The basses from the Hill family are some of the
earliest, finest and most noble of all English instruments. This
instrument is of viol outline with flat back and upper angle break.
The back and ribs are of well figured maple with an almost horizontal
medium flame. The table is of two pieces of fine to medium-fine
spruce with flanks at the edges of the bouts.
Unfortunately there is not. The work is however
very typical of his output and there are many characteristics in
the work that support the attribution.
Yes. As mentioned previously – both the model
and English maple used in the instrument's construction are quite
typically of the work of Joseph Hill. So too are the toothing plane
marks left in the wood especially on the back, the thick band of
purfilling on both the front and back and the full use of outside
Yes. The light red-brown spirit-varnish applied
artistically over a yellow ground is also typical. The slightly
darker appearance to the table varnish seems common to many instruments
of the Hill family and is because the spruce - being a softer wood
- has absorbed the varnish slightly more.
Well – there were some inscriptions as follows;
On the central back brace there was a pencil inscription which
in Edinburgh 1865" and in the same hand writing immediately
below "Repaired by Harry Young London N7 1962"
A second pencil inscription just above the lower
back bar read "Len
The large number of previous restorations were literally
a mish-mash of poor quality work so we decided to completely rebuild
the instrument. As part of the rebuilding work the central and
lower back braces and the studs along the back central joint were
replaced. Although the inscriptions were lost in the process they
are included in the write up as they form part of the history of
Yes. We felt that the proportions of the instrument
were most suitable to a conversion. Doing the conversion at the
same time enabled us to reduce the string length from about 110.0cm
down to a really manageable 104.6cm. This was quite a challenging
part of the rebuild and in brief involved modifying the top block,
shortening the upper ribs and grafting on a new back button.
Quite honestly it reads like a book but if you really
want to know here is a summary;
- Remove back.
- Graft new back button.
- Half edge, edge and purfle
back as necessary.
- Repair back centre joint.
- Replace back central
- Replace bottom brace.
- Repair and stud back angle
- Repair cracks to back and stud.
- Re-glue back
onto rib assembly.
- Remove front.
- Repair crack in bass side C-rib
- Shorten top ribs.
- Modify top block.
- Replace later bottom rib on
- Replace outside linings to replacement bottom
- Replace additional outside linings to back where
- Remove bass bar.
- Repair cracks in the vicinity
of the bass bar.
- Fit new bass bar.
- Remove all other ancient studs
and replace as necessary.
- Fit soundpost patch.
- Half-edge entire front
and correctly thickness.
- Replace edges where necessary (most
- Purfle where necessary (most of front).
outside linings to front where necessary (most of front).
bad repair to original bottom rib.
- Lighten bottom block and
four corner blocks.
- Re-glue front to rib assembly.
- Perform neck graft
and fit neck.
- Fit ebony crown and ebony side strips.
large open crack in upper-peg box - bass side.
- Bush peg holes
in pegbox and fill in all screw holes.
- Make and fit new brass
plates and fit new set of "Hart" style
- Clean and touch in varnish.
- Fit ebony fingerboard
- Fit bridge with boxwood
- Fit soundpost.
Yes it represents nearly five months work to one
of our outworkers and a repair bill in excess of £14600-00
We reckon that you'll be hard pressed to find an
instrument in better structural condition. We are proud to say
that the quality of the work is as good as it gets. Just take a
look at the picture of the restoration work to the inside table.
Yes it certainly does. It produces one hell of a
glorious sound on all strings and in every position. There are
rich tonal sounds, there is clarity and there is a subliminal
evenness right across the strings. When played you'll love the
way in which the vibrations from the instrument go straight into
your body. The feeling is both fabulous and it proves that the
whole instrument is responding and working well.
We understand that this is a common problem with
most five stringers – so
you'll be pleased to know that the Hill - upon receiving instructions
from your bow - is incredibly responsive and articulate. Huge sounds
come straight out – seemingly without much effort – even
on the B!
Classic English basses from the mid-eighteenth century
are pretty hard to find. Really fine Classic English basses from
the mid-eighteenth century of this quality and in this structural
condition are even harder to find. Add together the fact that this
is a 5-stringer, it plays as easily as any four and it has a sound
department that is simply awesome and you start to get the picture
of just how desirable this instrument is. If you are a pro-player,
an orchestra or a collector thinking about investing in a really
fine 5-string instrument then you need to think about viewing it
as soon as possible. Why? Otherwise – and with a certain
tonepoem in mind by Richard Strauss that contains a notoriously
exposed four desk bass soli, of which the lower line should be
played on 5-stringers - it will be gone before you can say "Also
LOB (length of back) - 116.5cm (45.08in)
Width across upper bouts - 53.6cm (21.15in)
Width across middle bouts - 35.4cm (13.90in)
Width across lower bouts - 71.4cm (28.10in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates- 21.5cm (8.50in)
Body Stop - 60.0cm (23.65in)
String length - 104.6cm (41.40in).