Bass neck-back repair

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by avantflow, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010

    I had an accident with my instrument. It fall down and the area between neck and body is now cracked.

    Could anyone tell me how much damage I have done to the instrument. Will it sound the same when repaired?

    how does the repair procedure goes?

    Attached Files:

  2. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Hi Avantflow,

    So sorry to hear about the accident. That, still, is a nice looking bass. Your first pic shows substantial cracks to the back, and suggests damage to the block, and a need for a neck reset. As far as I could tell, your second pic doesn't show damage to the front of the bass.

    If you haven't already, loosen the strings substantially to take tension off the area. You need to take it to a luthier to get an opinion. If you take the tension off and find the neck moves a lot, you may be looking at all three of the problems I mentioned above. If it's only loose on the treble side, maybe the pieces can be coaxed back together without major surgery. Cosmetically, I think it will be difficult to make your bass look brand new.

    Let us know where you live, and people can point you to a good repair person.

    Good luck,

    Paul (Eh_train)
  3. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    thanks for reply

    the only visual damage is on the back as on the picture. for the block I don't know wich part is that exactly.
    I have loosen the strings right away after it happend, neck doesn't move too much.

    I live in Slovenia near Italian border. I have already contacted two luthiers one says that repair could cost around 300 € but he haven't seen it yet. I am taking my bass for repair next week because I need it. I am just looking for some opinion.

    I think the same that the neck will have to be reset.. now its out of line. for the back I don't know if the luthier will have to remove the back and repair it or it can be done on the outside. For the inside I hope everything is ok. Sound post looks ok.
  4. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    That's a bad bit of damage. I would say the back needs to come off, and some serious work done to reinforce it.
  5. The neck block is inside the body, directly below the heel of the neck. If the neck moves, the block may be detatched from the ribs, top and back, or the block may be broken. You may also need a button graft. I don't think it's likely that the bass can be properly repaired without removing the back, or for 300 Euros.
  6. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    thanks all for your thoughts. I see that you all agree that I don't have a minor problem.

    So if the block is broken can you see it without removing the back(top)? Sherif could you explain me what is a button graft.
    For the cost I know the price depends much on how honest the repair person is, quality of work and way how he is going to repair it.
    how much would you be willing to pay?
    I just hope it won't be more than 500€ because it would be really hard to afford it. I just paid 300€ for new fretboard, bridge and soundpost.

    I will post some pictures when I get my bass fixed
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    The button is the area above the crack, so if it is separated, the two pieces would have to be "grafted" back together. Without knowing the value of your bass in your area it's hard to know how much to put into it without going over what it's worth, but If your instrument is as nice as it looks from the two pictures, it may very well be worth repairing. 300€ for new fingerboard, bridge and soundpost is very cheap (figure around $1500 in the states). The back repair done right will have to be a great deal more, at least if done by a good luthier. This is why insurance is so important to have with these instruments...
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  8. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    Its a Romanian handcrafted bass (no name) worth between 3-4 k
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    In that case, it may be better to sell this as is and get another bass, but get a repair estimate just to be sure. Keep in mind, after the repair, your bass will have lost value. If the repair isn't done well, you'll be sinking good money after bad.
  10. I don't disagree about selling the bass as is, but I'm not sure I agree. It should be possible to overlay an exterior patch over the button, which is ugly and crude, but usually effective in my limited experience.

    But we're putting the cart before the horse here. Get a few estimates in person from well-regarded luthiers and report back.
  11. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    I think selling won't be an option because its a really nice sounding bass but yes I will get few estimates and decide then.
    if the repair will be done good I don't think it will lose value. Look at all the antique basses they have been repaired numerous times and they have high value.
    I would not like to sell it ever, even if I will buy a better bass one day I would like to have a second one.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    It is not an antique bass NOW, so if you do the repair and sell it with the repair, it is competing with other newer Romanian basses without cracks. That is why the value will probably be lower. In 100 years, who knows?

  13. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    I understand what you want to say. In my case I almost sure I won't try to sell it so I hope this won't be a problem. For now I am optimistic and
    I think the repair can be done in a way that it will look like new. I found some pictures from thomas martin workshop fixing similar problem.
    I wonder how much this guy paid xD

    You were right about the cost. I was discussing this with two other luthiers and one of them said he would charge from 1000 on, but he doesn't repair basses anymore.
    other said around 1000 and he is willing to do it.
    they both said there is a way of repair by glueing the back together and just fixing the neck from the outside, but that the only right way is to open the bass from the back and do all the things necessary.

    Attached Files:

  14. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Good luck with it. Thomas Martin is a master so I'm sure he was paid well for the work!
  15. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    It seems clear that you want to keep the bass, and I would too. Selling a broken bass is like selling a broken car. From a financial view it almost never makes sense, and in your case you seem to really like the bass. It seems you will face two or three repair options. Removing the back and doing everything Thomas Martin style is likely to cost way over 1000 even in your country. Alternatively, if the repairer only removes the neck he maybe could do an acceptable job for your €300-€500, leaving only minor scars. Or, he might be able to simply push everything back into place and glue it up. You won't know if there's underlying block damage, but you may never find out. This might cost very little. In the end, I wouldn't place too much weight on resale value. You don't plan to sell the bass anyway, right?

    As to insurance, it's a good thing to have, but costs are different in different places. In Germany it's very expensive compared to the USA and not without reason. Germans tend to really abuse the system IME. Luthier friends have told me stories of players coming into the shop trying to turn a minor top crack into a major rebuild, and getting upset when they won't play ball.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  16. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    I took my bass 3 weeks ago to luthier near Udine in Italy. He sent me some pictures and said that hopefully the work will be finished this week.

    He said that he had some problems with opening of the back because it was glued with some synthetic glue. There is another problem.. he thinks that the wood is not sufficiently matured. I heard about this, probably that is way Romanian basses are cheaper. He decided to reinforce linings. Do you think this is good?

    Attached Files:

  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Damn, you can't catch a break! "Green" wood and synthetic glue is a terrible combination! The wood will move and the glue won't release as hide glue will. More cracks to come… I don't know what he plans to do in reinforcing linings, but it seems like that could alter the sound of the instrument.
  18. avantflow


    Mar 16, 2010
    I think probably he will reinforce them to support the box since its straining.. I don't know. Do you think that I will have constant problems in future
    because of green wood or it will mature with time? I had one repair since I bought the bass (2years ago) .. the fingerboard came off and the neck bended a little.

    The crack on the bottom is my fault.
  19. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    What does the luthier say about all this? If "the box is straining", it seems to me you would want the seams to come undone under stress to avoid cracks in the wood. Seams can easily be reglued. With highly reinforced linings, extra strain could cause cracks in the wood when it moves as the seams stay fixed, as something has to give. I suppose eventually the bass will dry out, who knows what will happen in the meantime.
  20. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I think the person doing the work is the best judge of what needs to be done.
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