The bass pictured here is a smallish three quarter size violin shape with nicely flamed maple back & ribs. The 3 piece slab cut spruce top with painted on purfling is typically Italian. The neck is a replacement I made- I found the bass with a later folk head stock but with the original 3 gears. It is now fitted with those gears plus a later Nineteenth Century fourth. The bass has a 41 1/2" mensure with a typical E flat neck that I made with extra overstand so the upper register is quite accessible. The varnish is my re-varnish to the original "dragon's blood" red color- there are many large remnants of the original extant on the inside of the back that I matched to. The bass was made in the mid to end of the Eighteenth Century. A beautiful bass but what was most interesting to me was discovered when I took the top off.

The bass has a noticeable off set end pin hole, skewed to the top side of the instrument, reminiscent of "modern" end pins I am occasionally asked to install.

The bass' top has an original long flat strip that centers under the sound post side as a smaller analogy to the bass bar. The bass bar is the original. There is a compass drawn circle in pencil under both these bars. The center of that circle corresponds to the sound post center placement and the bass bar has its deepest part at that same point, not under the E bridge foot as is usually found. There is a small mark on inside of the back's center seam that corresponds to the center of that top circle, too. These marks taken together show how the luthier was apparently doing his work with the center of the sound post as his or her locus point. (I use the bridge placement myself.) It was obviously made by a confident luthier working within a well established tradition- it is unlikely it was their only instrument. The bass plays & sounds as well as any I have encountered.
The internal construction of this bass top is absolutely unique in my 30+ year career- a good set of details to identify the maker if found on a signed example. Any of this look familiar to anyone out there?


This second bass featured here also has unique details that would also make identification of its maker easy, but I have never seen another like it either. Its most unique feature is the amount that the ribs’ width tapers. Many basses have a subtle taper in rib width (including the violin shaped bass pictured above) but never have I seen one with this much. I like this exaggerated taper so much I am duplicating it on my first bass, currently under construction in High Falls. The bass' shape is quite asymmetric, so was probably made in the pre-mold era. The top's purfling is original-hand made of 3 very narrow black-white-black strips. I recently removed some later wider purfling and restored it to match the original.

It has European pear wood back & sides, a detail I have only ever seen in Italian instruments. The back has wonderful figure to it- as seen on the right. I acquired the bass with the back off and it was what is kindly referred to as "well wooded". I completely re-graduated it to a more acceptable thickness for sound as well as weight, but retained the original center seam cleats. I left the outer most edges uncut with the oxidation intact as proof of the bass' age, which I place as circa 1780. The neck is a modern replacement with what are most probably the three original gears, with a mid 19th Century additional "match" added when it got the fourth string. It too came to me with a poor replacement neck and scroll. The varnish is an old well executed re-varnish that dates from its three to four string conversion. I have put on one of my fingered C extensions to take it down to low C. The bass is a slightly short three quarter size with a deceptively big sound.

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