A. Batchelder & Son
Pelham , N.H.  ~ 1875
3/4 Size ~ Early American Prescott School Double Bass

     This Bass is labeled A. Batchelder & Son, Pelham N.H. 1875. I have found 2 Violins labeled A.M. Batchelder of Frankfurt, Maine by searching the internet. The one is labeled 1928 while the other is 1946 #68. I have also found another A. Batchelder making dulcimers in the 1990's. I contacted the person who has the 1928 Violin and he commented that the person who sold him this particular violin was named, believe it or not, Ken Smith. I believe my Batchelder to be the son or grandson of this Maker and the Dulcimer maker several generations later.  

     The Batchelder genealogy on the internet goes back to 16th Century England. with Batchelders coming to America over 370 years ago. Another famous New England maker of Deerfield, New Hampshire in the early 1800's was Abraham Prescott, also of English genealogy with settlement in New England. According to the gene pool, Benjamin Batchelder married Dorothia Prescott, in 1735. Also Jedidiah Prescott married Hannah Batchelder in 1742 & Susan Batchelder to George Prescott in 1846. Are these makers connected? This links the two families by marriage. 

     There are some Prescott features on this Bass like the long narrow carved Scroll and the construction of the Back and Ribs. The Back which only appears to be 1/4" in thickness is actually about 5/8" in thickness. The Ribs are inlaid into the Back as a "Rabbet Joint" like you would see in Cabinet Making. The Back is New England White Pine, which has greater strength due to the extra thickness with this type of construction. The internal Rib linings cover up the joint work of the Back. The tone of this Bass is unique. Although it has great clarity in all registers it also possesses depth and smoothness similar to many old Italian Basses I have played. We recently sold a beautiful Prescott as shown on our Bass pages here. Although it was a much larger Bass, this Batchelder has that same 'bell tone' qualities with a much bigger sound than one would expect from a Bass this size. There is no doubt in my mind that this Bass is of equal quality in tone and construction as any Prescott would be in a similar size and condition as this Bass has had a full restoration within the last 20 years and is in 'tip-top' shape. This in my opinion is truly a rare find.

ire Although the Batchelder it is a very good Orchestral Bass, it is a 'killer' Jazz Bass with growl and sustain which reminds one of the best recorded tracks we have heard from players like Ray Brown.


This Double Bass is a 3/4 size Flatback Belly Length: 41 1/2" (Back: 42 1/4")
Upper Bout: 21" Rib Depth: 7 1/4" (6" at the Neck)
Center Bout: 15" String Length: 41 1/4"
Bottom Bout: 25 1/4" Varnish: Dark Reddish Brown
Note: This Bass was recently (2007) Set-up by Arnold Schnitzer in NY including a new Ebony Fingerboard, Ebony Nut, adjustable Maple Bridge and Carbon Fiber Endpin with adjustable Steel Cable Tailwire. 

The Rib at the Neck block has a slight raised bubble similar to Venetian Basses of the late 19th Century as well as other Tyrolean Basses. The 2-piece Pine Top is cut slightly on the Slab with medium arching. The Back is also New England White Pine with fine grain in the center and spreading to wide grain near the Ribs. The Ribs appear to be a plain type Maple. The dark Varnish makes the wood difficult to identify. 

The "F" holes of this bass are very unique, long and narrow. They have a gentle sweep at both the top and bottom skillfully cut by a master. These FFs are similar to Prescotts' early Church and Double Basses.

The scroll is elongated, over 1" longer than the average and has one extra turn, but the cheeks of the scroll extend no wider than the width of the peg box. The scroll is made from Sycamore and is grafted into a Beechwood Neck. The old Gears of a similar style have been replaced with new Rubner Tyrolean knobbed type Gears.

The back of the peg box has a heart carved out of the button which was possibly a coat of arms of the Batchelder Family or maybe just a custom decoration.

                                      Ken playing his 1875 Batchelder Bass.

 


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