Jacques Barbe was a Mirecourt maker who became famous for his basses. Sadly I doubt very much that Jacques had much to do with the making of this particular instrument. Like many makers of this period his fame outsold his own output of instruments, thus he brought in others makers to fill those expanding orders. This bass I would suspect as being one of these, made in the workshop of Barbe. This bass was made from very ordinary wood and in what can be termed as a very hurried state. Still having said that it works well as a good jazz bass. I never think of these sort of instruments being good orchestral instruments because of that very typical French nasal character. But what a huge fast big sound, fine for the jazz musician who wants a quick responsive tone. As you can see from the photograph, it is a flat backed viol shaped bass with a dark muddy varnish. It would have been made in Mirecourt, France in c1880.
Gerald Newson was born in New Zealand in 1943. He came to England to study the double bass with the eminent principal bassist of the London Symphony Orchestra, Stuart Knussen. It was very soon after meeting and studying with Stuart that Gerald was offered and accepted the number four job in that very fine London Orchestra, were he still is. Gerald is also a very fine dealer, owning the company "String Enterprises". It was to this dealing end that Gerald bought this double bass, and not, I hasten to add, to play in the London Symphony Orchestra. "String Enterprises" is a very fine dealership that specialises in all string instruments and can be contacted by telephoning Mr. Gerald Newson on 00-44-(0)171-602-4778. I have known Gerald right back from the time when he came to this Country and would recommend his expertise to anybody looking for the really fine instrument.