Aluminum Upright Bass - What do I have?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Pgh_Thump, Mar 6, 2018.


  1. I’ve had this bass for twenty years. It’s aluminum and has the number “83” inside but I can’t find a make anywhere on it.

    Any input?
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Man, that's really cool. I've never seen one, did some quick internet searching and it could be made by a company called alcoa. Maybe try here, it's a Facebook page for aluminum upright enthusiasts.

    Aluminum Bass Owners and Enthusiasts
     
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  3. Thanks! My first assumption was Alcoa but I was told “Alcoa” would be printed on the inside next to the number. I’ll keep searching.
     
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  4. It’s an AlCoA. The serial should also be stamped inside the pegbox.
     
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  5. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    ALCOA, circa late 1929 / early 1930, second production batch.

    "...made by a company called alcoa...";)..... Probably the greatest aluminum production company in the history of humanity.

    condino alcoa 1.JPG More info here:

    Aluminum Bass - Kay Bass Repair

    I just resurrected #211 from a barn find in West Virginia this weekend, original finish in fine condition.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  6. Not seeing the serial here.
     
  7. Thanks James! Any idea what it’s worth roughly? I have an interested buyer but I really have no idea what to ask for. I added a few more pics as well.
     
  8. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    That sure looks cool!
     
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  9. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Yours has clearly been painted, maybe serial is hidden under paint? Here is an example of another one
    AlCoA-scroll-inside-serial-number-number-stamp.jpg
     
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  10. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    They're rare. IIRC, maybe only a little over 500 made, and who knows how many have survived the intervening 75 years. If you're being offered $500, think it over!
     
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I'll give you $500 for it!

    I just bought one this week, but I may be interested in an offer if you are selling- call the shop. Almost every month of the year, somebody calls me up trying to sell an old ALCOA. It is always in rough shape, about 3000 miles from my house, way overpriced, and they want me to drive to Nebraska or somewhere I have no interest in visiting and pay cash behind some shady truck stop at 1 am....so I usually only bring home the ones that make a reasonable business sense or the folks that bring them to my place. Where is this one located? I have another on hold- literally until grandma passes and then the barn will get raided....

    In as shown rough painted over multiple times condition, it is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Nobody ever calls me up asking for a beat up old hack job with an amateur setup. They all want professionally polished with an excellent setup and very good custom work; those are going for $7-10k right now. Remember that is basically $1000 for the rough core and then you are paying for a HUUUUUUUGGGGGGEEEEEE amount of work to get it looking good. The one pictured above took almost 160 miserable hours of polishing and setup work and I went through $900 worth of sanders, grinders, polishing components, and abrasives. It is primarily the labor you are paying for, not the bass. No, I don't want to do another right now. The process sucks, but once you get it done it is worth every penny; I do about one every 15 months- long enough to forget all the cussing I did over the last one! Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
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  12. The one in post #5 is awesome. I would *love* to have one of those!
     
  13. I know where one is pretty cheap, but I ain’t giving up the coordinates.
     
  14. ABAS = aluminum bass acquisition syndrome ... :-( How can it be cured?
     
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  15. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  16. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Is chemical stripper an option for removing the layers of paint? How about heat? Or are abrasives the way to go?
     
  17. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Hey 202,

    Any of those would likely work. I had mine soda blasted, with very good results. IIRC, it cost me $150 and I didn't get my hands dirty. Soda blasting is like sand blasting, but much more gentle...
     
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  18. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    I think I remember seeing an article about these basses. They were made for army bands during WWII. But, I don't recall much else.
     
  19. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    That's brilliant, soda or walnut blasting is probably the best way to go. Chemical stripping is a stinky mess and a ton of work, with heat I'd be concerned that the aluminum might warp.
     
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  20. Myth. After industrial interests finally figured out how to aluminum just under a century ago, there was an explosion of products made from aluminum apparently for the sheer novelty of it, including violin family instruments.

    Science later figured out that aluminum exposure increases the risk of Alzheimer's. Oops.
     
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  21. 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.

     
    May 27, 2022

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