Francesco DiLeone, New Haven Connecticut, 1938, #39
This Frank Dileone Double Bass is an interesting blend of pieces.
Let’s start with the scroll. This is the same style of scroll seen in EARLY Kay basses. A fully carved scroll (not glued on ears and utilitarian as Kays became by 1940 and 1939 even) with a decorative strip up the middle. We’ve heard tales of the very early Kays having German bought scrolls and of Hitler squashing the export of all goods, leaving Kay to make their own scrolls. It’s not known if Frank bought this scroll from Germany; the owner said that this bass was made with the last sets of wood Frank could get out of Germany (a statement that was said before we pointed out the scroll’s suspect origins), or if Frank had connections in the Kay workshop and bought it from them. This is unlikely, though, as this bass was made in 1938 which is credited as the first full year of Kay production. We’ll never know exactly where Frank got the scroll…but our hunch is the first theory and that the scroll is of German origins.
Let’s continue to the body. The back and sides are matching maple and are reminiscent of Bohemian basses like Juzeks (note the purfling detail below the button), with a low arch that gently rolls to the re-curve. The purfling is clean and well executed into the corners, and the corners are well shaped. Of note would be the age of the back and sides…although the bass is labeled as made in 1938, the back is most certainly quite a bit older than that!
Contrast the back with the top, and we feel the top is not of the same hand (or workshop even) as the back, showing a more amateur hand.
This is all speculation of course, but having “saved” heavily damaged basses before by carving new plates or necks, crafting them together and re-varnishing everything to match, we think it’s a sound theory. This bass was Frank putting a good fully carved bass into a young man’s hands.
This bass was loved and has had just one owner since 1938. It sounds great with a deep, soft, organ like tone that is easy to play and with a very easy response in either pizzicato or arco. With a recent setup with Evah Pirazzi strings by our workshop, it’s ready for its second owner after 77 years.
This Frank Dileone Double Bass has the following measurements:
Upper Bout: 19.5″
C Bout: 14″
Lower Bout: 25.5″
Rib Depth: 6.25 – 7.75″
Length of Back: 44.5″
String Length: 41.5″
Weight: 21 lbs