Alfred meyer 1936 gamba bass
upper bout: 18 ½
lower bout: 24 ½
rib depth: 8 ½
string length: 40 ¾ inches
there are many good things to say about this bass: it is a labeled instrument, it has a sonorous mature tone, and the health is excellent. Finding all this in a smaller package (you could consider it a small ¾ or a 5/8 size) is a wonder, and at the asking price of $12,000, it is practically a miracle.
alfred meyer is a multi-generational bass maker in markneukirchen, a town in the eastern part of germany. Basses are still being made in the workshop today, priced at over $20,000.
the top is made from straight-grained spruce having a moderately narrow spacing. The maple back and sides are not highly flamed and the varnish color is a medium cinnamon brown. While there are numerous repairs on the body, all are carefully done and the instrument has been stable in the southern california climate for many years.
our resident bassists evaluated its tone and playability in four areas. 1) there is a strong, clear g# on the 4th string; 2) it's very easy to get around on, bottom to top; 3) this bass has very good volume throughout and good depth in the lower register; 4) it was clear, articulate, and responsive when playing the trio passage from beethoven's fifth.
in addition, our impressions as a jazz bass are excellent as well. Set up with obligato strings, the tone is clear on the low notes, yet rhythmically percussive. A telling jazz test note is the c up on the 4th string, often used for playing across the neck for tunes like "footprints". The pitch is clear, not thuddy. Further, the solo register has a singing quality, outstandingly so for obligato strings.