The bass above is known as "Pension" - it is old, beautiful and valuable, and it cost a lot of money, so it is our Pension. Its history as far as I know is:-

c1760 the bass is made, probably in Milan, but no one call really put a makes name on it

1948 Dougie Williams came out of the services and joined the Halle Orchestra. He bought the bass from Victor Watson. It was then a four stringer. Dougie always called it "the Panormo" - Tom Martin and Mike Hart dont think its a Panormo, neither do I.

c1950 Dougie had it converted to a 5 stringer. It would have been made for 3 gut strings, then converted to a 4 stringer, then Dougie added a bottom B string. In the process he sold the scroll as the head was not big enough for the 5 strings. This is a shame, but if it had its original head I guess it would be too expensive, and I wouldnt have it now. So mixed feelings

1970s Dougie was No 2 in the Halle and he sat next to Mike Calder, so the Derazey  and this bass shared a desk for years.

1980 I did my first pro gig, with the Halle. Dougie was sat No 2 and I remember hearing this huge fat Italian sound, and I vowed to myself that one day I too would own a beautiful old Italian bass

1984 Dougie retired and sold the bass to Diana Milner (pictured above), who was by then my teacher and principal bass with the Halle.

2006 Diana left the Halle and sold the bass to me


So I dont know who made the bass. It could well be a one off made by a decent luthier and as there are fewer basses than fiddles its much harder to make a comparison. Its a fantastic orchestral bass, very long in the body with a big boomy sound. I love it.



o/a length (top scroll to bottom of belly) 197cm

belly length 120cm

shoulder width 54cm

C bout belly width 39cm

hips width 70cm

rib depth 18cm (small, volume made up by huge swell in the back)

stop length 106cm


© 2016 Stuart Riley, all rights reserved