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American Standard restoration

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by smokinbass, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Thought folks might be interested in seeing the restoration of my American Standard # 787.
    I am collecting photos of other AS basses to decide on how it will look when it's refinished. Any help or advise will be appreciated. Restoration comments also appreciated.
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Thank you very much. This is very interesting. Are you doing the work yourself? To my untraining eye, it appears that whoever is going it is going about it in a very high quality kind of way.

    Please keep us advised as to the progress. I am looking forward to updates.
  3. Holy ****!!! Damn that's awful....You're a Saint for rescuing!!
    I hope Dono and Durrl see this!
    Chris Fitzgerald and Don Higdon had an UGLY bass contest, both American Standards.....The neck block ALONE on your AS puts theirs to shame.
    We'll be dying to see what you do....Congratulations!!
  4. I got out of work early today and had a chance to run out to the shop and see progress in person. The neck block is in and it looks great with a tight dovetail joint. Held my new board and tailpiece, ahh the touch, the feel of ebony. The repaired end pin hole is nice, tight and tapered. A nice graft (button repair) on the back, you could lift the instrument by it, very strong. Also lots of nice "veneer"(sp?) patches on the edges. Lots of nails removed from the top with all holes filled with toothpick like dowels. Looked at some finish options but still have lots of time to decide.
    I can't wait to hear from Chris & Don. It was the info I found here at TalkBass that inspired me to go the distance with this Cleveland. I still need to completely search the forums here for all info I can get about these basses. My bass might have been ugly, but without green putty it just doesn't have the shock value of Chris' bass.
    The work on my bass is being done by a pro luthier who specializes in the manufacture of much smaller instruments. I know the guy personally and he's being great about giving me options, letting me make decisions and come to the shop and take photos and everything. He's actually enjoying this project as a change of pace from his regular work. His work is definately high quality. I 've seen an old Kay he restored that was in a similar state as my A.S. That bass however he converted to a true lefty bass complete with a new solid spruce top that he carved himself and it looks great. I'd be happy to disclose his name to anyone interested but for now I thought I'd leave names and numbers out of it, especially since I'm sure someone here will chastize me for putting so much time and money into a laminated bass. I'm no Saint for saving her, but I figured if I didn't, nobody would.
    I'll update my webpage when I have new photos & stuff to put up and I'll make sure and post here also. The page takes a long time to load but the details available in the large photos will (I hope) be appreciated. :D
    Thank you my bass brothers and sisters!
    -Mike Santosusso
  5. I doubt it.
    On the contrary, I'll bet most here would commend you for saving a worthy old instrument. (Sainthood might be a stretch.)
    I have no first hand experience with them, but old American Standards seem to be well respected, and any old bass has that sense of history/ mojo/ karma/ ? about it that doesn't come with a new bass. If you had spent the same money on a brand new Hop Sing special and posted pictures here, you'd have received a rougher reception.

    Kudos and congrats. Keep us posted, please.
  6. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Yes, right on. Actually a respected db player and prominent member of the French association of bassits has ask me to write a paper about vintage American ply basses. So, Mr SmartSmoke, your project is very interesting in that sense. I should add that generally speaking, French luthiers are very sceptical about ply intruments, and they sell almost exclusively solid wood Chinese instruments rather than hybrids. Apparently it's not the same factories that supply the Americas and Europe, since they don't use the same machines...
  7. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Agreed......except that ours are working basses.
  8. I just added a few more pictures of the items I discussed in my last post. I am starting to get excited about finally having a bass to play for the upcoming festival season.
    I checked my web stats and it seems like lots of folks are looking but not too many leaving comments here. Love the comments and information, keep it coming please.
    With total respect to Don I must state for the record that technically my bass was "working" before it got taken apart, just not very much because it was so hard for me to play. Although I never performed on it in public, I did record two tracks with it for the CMH Records release "Pickin' On Jack Johnson" which should be available in the Jack Johnson section of your local "record" store or Walmart and through most large online retailers. It's certainly no "School Days", but it did generate some income for me and my project. Anyway, I'm not looking for the title of ugliest AS, but I'd certainly appreciate any honorable mention. ;)
    Thanks everyone, I love TalkBass!
  9. ackeim


    Nov 10, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Good for you for treating that old bass so well! I love old instruments, even factory made cheap ones like harmony, regal, kay etc...judging by the quality of the work your luthier is doing, you might end up with a great bass!
  10. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Wow! A lot of work going on at your place on the old Standard. I have snagged one myself recently and am going to get a few things done to it and it will be up and running. It was one of those deals where the bass was in this guy's family and it just sat in the basement for years. It's #2047, also from the late 20's, but it only needs a new fingerboard and endpin, some seams glued, couple of rib cracks fixed, and I'm good to go. The neck has a weird fix on it and it's not exactly straight down the middle, but usable. The overstand is huge on this bass. I put a new bridge on it and not much is coming off the top. The finish is similar to yours, the darkish sunburst, but in a little better shape. Someone had put masking tape around all the edges, which preserved them in pristine condition, but cleaning the residue is a little tedious. I will send some pics as soon as I can, for comparison. I'm sure you'll enjoy your "new" bass when it's done.

  11. This if very cool. Thanks for posting the pics. Best of luck with bringing your American Standard back to life.

    PBS should start a series called "This Old Bass" so guys like me can vicariously tear apart and reconstruct valuable instruments.

    Well, I'd watch it.
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I can just see Norm Abram, reattaching the top with that frickin' brad nailer he loves so much.
  13. LOL!
  14. Lots of progress in the last couple days for old 787. The top is on and the final fitting of the neck joint is complete. It's coming together very nicely. New photos are up. The webpage however is starting to take a while to load even with broadband. Should I split it up into a few pages for those dial-uppers out there or are folks willing to wait a little?
  15. I don't have time to wait for the load....Really enjoying it,but with dial-up....no way.
  16. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Did the luthier make the neck or purchase a blank that wasn't profiled?

    I can understand using the dovetail joint if you kept the old block, but I am curious as to why, since both the neck and the block are to be replaced, that he or she didn't go with a more conventional dado-style neck and block.

    There is a school of thought that the dovetail is not really the best way to attach a neck to a bass.
  17. Well I retooled the webpage, should be ok for anyone now, just more pages to go through. Added photos of today's progress which was the fingerboard installation.

    The neck was not-profiled but had the scroll carved and it is a single solid piece of wood. It is not an Englehart neck.
    To answer the neck joint question...
    This bass has a very narrow neck heel. Another cello/bass luthier I showed it to said he'd never seen such a narrow heel before. It seemed like the area was simply not wide enough to do a different style joint and have enough surface. (ref: http://www.smokin-grass.com/31814.jpg ) Doing a wider heel would also mean chopping out some of the sides which would be even more work and changing the bass even more from it's original condition. For these reasons it was decided to use a dovetail joint and keep it the way it was as much as possible.
  18. Hey thanks Mike....much better. Your guys doing a really nice job.
  19. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Wow. This is a cool thread. Thanks for sharing.
  20. Shocking photos. And very funny. Hats off for a most worthwhile project.
    Thanks for sharing, I already feel an attachment!

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