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Button Graft?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by B. Graham, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Pertaining the restoration project on another thread:

    I don't think that the button and the back are really attached anymore. I read in the American Standard restoration about a button graft.

    How does one do this and is the the right way to go?

  2. A true traditional button graft is not really practical on a laminated bass. However, I know of 2 ways to restore the function of the button on a laminated bass. The first is to install a "false" button. This is a thin maple strip about the same thickness as the detached button that is fitted to a channel cut in the spruce top block and glued between the top block and the inside surface of the back just below the area where the button broke off. The new false button performs the same function as the original button, and the detached button is glued behind it. The neck heel has to be shortened by the thickness of the maple strip when setting the neck and the false button is trimmed after the neck is glued in.

    The second method is to make a new button of maple veneers. This requires building up the button one layer at a time while cutting the veneer to interlock with the plys on the back of the bass. I have uploaded the photos of the last one I did this way to the Ofoto site. It you are interested, send me your email address and I'll give you access to the photos.

    Either way, it is a job for an experienced luthier.
  3. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Thanks for your reply. The bass in question is carved. A picture of the button area is at:


    I admit that I am not sure what exact funtion the button serves. This part of the restoration will likely involve an experienced professional.

    Thanks again.
  4. The button and the area of the back down to the spruce top block is the area that anchors the neck and helps to keep the neck from pulling forward from the tension of the strings. The true button graft requires the back be totally removed. The luthier then carves out (for an inlay) to a depth of about half the thickness of the button an area of the back below the button and the back side of the button itself. The carving on the back of the button is done so that the area around the outside of the button is left in tact. After the matching inlay is chalk fitted and glued in, the new wood is carved back so that the original thickness of the back and button is maintained. The advantage of this type of repair is that (if done properly) the repair is totally invisible from the outside. Buttons usually break on the inlaid purfling line because the wood is only about half as thick under the purfling. After looking at your photos, I would be inclined to recommend going with the false button approach. However, getting that neck out with those two big dowels going through the heel into the block could be a really big job in itself.
  5. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I don't know what's under those dowels. I hope to not have to deal with those. Either button graft method would work I think. The back is almost off now anyway. The old glue gave up long ago, and there's not much holding it on.

    Thanks for the info and I look forward to seeing those graft example pics.