A Double Bass Disaster!

Chi-chi Nwanoku's double bass is painstakingly repaired by Bridgewood & Neitzert

Chineke! Orchestra Inaugural Concert (2015-09-13) by Zen GrisdaleChineke!

Disaster Strikes!

Returning on a flight from Belfast, having just completed a European tour, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE arrived at the airport in London and retrieved her double bass from the customs area. As a precaution, she habitually opened up the case to check the instrument. Just by lifting the hard outer shell, she sensed something was very wrong, as she felt parts shifting around inside. Sure enough, her 17th Century Amati double bass was shattered. 
It looked like the end for this precious instrument. 

Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE - Founder of Chineke! Orchestra (2019) by Ntando BrownChineke!

About the Instrument

Chi-chi's double bass was made in Italy in 1631 by the renowned Nicolas Amati, of the famous Amati family of luthiers. 
Its previous owners were Doris Greenish and Francis Bains, who passed the instrument to Chi-chi. The provenance of the instrument and its previous owners over the last three hundred years is not clearly recorded, but it is certain that the instrument had taken a battering well before its most recent accident.

Repairing Chi-Chi's double bass (2019) by Gary BridgewoodChineke!

Nicolas Amati - 1631

Inside Chi-chi's double bass is a label in Latin which records the instrument's maker and the year it was made. 
 Translation: "Nicolas Amati, Cremona, made in the year 1631"

Repairing Chi-Chi's double bass (2019) by Gary BridgewoodChineke!

Heartbroken by the wrecked double bass, Chi-chi zipped up the case so as not to lose even the smallest splinter of wood, and consulted her trusted colleagues at Bridgewood & Neitzert, London specialists in stringed instrument repair. They assessed the damage to the body, and though it was a shocking sight, Gary Bridgewood and his team were convinced it could be rescued and restored to its former glory.

Repairing Chi-Chi's double bass (2019) by Gary BridgewoodChineke!

The process of restoration by Bridgewood & Neitzert over the next 9 months was like a long and painful surgery. 
The neck of the instrument and fingerboard were removed, along with the entire front of the instrument's body, so that the internal structure could be revealed. It was important that repairs to the wood were precise and sympathetic to the age of the material, otherwise the sound quality and resonance of this superior instrument would be lost. 

Repairing Chi-Chi's double bass (2019) by Gary BridgewoodChineke!

Multiple braces were used to hold the sides of the double bass together. Cracks were filled, sections were reattached and the instrument’s varnish was applied over months of painstaking restoration, until the scars were barely noticeable. 
Remarkably, the instrument now sounds better than it did before the accident!

Take a Tour of Bridgewood & Neitzert

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