Viola d'Amore by Pierre van Engeland, Brussels 2011

And its big brother, the "Violone d'Amore". It's a 7-string D/G violone that combines both violone types in one single instrument. Sounds awesome in all registers.





Both instruments have similar construction, with the dark mahogany stripes reinforcing the structure and adding a personal, recognizable touch. The Violone's head is blindfolded too, and it's black.

String length is only 90 cm, which i feared would be too short for a low D-string, but it works miraculously well. The instrument has a strong, bassy bottom end as well as a beautiful silvery quality on the top strings.

Lugging around two violones and a bass for a single concert was a real pain, so i had the idea for a hybrid instrument like this. It sounds great both in 8 and 16 ft. The neck is quite wide and it takes a while to get used to that, and to the width of the bridge. String spacing is quite large because sometimes i like to dig in, and then i need enough space for the bow.



Viennese Bass made by 
Stefan Krattenmacher, 
Münchweier Anno 2011


After buying my first Krattenmacher Solo Bass in 2005 or so, i asked Stefan to build me a 5-string Viennese model. It took him a while to find a model that he liked and to figure out how to build the bass and sound that i was after. Stefan came over to Belgium when i played Vanhal's Concerto with orchestra on an old, anonymous "Viennese" bass because he wanted to hear what kind of sound i was after and to discuss my requirements.

The idea was to have a bass that i could use both for Viennese tuning and for normal "baroque" bass tuning. So i wanted five strings, tuned to D-A-D-F #-A. By tuning the F# up a semitone to G, i get baroque tuning D-A-D-G (-A) whereby i have the choice to use the top A string or not, or even to replace it with a high C string.

I even use the bass in Gamba tuning : D-G-C-E-A, in which case i just lower the three middle strings a whole step. The Gamba top D string is then missing.

I have played Mozart's last 3 symphonies using this Gamba tuning, and it worked really well !

But most of the time i use this bass, patterned after FEILENREITER (a later Viennese maker) for Viennese Tuning, in 415, 430 or 440 Hz. With Duo Sweet 17 we usually stay at 415. When there is a pianoforte it is 430. With a modern orchestra i tune to 440 or whatever the orchestra's pitch is.

The strings i use most of the time are by Nicholas Baldock. I use quite a light string gauge. A lot of experimenting has shown that this bass responds best with a lighter string. The string length is a whopping 110 cm. This seems excessive, but most Viennese basses had very long string stops. In fact this makes playing in thumb position more comfortable (counter-intuitive, isn't it ?) Also, the bass has an Eb neck, which gives you more space in the "in-between" position between the 7th fret and the thumb position.

The instrument was quite tight in the beginning but it's beginning to loosen up very very nicely, and i feel it's going to be a hell of a bass pretty soon.


                           Korneel with the Krattenmacher Bass                                          

                   At a gallery concert with a bass by Dimitru Farcas.

This black bass with white bindings and teardrop soundholes is from 1952 and was made by Hack in Hannover. it's a real looker and great fun to play. Originally a 5-string bass, i converted it to 4 strings because the fingerboard is too narrow to play 5 strings comfortably with a bow. I like to use it for street concerts but it's an all-round instrument that i can use in normal or viennese tuning.

                  Kimiko Nishi, cembalo and pianoforte

Playing Vanhal Concerto with PQBM and Mika Akiha (viola) and Viola Le Compte (double bass).

                                    Naoko Ogura, violin


          Haruko Tanabe, violin, viola, viola d'amore

                               Shiho Nishimura, cello