Well you have to admit that this instrument
does look every bit like the basses of William Tarr. It has the
same out-line, similar arching, a flat back, nicely carved scroll
and that same muddy brown spirit varnish that one associates with
Tarr - and then - what about those cogs and worms? - they
definitely originate in Northern England. Besides - isn't
Tarr rumoured to have imported instruments in the white from Germany
and then finished them off here in England? Let's investigate.
There are a few things that do point to the
work being Neuner rather than Tarr - but it is a very close
run thing indeed. The main points are:
1) The back of this instrument is flat with
a gentle incline towards the back button. On a bass by Tarr we'd
expect to see a clearly defined angle break on the upper back.
2) The back of this instrument has a strip
of ebony running the length of it's centre joint. On a Tarr
bass we wouldn't expect to see this feature.
3) The linings of this instrument are let into
the corner blocks. On a Tarr bass we would expect to see them butt-up
to the corner blocks.
4) On this instrument the neck is dovetailed
into the block giving the illusion that the neck is sitting on top
of the block. On a Tarr bass we'd expect to see the entire
base of the neck-block slotted into the top-block.
He was a well-trained and skilful craftsman
who had a great sense of business acumen. The Encyclopaedia of Violin-makers
by Karl Jalovec (pub. Paul Hamlyn 1968) aptly summarises as follows:
'Born in Mittenwald 1840, d.22-06-1897. One of the owners
of the firm Neuner & Hornsteiner, and at the same time owner
of the firm L.Neuner in Berlin. He learned violin making in Munich,
Berlin and Paris (where he worked for seven years with J.B.Vuillaume,
….) As a maker he was able to achieve good work, but he soon
found he could multiply his profit by dealing with the trade….
He opened a shop in Berlin in 1867.'
Of great interest to us in our research - the
Universal Dictionary of Violin & Bow Makers by William Henley
(Amati Publishing Ltd) adds 'Worked a few months in London'.
So an association with William Tarr (1808-1891) at this time was
evidently quite possible. Well, well!
After all that theoretical stuff you'll
be well pleased to know that the instrument does sound very, very
good indeed. In addition - if your budget doesn't quite stretch
up to current Tarr prices then this surely is the very next best
thing. The instrument's near-English good looks and sound
will fit in great in the section and in terms of playability -
well - you'll be so pleased.
Width at the upper bout 20.00in (50.6cm)
Width at the centre bout 14.00in (35.5cm)
Width at the lower bout 27.00in (68.5cm)
LOB 43.25in (110.0cm)
St length 40.65in (103.4cm)