Can repaired URB's be "trusted"?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by nil, Oct 8, 2001.

  1. nil

    nil Guest

    Apr 6, 2000
    Auckland, New Zealand
    If i'm looking at used URBs and find a nice'un that has had a heel break/neck break/whatever
    repaired, if the repair is done well can the bass be "trusted" to be reliable?

    In other words, is it better to buy a new el-cheapo, or a used not-quite-as-el-cheapo but with a repair?

    I'm thinking about a nifty '70's Yamaha ply 3/4 number with quite a small body...but with a heel repair. Didn't know that Yamaha made URBs...does anyone have any experience with them?
  2. Since I can't see the instrument, I can't tell you if it is a good or Bad repair, but to answer your question, No, there is nothing wrong with a Bass that has been well repaired. In fact, a great majority of older DB's have had some type of repair work done. And no, I can't say I remember ever seeing a Yamaha DB. Some things you can look for as telltale signs of a Bad repair: If there are any gaps or you can see the glue, it's probably a Bad repair. If you pull on the neck and can see it move, it's a bad repair. If the repair feels rough or splintered,see above.
  3. nil

    nil Guest

    Apr 6, 2000
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I haven't seen the repair up close...apparently it's an ugly job but strong-as-heck. Possibly something that can be beautified...

    I'm the sort that would rather spend money on a "named" instrument or something with history and battle scars than a no-name cheapo, even if the cheapo is priced more attractively.

    Since i'm a real beginner with URB's, I just wasn't sure if repairs are OK...
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    I'll take the perhaps provocative position that, with rare exceptions, plywood basses are fungible. Assuming the bass is sufficiently well-made not to collapse, the main sonic distinction will come from the fingerboard material (ebony, rosewood or shoe-polished maple), neck angle and the set-up (bridge, strings and sound-post).

    DBs are infamous in the violin world for having crummy work done on them -- many fine violin repairers won't touch a DB and lots of the others make us come in through the kitchen door. If this Yamaha had a neck repair that wasn't well done, you'll get a jalopy that never runs right and may have tension problems, too.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    fun*gi*ble, a. - Law, of such a nature that one item or part may be replaced by another of the same type; interchangeable; permitting substitution.

    Wow, you learn something new every day. :)
  6. Rockinjc

    Rockinjc Guest

    Dec 17, 1999
    I saw a bass for sale that had a glued heal I could hear the neck moving and cracking as i played it. If the crack is nearer to the back and well done you might be ok.

    The best bet is to have it inspected but a real URB tech first. It can be a crap shoot buying an upright bass and usually they are not cheep. So I say it is worth getting a professional to check it out.

    good hunting,
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I have two 3/4 basses plus my daughter has a 1/4 bass and ALL had neck repairs before I bought them and are just fine.

    One was in a car wreck two years ago where the whole neck popped off as did the top. The previously repaired heel crack in the neck stayed rock solid though :)

    One repair guy I know described a bass as an instrument that is just waiting to explode :rolleyes:
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur In Memoriam

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    IME using a violin guy with minimal bass knowledge/experience is fraught with peril. I've dealt with a couple and the results weren't so hot, and in two cases with one guy, it was downright ugly.

    The crowning blow was a situation with a guy in the midwest who received one of the Bulgarian basses I sell, and took it to his violin guy. He pronounced the fingerboard as warped and requiring replacement.

    Further exchanges between me and the new owner determine that the "warp" was the gentle amount of relief carved into the fingerboard. I turned him on to a bass luthier on my list who advised him that there was nothing wrong with it, and who actually added a bit more relief for the guy's jazz leanings.

    A similar situation occurred in Utah where a violin shop offered to replace his warped fingerboard for $800. Same situation; the fingerboard was fine.
  9. My teacher is also a bass luthier, and I've seen the "befores" & "afters" of some of the stuff he's done. I would have no problems buying an instrument which has been repaired if the work had been well done. The chances of buying an old instrument which has not had at least some work done on it is pretty remote - in fact I think I'd be suspicious of an "old" instrument in pristine condition with no dings, patches etc.

    - Wil
  10. nil

    nil Guest

    Apr 6, 2000
    Auckland, New Zealand
    ...that's precisely the way i'm thinking - just wanted to make sure my feelings were correct! :D

    Thanks all! The seller is a player/dealer as well, so i'm assuming everything would be on i've jsut got to bite the bullet and pay him a visit soon (when the wifey can be convinced it's a good investment! ;) )
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Woah! I agree with Monsieur Gollihur of course! When I was referring to bad bass repairing, I didn't mean to step on the toes of any fine bass repairers out there (or on here).

    That being said, we've all seen some pretty crummy repair efforts foisted on poor, innocent old basses. I bet Bob and others could run a whole chain on "attempted repairs with lag bolts, epoxy and popsicle sticks." It's that work which gives rise to concerns like those Nil expressed in his original post.
  12. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    If I were considering a bass with a repaired neck, I'd check two things:
    Lay the bass on its back on the floor, and look at the alignment from the bottom up, i.e., are the neck and fingerboard in line with the axis of the body? Are the bridge feet centered with the fingerboard and the f holes?
    Sometimes a loose neck is disguised by the tension of the strings. Put the bass on a table, and take the tension off the strings. (Watch the soundpost. My luthier rests a couple of bags of buckshot on the top to maintain contact.) See if the neck can be moved.