dirty old bass problems

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by lozzie, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. lozzie


    Nov 5, 2002
    London, England
    Hi there,
    I've recently found, yes found! an old bass in a dump. I took it to my local Luth and sank some money into getting it sorted (its an old Czech plywood by the way), new end pin, tail gut, strings, bridge, glueing and crack repair etc. and he's done a good job on it and its sounding nice. But I have two problems and need some advice:
    1- This thing is really dirty and needs a good clean, wood and metal work, whats the best thing for this?
    2- Guess what? I've got a buzz, not a big one just a little kind of rattling snare drum type of buzz.
    My Luth reckons its some loose bits inside the plywood top. and says he can't get at it to glue it. I have heard that this can happen with some old plywoods. I recently realised that if I apply a little presure with the palm of my hand on the top, just under the fingerboard, it goes away.
    Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions would be very handy.
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    To clean it, get some Xylene and put on a respirator. Take the bass outside and scrub it clean. Since the buzz goes away when you press the top down under the fingerboard, try wedging a tennis ball in there...but seriously, it's pretty common for old plywoods to delaminate at the bass bar ends when abused. (The bass bar could also have come loose.) You may have discovered why the bass got dumped!
  3. lozzie


    Nov 5, 2002
    London, England
    I was told that the bass bar was okay, is there any cure for this delamination? - other than the tennis ball idea?
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    xylene works like nothing else, and I know you told him to use a respirator, but I'm going to throw out another solution. I've been using some citrus-based cleaners to clean up some nasty, old dirt on boards and bodies. There are different grades of this stuff: citrus strip will take off varnish. The lighter cleaners do a great job, don't harm factory varnish, don't cause liver problems, and can be used indoors with a fan and basic ventilation procedures. xylene is very scary ****, and I'm trying to get away from it ;)

  5. Xylene is also a de-glosser. It will likely remove a bit (or more) of the bass' finish. Benzene (a.k.a. naphtha, Ronsonol lighter fluid) will clean finished woodwork without harming the finish -- but you MUST use it outdoors, with NO open flames nearby, and use a respirator. Benzene is highly carcinogenic and flammable. But it won't take your skin off in sheets, the way Xylene can. Don't keep the rags, either. Burn them outdoors afterwards, safely.