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Bass Bar too long?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by ctregan, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    This is a top from an old bass I am restoring.

    The bass bar seems to be too long for the top but, I am not sure. It extends past the bottom block, and then, within an inch of the neck block.

    Is there any reason to have a bass bar this long? Should it be shortened?

    Any thoughts on bass bar lengths; pros and cons, would be helpful. It seems like a longer bass bar could make the top too stiff.

    Thanks, Craig
  2. vejesse


    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    Is it a 'self bar' that runs right in to the lower and upper ends of the top? I can't tell from your pictures.
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    That's way too long. Somebody had a concept...
  4. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    That's what I thought.

    The bass looks factory made. It has a body length of only 42"; maybe they installed the regular size bar, in this smaller bass.

    Another oddity; the c-bout ribs were made with solid wood, stack laminated, then cut with a band saw to shape the c-bouts and corner blocks, all at once. I guess that was someone's idea of cutting corners :)
  5. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think my '38 Kay has a longer than usual bass bar.. I think Arnold pointed it out way back when he put on a new neck, etc.
  6. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    If the bar is well attached, I think if you reshape the bar, keeping the bar height otherwise as you would for a standard length bar, and feather the ends of the bar down to nearly nothing, it will be fine. Otherwise you can just cut off and chisel out the excess length.

    What do the C bouts look like from the outside??
  7. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Wow, whoever applied the varnish really slopped it on!!
  8. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    Here is an inside/outside view. It looks normal from the outside. The walls are 10mm thick in the middle, then flare out to make the corner blocks.

    Ribs and corner blocks all in one.

    I think I have been in denial; somehow the bass doesn't look as great as I first thought in these photos. It looks better in my shop after some dusting.
  9. Man. I've been looking at basses for well over 50 years, but that one takes the cake. Those guitar style things where the inside linings are supposed to be aren't that weird, but the ribs are something else. Holy ****.
  10. appears to be a flat bottom bay built... right down to the bowsprit!
  11. "Cutting corners" indeed!

    General rule of thumb - bass bar should be 3/4 the length of the free top plate as measured along the line of the bb. Then centered (positioned) equal distant from any nearest plate edge has determined by striking a compass radius at each end.
  12. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    But wait... there is more weird stuff!

    The scroll is a modern adaptation, with the words "Radio fix", across the top. What looks like a wood veneer on the head stock, turned out to be a celluloid type of faux tortoise shell. Also, around the bouts is a white edging similar to guitars.

    Although it seems to be constructed on the quick and cheap, some of the materials they used, are very nice.

    It could be a marketing idea from 1920's, possibly an attempt to modernize the instruments' styling, and link it to the excitement of the radio. Thats just my guess, who knows for sure?
  13. Nice scroll.

    "Radio Fix" has a specific meaning - triangulation on a transmitter. http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/ra/radio+fix.html

    In old movies the radio operator would get a "fix" on a wayward or enemy plane or ship, impossible from one receiver except in Hollywood. Anyway, trendy like the "Radio Flyer" name that appeared in the early '30s, like you said, it would likely date the instrument to the 1920s - early 1940's.
  14. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Might be "Radio Six" too ...
  15. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    To restore this bass into a playable instrument, would it be advantages to replace these solid wood c-bouts, with more conventional ribs? I cant imagine ribs like this helping the bass, but just wondering if it hurts the bass. There is already a lower rib, that needs replacing. The ribs are only 7" deep, could deeper ribs help too?

    This bass magically appeared on my computer screen one morning via craigslist. Thirty miles latter; it was in my car. I would like to restore the look, but also have a decent playable bass in the end. This is a "fun" weekend project for myself. Any restoration ideas are welcome.
  16. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    I think you'd gain some valuable flexibility if you replaced those C bouts with conventional ones and corner blocks. Freer moving top, blah blah blah

    And that would allow you to put those ones on the mantelpiece where they belong! :)

    Deeper ribs might sound better too - they should lower the frequency of the box and add bottom to it.
  17. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    it'll take more than a weekend!

    Replacing all the ribs is a sh*tload of work for questionable gain. How is the top? nicely graduated or 10mm all over?
  18. my vote is to keep it original...do the bass bar,tweak the top as suggested..it may be the only one of its' kind. not much different from the autos of the era, unmolested ones are hard to find.( a true woodie) ;)
  19. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    I agree...keep it original. If you want a bass with deeper ribs, go make your own bass! :D

    Seriously though...it's such an oddity...I've never seen anything like it...so why not preserve it and find out as much as you can about it's coming to be.

    Did you buy it to restore it or did you buy it to be a parts donor?

    Some sort of Art Decco Americana double bass...what's Molly & the Monkey think of it?
  20. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    I agree, more times than not, people can be too heavy handed when fixing up old items. Also, making a new set of ribs, to an existing shape, could be very difficult.

    So here is a quick conditional review from peg head, to end pin. It WILL be a restoration job.

    Ebony fingerboard, Poplar back, Old spruce top (10mm thickness through out).

    Two ribs are damaged beyond repair, bridge only 5" high, peg head snapped off, and the bass bar is too long. It may need a neck graph to make everything correct (overstand, string length, bridge ht.).

    The UGLY:
    Tail piece/end pin assembly.

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