Italian Double Bass by Mario Bandini, Ravenna anno 1980 – Review

Can you tell me about Bandini?

The Dictionary of Twentieth Century Italian Violin Makers by Marlin Brinser lists Mario Bandini as a one-star (good) rating out of a possible zero - three for the importance of his work. The brief entry states 'Good late modern. Won medals. Won medal at Bagnacavallo for Double Bass'.

No dates are given for the maker but we are reliably informed that the instruments made in the early 80s are amongst the last that he produced in what was a long professional career. Our source estimated that Bandini was born around 1915 but was unsure if he is still alive and well.

This instrument looks absolutely spectacular.

Yes it certainly does and that is because the back and ribs have been made out of figured Anigre (Aningeria spp.) - which is a hardwood that comes from West and East Africa and Tanzania.

Anigre - sometimes called Anegre, Aniegre or Agnegre as well as Tasmanian Walnut - is creamy in colour with a light pink tinge and is predominantly used in high-end furniture and cabinet making due to its stunning rippled or mottled appearance and natural lustrous qualities.

It looks like this instrument is pretty special then?

Yes, Bandini seems to have taken extra care and pride over this instrument. Internally it can be seen that Bandini has been totally diligent in securing some natural stress or "shake" lines in the relatively brittle Anigre back of the instrument by means of circular inlaid studs finished off to fit flush.

The work has been beautifully done and without compromise. Bandini shows his obvious pride in the instrument by branding the internal top and bottom blocks and the four corner blocks with his logo which consists of a B in the middle of a M - the legs of which each terminate in a note - effectively looking like a rising triplet. The brand can also be seen just below the back button and again below the endpin-unit.

Back of bass close up – Italian Double Bass by Mario Bandini, Ravenna anno 1980

Is there a label?

Yes, the instrument bears Bandini's yellow label which is pre-printed Mario Bandini fecit Ravenna anno 1980. The decade and year 80 - are written in hand as is Mario Bandini's signature and at the label top the name that he has given to the instrument 'ANNIBALE'.

Any more info on the instrument?

We do know that Bandini instruments are highly regarded in Italy where currently there are several in use by top professionals players. Indeed this particular instrument was sourced in Milan from a player who works at the Teatro La Scala. During the 60's and 70s we know that several instruments were purchased and prized by professional players here in the UK.

What work have you done on the instrument?

It was certainly time to give the instrument a major service. The work included selective regraduation of the table, fit new bass bar, stud centre joint, repair ribs as necessary, neck graft with ebony strips and crown, fit new tuners, fit new high ebony, fit new bridge with adjusters, fit new soundpost, fit new endpin, clean and touch in varnish.

How does the instrument perform?

Like the Italian-stallion that this instrument is - the sound is well rounded with good depth and quality. A good evenness right across the four strings is also of benefit.

Will the instrument be a good investment?

We would like to think so. The instrument has all the right qualities. It has a well-recognized name, the instrument has the most glorious looks and sound and with over a quarter of a century of quality opera performance and music making to its credit - it is now coming of age. If your budget is under 30K - then this instrument is well worth considering.

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