originally published in The Strad,
Bernhard Simon Fend II, c. 1840
Bernhard Simon Fendt was born in 1801 in the City of London and died in Chelsea, London 1852.
His father, Bernhard Simon Fendt I, left the small Bavarian town of Füssen, to do his training with his oncle François in Paris. After François death, he went to London where he worked for 11 years for Thomas Dodd . In 1809 Fendt´s father joint the workshop of John Betts. Fendt II was trained by his father in Betts workshop and worked until 1823 for John Betts. In 1831 the younger Bernhard Simon started a partnership with Charles Joseph Farn, but in 1832, after Farns death, Fendt opened a new shop in Haymarket with the dancing teacher Georg Prudy. In 1850 Fendt premises were in 74, Dean Street. Out of his six children, only his son William also became a violin maker, but both, Bernhard Simon II and William, aged only 20, died of consumption in 1852 in Chelsea.
Fendt son was a very versatile maker, and his instruments are among the best ever made in England.
For his basses, Fendt used mainly a Nicolo Amati and a Maggini model.
This bass shows the beautiful Maggini model, with small and elegant double purfling made of poplar wood and the typical Brescian f-holes with small wings and sweeping shafts, round middle bouts, a long and broad upper block for the neck to sit in, and deep ribs height (23cm).
The table is made of high quality alpine spruce, with strong winter grain of medium width.
The flat back and the ribs show a deeply flamed maple with strong medullary rays. For the scroll, Fendt used plain maple. Inner linings and blocks are made of pine.
There is no fluting and the arching rises slowly up to a medium height. Fendt carved his longitudinal curve of the table also with a gentle rise, leaving a distinguished arch under the neck foot to give strength to this part of the table.
The outstanding masters hand is found in the art of how Bernhard Simon carved the head of this bass, hardly leaving any tool marks. The volute is deeply fluted at the eye, which is typically pined in the middle, and there is still some fluting where the peg box starts. Chamfers are small and precise. The front and the back of the head is kept with a medium depth flooting.
This bass was originally made as a 4 stringer, unusual for the time in London, where most other basses had been 3 stringers. The “Baker” machine heads are beautiful and in all parts original.
A great deal of the original golden yellow varnish remains on the very transparent golden ground, giving together with the wear and tear of this bass an extraordinary texture.
Sonority and dark richness with the companion of a good overtone spectrum is a short sounds description of this outstanding bass.
Table length: 115,3cm
Stop length: 61,5cm
String length: 107cm
Lower bouts 69,8
Middle bouts 37,0cm
Upper bouts 53,4 cm
Rib height at the lower block 23,0cm
Upper corner block 22,5cm
Upper block 15,5cm
Maker: Bernhard Simon Fendt son
Instrument: double bass
Date: c 1840´s