The Ex-Gordon Neal 5-String Double Bass by Ferdinand Seitz circa 1850
Gordon Neal (b-1929, d-1978) was a member of the LSO for 20 years. Prior to joining the LSO, he had been a member of the Halle Orchestra and The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He was a close friend with both the eminent bass player Stuart Knussen (b-1923, d-1998) who was the principal of the LSO for 19 years and the international violin soloist Alfredo Campoli (b-1906, d-1991).
“Big Bertha” as it was aptly named was purchased by Neal around 1952 whilst he was living in Birmingham and due to it bearing the label “Codden 1884” was always thought to be English. It is easy to see why the instrument was thought to be English for the varnish on this bass is absolutely exquisite. There are hews and textures similar to those found on the greatest of Fendt basses.
Since purchase, which was directly from Neal’s widow, the instrument has undergone a full rebuild and is now in structurally first-class condition.
In terms of sound, just imagine a jumbo jet flying through the living room and you’re nearly there.
Stats:LOB (length of back) - 118.0cm (46.47in)
Width across upper bouts - 56.5cm (22.20in)
Width across middle bouts - 40.9cm (16.15in)
Width across lower bouts - 76.0cm (29.90in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 24.0cm (9.45in)
Body stop - 62.7cm (24.66in)
String length - 107.2cm (42.20in)
Reference number #2834