German/Czech (?) Ply Flatback ID, ca. 19??

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Stu Elston, Jul 6, 2017.

  1. Stu Elston

    Stu Elston

    Apr 25, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I've been lurking on this forum for years, and watching for a bass that is close to mine (have also visited Ken's Corner), and it hasn't happened - except possibly for one that Matthew Tucker highlighted in an article long ago describing one he rehabbed for his daughter - he stained it green, I think. Haven't had any luck finding that thread, to double-check the similarity.

    Based on all I have seen, the one I'll show is probably a German or Czech flatback from the Markneukirchen/Luby area. My guess is that it was imported as an entry-level student bass, possibly pre-WWII. I'm mostly interested in opinions about it's age as well as origin . . . I'm also using this area of the DB forum to practice a post in preparation for a more detailed posting seeking advice on a neck repair that this bass now desperately needs.
    CB-front-full.jpg CB-rear-full.jpg CB-bass-side-full.jpg CB-scroll-bass-side.jpg CB-scroll-rear.jpg
    I don't understand why I see thumbnails of my attached images in the posting editor, but when I do a preview of the post, all I see is "View attachment 1171xxx", so I'm going to post it for real to see if it all comes out in the wash . . .
    Here's the only label to be found inside: CB-label.jpg it's a STRAD!! :) ha, ha. Seriously, though, I've seen variants of this label on other basses, but they have always been somewhat more elaborate (with borders, etc.) and stated in addition "Made in xxx" where xxx has been Germany or W. Germany or Czechoslovakia. Does cruder = older, or just cheaper, or more fraudulent? Who knows.

    This bass has a murky history up to roughly 2004/5, when (as I understand it) a Knoxville area musician/teacher found it in an estate sale and had it rehabbed for use by another area musician/teacher who had fallen on hard times through a tragic accident. That accident left him, in the long run, unable to play this bass. This latter musician was also my electric bass teacher, and when he learned that I had an interest in an upright, offered it for sale to me. There are other wrinkles to this back story that make this bass special to me and others, so I am committed to fixing it and if it is ever sold, it will probably be by my survivors . . .

    So just to preview what I plan to post over in the Setup/Repair area. If you cast your trained eye on the side view above, you'll realize that the neck angle is too shallow, leading to a short bridge and compromised volume of sound (IMHO). Now, in the last week or so, I've noticed that the neck joint is coming loose, so this seems to be the time to bite the bullet and do something. Here's what I notice from my playing perspective: CB-button-neck-joint-failure-0.jpg Notice the gap between the foot of the neck heel and the shim that's inserted above the button. More pix to follow under Setup/Repair . . .
  2. Stu Elston

    Stu Elston

    Apr 25, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    Another detail possibly relevant to the origin/history of this bass: At some point I convinced myself that this was originally a cheap entry-level model and not an instrument worthy of the "custodian" approach to preservation as Chuck Traeger would say. So a year or so ago, I violated the sanctity of this old girl and treated her to a magnetically attached trap door, as I have seen done by Matthew Tucker and James Condino: CB-trap-door-closed.jpg CB-trap-door-opening.jpg CB-trap-door-edge.jpg If you examine the edge of the door, you'll see that the rib from which it was cut is solid. I thought this was weird, and knowledgeable bassists who have seen this in person have agreed. It seems unusual that a bass with a ply top and back would have solid ribs. Could this bass date to a time when pressing laminates into a top was relatively new, but bending plywood to form sides had not been perfected?? When would that have been?
  3. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I don't see plys on the side of the button or the back edges.
  4. Stu Elston

    Stu Elston

    Apr 25, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    "I don't see plys on the side of the button or the back edges."

    Correct, neither do I. The button is solid, and appears to have been grafted onto the back (and glued to the neck block??) during the ~2004 rehab. There is also a solid shim between the button and the bottom of the neck heel.
    The button graft is better shown below (ugly, isn't it?). From the left, the joint between graft and back proceeds horizontally about 3/4", then down and back up along a truncated "vee", then horizontally about 3/4" to the right edge of the back. There's a hairline vertical crack in the graft that I've never noticed before, and i just verified that it's real, not an artifact of the photo. I also checked a photo I took in 2006 and the crack shows in that photo too, so it's probably not a result of my current neck problem. Look here for lams in the back: CB-back-bass-upper-bout.jpg
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