Penguin Bass: luthier made acoustic double bass with removable neck



This instrument was created from an idea by ​​Maestro Stefano Cantarano, well-known jazz double bass and concert player, currently professor of Jazz double bass at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and skilled luthier, specialized in the construction, restoration and set up of double basses and, in particular, given his undisputed musical skills, in the rectification of fingerboards.

Cantarano turned to the double bass player Stefano Ferri to join forces and start this project. Ferri involved the friends of his cultural association “StrumentiAmo”, Andrea Daffini and Augusto D'Ottavi, with whom modifications and improvements to the initial project were made.

The idea of ​​Cantarano's project was to create a portable instrument that is lighter than a double bass but which, to the sound and to the touch, has identical characteristics to a traditional instrument.

Thus an instrument has been created where the performer, while playing and closing his eyes, will have the same sensation as playing a 3/4 acoustic double bass with the diapason (stringlenght) he wishes (from 95 to 110 cm.).

Nothing has been overlooked, not even in the aesthetics, which is more than pleasant.

The materials used are the top of the range.  


The instrument is built with the soundboard in solid Val di Fiemme spruce with two particular F-Holes, located somewhat higher compared to the traditional ones but which make it attractive at first glance.

The reclinable fins, with a particular block steel hinge system, made of spruce and poplar, perfectly imitate the external shape of the shoulders of an acoustic double bass, and allow the musician to lean on the instrument and give the correct forearm support to play the high ranges on the fingerboard, obviously made of ebony. These fins can also be made without a hinge, but removable with a wooden joint.

The particular shape of the removable wings gives the instrument the idea of ​​a nice penguin, which is why it has been called "Penguin bass".

The bridge, also handmade from maple, matches the nice tailpiece,  specially made of reduced size.

The sound post, in selected spruce and of 16 mm diameter, is positioned so that it is difficult to detach in case of disassembly of the instrument.

The back and the ribs are made of poplar but can be ordered on request also in Balkan maple, while the internal ribs are made of spruce. In fact, all the details can be modified for each instrument by Maestro Cantarano himself and by the luthiers of the luthier workshop StrumentiAmo.

Both the back and the soundboard have handmade threads and the whole instrument is glued with animal bone luthier glue, according to the recipe of the Italian luthier school of Amati and Stradivari.

The neck, also handcrafted, is made from a block of first choice solid Balkan maple wood.

The neck is made in such a way that it can be disassembled in a maximum of 2 minutes, thanks to an original project that includes two steel pivots that can be unscrewed. The base of the neck is actually divided into 2 parts, one remains fixed to the saddle of the neck, the other, the longer one, is part of the neck itself and, sliding away, allows the complete removal of the neck, including the strings, which are detachable from the tailpiece, or they can be removed from the endpin including the tailpiece.

The headstock, one integrated piece with the hand-carved maple neck, has a new particular design, without a scroll, to allow for the contained length of the whole instrument.

The machine heads are the Rubner Double Bass Machine Brass, of excellent quality, but, upon the customer's request, they can be modified and mounted with ebony and mother-of-pearl finishings.

The instrument is varnished in two versions, in spirits with varnish specially made by luthiers based on an ancient recipe of the Italian luthier school or in oil varnish.

The endpin is a Diktum, 45 cm long and 16 mm thick, the tailgut is in steel or non-elastic synthetic material.

The bridge, of quality maple, is set in our lutherie with the features desired by the customer. On request it can be supplied adjustable in height, through a steel or ebony knurled wheel.

The instrument is supplied with commercial steel strings but good quality, such as the Spirocore Thomastik Medium tension and the set up requested by the customer.

The customer can attach a pick up of his choice to the instrument, which will be assembled by our luthier. We have tried the K&K Bass Max, the Underwood and the David Gage The Realist Bass Copperhead. In the audio sample in the attached link you can hear the natural acoustic sound. The customer has the choice of the sound he prefers.

We would like to underline that the instrument also sounds perfectly in the acoustic version, therefore it is also excellent for playing it at home or in a hotel and can be amplified on stage via a directional condenser microphone.

The package includes a semi-rigid case made by a specialized company based on our design, with different comfortable handles and an arch-shape door, available in green, red or grey (see photo).

At the moment, 2 instruments of the same type have been made, with few differences depending on the creativity of the single luthier who made them. In fact, not being an industrial production, even if the instruments derive from the same project, one will never be identical to another and the customer can customize its features so to always have a UNIQUE instrument.


The Penguin bass is the ideal instrument for the professional double bass player who has to travel for work. 

On the plane it can be taken into the cabin disassembled or transported safely in the hold with the flight case.

The complete case is slightly larger than that of a guitar and smaller than that of a cello.

On stage the instrument makes an excellent impression, original and pleasant like any other luthier instrument and the sound is no different from that of a traditional double bass.

Dimensions of the mounted instrument:

Height cm 152, maximum width cm 30, maximum thickness (at the bridge) cm 34

Dimensions of case for mounted instrument:

Height 155 cm, maximum width cm. 35, maximum thickness (at the bridge) cm. 28. Weight Kg 7 / 7,5

Dimensions of flight case for  un -mounted instrument:

Height 116 cm, maximum width cm. 55, maximum thickness cm.28. Weight Kg.20 with Penguinbass inside

Penguinbass drop version: As in the photo, we can supply  the Penguinbass in “drop version”, with the
body that looks like a drop. Dimensions are the the same.


The first five instruments are already built and the construction of further ones to order can be expected in three months.

The price, considering that the instrument is made with first choice wood and accessories and requires at least 100 hours of craftsmanship by hand, is Euro 4.500/5.500 euro based on the details ( without case or pick-up)net VAT or costum fee if required.

The semi-rigid case in dark green, grey or dark red made according to our design by a specialized company in Padua costs 500 euros, including shipping and VAT.

The flight case costs 950 euros.

Supplements for special strings and machine heads are quoted on request.

Further instruments already under construction can be customized and quoted separately regarding the following characteristics:

· diapason

· headstock

· tailpiece

· machine heads

. bridge

· strings·

· endpin

. tailgut

· thread

· color of semi-rigid case for assembled instrument

· color of soft case for unassembled instrument

Many videos taping on you tube : PENGUINBASS