Author Topic: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!  (Read 106856 times)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« on: March 14, 2009, 02:29:05 PM »
As an amateur woodworker, I love wooden instruments, both old & new, or modern reproductions made faithfully to historic models, such as harpsichords, Baroque flutes/oboes, and so many others.

So, this is a thread about musical instruments, esp. those of historic interest - posts can be broad, e.g. discussion of specific instruments or families (e.g. viols), performances standards (such as the type & nature of bows for stringed instruments), experiences with hearing (or playing) some of these older instruments, books/museums/exhibits concerning musical instruments (e.g. I love visiting the Met in NYC and spending time looking at all that is available in their historic instrument collection).

But, I'll make a first discussion post on the lute, an ancient instrument likely introduced into Europe by the Iberian invasion of the Moors, and modified for many centuries peaking in popularity in the 16th & early 17th centuries; I own a lot of stringed instrument music, including many recordings on the lute, but just received the one below in the mail:

Jakob Lindberg playing Weiss lute compositions on the 'Sixtus Rauwolf lute', an instrument dating from 1590 and beautifully restored - an abbreviated description (more details in the CD booklet) of the lute is quoted below from Lindberg's website -

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In 1991 I bought a very rare original lute at Sotheby's in London by Sixtus Rauwolf, a prolific luthier who lived and worked in Augsburg. Only three other lutes by him have survived; one is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, one in the Claudius Collection in Copenhagen and one in a private collection in England. My instrument is from c 1590 and was originally a 7 or 8 course lute. Inside there is a repair label by Leonard Mausiel, dated Nuremberg 1715 and the present neck, which allows for ten or eleven courses, is probably made by him. Dendochronology confirms that the soundboard is original and dates it 1423-1560. This instrument is thus to my knowledge the oldest lute in playing condition with its original soundboard.


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 05:40:55 PM »
I subscribe to a number of woodworking publications, including the American Woodworker - I was reading the newest issue today and there was a short feature on a harpshichord maker named Ernest Miller, who lives on the east coast of North Carolina (my home state) - was shocked that I'd never even heard of this guy (and another 'famous' maker of harpsichords was his neighbor!) - apparently, during the Napoleonic era when 'pianos' where replacing harpsichords the latter were being used as 'firewood', so plenty of the older instruments were lost.

Miller makes some excellent looking (and expensive!) instruments - take a look @ his Website HERE; the French & Franco-French 'dual manual' models list at $16,000!  One example shown below - apparently a lot of options regarding decoration (his wife does much of the art work) and keyboard options.   :D


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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2009, 05:57:57 PM »
That's a lovely harpsichord, Dave! I have seen many pictures of original Klavieren, and they virtually all had beautifully decorated cases. It seems a given that the makers of the 18th century were either woodworkers themselves, else they employed first-rate ones. Of course, since owning an instrument was pretty much a venture for the wealthy (the price you quote is likely a reasonable equivalent of what they were then), it stands to reason that they would want aesthetically pleasing cabinet work along with their de mode clavier... :)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2009, 08:52:30 AM »
Crystal Flutes - below is a post quoted from the 'old' forum from the end of 2005 - another fascinating older instrument - have not listened to that CD since then - but the playing is distinct & different; here's a link to Old French Flutes - just scroll down the page to some discussion & pics of the crystal ones -  :D

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Just returned from a short Washington, D.C. vacation - one site visited was the Library of Congress (Jefferson Bldg.) - just beautiful, esp. the domed main reading room - picked up the CD below in the gift shop; I had heard about crystal flutes (this one made by Claude Laurent in 1813 for President Madison), but had never heard one before.

Rob Turner - HERE - plays the glass flute usually accompanied by Frank Wallace on the guitar.  The sound is amazingly clear like a bell - any comments on this instrument from our flutists, esp. about the sound compared to wood or metal flutes?  Has anyone played one of these glass instruments?  Thanks. 


 

Offline Brian

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2009, 11:01:32 AM »
Keith Hill, a Michigan-based harpsichord maker, is apparently something of a legend in the realm - he even paints the elaborate artwork on all of his instruments. Examples of Keith Hill's work have graced several Naxos album covers (not to mention the recordings themselves); his harpsichords and other instruments have been used by several other recording artists, notably Robert Hill, Anthony Newman, and Andreas Staier; the Musica Antiqua Koln Brandenburg Concertos with Staier include a Hill harpsichord, for instance.

Click for full size of some of the artwork on his instruments:




I'm a big admirer of Mr. Hill's work, both musically and artistically. His workshop is in Manchester, Michigan, but his website is easier to reach. :)
« Last Edit: March 15, 2009, 10:52:46 PM by Que »

Antoine Marchand

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2009, 12:38:06 PM »
What a great idea is this thread, Dave! Congratulations.

Your link about the Madisons’ meetings recalled to me the glass harmonica (also glassharmonica, glass armonica, Armonica de verre in French, Glasharmonika in German).

I just have heard one time this instrument in the Adagio in C major KV 536 (617a), included in the Brilliant’s Mozart Edition (Klavierstüke Vol. III, track 10), but it’s really wonderful.

Here some lines from the booklet:

“The glass harmonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin, the instrument consisting of assembly of crystal bowls arranged by semitones and placed one within the other without touching. A pedal then turned the mechanism to turn the assembly of bowls, which where then made to vibrate by the player touching dampened fingers to the edges of the bowls. The instrument had a great success in Vienna”.

More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_harmonica#Works

This instrument quickly dropped into the oblivion for strange reasons:

“The instrument's popularity did not last far beyond the 18th century. Some claim this was due to strange rumors that using the instrument caused both musicians and their listeners to go mad. (It is a matter of conjecture how pervasive that belief was; all the commonly cited examples of this rumor are German, if not confined to Vienna.) This was not true nor are the other superstitions listed below.

“One example of fear from playing the glass harmonica was noted by a German musicologist Friedrich Rochlitz in Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung where it is stated that "the armonica excessively stimulates the nerves, plunges the player into a nagging depression and hence into a dark and melancholy mood that is apt method for slow self-annihilation. If you are suffering from any nervous disorder, you should not play it; if you are not yet ill you should not play it; if you are feeling melancholy you should not play it."

“One armonica player, Marianne Kirchgessner died at the age of 39 of pneumonia or an illness much like it. See her obituary, written by her manager Heinrich Bossler in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung May 10, 1809. However, others, including Franklin, lived long lives. By 1820 the glass armonica had disappeared from public performance, perhaps because musical fashions were changing — music was moving out of the relatively small aristocratic halls of Mozart's day into the increasingly large concert halls of Beethoven and his successors, and the delicate sound of the armonica simply could not be heard. The harpsichord disappeared at about the same time — perhaps for the same reason.

“A modern version of the "purported dangers" claims that players suffered lead poisoning because armonicas were made of lead glass. However, there is no known scientific basis for the theory that merely touching lead glass can cause lead poisoning. Furthermore, many modern versions, such as those made by Finkenbeiner, are made from pure silica glass.[13] It is known that lead poisoning was common in the 18th and early 19th centuries for both armonica players and non-players alike: doctors prescribed lead compounds for a long list of ailments, lead oxide was used as a preservative in food and beverages, food was cooked in tin/lead pots which gave off lead fumes--the tin protected the food, and acidic beverages were commonly drunk from lead pewter vessels. Even if armonica players of Franklin's day somehow received trace amounts of lead from their instruments, that would likely have been dwarfed by the lead they were receiving from other sources”.






Antoine Marchand

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2009, 01:00:03 PM »
I'm a big admirer of Mr. Hill's work, both musically and artistically.

I totally agree, Brian. His works are amazing.

Derek Adlam and Dmitry Badiarov (http://violadabraccio.com/) are another two names to remember in this same way.

Offline Brian

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2009, 01:43:09 PM »
Just noticed that Naxos has posted an interview with harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr about her work with Keith Hill and the types of harpsichords she plays:
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STEPHEN - Could you tell us about some of the unusual keyboard instruments that you play? Why you like them? How important is choosing the right instrument for the repertoire? We've come a long way from Wanda Landowska's six-cylinder hyper-harpsichords—what choices does a contemporary performer have to make when choosing an instrument? Are there any instrument-makers whose work you particularly admire?

ELIZABETH - My answer to this question centers on Keith Hill.  While I am perfectly happy to play lots of different harpsichords, when the choice has been mine it has repeatedly been for harpsichords built by Keith Hill.  His instruments are resonant, acoustically well structured, and capable of real expression.  And to me, in the most tactile sense, the feeling of playing them coupled to the sound I hear is magical.  Just as with any instrument, the player contributes to the quality of the sound but cannot solely create it.  Choosing specific harpsichords for each of my recordings is something I have routinely consulted on with Keith.  But while we decide to use a certain harpsichord because it will suit the requirements of a particular repertoire, I think listeners will simply appreciate that it is a good sound and that the music can speak with integrity to them via the sound.  That’s all that really counts.

As to the unusual nature of these instruments, for listeners the two that most qualify for this distinction are the lute-harpsichord and the harpsichord that includes a 16-foot stop.  The latter is a slightly longer and deeper harpsichord case that houses a 16’ stop, two 8’ stops, and one 4’ stop.  This particular 16-foot harpsichord also has two buff stops.  It was heard in the Byrd recording mentioned above, and will also be heard in two releases that are coming up later this year from Naxos.  The lute-harpsichord is a standard size harpsichord that has two 8’ stops strung in gut and a 4’ stop strung in brass, specifications taken from those requested by JS Bach himself in the 18th century.

In addition to these, I have recorded on Taskin and Blanchet style French harpsichords, and a Flemish style instrument after the Ruckers housed in the museum in Colmar, all built by Keith Hill.  He also restored the 1658 de Zentis harpsichord already mentioned, an Italian harpsichord with two 8’ stops.  By its design, when the 8’ stops are used singly the unused 8’ strings are free to vibrate sympathetically, creating a very resonant effect.

STEPHEN - What do you think about performing early music on the piano? What's lost and/or gained 'in translation', so to speak?

ELIZABETH - The important thing, and this is the thing I stress when I coach piano students at the University of Colorado, is that I want the player to approach the music from the point of view of the era in which it was composed, to the best of their ability, and devise a way to bring the truest possible communication of the music to listeners.  And besides, it is essential that all keyboardists know the wealth of repertoire from this era, even if for no other reason than to understand the stance from which Bach’s sons, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven created new styles and began to make use of a new keyboard instrument: the fortepiano.

In my classes, I illustrate my point about music being composed for a specific instrument by playing one of my favorite piano pieces, Schumann’s Träumerei, on the harpsichord.  The music is the same, but it just doesn’t sound right.  However, since the reverse practice is most often carried out it seems more natural to some of us.
http://www.naxos.com/news/default.asp?op=580&displayMenu=Interviews&type=2

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2009, 02:48:50 PM »
Keith Hill, a Michigan-based harpsichord maker, is apparently something of a legend in the realm ...........


I'm a big admirer of Mr. Hill's work, both musically and artistically. His workshop is in Manchester, Michigan, but his website is easier to reach. :)

Brian - I agree that there are plenty of great instrument makers working today on both sides of the Atlantic!  :D

I have that Byrd set above myself w/ Elizabeth Farr - outstanding performances & excellent reviews, and at a great Naxos price!  Farr teaches @ the University of Colorado in Boulder; I've seen that interview that you quoted in a subsequent post and swear that I acutally heard it off my computer @ work - can't remember if it was from NPR, but I just don't have a link @ the moment - sorry.   :-\

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2009, 02:56:56 PM »
What a great idea is this thread, Dave! Congratulations.

Your link about the Madisons’ meetings recalled to me the glass harmonica (also glassharmonica, glass armonica, Armonica de verre in French, Glasharmonika in German)...................

Hello Antoine - glad that you're enjoying the 'concept' of this new thread and looking forward to your posts here - thanks for the information on Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica - this instrument has come up in other threads & posts; I've listened to snippets but do not have any recordings myself featuring this Franklin invention!  Maybe some recommendations (depending on what's available?) will be posted - My wife & I love Ben F. - I've read a number of bios on him and own a great DVD documentary; he was indeed a fascinating and unique individual of his times!  Other important Franklin inventions - lightening rods, stove, & bifocals (and sure that I've left some out!) - Dave 

Antoine Marchand

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2009, 03:25:03 PM »
I've seen that interview that you quoted in a subsequent post and swear that I acutally heard it off my computer @ work - can't remember if it was from NPR, but I just don't have a link @ the moment - sorry.   :-\

Some time ago I posted a link to a podcast: http://blog.naxos.com/2008/08/12/podcast-bach-music-for-lute-harpsichord/

There Elizabeth Farr is interviewed by Raymond Bisha and explains her relation with the Keith Hill’s work. But it's a different interview, I think.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2009, 03:47:00 PM »
Some time ago I posted a link to a podcast: http://blog.naxos.com/2008/08/12/podcast-bach-music-for-lute-harpsichord/

There Elizabeth Farr is interviewed by Raymond Bisha and explains her relation with the Keith Hill’s work. But it's a different interview, I think.

Antoine - thanks for finding that link - excellent interview & that must be the one!  Dave  :)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 05:09:25 PM by SonicMan »

canninator

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2009, 06:48:04 AM »
But, I'll make a first discussion post on the lute, an ancient instrument likely introduced into Europe by the Iberian invasion of the Moors, and modified for many centuries peaking in popularity in the 16th & early 17th centuries; I own a lot of stringed instrument music, including many recordings on the lute, but just received the one below in the mail:

Jakob Lindberg playing Weiss lute compositions on the 'Sixtus Rauwolf lute', an instrument dating from 1590 and beautifully restored - an abbreviated description (more details in the CD booklet) of the lute is quoted below from Lindberg's website -

Yep, they don't make them like they used to. The tone on that lute is so warm and sonorous and the recording is a must have for anyone with a passing interest in lute music. What is remarkable is that so many sources for lute construction have come down to us yet I don't think I have ever heard one with such a sweet tone.

It brings to light a real problem in that so few historical plucked string instruments (renaissance and baroque) have survived (the Lindberg lute was a wreck when he bought it and I think took two years to repair). In some cases (vihuela, cittern, early guitar etc) this makes construction of modern copies problematic. Still, some remarkable instruments from the classical and modern period have survived. I have been listening to a lot of Stefano Grondona lately. Grondano was a favorite student of Andres Segovia and has made some wonderful recordings with period instruments. On Evocations (Stradivarius STR 33658) he plays the Llobet transcriptions of Albeniz and Granados on Llobets own guitar (Antonio de Torres 1859). Also on Stradivarius, Grondona plays Julian Arcas on "La Leona". La Leona was also made by Torres (in 1856) and is a beautiful (if unconventional) predecessor of the modern guitar with a brass horn inside the sound hole (but no metallic tinge to the sound), quite stunning really. Personally, I think something has been lost in guitar construction through the quest for volume and projection. I would take a Torres over a Smallman any day of the week (with gut strings, naturally).



Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2009, 05:14:14 PM »
It brings to light a real problem in that so few historical plucked string instruments (renaissance and baroque) have survived (the Lindberg lute was a wreck when he bought it and I think took two years to repair). In some cases (vihuela, cittern, early guitar etc) this makes construction of modern copies problematic. Still, some remarkable instruments from the classical and modern period have survived. I have been listening to a lot of Stefano Grondona lately. Grondano was a favorite student of Andres Segovia and has made some wonderful recordings with period instruments. On Evocations (Stradivarius STR 33658) he plays the Llobet transcriptions of Albeniz and Granados on Llobets own guitar (Antonio de Torres 1859). Also on Stradivarius, Grondona plays Julian Arcas on "La Leona". La Leona was also made by Torres (in 1856) and is a beautiful (if unconventional) predecessor of the modern guitar with a brass horn inside the sound hole (but no metallic tinge to the sound), quite stunning really. Personally, I think something has been lost in guitar construction through the quest for volume and projection. I would take a Torres over a Smallman any day of the week (with gut strings, naturally).

Thanks for your excellent comments above on Grondano - don't know this musician - please post your favorites w/ a few pics just to 'tweak' us into some purchases - sounds fascinating (and 'solo guitar' is an area that I own a lot of CDs!) - Dave  :)

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2009, 05:25:50 PM »
A new arrival for me in the mail today!  Appropriate for this thread on 'older' musical instruments:

Vivaldi, Antonio (1678-1741) - Cello Sonatas w/ the great Anner Bylsma on a Baroque cello (Matteo Goffriller, 1693); the other performers are on violin, cello, harpsichord/organ, and archlute (Ivano Zanenghi); the latter is the 'old' instrument of interest (scanned in a second pic from the booklet to show this unusual multi-string instrument, far left - not much in the notes -  :-\).

Fabulous recording and this music does sound 'old' (and wonderful) on these deep melodious instruments - so, any comments from 'experts' out there on Baroque cellos (shapes, types of strings, bows, & playing techniques) & on this interesting looking lute variant?  Thanks all -  :)





Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2009, 07:06:10 PM »
Old Organs & Restorations - of course this topic could occupy an entire thread (or more if split into countries of origin!) - below is a post of mine from the listening thread about the restoration of a David Tannenberg which was installed in Salem, North Carolina back in 1800 (now 'Old Salem' located in my home town of Winston-Salem) - just wonderful to have seen this wonderfully restored instrument back in action to all its glory - so, just another 'idea' about contributing to this discussion - organs go back centuries and many have been (or need to be ) restored to their orginal glories - any thoughts or experinces?  Thanks -  :)


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Just returned from a concert entitled Music in Revolutionary Salem held in the Old Salem Visitors Center - theme was music played in the late 18th century by known and now obscure composers, many of whom had some relationship (or their music) to Salem (since back then it was not called 'Old Salem' -  ;)) - the program was part of the Carolina Summer Music Festival, and was quite varied - one 'thrill' was hearing a completely restored organ (located in the Gray Auditorium of the visitor's center) built by David Tannenberg and originally installed in 1800 in the Home Moravian Church; dismantled in 1910, and held in storage until the 1990s - apparently, now back to its original appearance & sound!

I loved the sound of this organ - not big but with a soft and much more delicate sound than most BIG organs - as a result I bought a CD (below) which I'm now enjoying - from the dedication of the restored organ in 2004 w/ Peter Sykes playing the instrument - varied program of CPE Bach, Johann Krebs, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Christian Latrobe, and a 'new piece' by Dan Locklair, a local composer - even bought a short book on the rebuilding of this organ (also below) done by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders out of Staunton, VA (birthplace of Woodrow Wilson) -  :D

   

canninator

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2009, 01:15:53 AM »
Thanks for your excellent comments above on Grondano - don't know this musician - please post your favorites w/ a few pics just to 'tweak' us into some purchases - sounds fascinating (and 'solo guitar' is an area that I own a lot of CDs!) - Dave  :)

He has a ton of really high quality videos on youtube, here is a particularly nice one

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/hFTWjEqBQAg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/hFTWjEqBQAg</a>

I would recommend this CD as a great place to start purely because of the pedigree of the guitar (kinda pricey though)



These are the Llobet transcriptions, heard as the maestro himself will have heard them.



This is a future purchase for me (presuming he is playing a baroque as opposed to a modern guitar)






Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2009, 02:19:22 PM »




Thanks for the recommendation - goin' to put the disc above on my 'wish list' -  :D

Offline toledobass

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2009, 08:31:11 AM »
Really nice old basses are hard to come by.  Not many really exist.  Being such a big instrument they get trashed pretty easily.  Not too difficult for accidents to happen no matter how careful you are.  Also with the size of the instruments not many makers want to dedicate really nice wood to a bass when you could make a few violins out of the same slab. 

The cost of old fine basses has sky rocketed in the past 10 years or so.  What has happened has many modern makers have gained more and more skill and some of the modern instruments being made now are very high quality nice sounding instruments. Not really the case 10-20 years ago. Many instruments built during that time had a new bass quality to them that was easy to pick out.  Some of the basses being built today are designed by the maker but some are also copies of older basses. 

The bass I own now was built in 2004 by a Horst Gruenert.  It's a copy of bass made by Vincenzo Panormo. Many people are surprised that the bass is less than ten years old.  It sounds like an older instrument and he also did some very nice work giving the bass an antiqued look. Here are some pictures of a real Panormo:


http://www.jdhillmusic.com/master/panormo/panormo.html

Here are pics of a Gruenert Panormo copy (notice that it's a 5 string):


http://www.gruenert.com/englisch/instrumente/gruenert/kontrabass/panormo.html


Finally a few pics of my own instrument...the lighting in my practice room sux so the varnish looks like it is a deep brown when in actuality it has a beautiful reddish quality to it.

Allan




« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 08:34:21 AM by toledobass »

Offline toledobass

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2009, 08:35:56 AM »
mas