Bass Café
Giovani Battista Rogeri Basses
(Italian model, $4950)
Wan-Bernadel Deluxe Basses
(French model, $4950)
Basses Under $3,000: Thompson Plywoods, Hybrids, Emile Gillet, starting at $1,485
Bass Bows
Upright Bass Strings
Bass Sheet Music, Methods
& Etude Books
Bass CD / DVDs
Bass Accessories (Rosin, Pickups, Metronomes, Tuners, Amps etc...)
Bass Covers & Bow Cases
Bass Flight Cases
Bass Teacher Directory
Violin, Viola & Cello Cases
Gift Certificates
About Us
Contact Us
New Videos
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Join Email List
For Email Newsletters you can trust

German Upright Basses

We've been asked by several of our customers to explain what the differences are in German upright basses, as compared to other old, uprights. Germany has a vast history of violin making. (Basses included!) Just like the violins and cellos, basses have a wide range of quality and levels. Like the great multitudes of styles of cars made from Detroit, upright basses in Germany can vary. It's super hard to compare "German" upright basses with other countries of origin, when the German bass themselves can be so very diverse. Let's shed some light on these fascinating basses. (See lots of nice German upright basses on our Bass Café pages.)

Let's give some background about German regions of upright bass making:  

Most of the German upright basses most commonly seen around the world, would be a bass made in Mittenwald, or Markneukirchen in the late 1880's -1940's. Really, for most of the first half of the 20th century, Germany was the king of upright bass making. They had the cheaper labor, the great history of violin making tradition to bank on, and lots and lots of trees!!

There are some common traits that one sees often on a German upright bass.

German upright bass1) A flat back. Why a flat back? There is likely more than one reason for this. For one, the flat backed upright bass, is a direct descendant of the Viola da Gamba. (Which were always made with a flat back). So the German upright bass as we know today, is quite similar and is simply a part of Bass evolution. Another important reason that there are so many flat backed German, upright basses is that quite simply, it was much cheaper and easier to do so. Carving a big upright bass back of hard maple wood, is longer, wider, and deeper than any other instrument. With the flat back, it is simply joined together in the middle, and cut out into the bass pattern, adding between 2 or 3 back braces and it's done! (see the logic of economics in a flat backed bass?!!)

2) Another trait, but not only pertaining to German basses is that so many upright basses from Germany are also shaped like the predecessor instrument,Viol da Gamba. Henceforth, you now know why basses are called: Gamba shaped. Are you looking for a great upright German bass? See the Bass Café!

3) Outside linings. While outside linings are not only used on German basses, they are predominantly found in German upright basses. Outside linings are the long strips of wood that run outside a bass' ribs and re-fortify the ribs with the top and back of the bass. (Every bass has linings on the inside, but the Germans put them on the other side as well.) They built upright basses to withstand lots of seasonal changes, and abuse. If you were lucky enough (to be a German upright bass player) it was a hassle to get the bass from point A to point B. (Some things never change!) The bass had to be built knowing that it was going to get banged around and without this added fortification, would not last!

There are thousands of upright German basses. They come in all shapes and sizes and stretch across time from the early 1600's up until this very day. They can come with beautifully carved backs and violin corners, but these came way later. Today, some of the newer, more afforable basses (see Wan-Bernadels) are made with nicer wood, materials and workmanship than a lot of their "older" brethren. You can email us here.