The Brescian Model Double Bass was being designed and prototyped at the same time we were raising our post-and-beam workshop in 2012. From the original Upton Hawkes pattern, our gravitational pull was always towards giant Italy-via-England contrabasses – violin patterns with broad proportions built enormous for lavish orchestra sections. The Upton Brescian Model was our new push to create a wide-ribbed bass in this classic style, while applying all of our invention in construction and ergonomics.
When we think of a ‘Brescian’ style (from Northern Italy), we reference the masters such as Gasparo da Salo, Maggini, and Rogeri. Vincenzo Panormo would bring this style to subsequent English builders such as Kennedy, Lott and Fendt. Our cross-Atlantic friendship with the British workshop of Thomas and George Martin gave us great insight into these original 17-19th Century instruments.
After some design mules, we built our first fully carved Brescian model with back and sides of English Sycamore in 2012. This newly completed bass was quickly hustled onto an aircraft and flown to Europe for the BASS2012 Expo in Copenhagen. A blind judging was the perfect thing for this new bass and it’s jet-lagged American builder – it won the Best Sound Award with an all-star list of jurors!
The enthusiastic response to this Brescian design proved all our homework with sizing, bracing, arching and tolerances would lead to great instruments. This instrument looks a little slimmer than what the design would become.
The Brescian was a perfect candidate for our innovative flat back bracing, our ‘helicopter’ diagonal bracing that maximizes resonance and minimizes competing overtones. With our bracing, we had found the audible difference between solid flatbacks and tonewood ply backs was getting awfully close. This meant we could build an affordable larger bass that was tough, practical and performed with dramatic response and a giant sound.
The resonance of that flatback bass, even with plywood back and sides was a real indication of the possibilities of the Brescian design. As we drove a van full of basses to the 2013 Pittsburgh Symposium Gary kept pulling this hybrid Brescian out at rest stops, couldn’t stop playing it!
The Brescian style also proved a grand pattern for a 5-String, this fully carved fiver with Adjustable/Removable neck was one of the first: