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Who made the first String Bass?

We do not know when the first Double Bass was made or who made it. We know Brescia, Italy was a center for making Viols when Andrea Amati was born in 1507. The Bass originated from the Viol da Gamba. We still have Basses who's wood was cut in the 1400's. Viols were many sizes, shapes, number of strings, Carved heads and frets like a guitar. Earliest date from the 16th century. A notable string bass by Gasparo da Salò, Brescia, owned by Dragonetti is in the museum of St. Mark’s, Venice. A beautiful six-string violone by Da Salò’s apprentice Giovanni Paolo Maggini is in the Horniman Museum, London. It is violin shaped, flat back and makes compares with the viol shaped violone by Ventura Linarol (Padua, 1585) in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

The First and Oldest Basses!

When Andrea Amati's son's were working in Cemona, 31 miles north in Brescia, Gasparo Da Salo was making instruments too. Gasparo da Salò (1542-1609) was an early expert double bassist. One bass is in the Basilica of San Marco in Venice; a second, exceptionally rare bass, possibly the only surviving example of a classical violone contrabasso with a six hole peg box is in the Museum of Musical Instruments in Rome displayed. The third double bass is in Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A fourth is now on display in the City Council Palace in Salò. His student Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580-1632) also created great String Basses.

Basses Today!

There are four design outline shape of the double bass: violin, gamba, french and busetto. Rarely guitar or pear shaped. The back can be round or flat and angled back similar to the viol family. The double bass features parts similar to the violin family; bridge, f-holes, a tailpiece, a scroll, and a sound post. Unlike the violin family it reflects the viol family, in particular the violone, the bass member of the viol family in that the shoulders are typically sloped, the back is often flat and angled, Machine tuners are always fitted, in contrast to the rest of the violin family, where traditional friction pegs are still the primary means of tuning. Lack of standardization in design means that one double bass can sound and look very different from another.

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