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Desert Bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Noam Elron, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. Noam Elron

    Noam Elron

    Apr 14, 2005
    Haifa, Israel
    Hi All,

    I'm in the midst of the search for a new bass. I've found out about a 130 year old German bass for sale not too far away, for a rather low asking price (~5500USD). It appears that the bass which was once phenomenal, has spent the last 8 years or so in the southern part of Israel (hot and dry), and has apparently suffered. The rather low price tag was estimated by Israel's number 1 bass luthier.

    I haven't seen or heard the bass yet, the lutheir is closed this week (holidays). The owner told me that there is no degradation in sound quality and quantity.

    How does humidity (or lack of) affect wood this old? Is there a way to reverse these effects? What happens to wood that has dryed beyond the point of no return?


    P.S. This is a celebrity bass - Charley Haden played it on two of his visits to Israel.
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    A bass that has been exposed to a long period of extreme dryness will likely suffer in two ways: cracks may form, and glue joints may open. The glue joints may be obvious, such as seams, neck joint, etc. Or they may be hidden, such as loose corner blocks, crossbars (on a flatback), bass bar, etc. A bass built very stiffly will likely suffer top and/or rib cracks, whereas a more flexible instrument will be more likely to have seams pop. The good news is that any of this damage can be repaired, and also that wood that has been super-dried attains a stability beyond that of wood that has not. The bad news is that repairing it can be very expensive. If you buy the bass and have it repaired, you would be wise to gradually add humidity to its environment, and try to keep it in a fairly stable condition, as far as temperature and humidity goes.
  3. Noam Elron

    Noam Elron

    Apr 14, 2005
    Haifa, Israel
    Thanks, Arnold.

    Now I know what to look for and what questions to ask. I suppposed that a few cracks and loose seams (which are reversible) would be there, but I'm reassured to know that there is no irreversible damage to the wood itself.

  4. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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