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Evaluating basss with repaired cracks

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bass Barrister, Apr 11, 2009.


  1. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004
    Chicago
    At what point does the presence of significant cracks, even if well repaired and stable, diminish the value of a bass or raise a red flag to avoid it.

    A few days ago, I tried out a bass, offered at about $10k, which sounded quite good to me and made me want to spend more time with it. There are two issues that do concern me though:

    1. A rib crack, about 12", on the treble side of the bass running from the point where the body meets the neck right down the middle of the rib.

    2. A top plate crack running from the sound post all the way to the bottom of the lower bout.

    The seller, an established shop with a good rep., assures me that the cracks have been well repaired and are stable. I discussed this bass with another luthier, who has NOT seen it, but who told me that the rib crack is probably no biggie but that the sondpost area crack is a "turn around and run" problem even if well repaired.

    I suspect tha it will be hard to find any older bass without some cracks present. What should I be looking for? What would you consider an abolute turn off? What is acceptable?

    Thanks
     
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Sound post and bass bar cracks would concern me, and all things being equal, I would rather find a bass without them. Also, a sound post crack on a round back is not a good thing (unrepairable), I've been told. I have rib cracks on my basses and once repaired, have not opened up again. The luthiers around here could advise you the best I think. I would show that bass to someone good (I think you know who) before buying it at the very least.
     
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I agree about the rib crack. No big deal. My small German bass that I use exclusively for jazz has cracks along the bass bar and the around the soundpost but both were correctly fixed with inlay patches. I love that bass and won't ever sell it. If I were to though, those repairs may scare off buyers. That's the only "turn around and run" reason that I can think of. I remember seeing Tim Pitts' Gagliano with it's top off and the underside looked to be about 25% patches. One of the best basses I've ever heard.
     
  4. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Just curious as to why an inlayed soundpost patch (on it's top plate) could not be done on a round back bass?
     
  5. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
    i think eric talked about a crack in the back.
    the soundpost crack in the top has a counterpressure from from the stringpressure (strings <-->soundpost) that keeps it in a kind of balance, the soundpostcrack in the (round)back has not.
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Sorry, that makes no sense to me. If there is an inlayed patch in the back, it is being pushed into place by the soundpost, just as a top patch would be.

    If no one bought basses with old soundpost and bass bar cracks, there would not be many old basses being played. Nearly all the great old basses, especially the Italians, would have been junked by now.

    Soundpost cracks do not devalue a bass the way they do a violin. These unfortunate scars seem to be par for the course for an instrument that has traditionally been neglected, dropped, mishandled and poorly repaired in its lifetime.
     
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Arnold, so round back post cracks are as repairable as top cracks?
     
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    In my opinion, yes.
     
  9. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
  10. In my humble opinion it looks like the grain of the patch is parallel to the crack and should have been angled off to one side by some degrees in order to lend more strength than just patch thickness as well as to prevent the patch cracking.

    DP
     
  11. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    I can't go into specific techniques here, but I think that patch was insufficient.
     
  12. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    You might want to take the bass to someone else for a complete evaluation. What shop is selling it? A440?
     

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