Att to Gabriel Jacquet (Jacquet-Gand) Double Bass, Mirecourt circa 1880 – Review

What a tidy looking instrument.

Yes - tidy is a very reasonable assessment. The instrument is in good overall structural condition and sports an attractive and well preserved original burgundy-red varnish over a ground of yellow-ochre.

Are those the original machines?


All the machines look identical to me. Was the instrument made as a four string?

Yes it was. This is further supported by the fact that the peg box has not been altered in any way.

How well is the instrument constructed?

The instrument is constructed throughout with timber of quality and with carving that shows good attention to detail.

Does the instrument have any labels, brands or inscriptions?

Unfortunately there are none.

If there aren't any labels, brands or inscriptions - how do you arrive at the Gabriel Jacquet (Jacquet-Gand) attribution?

The model and features are typical of Gabriel Jacquet.

Have you considered other members of the Jacquet family?

Although several other members of this extended family of luthiers made double basses using this exact same model and features - when everything is considered together and comparisons made the Gabriel Jacquet attribution does come out on top.

Can you point out some of the features to me please?

Most typical are the "raised" or "beaded" edge work to the front and back plates and a purfling line that is set in well from the edge.

Looking at the instrument from a distance I thought that the instrument was double-purfled.

Yes - the combination of these the two prominent features do tend to give one that illusion.

What else would you say is most typical?

The viol form and the gentle incline of the upper back towards the neck-block. The arching of the front, the über-neat workmanship and the precise way that the purfling has been inlaid are also very typical.

What would you say is typical internally?

The wide central back brace and the deep linings.

Anything else?

The large diameter brass cogs and barrels in combination with the wide thread of the worms and the large thumb-turns are typical.

I see that the peg-box on this instrument is very long. Is that a typical feature?

Yes. The peg-box needed to be long enough to accommodate the large diameter cogs and so became the norm.

Tell me a little about Gabriel Jacquet.

The Brompton's Book of Violin and Bow Makers by John Dilworth published in 2012 by Usk Publishing (ISBN 978-0-9573499-0-2) records that Gabriel Jacquet (b-1848, d-1899) lived and worked in Mirecourt and that he was a specialist double bass maker. It also records that he worked with his brother Joseph Jacquet (b-1850, d-1900). The Encyclopaedia of Violin Makers by Karel Jalovec (first published in GB by Paul Hamlyn Ltd in 1968) adds to this by saying that they worked together for many years.

Why is Gabriel Jacquet often referred to as Jacquet-Gand?

When Gabriel Jacquet married Marie Justin Sophie Gand (b-1855, d-1929) the daughter of the violin maker, expert and connoisseur Charles Adolph Gand (b-1812, d-1866) he added her maiden name to his own name.

What else does the Jalovec Encyclopaedia say?

It tells us that Gabriel Jacquet specialized in the larger instruments of the violin family and that his double basses are highly regarded. It also informs us that one of his daughters married the violin maker Léon Victor Mougenot (b-1874, d-1954) and that his second daughter married the prodigious bow maker Eugène Nicolas Sartory (b-1871, d-1946).

Tell me about the set-up of the instrument.

The instrument sports a seriously fine set up which includes a new slim-feel "D" neck, a top quality fingerboard from Germany, a top quality Chevalets Despieu bridge from France, a top quality sound post and one of our very functional English pattern brass endpin units. The added advantage of a string length of a mere 105.6cm makes this instrument a joy to play.

Tell me about the sound.

The sound is full and rounded with superb sustain and lots of colours. In addition there is just the right amount of punch and projection.

How about a summary?

Although this instrument does not bear an original label, brand or inscription to help identify it - there are a great many features and stylistic characteristics that point to it being the work of the specialist double bass maker Gabriel Jacquet of Mirecourt - also known as Jacquet-Gand. If you are a jazz player or are currently in the process of trying to get one of those coveted positions in a symphony or chamber orchestra then the playability, good looks and sound of this "tidy" instrument will certainly help you along very nicely indeed.

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