Maker of double basses and cellos, Peter Elias is Canadian but has lived in Switzerland since 1992. A considerable part of his experience in the music world has been as a musician, having been a professional bass player before dedicating himself to the construction of instruments. Largely self-taught as a luthier, his most important influences have been close working relationships with professional musicians. To date over 140 of his instruments are being played by professional musicians in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia.
As a bass player, he initially found himself drawn to the research and construction of the double bass. His success in the bass world has been considerable and Elias Double Basses have been purchased by numerous orchestras or their players. Notably the Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass section unanimously decided to buy nine Elias basses. Other orchestras include: the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Gothenburg Opera, the Norwegian National Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Südwestfunk Orchestra of Baden-Baden, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zürich, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, the Portuguese National Orchestra of Oporto and the Brazilian National Orchestra of Sao Paolo. The Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm and the UDK in Berlin have Elias basses. Bass professors including Thomas Monohan, Joel Quarrington, Micheal Wolf, Thorvald Fredin, Micheal Karlsson and Marc-Antoine Bonanomi have bought Elias basses.
A few years later, cellos also became the object of Elias’ creativity. Niall Brown of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Catherine Tunnel of the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, Janis Laurs from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Suzanne Wijsman who is cello professor at the University of Western Australia, David Sharp of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Rowena Macneish who plays in the Enigma Quartet are among those who have purchased Elias cellos. Peter Elias continues to professionally play the bass, mostly in jazz, as well as participating in chamber music ensembles on the cello.
Having built basses since 1983 and cellos since 1991, I have seen many changes over the years. I marketed my basses for many years with the slogan ‘Every fine old bass was once a fine new bass’. I am pleased with the number of basses I hear about from professional clients who have been playing my basses every day for up to 29 years. They all say that the bass just continues to get better. A large number of cellists who play my instruments have expressed similar experiences.
I remember having to convince people that if an instrument sounds good new, it should just get better. There were a number of fears expressed about how an instrument that sounds good new will only deteriorate. I will only speak for myself, but am happy to report that for me this is quite largely not the case. Of course, the maintenance an instrument gets and how it is played also are important factors. I have often regretted that so many instruments of mine are so far away that I have not been able to personally attend to them. I am nonetheless available to consult and am very happy to do so.
It is my feeling today that needs have changed. Many people now need less convincing that new instruments can sound well. There is also a much wider range of price and quality in new instruments. These can be linked, and generally are, but it is my aim to be an exception. I feel that I need to price my instruments so that they will be an attractive option for more modest budgets without compromising the quality I have maintained over so many years of experience. This experience has also made me more efficient. Since the beginning, I have always constructed the instruments entirely by myself. I have always worked out of my home and have never hired help or taken on an apprentice. I feel that this has contributed to making my instruments consistent and helped me to keep prices reasonable. My business has almost always been global and since there are great fluctuations in exchange rates this can be challenging. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about your particular situation. If anything at all can be done, I’m glad to do so.