History of the Aluminium Bass
Aluminum double basses are very rare today, and little is known about them. Not much information can be found on the very earliest possible makers...and even the companies that we can confirm made them do not know much, if anything about them. There are various different stories about who, when and where they were made.
In 1891 Alfred Springer of Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded a patent for an aluminum violin. There are no known double basses to have been produced from the Springer workshop.
In 1894 the Aluminum Musical Instrument Company of Ann Arbor, Michigan offered everything from violins to zithers. By 1898 however, the company was no more. We are not aware of any double basses being made by this workshop and given the short amount of time they were in business, it seems unlikely, but as the range of instruments they produced was so vast, it is still probable.
During the 1930s (the Aluminum Double Bass Patent was issued in 1932) the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) produced aluminum upright basses (From 1929 To 1934). The entire body, neck and scroll were made out of seamlessly welded aluminum and were often covered with a convincing (from 20 feet!) faux wood grain finish. Information suggests that only 500 double basses were made. To find one of these basses today with it's original finish in pristine condition is rare as most are well worn or have been sandblasted.
American made Aluminum instruments are unique in the fact that they were seamlessly welded whereas the Europeans used rivets & screws. This single tell-tale identifier can be used to spot one from across the room. The Europeans used spruce bass bars, blocks and sound post platforms as well as Maple necks whereas the American made instruments are entirely aluminum. It is our opinion that the European made basses, due to their construction, have a much better tone. The rivets allow luthiers the opportunity to disassemble the instruments for maintenance and repairs when needed. The American made ALCOA basses are far stronger though and can withstand the rigors of time (and abuse) much better.