1940s 5/8 German laminate with bass bar issues. Worth repairing?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by marcox, May 4, 2019.


  1. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    A few years ago I traded a Palatino EUB that I never used for a 5/8 German laminate with a 38.5" scale length. It sports a sticker saying "Made in Germany US Zone," which puts its birthday in the mid-'40s to early '50s.

    The joy of acquiring a cool old bass via trade quickly faded when my luthier explained that a partially detached bass bar was the reason the E and A strings sounded dead. He explained that the top would have to come off and quoted ~$600 for the repair.*

    In my market, it's hard to imagine this bass going for more than $1k. So there's not a huge profit to be made by fixing and flipping the instrument. The bass would likely end up as a back-up to the '70s German 3/4 laminate that's my daily driver. And without the potential for a big upgrade in sound (it's not as if I'd be moving up to a carved instrument) I've never been able to justify the expense of the repair.

    But seeing the older German gathering dust in corner of the room gnaws at me. Does the TalkBass hive mind have any wisdom/consolation to share?


    *My luthier's great and I believe this to be a reasonable fee.
     
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  2. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Fix it and play it? These can be really good instruments (for less than $2K total)
     
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  3. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    I mean, sure -- it's always fun to have a second/third/tenth bass. :)

    But I play exclusively pizzicato in bluegrass/Americana bands, so I don't *need* a different kind of bass for, say, slap or arco. That makes the expense of a second, very similar, bass harder to justify. But I'm hoping TB will provide some great reasons I haven't thought of. :)
     
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Without the repair, maybe you can sell it for $400. With the repair, maybe $1000.
    If you don't fix it and don't sell it, it's just taking up space.
    Providing you can handle the cash flow, fix it, then decide to keep or sell.
     
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  5. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Is this something you can repair yourself?

    Meaning, others here have popped the top or back of their basses and done a good job of the work, with the help of the technical advice of some of the experts here. Is this something you'd feel good about taking on as a home project?
     
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  6. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    I like your optimism, @dhergert, but the last time I did any woodworking was for a Boy Scout merit badge. :)

    @AGCurry, you're probably right. There's no way to make an informed decision about the worth of the bass until it's repaired.
     
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  7. i disagree a little with the "its just taking up space."

    sometimes keeping the bass, in its current state, and letting it sit and not incur any further damage may be a decent enough thing to do until the day comes when he decides he should sell or repair it.

    take the strings off and knock down the soundpost, store it in a safe place. if you are going to just store it.

    i personally would repair it and see what i think then. definitely worth repairing, but no harm done if you want to just wait until the idea of that excites you.
     
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  8. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I'm in the "fix it and see what it does" camp. If you have the cash, you may be surprised and find it to be a better-sounding bass that what you have. If all things are equal, you can sell it and more than recoup the repair cost and give it a new life.
     
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  9. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Do we have photos?
     
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  10. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    We do have photos. It's a bright, sunny day in Phoenix. IMG_4488.JPG IMG_4489.JPG IMG_4490.JPG IMG_4491.JPG IMG_4493.JPG IMG_4494.JPG IMG_4496.JPG IMG_4497.JPG IMG_4498.JPG IMG_4499.JPG IMG_4500.JPG IMG_4502.JPG
     
  11. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    I vote fix.. and get rid of that tailpiece coat hanger in favor of a cable :D

    $600 totally worth making a beautiful piece of furniture into a solid playable instrument.
     
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  12. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    What did the luthier say about the crack in the neck heel? Originally I was thinking fix but the neck issue would hurt potential resale. It could also be contributing to the inferior sound.
     
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  13. marcox

    marcox

    Dec 10, 2007
    Phoenix
    @jsf729 We didn't get as far as the neck heel in the initial consultation. :) Once the it was clear the top would need to come off, that occupied the rest of the discussion.
     
  14. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    $600 to pop the top sounds like a deal to me and to get the bass bar reglued.
     
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  15. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    Seems kind of like bringing your car in for transmission problems and trying to decide if it's worth fixing and -by the way- you need all new brakes and a master cylinder. Your decision would be based on the total cost to get back on the road and if it's worthwhile to invest in the car or sell for scrap/ parts. I don't understand the logic in never getting that far in the discussion, sorry. PLUS if the neck needs to be reset the time to do it is when the top is off...
     
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  16. It is not known how good the bass will be after the repair and whether your investments will pay off. Perhaps you will need additional investments. It's a nice instrument, but it's a student plywood bass. Repair may be more expensive than the result. Sell bass without repair seems like a good idea. IMHO
     
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  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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