to mosaic over time, and barely held together - prior to the repair, the inside-back was a mosaic of patches trying to keep it together.:rolleyes: However, the bass got it's wonderful tone back!

    in it's 414th year of service, and was aquired by the Royal Court orchestra (the orchestra playing at the royal opera) sometimes in the 1650's, and has been used ever since!
  5. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  6. It's a copy of the bass above, though I did not knew of it before. The book referred in there is the one I got. :)

    Now that's impressive! From just reading the book all evening, I happened to notice that this bass is built by the previously mentioned Maggini's master! Perhaps not completely unexpected, I'm not sure how many made the double bass then, as it was very uncommon.
  7. eh_train

    eh_train Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
  8. chris1125


    May 14, 2007
  9. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    For such old basses they look so 'today'. There are plenty of old basses out there with such weird proportions that I assumed that's what old basses were like. These two have made me think again. So what went wrong in the intervening years?
  10. Maybe the most astonishing, is that those basses are still here after such a long time. Going through wars, revolutions, cataclysm, xylophagous appetites...

    Do they play better after all this years, than well made instrument of nowdays ? I don't know. After all, there are plenty of very well made instruments today, and I'm sure they could concurre with those very old basses.

    But it's not only a question of tone anymore, but also of history. From this point of view, these older basses are incredible.
  11. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    That's a great website. After Dragonetti passed away that bass languished for centuries at St. Mark's before it was decided to restore it. I'm glad they left it with three gut strings, although it looks like it had four at one time. The bassist in the video is even using Dragonetti's bow to perform one of his unaccompanied waltzes.

    This bass, like most basses from the 16th century, probably started life as a violone with a shorter, fretted fingerboard and six strings. The width of the f holes looks like it was designed to accommodate a wider bridge.

    - Steve
  12. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    At the Smithsonian there's an exhibit of old instruments. There was a bass there hat dated back to I think 1297. Of course, it was fretted and had paired strings and looked generally nothing like basses of today, but I still found it quite interesting.

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