The English Double Bass Testimonials

Thoughts from our readers across the globe

The English Double Bass is an unprecedented work, by double bass experts Thomas Martin, George Martin and Martin Lawrence. This 526-page work features 766 colour photographs of 100 double basses enshrined in its leather-bound covers, printed on high-quality paper. Here are some of our readers’ comments:

"Congratulations to Thomas Martin, Martin Lawrence and George Martin on producing a comprehensive work on the English double bass. Here, this revered school has received the definitive treatment. The comfortable format, excellent images and concise notes make this volume a welcome addition to any luthier or musicians’ library."

- David Rattray, Senior Fellow Royal Academy of Music, United Kingdom

"Very informative, with lots of useful biographical information and plenty very interesting examples. The fact that it includes some obscure makers like Valentine, Devereux and Calow is an added bonus. The images are great, with some good bonus shots of labels, brands and details. Altogether a fine addition to the library, and nicely produced!"

- Tim Ingles, United Kingdom

"With an informative historical introduction and examples of forty maker’s work, this excellent book is a very long awaited and welcome publication, particularly to those of us who remain ignorant of anything larger than a cello."

- Andrew Fairfax, United Kingdom

"A magnificent book destined to remain a milestone in the history of the double bass. The research that animated it has been scrupulous: the book is comparable to the major compendia of violinmaking that until now were generally excluding the double bass. The gap with the other bowed instruments has been finally filled."

- Stefano Pio, Italy

"Congratulations on this great work that will help all those luthiers, collectors, musicians and amateurs who want to deepen the history of violin making."

- Sergio Scaramelli, Italy

"Apart from my dendrochronological examinations, I know very little about double basses, however the book on The English Double Bass produced by George and Tom Martin is a fine piece of work which will certainly allow me to get to know more. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to explore a field of instrument making that is often underestimated."

- John Topham, United Kingdom

"Here is the first book ever published about the double bass with this extraordinary quality of material, photos and content. The most charming features of this work is probably the numerous wonderful and high-definition photos of the instruments, but the detailed research on the lives and works of the master double bass makers has a great value and enrich the reading too. From my point of view, a must for all violin makers and in particular, for those specialized in the double bass. A big-sized book for a big-sized instrument!"

- Ignazio Sanfilippo, Italy

"I waited with much anticipation for the publication of The English Double Bass. It has been extensively researched with many examples from the great makers. The images are terrific and it`s fantastic to have so much background on the folks that made these wonderful instruments during the golden period in British bass making. A great workshop aid for makers and a terrific reference for enthusiasts."

- Martin Penning, United Kingdom

"Congratulations to Tom, Martin and George on compiling this invaluable resource."

- Tony Houska, United Kingdom

"Upon receipt of my copy of The English Double Bass, the presentation of packaging completely impressed me. However, once reading and studying the actual contents of this book, I was totally taken by the depth and completeness of content, the magnitude of this project and the presentation of this most important reference book, inside and out. This work is and will always be regarded as perhaps the most definitive studies of the English Double Bass History. It is truly a “must have” publication for any serious luthier and serious Bassist to enjoy and use as a learning and reference guide. Bravo to my dear friends, Tom, George and Martin in bringing this masterful work to fruition. With much admiration and thanks."

- Barrie Kolstein, United States of America

"Congratulations to your great book about the fine old English Masters! Fantastic photographs of fantastically chosen instruments! We are already looking forward to seeing your next book about the Italian Masters."

- Alexander & Thomas Grunert, Germany

"I remember talking to Tom Martin possibly 20 years ago about the possibility of him writing a book about the double bass and sharing the knowledge he had with information starved bass enthusiasts such as myself. Many years later I became aware of The British Violin book which set the standard of quality for a book on musical instrument history. That book is now very hard to buy. I predict that The English Double Bass book will become just as sought after and collectable. It has exceeded my hopes and expectations and with one stroke has raised the profile of the double bass. The beauty of these magnificent instruments can never be questioned, and I am overwhelmed that two of the double basses in this authoritative volume belong to me. Many thanks to the authors for their generous efforts in producing this important work."

- Kenneth Knussen, United Kingdom

"This volume is a tremendous gift to the double bass community. Knowledge of the provenance and history of the double bass has always been very difficult to obtain. This book is now among the few most important sources that we have. It will also be a powerful contributor towards the double bass being recognised as a beautiful and legitimate member of the violin family. The quality of the prints and the information given about the instruments and their makers is without comparison, and invaluable. I await the next volumes with great and eager anticipation! Thank you for this book; it has made me a better luthier."

- Gael McKeon, France

"We have waited a long time for such a book devoted just to the English double bass, it will be a major addition to the vast family of violin reference books. A book full of beautiful crafted basses with plenty of high-quality photos and plenty of information. It will give us makers and collectors something to look up and aspire to. I am very glad it has appeared in my life time. Congratulations."

- Malcolm Healey, United Kingdom

"There is little the authors of the English Double Bass don’t know about the provenance of the instruments in this ‘bible’ of fine English basses. I had heard many bass players talk of great makers and to see the superb photographs of the examples that Tom, George and Martin have collated is wonderful. I had no idea my bass would make the cut and to learn its full history has been a real surprise and pleasure."

- Nickie Dixon, United Kingdom

"The book, binding, paper and print as well as the content of the writing, which by the way flows very gently for a reader with English as a second language, leads one to take it in at the rate of drinking that good wine kept for a special moment. One glass and the mind is smiling and content. Looking at the wood it is looking back with hundreds of stories to tell, concerts, travels and events in music. The makers come to life also. One worked in a brewery, one made boots, a hairdresser, one Jack came to ill fortune being a charmeur but recovered later as a famous elephant dompteur! It's not boring and gives many clues to life circumstances in the period. The English Double Bass is simply most interesting to read and the pictures are a delight. Quality as expected. It is truly difficult to imagine not subscribing to future books from Arpeggio Publishing." 

- Peder Linneberg, Denmark

"The English Double Bass is a fantastic resource that has already become a must have on the bookshelves of experts, enthusiasts and players all over the world. A very important work!" 

- Daniel J. Kress, Germany

"Thomas, Martin and George have produced an unrivalled work on the English Double Bass, from the excellent historical research to the beautiful images within it's quality leather binding this is an essential document for musicians, luthiers and collectors. It is fantastic to finally have a book that honours these instruments and makers as they should be. Outstanding work. I shall be looking through these pages for many, many years to come." 

- Neal Heppleston, United Kingdom

"The English Double Bass is a unique book in bringing together so much information about these makers and combined with the excellent quality photographic prints make it an excellent resource for any bass enthusiast. As a maker I am grateful for the effort that has gone into it and will be reaching for my copy for many years to come. I look forward to the release of the next book by arpeggio publishing which I’m sure will also prove to be invaluable for the collection." 

- William Mackay, United Kingdom

"Congratulations to Thomas, George and Martin on producing such a magnificent publication. It is a unique and highly significant contribution to the history of the English Double Bass, exquisitely presented." 

- Colin Paris, United Kingdom

"The English Double Bass book the Martin family have assembled is something the bass world has needed for years. It is truly a work of art and scholarship that anyone interested in string instruments should own. Not just bass players or makers. But all string instrument enthusiast! Highly recommend owning this book. Plus it is cheaper then buying a set of bass wood for your next bass project." 

- Chris Dungey, United States of America

"It is absolutely fantastic – a wonderful work of love and devotion to these great instruments. I cannot imagine how it could possibly be better. This I say without having done much more than leaf through it yet, looking of course especially at the pictures of my own bass, but also marvelling at the overall quality of the photos and indeed of the production as a whole. I will be spending many happy hours just enjoying the photos and trying to imagine what it must be like to play each of those other basses, and in the process will learn so much more than a mere player could ever hope to pick up alone." 

- Jonathan Dancy, United Kingdom

"Having owned several fine English basses (including one in the book) and seen many others, I was thrilled to hear of the book's publication being in the works. After receiving my copy of the book I was ecstatic while reading thru the pages of the makers, pictures and their histories. Having extensively studied as much as possible on line and in other books, I still learned quite a bit of new information I had not known beforehand. Besides the amazing pictures in the book, the quality of the book itself dwarfs all other violin family books within my fairly extensive collection."

- Ken Smith, United States of America

"The English Double Bass is a truly significant asset to the double bass literature.  It provides what hasn’t existed before; a highly detailed and accurate photographic comparison of so many top-quality instruments.   This is, of course, enormously valuable to any devotee of the double bass but, for me as a first-time amateur maker, it goes way beyond this.  I am able to flick through pages and compare and contrast so many different styles of Soundhole, scroll, arching, outline and more, all side by side and in sharp detail.  This book will help to make us all that little bit more expert in the realisation and appreciation of the great variation in double bass construction that makes the instrument so endlessly fascinating." 

- Chris Shaw, United Kingdom

"Since receiving my copy of The English Double Bass, I have spent many a winter afternoon over a good kettle of tea at my workshop, taking a break from work, reading through this well-researched book, gazing studiously at the brilliantly clear photos. When I found out that another book--The Italian Double Bass--is the next book to be published, I did not waste a minute in ordering my copy! With the aid of my copy of The English Double Bass and the kind assistance of the Martins, I have now been able to resolve the identify of a "mystery" English double bass owned by the Chicago Symphony since 1960! With older pedigreed and antique double bass values continuing to rise, it is vitally important that these instruments be properly identified, thus allowing for proper insurance valuations. Herein lies the importance of owning such an authoritative, concise, and detailed reference book. For the musician, this book is a wonderful addition to the library of double bassists of all genres. For the luthier specializing in the double bass, this book is an indispensable addition to one's reference library. For the double bass maker, it is an essential and inspirational reference book providing clear photos of masterfully made English instruments, and in such detail that one can see how double basses wear and age over time. Needless to say, this book is undoubtedly worth every Pound, and I anxiously await the next bass-specific reference book to be published. The Italian Double Bass will certainly become the standard reference book for Italian double basses, as is the case now with The English Double Bass." 

- Mark Songsen, United States of America

"I was so pleased to have received my copy of The English Double Bass. Compliments! What a fine project! Everything is so perfect - the cover, the choice of paper, and the quality of the photographs which is complemented by wise and detailed information on the lives and works of the important double bass makers. A heavyweight in every sense, this is truly a “must have” for every double bass lover. Hearty congratulations and many thanks to you and your team for your fine work." 

- Holger Michalski, Germany

"Your magnificent book arrived auspiciously at my door on my birthday. What a wonderful gift its arrival was. I have admired English basses for better than fifty years and owned two during that time. Now I can bathe in the glory of a host of them. The quality of the photography is superlative, easily among the best collections of photos of objet d’arts that I have seen. There is a common theme in the design of all the basses in this book. That strength and nobility pours out of the pages of this celebration of the English school of bass making. A viola player once turned around during a rehearsal and admired my George Craske (1850). He very earnestly said that the word to describe that bass was “handsome”. I could not have agreed more. That is the word I would use to describe all of the basses in this very handsome volume. Another characteristic that adds to that impression and becomes so apparent while one feasts on these brilliantly presented instruments is symmetry. English basses are symmetric, and they sound the way they look; strong, clear, even, with a balance between the fundamental and its overtones. Thomas Martin, Martin Lawrence, George Martin and their team of collaborators have produced a book that is in itself a work of art. It is also an invaluable resource for players, teachers and their students, luthiers, and dealers. The personal histories of the makers give us a glimpse of a small but active industry that was one of the foundations of the rich musical life of England over more than two centuries. Here is a testament to the integrity of these dedicated and skilled men that will live alongside their beautiful instruments long into the future." 

- Edward Tait, United States of America

"The English Double Bass is so far an unsurpassed book for lovers of this instrument. It is not only full of beautiful instruments, but also gives us an idea how the history of the bass has been influenced by political, commercial and personal developments. And it displays the connections to Italy (Panormo), France and Germany (Hawkes), which is very enlightening to know and to see. Thank you so much for this book of beauty and wisdom." 

- Felix Schilling, Germany

"The English Double Bass is without a doubt the most comprehensive and authoritative source of information ever published about these great basses. The painstaking level of attention paid to every detail is unmistakeable. The print quality and photos are superb, and the text provides detailed descriptions about each instrument and maker."

- David Hollender, United States of America

"The English Double Bass is the definitive reference tool for double bass players and enthusiasts. The outstanding photography captures with great accuracy and clarity the history and development of English basses from Italian influences from the 1700’s until the present day. All major makers are included, with several examples of each presented from early to late period; it is so interesting to see how styles and details develop. The text is well crafted, interesting and thankfully not overly full of technical jargon. This weighty and high-quality tome is of great credit to the authors; highlighting unparalleled knowledge, using a far reaching network to source the basses and incredible tenacity and commitment to bring it to fruition. With the technical advancements in dendrochronoly the age of the wood used can be accurately calculated. Now The English Double Bass brings clarity and knowledge to the previously inaccurate business of attribution. It is the benchmark by which all Double bass literature will be judged. For years all we had was Raymond Elgar’s books, but The English Double Bass gives us a complete picture, there will be nothing like it again!"

- Tony Alcock, United Kingdom

"The English Double Bass is a monumental work which fills a yawning void in double bass literature.  The introduction provides the background to the bass in England culminating in a timeline of makers from Peter Wamsley (d.1744) to Francis Calow (d.1952).  The depth of biographical detail presented on each maker naturally varies, being dependent on the survival of the historical record.  The book is completed by brief details of contemporary makers.  The crowning glory of this book is the marvellous selection of bass photographs printed on leaves of high quality, my only slight disappointment being the lack of dimensions.  This book is truly a remarkable piece of work."

- Dr. Edward G Hellewell, United Kingdom

"The English Double Bass is above all a feast for the eye, containing superb colour plates of a meticulously curated selection of the very best instruments by forty makers, many with several instruments showing the breadth of style achieved over an individual maker's career, and including several large foldout plates. But more than that, this massive tome provides a biography of each maker and notes on the construction, relevant modifications and varnish of each instrument that is depicted. Several apocryphal myths are dispelled, e.g. that William Baker the bass maker was Baker the tuning machine head manufacturer. There is a whole section devoted to tuning machines alone. The introduction concisely places the English double bass in historical perspective and charts its early development by viol makers through to its decline in the later nineteenth century. This is a book that is essential reading for anyone interested in the double bass and will be the definitive reference work on the subject."

- Timothy Batchelar, United Kingdom

"Huge congratulations to Tom Martin, Martin Lawrence and George Martin for completing the English Double Bass. It has to be the best ‘Double Bass’ book produced. The detail both in the pictures and in the introduction is astounding. As a Professional Double Bass player, it’s also useful as guide on the history of the double bass, with the design going all the way back to the great Dragonetti Gaspar. Finally, I have a book to put in the ‘Coffee Table Art Books’ which I will look at!"

- Dominic Dudley, Ireland

"As students of the double bass, many of us have spent a ton of time and effort learning double bass technique, musicianship, and ensemble. However, rarely do we have an opportunity to delve into a pictorial double bass history in such depth as in The English Double Bass book. A lot of the music we learn and play now was influenced by the beautiful sounds these basses produced. Understating and learning bass history is very important, this book just made the educational process much more available. Gathering and presenting this information must have been an enormous task. The final results are excellent. When you look through the pages of this book you will gain a further appreciation for just how masterful these bass builders were. Via The English Double Bass book, you will garner a unique glimpse into the expertise of what’ I’d call the golden age of English bass making. We should also pass on a BIG THANKS to the current and previous owners (i.e. stewards of double bass history) in taking such care to preserve double basses of this legendary vintage in such playable condition. Thomas, George, Martin and the English Double Bass Book team; BRAVO on publishing this work."

- Bill Childs, United States of America

"Although my copy of The English Double Bass arrived less than a week ago, the book has already become a prized possession. This is a book to savor like a fine wine or coveted spirit. At first glance, the vast amount of high quality color prints is pleasantly overwhelming. Upon further examination, the story of the evolution in the United Kingdom of the instrument that we now know as the double bass starts to emerge. It is fascinating. Without a doubt, this book is destined to enlighten many bass players as well as those who are interested in the history and development of string instruments from the 17th century and beyond."

- Paul Langosch, United States of America

"I was so pleased to have received the English Double Bass book. The quality of the product is outstanding. The superb photography shows in great detail the astounding quality of these fine instruments. It has also been great to learn more about many Luthiers that were relatively unknown to me. I particularly enjoyed the history and information on the maker of my own bass - one of the lesser known names in the world of English basses. Many thanks to George and Tom for putting the time and effort in to finding out the intriguing stories behind these great instruments."

- Laura Murphy, United Kingdom

"I was amazed and delighted at the appearance, layout and content of this wonderful book! My hat's off (or in this case, my mute's off) to Arpeggio Publishing and the authors Thomas Martin, Martin Lawrence and George Martin. I have so enjoyed all those magnificent luthiers whose work is lovingly displayed and admired herein. Bravo all!" 

- Wilmer Fawcett, United Kingdom

"This wonderful book is full of information of which I was relatively unaware, combined with beautiful images of my favourite instrument and of such a high quality, it is a joy to read. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to create this project."

- Laurie Lovelle, United Kingdom

"Having received my copy of the double bass book and can only say that I am thrilled and delighted with it. It was certainly worth the wait! Everything about the book is just perfect, the lay out, the pictures and the quality of production, even down to the packing for transmission. It arrived in perfect condition and I give credit to all of you for the thought which has obviously been put into the creation of such a work. For me it will become a family heirloom, as my son also plays the double bass so it will live in my family for many years to come. Many thanks, and congratulations."

- Alan G. Penman, United Kingdom

"Thank you for making the considerable effort that I know a publication like this requires. The book delivers what has been wanted for many years – a reference point relating to the English double bass and makers. As players we often forget or take for granted the development of our instrument over the years. This book, with its absolute wealth of information about individual makers and their methods of working, is particularly informative and its excellent photography allows us to reflect on that development, both historically and culturally, which can only help us to understand the music that we make, and our approach to performance. I know that this book will quickly become a ‘must have’ reference point for makers, players, dealers and enthusiasts alike."

- Andrew Baker, United Kingdom

"“The English Double Bass “ must be the definitive guide to it’s subject. It’s such a pleasure to read it and see the magnificent photos!"

- Patrick Laurence, United Kingdom


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