~ 18th Century Florentine Double Bass ~

Petrus Antonius Malvolti

Florent. fecit Anno 17(27)

This beautiful Florentine Bass plays fairly easily despite its broad looking shoulders and relatively deep Ribs.

18th Century Florentine Double Bass
Upper Bout: 21 1/4" Belly Length: 42 1/2"  
Center Bout: 14 1/8" String Length: 41 1/4"
Bottom Bout: 26 1/4" Varnish: Dark Golden Brown
Rib Depth: 9 1/8" tapering to 7 3/4" at the Neck  
Top: 6-piece Italian Cypress ranging from slab to quarter cut grain (Harpsichord soundboard wood, Cristofori/Medici shop)
Back: Italian Maple
Ribs: Italian Maple
Neck / Scroll: Maple eith Maple Neck Graft with Chromatic C-Extension

Features: This Bass has a warm, smooth, dark orchestral sound with some Organ-like tone in the lower register. Despite being nearly 300 years old, the condition of this beauty is impressive. This Bass has been beautifully preserved over time. Perhaps the broad shoulders account for its condition as even 300 years ago, there were Basses available with sloped shoulders and angle bent upper Backs. The Cello-like shape of this Bass may have helped in its preservation.

Note: Recently, I sent a link of this webpage to a top Italian Master in Italy who had done a story on Bartolomeo Cristofori who was the keeper of instruments in the court of Prince Ferdinand de Medici of Florence along with his two apprentices. One was a Harpsichord maker and the other a Luthier, Pietro Antonio Malvolti who took over Cristofori's role after his death in 1732. In answer to my question of this well preserved Bass being the actual work of Malvolti he replied "Complimenti per il suo strumento certamente toscano e possibile Malvolti. Molto bello, cordialmente (and his name). Roughly translated, Compliments on the instrument is certainly Tuscany (Florence is the capitol) and possibly Malvolti. Cordially (and signed).

With so little of Malvolti's personal work known to exist, I can only conclude that most of his Lutherie was limited to his time working for and training with Cristofori as Malvolti's known work period is recorded as being from 1700-1733. This only gives him a year after the death of his master. His Violins (only 4 that I have seen reference to) and possibly this Bass were either made at his residence where had his own shop or, using the shop of Cristofori as the dates overlap between his work and his employment. Fully Restore by Mike Magee, Pittsburgh Pa., 2013-2015. This bass has been Sold.

This Scroll we believe is original to the Bass and now has a custom made Chromatic C-Extension in solid Ebony. The modern William Baker replicas mounted on brass plates are about 40 years old.

This beautiful Florentine Bass is in its original un-cut shape as it was made close to 300 years ago. Bass playing back then did not require the use of thumb position yet so sloped shoulders and angled backs were either optional then or later modifications done as larger Basses were cut down for modern playing styles. This Bass although boasting its beautifully wide shoulders plays fairly easily for the first 3 octaves but is not what I would consider a Solo Bass.

The Purfling design under the Neck Button looks to be a reversed image of the Florence Coat of Arms and matching the other Purfling on both plates. The top of the Pegbox is carved to a point inside possibly done to match the inlay towards the top of the Neck Button.

The F holes are beautifully cut and look partially Venetian on the bottom curve.

The torn Malvolti label (formerly seen as 1727 before it was torn in restoration) sits over a dealers lable known for importing old Italian and English Basses from Europe for several decades starting around the late 1960's. Both Labels are just above the added Center Brace for the Sound Post area.

Copyright 1998-2015  Ken Smith Basses, LTD.
(All rights reserved)