Bass Horrors - A lament for Bijoux

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Paul Warburton, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. After hearing about my friend Bijoux,who started the thread just below this one, having had the misfortune of watching somebody fall on his bass after a gig the other night, it started me thinking of some awful stories of horror involving basses of my own and others...feel free to chime in with your own. Maybe we can make him feel not qiute so bad.
    I've had two different human/bass collisions with members of the audience. Both of these were drunks falling directly on the basses tops. Both involved bridges going right thriugh the tops, including the bass bars. I've had three basses knocked off
    of piano benches.
    Unlike most of you guys I, myself, have been responsible for two bad ones. You see, I use to be a HEAVY drinker...I mean HEAVY. So, you guessed it...two complete neck amputations courtesy of Heineken beers with shots of Peppermint Schnapps. By the way, thank God i've never had anything serious happen to my present bass the Joseph Bohmann!
    The worst one was in the mid 60's when I was playing in Minneapolis with Buddy DeFranco. Being young and foolish, with an eye for the pretty girls, a situation arose for me after the gig and like an idiot I left my Jacobus Hornsteiner in the club. The next day, we were driving down the street and the local news came on informing us that " Herbs Bar was broken into, burgled and accidentally burned down by one of the burglers kicking over a butane torch that was used to open the clubs safe" All that was left of my bass was the neck, the back and the three bass side ribs. Unbelievably, I had the bass restored by a great British luthier name Christopher Maine who at the time was living in Denver. He used an old English top he had, rolled new ribs on the bass side and the instrument sounded BETTER than it did originally!
    Perhaps the most humorous accident I can recall happened to a nice Morelli bass owned by an old friend named Vern Byers who had a territory band back in the 50's. They, of course traveled around a four or five state area in a bus out of Denver and was loaded thusly:
    those old style
    folded music stands made of fiber board (very heavy) I think 12 0r 13. The drums,the chick singers wardrobe. everybody elses suitcases. All the musical instruments and then....the Morelli! Again, you guessed it...the driver rolled the bus. Nobody hurt seriously, but ALL that **** landed on the bass. It was so bad, they couldn't take it out of the looked like a jig saw puzzle. Well, they had it fixed just in time for a trip to Arizona when whoever packed the bus, after loading the bass a can of gas was put next to the bass. Another accident, the result of which was a dropped cigarette on the gas can and whoosh! Bass on fire....they got it out of the bus in the desert and shot water on it. This time Vern only had to have it re-varnished a VERY DARK color.
    To my knowledge the bass is still alive in Las Vegas.
    And finally, a story that may or may not be true. I heard Dave Holland laid a fine Tyrolean bass on a loading dock in Tokyo while waiting for the arrival of a bullet train. Along came a through train @ about 100 MPH. True or not, the story says the bass was sucked up, and behind the train and the rest is history. If anybody can tell us if this is true or not, speak up.
    So, there ya go Bijoux...things could be worse, but when it happens to your baby, it seems unlikely.
    We'll all be hoping for a speedy recovery and with Bob Ross as your Doctor you couldn't ask for more!!
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Kind of reminds me of the 200-year-old ax. It's only had two blades and five handles. :)
  3. Some additional advice would be, don't let the bouncer carry your bass to the car. Buba was just trying to be helpful but he picked up my bass, in its cover, by the strap, just like it was a guitar. Only slight damage though, but give Buba the amp if he wants to help.

    Another time, my 1 year old son, who is now 12 and playing bass in the school orchestra, crawled over to my bass in its stand and used it to stand up, well, old Henry (the bass) fell face first and pop, the neck popped right out of its socket. This why hide glue is the only proper way to attach the neck.

    Paul, I have only seen you drinking coffee, lots of it!! And strong!!!!!!!
  4. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Thanks for sharing your stories.
    I am currently working on getting some insurance money. You are right, infact this is probably the only way I can afford Bob Ross to work on my bass, so I am now looking forward to that.
    Paul, of course you know you play a very unique unstrument, and you can't put a price tag on it, because above all you are very attached to that instrument, and my point is that this whole thing made me think that we have to be more than careful with our basses. We actually we to watch them as if we would watch small children.
    Thanks you guys.
  5. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Worse I've heard of, but not witnessed, is a sudden short noise in the middle of the nite: without even touching the dear thing the top cracked !!! Off to the luthier...
  6. Huh?
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Damn Paul... They shoulda issued you a DWP (drunk while playing) citation...and on the second offense they shoulda confiscated your union card...

  8. For those who haven't seen this before:
    This is Martyn J. Bailey's site, who apparently does a lot of resto's for Anthony Houska at The Contrabass Shoppe.

    Check out the sequence of rebuild pictures under "Projects". He replaces parts of ribs and a huge hunk of a top plate. The pictures of the finished instrument show no evidence. This man has some monster luthier chops. I shudder to think what a rebuild of this magnitude would cost.
  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    I'm guessing you've never heard that saying. The idea is that you replace enough stuff and what you have is really something new rather than a repaired original.
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    That is an absolutely amazing thing to see. I am impressed not only with the technical repair but also his ability to simulate the aged wood look on the newer repair. I can sort of believe that he fixed it. It's the idea that you probably couldn't tell from more than six feet away that blows me away.

    I agree that the cost would be amazing as well. I would love to hear one of the TB resident experts chime in to confirm or refute my speculation that perhaps one of our more experienced guys could actually build a whole bass from scratch faster than complete a repair of that nature.
  11. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Fake aged wood is quite common in lutherie: at the Paris music exhibit, Musicora, about half of the luthiers show new "old" violins. A UK db luthier also does it. And there are many stories of copies of old fiddles which are acurate up to the tiny specs of dirt. It is easier to imitate the visual aspect of a period instrument than its sound...
  12. Large children.
  13. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    Wow, that is really something. The amount of time spent must have been huge. Beautiful work.
  14. A distressed finish is the term they use. Based upon what I have seen with other instruments (it seems very popular with mandolin builders) it adds to the price considerably.
  15. my worst(and only) accident was when i had my bass lying on my bed so i could fix a problem with the endpin, i walked out the room and heard a very loud boom, it had somehow rolled itself off the bed onto the floor ( about a foot and half from the bed) the scroll snapped right off and left me with a very pointy neck.

  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Word of out if you play in any place where it's windy. I once had the breeze in an open-air lobby get inside the ff holes and drop the formerly leaned-up bass to the floor while I was on a break. Another time, on an outdoor stage, I returned from a break to find the bass (laid down this time) spinning around in circles on the stage... the wind had gotten inside and the bass was attempting to "weathervane". And once, again outdoors, I watched a windblown cymbal stand fall onto my bass, slice through the strings, and then neatly remove the fingerboard from the neck. I turned to the goggled-eyed, freaking out drummer and said "Okay then, let's head to the bar".

    I think I see the problem here...never go on a break.
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Or just take your bass with you. The bar would probably be a place to avoid, unfortunately. :(

    Whenever I get on stage, I'd paranoid if anybody came near my instruments. They'd get the 'evil eye' if they did. :eyebrow:

    I don't trust no one, no how. Not even my own teach (tho I have to relent to him). I think I need to get a new bass case. One with a pocket big enough to fit a machete instead of a bow. for those fingers who can't help to touch my bass without asking :mad:

    Better yet, maybe I should put a magnetic-field car alarm in my bass. Could be hidden discreetly inside the body. That would go well with the electronically-controlled pneumatic end-pin. :D
    Oh the choices.....
  18. I can attest that Martin does do beautiful work. He put a new fingerboard, extension and setup on my Dolling when I first got it. Wonderful job.
  19. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Oddly enough, I worry less about my small children. For the most part, they tend to heal on their own. My bass doesn't enjoy that luxury. :)

    When I get new visitors to my home, they get a huge kick out of my bass. My wife is of the mentality that the decor of the house should reflect the character of those who live there. So, the bass sits out in the corner of the main living area for all to see. I have it in the corner resting on one of those Ingles stands. What gives them the kick is the 1/2 silk rope w/ a decorative tassel that hangs across the neck, hooked onto anchors secured in studs in the walls. It looks like a museum display or something.

    What the don't notice is the 2x4 mitered and screwed through the baseboard and into the studs. The rear feet of the stand slide just under it.

    The stand can't tip at all without first being slide forward about 10". If the bass is tipped forward on the stand, it hits the neck lock on the stand. The back up is the rope.

    When I take it out, I also always take the Ingles. It's a pain to lug, but it works very well. I've seen it bumped plenty of times without even a scare.
  20. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Yeap! I know what you mean. I was married for over 7 years, and for the most part, to my wife and her family, my bass was a piece of furniture, in fact my wife's grandma wanted a bass for her 50th anniversary!!!
    Luckly enough I had an engleheart back then, and I could put it behind our grand piano in the main living room, so both my carved basses could rest in the peace and safety of the basement. :cool: