An answer to the logistical hassle of double-bass playing
It was seeing the difficulty with which a double bassist carried his instrument that inspired Italian product designer Gionata Quercetani to work together with his luthier father, Desiderio, to come up with a solution. Their answer is the Travel Bass, an electro-acoustic wooden instrument that, with its split fingerboard, removable shoulders and reduced ‘acoustic chamber’, can be packed away into a specially designed case measuring 89 x 33 x 23cm.
According to Quercetani, this makes it permissible as carry-on luggage under the musical instrument policies of most major airlines. ‘First,’ says Quercetani, ‘we had to create a fingerboard that could be split in two without creating a join that would be disruptive for the player. It was the addition of a rigid core, made from an aluminium alloy with the same density as the ebony, that allowed us to support the dovetail joint enough to make it completely secure and effectively imperceptible.’
Although the strings and bridge must be removed each time the instrument is disassembled, the designers have worked to make this as straightforward as possible. ‘We provide a comb-like tool that allows the player to remove all four strings from the bridge in one go, and another that keeps the bridge perpendicular to the body during tuning. The design of the acoustic chamber eliminates the need for a soundpost, too, so there is no risk of it falling once the bridge is removed.’
Fully assembled, the Travel Bass has the dimensions of a standard 3/4-size instrument and weighs approximately 5kg. While Quercetani recommends amplifying the sound in most contexts (pickups come pre-installed in the bridge for this purpose), the acoustic chamber provides some natural support, making the un-amplified instrument suitable for practice and playing at home.
‘The purpose of the chamber isn’t just to make the Travel Bass louder,’ he says. ‘It also enriches the sound with the harmonics you get on an acoustic instrument. The same applies to the whole construction of the bass which, with the exception of the metal neck support, is made entirely of wood.’
Travel Bass from $3,449