I confess: I’m a bit nerdy about amps, and actually own more of them than I really need. The newest amp in my collection ist the Lundgaard “Double”. These fine and rare amps are designed and handmade by bassist Jesper Lundgaard (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Bigband) from Kopenhagen/Danmark. They are only available from Jesper directly. This is not the only thing that reminds me of the legendary Walter Woods Amps. Size and color of the amps are also similar, but Jesper’s amps aren’t just a copy of the WW amps, but packed with smart details and ins and outs … it has just everything you expect from a double bass amp nowadays.
The “Double” is available as amp head, or built into a speaker cabinet as combo amp. I have the combo with 10“ speaker, which is remarkable light. You have to search for an amp with a better weight-to-power ratio. Which is an indication for the fact that this amp was designed by a performing double bassist. But the amp is not only a double bass amp: it’s also suitable for guitar, keyboard, violin or voice. For these instruments, Jesper has built in effects like reverb and echo.
The “Double” has two channels, each of them with gain, bass, low mid, high mid and treble controls. Channel A allows to connect both standard and XLR jacks, channel B just has a standard jack input with 3 megohms input impedance for piezo pickups. Both channels have a phase reverse switch, mute and low cut filter. A chosen effect can be blended into both or just one channel, and switched on and off by means of a foot switch (included). If you don’t like any of the 16 effects: the back panel has send and return for external effects. Also on the back panel: the phantom power switch for channel A, a ground lift switch, two speaker-outs (combo XLR and speakon jacks), Pad-switch for channel A (in case a pickup’s output is a too hot), balanced and unbalanced main outputs as well direct out (XLR) for both channels separately. So, there is pretty much everything you will ever need on stage.
How does this amp perform? It’s a no-brainer. I plugged in, dialed out some of the mids, and I was done. The sound is round, well balanced, but powerful. That’s what you basically expect from a bass amp – the rest is a matter of taste. And the Lundgaard is to my taste, certainly.
further informations at www.lundgaardamps.com
Today would be the 78th birthday of the great Scott LaFaro, who died in a car accident in 1961. LaFaro is best known as the bassist in Bill Evans’ groundbreaking trio, and also worked with Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
Barrie Kolstein, luthier and president of Kolstein Music in Baldwin, New York, has chosen Scott’s birthday to announce that he is making a gift of LaFaro’s double bass to the International Society of Bassists.
The Kolstein and LaFaro families have had a long and affectionate relationship of almost 60 years. Barrie’s father Sam Kolstein first met Scott LaFaro when they were introduced by George Duvivier, a first-call bassist in New York City who recommended that Sam work on a bass Scott had recently acquired and brought Scott to meet Sam at Sam’s shop. Upon hearing Scott trying out instruments in the shop, “Sam looked at George and simply said ‘Who it that and what is that?’” Barrie recalls. “You have to understand that even by today’s standards, Scotty’s playing would turn heads, but back in those years, his style of playing was unheard of and completely unique in every aspect.”
After Scott’s death in a car crash, a heartbroken Sam purchased the badly damaged bass from Scott’s mother with a promise that it would be restored and played again. But it was his son Barrie who eventually undertook the arduous restoration decades later, and Scott’s bass returned to the world in 1988 at the ISB’s convention in Los Angeles. Since then Barrie has been the steward of the Scott LaFaro Bass, becoming friends with Scott’s sister and biographer Helene LaFaro-Fernandez in the process, and making the bass available for recordings (notably by Marc Johnson and Phil Palombi) and live performances.
The International Society of Bassists gives the Scott LaFaro Prize to the first place winner in its biennial jazz competition thanks to support from Scott’s four sisters and the endowment fund they created for the ISB in memory of their brother. Now, with the gift of the Scott LaFaro Bass, the ISB will make the instrument available for performances by ISB members as part of a future Scott LaFaro Archives at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where Scott’s father, a violin virtuoso and band leader, attended in the early days of the conservatory and where Scott went to classes for a year before leaving school for a career that continues to grow in legend and influence. Until the archives are ready to receive the instrument, the Scott LaFaro Bass will continue to reside at Kolstein Music.
“Thanks to Barrie Kolstein’s extraordinary and extremely generous gift to the ISB, which raises our net worth by six figures, the residency of Scott’s bass at Ithaca College will be a lasting tribute,” says ISB general manager Madeleine Crouch. Nicholas Walker, professor of bass at Ithaca College, adds, “For bassists everywhere, Scott LaFaro’s sound and musicianship have been a deep source of inspiration. Both the LaFaro and Kolstein families are committed to keeping us all connected to the man behind that sound, a man they loved dearly. The creation of a living archive at Ithaca College will make it possible for future generations of bassists to come into direct contact with his instrument and the materials that helped shape Scott LaFaro as an artist. What a gift to us all!”
With some 3,000 members in over 40 countries, the International Society of Bassists is dedicated to the double bass. www.ISBworldoffice.com
On Wednesday (March, 12), the Musikmesse Frankfurt starts. I’ll be exhibiting at Hall 3.1, where all the acoustic guitar and violin making companies are located, at booth H27. Hope to see you there!
Gary Karr headlines the 2014 TCU International Double Bass Festival,
March 8-9 at the TCU School of Music. All recitals and masterclasses in the PepsiCo Recital Hall will be webcast live, including Gary Karr’s recital on Saturday, March 8th at 7:30 pm.
Tickets for any recital at the bass fest can be purchased for $10 at the registration desk. Day of auditor tickets are only $20 ($15 in advance) for the festival.
Jeff Bradetich (University of North Texas)
William Clay (Fort Worth Symphony)
Paul Ellison (Rice University)
Blaise Ferrandino (TCU composer and bassist)
Jessica Gilliam-Valls (Southwestern University)
Kyp Green (TCU professor of jazz bass)
Michael Klinghoffer (Israel, Jerusalem)
Eugene Levinson (The Juilliard School)
Jiwu Li (Shanghai Conservatory)
Yuan Xiong Lu (TCU)
Szymon Marciniak (Polish virtuoso)
Mark Morton (Texas Tech University)
David Neubert (Austin Symphony)
Brian Perry (Fort Worth Symphony)
Frank Proto (bassist & composer)
Nicholas Scales (West Texas A&M University)
John Schimek (Oklahoma City University)
Lynn Seaton (University of North Texas professor of jazz bass)
Tian Rui Zhao (Shenyang Conservatory)
TianYang Liu (First Prize Winner of the 2013 ISB Solo Competition)
Brazil’s UFMG Double Bass Group.
The 16th annual spring seminar for violinmakers will take place on May 3rd at Notts, UK.
It is attended by about 180 people from all over the UK comprising students, professional and amateur makers. Its a great day to meet up with people in the ‘trade’ and make new contacts, as well as being a lot of fun. You can listen to interesting lectures, have a wonderful lunch and shop at the many trade stands selling everything for the violinmaker.
Fingerboard extensions are very common in the USA, but become more and more popular in Europe, too. They have a couple of advantages over a 5-string bass, can get fitted to any 4-string bass and if they are well made, it’s reversible.
My friend Giorgio Pianzola, bass maker from Bern/Switzerland, has published a comprehensive guide how to calculate the length of an extension very exactly.
Visit www.kontrabassblog.ch for further reading (it starts in German – scroll down for English translation).
In 1948, a female bass player has still been something remarkable. “A lovely California blonde makes a career out of a fat old viol” wrote LIFE magazine (issue July 5, 1948) about former Los Angeles symphony bass player (and part-time Hollywood actor) Helen Perry. Read the complete article and issue at Google books.
If you need a new Soundpost for a double bass, you usually take the already existing Soundpost for reference, and make the new one slightly longer or shorter, whatever you need in particular. While the proper length is not that difficult to measure inside the bass, the correct angle of the Soundpost’s bottom and top flat sides are always hard to guess, and a matter of time consuming trial and error. Of course, you can get the angle from the outside of the top and the back, but it’s difficult to find the exact position and the plates themselves aren’t always parallel, so the outsides only give you a rough idea of the angles.
I had some time during the Christmas holidays, so I’ve built my own measuring tool which will hopefully save me some time in future. The shaft is a aluminum tube of 10 mm diameter. On one end, I glued on a steel ball with epoxy. On the other side, I inserted a brass thread and a screw (M8) for length adjustment, again with a steel ball glued on.
Then, I put magnet rings on both steel balls. The power of magnetism holds them firmly on the balls, but will allow the to follow the curvature and angle of back and top smoothly – that’s the key idea of this device. With some sandpaper, I’ve dulled the balls’ surface, in order to prevent the magnets from moving too easily. I now set the device to the guessed length of the upcoming soundpost, set it into position inside the bass and re-adjust the length if needed. The magnets are much slippier than soundpost wood is, so I glued on fine sandpaper. Once the device has the proper length at the correct position, I remove the device carefully (so that the magnets stay in their position). For inserting and extracting the device, I use a fixed bent wire instead of the S-shaped soundpost setter tool – but this still needs some improvement. Besides this, it’s pretty cool. Transfering the angles to the soundpost is still a little tricky, but much better than guesswork.
The International bouble bass masterclasses “Giovanni Bottesini” will take place between January, 8. and May, 24. 2014 at the Music Conservatory of Lugano (Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana).
Thanks to our guests Professors: Klaus Stoll, Timothy Cobb, Hans Roelofsen, Gabriele Ragghianti, Michael Klinghoffer, Diego Zecharies. The Lessons are reserved for the students of the Conservatory, auditors are welcome and participation is completely free.