The ultimate collector’s investment for anyone with an interest in fine double basses, The English Double Bass is the authoritative work on double basses made in England. Featuring 766 stunning colour photographs of 100 double basses by 40 of England’s great double bass makers, this 524-page book is a collector’s item. The authors have gathered a rare collection of double basses never seen before and presented them in a beautiful leather-bound case.
Published in 2018, it chronicles the rise and fall of the English double bass makers of the 18th and 19th centuries, providing compiled information on their work, instruments and lives in a level of detail not seen before. This is a valuable contribution to the history of the double bass, and as such is an essential addition to the libraries of researchers, players, museum curators, luthiers, restorers and valuers.
“It is not often that I am greeted by an instrument book that provides quite so much surprise and pleasure, and I was delighted as I made my way through this long-awaited tome. Just as double bassists are treated with a certain regard among musicians, for dealers and makers they also exist in a world that is strangely apart from the mainstream of more portable stringed instruments….
…The book’s importance comes in highlighting the peculiarities of English double basses. I cannot honestly imagine I would have been able to identify the bass on pages 298-303 as a Joseph Hill given its lumpen appearance and what I know of his violins, violas and cellos, but seeing it alongside a Lockey Hill and a Peter Wamsley gives me a confidence of how to understand a mid-18th-century trend in making that would otherwise be very difficult to register.
Having spent a few days in its company, dipping in and out of its pages, I feel that I have a greater ability to understand the English double bass on the same terms that I know other instruments by the same makers…. In sum, however, this book won’t be gathering dust on the shelves any time soon. It’s an extraordinary achievement and I look forward to seeing further volumes that cover other countries.”
Ben Hebbert, President of BVMA, The Strad May 2019
“Congratulations to Thomas Martin, Martin Lawrence and George Martin on producing a comprehensive work on the English double bass. Here, this revered school has received the definitive treatment. The comfortable format, excellent images and concise notes make this volume a welcome addition to any luthier or musicians’ library.”
– David Rattray, Senior Fellow, Royal Academy of Music, United Kingdom
“Very informative, with lots of useful biographical information and plenty very interesting examples. The fact that it includes some obscure makers like Valentine, Devereux and Calow is an added bonus. The images are great, with some good bonus shots of labels, brands and details. Altogether a fine addition to the library, and nicely produced!”
– Tim Ingles, United Kingdom
“With an informative historical introduction and examples of forty makers’ work, this excellent book is a very long-awaited and welcome publication, particularly to those of us who remain ignorant of anything larger than a cello.”
– Andrew Fairfax, United Kingdom
“A magnificent book destined to remain a milestone in the history of the double bass. The research that animated it has been scrupulous: the book is comparable to the major compendia of violinmaking that until now were generally excluding the double bass. The gap with the other bowed instruments has been finally filled.”
– Stefano Pio, Italy
“Congratulations on this great work that will help all those luthiers, collectors, musicians and amateurs who want to deepen the history of violin making.”
– Sergio Scaramelli, Italy
“Apart from my dendrochronological examinations, I know very little about double basses, however the book on The English Double Bass produced by George and Tom Martin is a fine piece of work which will certainly allow me to get to know more. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to explore a field of instrument making that is often underestimated.”
– John Topham, United Kingdom
Co-authors Tom Martin, George Martin and Martin Lawrence first conceived The English Double Bass through a shared fascination and admiration for the English double basses of the 18th and 19th Century. All three are world-renowned respected double bass makers, repairers and restorers.
As string-instrument family experts, all three have been privileged to see and hold many fine double basses as they have passed through their hands over the years. In addition, Tom has played fine English double basses throughout his career as a musician.
Following a series of articles commissioned by The Strad, Tom, George and Martin conceived a fine-art book. The trio’s collective vision was to showcase high quality pictures of the best examples of each maker’s work with a biography to set the context.
With 526 pages containing astonishing photographs, this book is the definitive work on the English double bass
With 766 images in this masterpiece, high quality photography was paramount. Many instrument pictures were collected over time, with some on large-format 5 x 4 transparencies. That had to be digitised and colour-corrected with hours and hours of work poured by the authors to seek accuracy and precision, prior to printing.
The photography production process involved modern digital photography, careful colour retouching to ensure the colour of each instrument was as true to the original as possible. The end result now enables off-the-page comparison of different instruments by researchers, museum curators, auctioneers, luthiers and valuers who will be able to use the work for future study.
To view The English Double Bass book with Jason Heath click here