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Crummy bass worth restoration?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by bassbaterie, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    I have about $1500 (total for the bass, shipping and repairs) invested in a 1977 5/8 size carved Mathias Thoma ex-public-school bass that I received in about the condition you'd expect after 20-plus years in a junior high. It was pretty much unplayable and seemed to have not been played for quite some time. Now after a new brige, new post, board dressing, strings, tail gut and set up, it still has a slow response and a fairly weak, nasal sound. Although it is opening up noticeably with improvement almost daily. The tuning gears are slipping and the endpin is starting to pull forward so it needs some more work soon. The body of the bass is sound although a patch on the lower bout is made of plywood. It's very easy to navigate on this bass though due to the short string length and it makes it fun to play and never fatiguing.

    Dump this bass at any price I can get and move up, or if I invested say, another $1000, would the bass even be worth that much? Is it worth having it refinished? The entire instrument is a network of scratches and bald spots, and it has an inventory number deeply scratched into the ribs on both sides. It looks terrible and it's fairly embarrassing to bring it to gigs. At least it sounds better than it looks, and that ain't saying much.

    What can I do to get more bottom end and a quicker response? There are Corelli strings on it, but I don't think they are really the best choice for this bass. Do these Thomas have any potential, or am I just putting lipstick on a pig here?

    Is there a fix for slipping tuning gears, or do they need replacing? I'm motivated to replace them since they look cheap and are in poor condition anyway, but is there anything I can do in the meantime to keep the bass in tune?

    One more question: would it just be stupid to put an extension on such a small bass?

    I am shopping for a better bass, but I may be playing on the Thoma for a few months yet until I meet the bass of my dreams.
  2. Is this a half-size bass? (What makes me ask is that you got it from a jr. high school.) If so, I wouldn't dump a lot of money into it unless you plan to keep it for a long time. Not many people other than students play them, and it would be very hard to sell the thing when it came time.

    I've never heard of slipping tuning gears on a bass; were the strings installed correctly?
  3. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Thanks for your reply Mike.

    I didn't get it directly from a school but from somebody on ebay who (it appears) bought a bunch of them at some school district auction. It believe it's 5/8...overall height 66" - lower bout 24" - string length 38 1/4". It doesn't look like a 1/2 size, but I don't know exactly what specifies the size names.
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    It's a half-size. 99% of "5/8ths" are actually half size. Bass envy?
  5. Bass envy? [/B][/QUOTE]

    HA. I've been told it's not the size of the bass that matters, it's what you do with it.;)
  6. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Ok! I'll accept that I bought a 1/2 size bass based on somebody's description on the net - I am idiot!

    Just don't tell my friends.

    So...anything I can do to make it sound less like an adenoidal cello and more like a bass?

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