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Bass Gemshorn by Wiener

by Wiener
2 reviews
£445.83 excluding VAT (UK Export Price)

German maker Peter Wiener produces an extremely well made series of gemshorns from cow or ox horn. The bass has a chromatic scale with a range of a 9th and a bottom note of F. 

The gemshorn was in use in the 15th century (there exists an organ stop of that name) and was primarily a pastoral instrument, not widely known after the mid-to-late 1500s until the resurgent interest in early music in the 20th century. The gemshorn is an early form of recorder, made of a cow horn with a fipple inserted at the wide end. It has an incredibly sweet sound due to the conical shape of the horn and has a range of one octave. The name comes from the German "chamois" horn, but the early history not well known, the oldest known illustration of one being seen in Musica Getutscht (1511), by Virdung.

N.B. Due to the nature of these instruments each one will have a different appearance depending on the horn used!

Customer Reviews
4.5 Based on 2 Reviews
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Catherine S.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Bass Gemshorn by Wiener

Loving playing my new instrument! I came to a concert at Snape (Jess Gillam - wonderful!) and showed up early so I could visit the Early Music shop - my first time there and it was very special. An amazing opportunity to try instruments and talk about them with the very helpful Melanie. I am a professional clarinettist/saxophonist and have recently been expanding into collecting other wind instruments from around the world. I saw the bass gemshorn in the shop cabinet and just had to give it a go - the first note had me hooked and I knew I had to buy it….a beautiful deep, warm sound that resonated right inside me. The horn looks fabulous too and has such a gorgeous feel to the polishing. I’ve already practised it lots and used it in the studio on a library music album about journeys through landscapes (all around the world) for “Sneaky Biscuit"….and I know it’ll get many more outings for other studio projects and in my live music “sound spas”…as well as in shamanic healing sessions. Thank you. music sound baths too (

Andy C.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Sweet toned, extraordinarily compact and beautiful instrument

The historical importance of the gemshorn – indeed even the existence of an eight holed instrument with recorder-like fingering – is a subject of some conjecture, yet alone whether there really were matched consorts, as long featured in the early music revival. However, what you get is a sweet toned and very beautiful instrument, small for its pitch, but with a shape likely to exasperate the makers of cases for musical instruments. The reverse conical bore, aided by the natural curvature of the gemshorn allows a keyless bass instrument to be made with a finger stretch of only slightly more than a renaissance soprano recorder. Just take that in! The natural cowhorn material and finish on mine is very attractive. The plug is a hardwood, which looks better and more durable than plaster of Paris, as sometimes used. There is no provision for tuning as far as I can see. A horn augmentation around the windhole is there to direct the air flow and protect the fipple, I presume. A nice touch by maker Peter ****** is a small hollowing of the underneath of the horn to aid the right thumb in supporting the instrument, though with a weight of just over 700gms the bass gemshorn is a real lightweight amongst early woodwind instruments of its pitch. No fingering chart is supplied - rather an omission I think – so I downloaded Pavel Ĉíp’s chart, but there is no certainty that this was what Peter ****** intended on his instruments, and some experimentation is required for notes outside the key of F major. This chart shows a compass of a ninth, and although over-blowing of about a third is possible I have not achieved any confidently. The voice of the bass is strong enough to support a trio of renaissance recorders. As an alternative to buying a gemshorn from the Early Music Shop you could make your own, but an instrument maker friend came quite close a divorce while boiling a large panful of cows horns for 36 hours in the domestic kitchen. One should be also be aware that the gemshorn is very sharp; I was with a friend outside the Wigmore Hall when we were stopped and searched by a policeman, who took some persuading that the gemshorn carried by my friend was not an offensive weapon. The bass reviewed here would be particularly lethal. Not suitable for vegans.