5-String Double Bass by Ian Highfield, Rednal, Birmingham anno 1995
Ian Kenneth Highfield (b-1946, d-2012) was a graduate in fine art and architecture and a professional maker of high standing. Throughout his career he extensively studied and researched fine instruments and experimented with grounds, varnishes and pigments and is credited with many exceptional copies of important maker’s work. In terms of his production of double basses we have been informed that he made more than a dozen four and five string instrument in both flat back and swell back models.
Looking at this stunning five-string bass we can clearly see that the model is inspired by the work of John Frederick Lott. The instrument is made from nicely flamed English sycamore and choice fine-grained spruce. Note the beautifully cut F’s and their placement in relationship to the corners, note the precisely inlaid purfling, the elegantly formed corner-tips and edge-work and note the bold, masterfully cut scroll. Other nice touches include the beautifully layered amber-brown spirit varnish over a yellow ground and a simply exquisite handmade tail-piece. Internally the workmanship is similarly quite remarkable in its attention to detail.
The sound is impressive too. There is great maturity and evenness to it and the bottom two string respond well even when bowed quickly. The instrument bears the makers original label in the usual place and there is a small “Ian Highfield” name brand on the bass side lower rib next to the saddle.
Overall, we think that this somewhat understated looking instrument is one of the best modern English instruments that we have ever seen - period.
For the new owner we are quite sure that this instrument will provide a life-time of pleasurable, top-level music making and as a bonus it will in time, prove to be a most-prudent financial investment.
LOB (length of back) - 114.0cm
Width across upper bouts - 51.3cm
Width across middle bouts - 37.0cm
Width across lower bouts - 67.0cm
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 23.0cm
Body stop - 62.0cm
String length - 107.8cm
Reference number #2901