This superb looking, superb sounding Pöllmann is in our opinion a real winner.
Yes indeed. An instrument similar to this highly ornamented special edition "Imperator" model - has in fact won numerous awards.
It won the prestigious Deutscher Musikinstrumenten Preis at the 2007 Musikmesse International Trade Fair in Frankfurt, Germany.
Reproduced from the Pöllmann web site; 'The price assigned to the Pöllmann contrabass "Imperator" is justified by the complex manufacturing process, the excellent quality of the craftsmanship and the outstanding finish. The panel of expert judges have evaluated the playability of the double bass as excellent in every respect. The sound volume and tone quality were regarded as especially rich in the deep and middle pitches.'
Yes it also won two awards at the European Double Bass Convention - Bass2012 which was held in Copenhagen, Denmark as follows;
1) Silver Medal in the Bass Makers Competition.
2) Award Winner Certificate in the Best Sound Award (bass players jury).
Reproduced from the Bass2012 website; 'The Competition's objective is to inspire the creation of outstanding, artistic, concert-quality double basses'.
Instruments were judged for sound from behind a curtain and three certificates of merit were awarded by the audience, the bass player jury and the bass maker jury respectively.
1) At the 1999 Musikmesse International Trade Fair in Frankfurt, Germany they won the Deutscher Musikinstrumenten Preis with their "Busseto" model.
2) At the 2003 International Society of Bassists Maker's Competition held in Richmond, Virginia U.S.A they won the following;
a) Convention favourite double bass.
b) Award for best tone.
c) Award for best workmanship.
3) At the 2005 International Society of Bassists Maker's Competition held at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A they won the following;
a) Medal for best workmanship.
b) Medal for best tone.
Yes indeed. Michael & Ralph Kramer have used some really choice wood to build this instrument. The maple ribs, neck and scroll are exquisitely matched and exquisitely flamed. The upper back features a strong flaming that perfectly matches the ribs, neck and scroll. The lower back is dominated by strong irregular flames and a mottled effect that are without question a real feast for the eyes.
It is usually associated with timber that has been cut from near to the roots of the tree.
The spruce table is as magnificent as the maple. It features visually prominent grain lines that are remarkably straight, evenly spaced and very-fine in terms of width apart. At the flanks of the lower table the grain lines widen to a medium width.
Good question. In the UK it is frequently called hazels or hazeling. In the USA it is frequently called bear-claws. In Italy it is frequently referred to as maschiatura while in Switzerland there are great many names to describe it including hail-wood tonewood, ageholz, aggeholz, wood glismets, wood hagelschlächtiges, wood katzentrittiges, wood maendler, mändliholz, männlerholz, weisstannenrindiges hail spruce, fir shingle, vogeltrittiges wood and indeed several more names.
No. These are just common terms most probably due to the lack of information and research published on the subject.
This German word "Haselfichte" is the closest word that we have been able to find. When translated it literally means hazel-spruce. It is a growth form that can be found in the Norway spruce (Picea abies) which grows in the Alps, the Bavarian Forest and the Bohemian Forest. The feature is believed to be caused by a genetic variation or defect in the growth cells of the tree that causes small indented longitudinal and crossed grooves just inside the bark of the tree. As the tree grows the surface of the wood is disturbed causing the annual rings to become narrowed and characterized by a small indent, wave or serration.
Although there is no scientific evidence to support this theory, the increased stiffness of the affected wood means that the instrument's top can be made slightly thinner - which in turn could contribute to what some think is an improved sound.
Yes. Wood containing haselfichte is well sought-after by makers. Our thanks to Neal Heppleston a student at The Newark School of Violin Making for his research on the subject.
In an advert Pöllmann placed in the Double Bassist magazine number 7 of Autumn/Winter 1998 (pub. by Orpheus Publications Ltd) they wrote that their instruments are 'Build in the highest quality from selected, over 30-years well-seasoned European tonewood'.
Pretty sure that you would. Yes.
The chevron-design carving work to the outside rib-linings and edge work of the peg-box is beautifully executed.
Yes indeed. In fact the whole instrument is what you would describe as "Classic-Pöllmann".
I have already mentioned the exceptionally fine wood and the super-fine ornate carving around the edgework. In addition the instrument features a full swell back and front, deep ribs, outside linings, nicely raked upper shoulders, gorgeous golden-amber spirit varnish over a yellow-ochre ground, eight-hole brass cogs with exotic hardwood thumb-turns at the ends of the four worms and of course the "busetto" lower corners.
Indeed they are. In fact generations of bass players have grown up to live and love these rounded beauties.
Michael & Ralph are the fourth generation of master builders. According to the Pöllmann web-site the family tree is as follows;
Hermann Alexander Pöllmann (b-1864, d-1937). Founder of the company.
In 1888 he opened a workshop in Siebenbrunn, near Markneukirchen where he specialised in making cellos and double basses.
Erich Max Pöllmann (b-1897, d-1963). Son and pupil of the founder. An excellent craftsman. Was the first to start the ornamentation on the plates and outside-linings of his instruments. His double basses are renowned for their huge orchestral sound.
1911 - began working with his father.
1920 - moved to Jugelsburg, near Adorf - a small town to the west of Markneukirchen where he opened his own shop in the house of his father-in-law - the violin maker August Ernst Voight (b-1874, d-?).
Worked in Leipzig and Dresden.
1940 - moved back to Markneukirchen.
1944 - awarded master's degree in lutherie.
Gunter Krahmer-Pöllmann (b-1938). Third generation of master double bass makers. Nephew of Erich Max Pöllmann and the grandson of August Ernst Voight.
1952 - 1959 worked with his uncle in Jugelsburg and was Erich Max's only pupil.
1959 - awarded master's degree in lutherie.
1959 - moved to Mittenwald.
Michael & Ralph Krahmer. Fourth generation of master double bass makers. The two sons of Gunter Krahmer-Pöllmann. Grew up working in their father's workshop. Presently located at 17 Elmauer Weg 17, D-82481 Mittenwald.
Yes. The label is located internally on the bass side back and reads as follows;
Michael Krahmer Ralph Krahmer
Mittenwald (Bayer. Alpen) anno 2003
1) The year 2003 is hand written in black ink.
2) The edge work of the label is nicely decorated with a boarder.
3) The centre of the label (between the two brother's names) features the Pöllmann trade mark of a standing lion with a crown on its head holding a double bass.
4) The top left hand corner of the label features a small Pöllmann brand across it.
Yes. It is branded Pöllmann twice. The first brand is on the upper back just below the neck-button. The second is located at the bottom of the bass-side peg box.
Yes agreed. The instrument even has its original handmade bridge and tailpiece fitted.
Yes indeed. The upper shoulders slope nicely and the string length is a mere 105.7cm.
Very impressive indeed. There is punch and projection coupled with a deep, dark, tonal quality. The sort of sounds that are the foundation of any orchestra.
This beautiful four-string "Imperator" model by Michael & Ralph Kramer really does have everything that a player could ever wish for. It is well proportioned, it is made with the most exquisite of materials, the workmanship is super neat, it is easy to play and the sound is positive and rewarding. In terms of modern double bass making this sure is a king.
LOB (length of back) - 119.8cm (47.15in)
Width across upper bouts - 54.9cm (21.65in)
Width across middle bouts - 39.5cm (15.60in)
Width across lower bouts - 74.8cm (29.48in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 23.6cm (9.35in)
Body Stop - 60.5cm (23.77in)
String length - 105.7cm (41.65in)
Review compiled by: Anthony Houska - MD The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd.
Review completion date: 09th February 2016