The "Tononi"

 

In the spring of 2004, Anthony Scelba acquired a double bass believed to be by Giovanni or Carlo Tononi.  In older sources, Giovanni Tononi’s dates are erroneously given as 1689-1740.  It is now known that he died in 1713 in Bologna where he worked.  His son, Carlo, worked both in Bologna and Venice and died sometime after March 8, 1730.  The double bass is believed to have been made in Bologna at the shop of the Tononis, which would date it as being constructed before 1715.  It was formerly owned by Vincent E. Carano (1907-1997), a New Jersey musician and father of Scelba’s first teacher, Vincent J. Carano.  “As a boy, I took some lessons on this bass and fell in love with it.  Old Mr. Carano promised to sell it to me when he no longer wanted it; it ended up taking half a lifetime to get hold of it, but it was worth the wait!” 

 

 

The Tononi has a two-piece spruce top, curly maple sides, and a round, one-piece willow back.  It has a medium brown varnish with a golden undertone.  It is an ideal size and shape with graceful, sloping shoulders. It measures as follows: 

• Body length overall: 56”   (c. 142.25 cm)
• Body length from the neck inset: 54 1/2     (c. 138.4 cm)
• String stop (between D & A strings): 41 1/2” (c. 105.4 cm)
• Width upper bout: 19 3/4”    (c. 50.1 cm)
• Width mid bout: 15 5/8”    (c. 39.7 cm)
• Width lower bout: 26”  (c. 66 cm)
• Width rib (mid-C): 7 5/8”      (c. 19.4 cm)
• String height (G-string from tip of fingerboard): c. 1.8”  (5 cm)
 

The instrument is equipped with a “ManCee,” an extension device invented and patented by John Mancini.  The device is a roller that bobs the E string down to C and back by releasing and increasing its tension.  The roller also compensates for the change of tension on the bridge by adjusting the intonation on the other three strings.  Mancini, himself, was a member of the NBC Symphony of the Air under Arturo Toscanini; he was also a New Jersey musician, a friend of Carano’s, and the person who installed the extension on the Tononi.

 

In June 2004, Louis Di Leone, the renowned luthier, refurbished the Tononi at his home in Connecticut.