Gouge in top

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by dbas, Oct 1, 2003.

  1. Hi everybody.

    I have a basic question about a repair I think I should be able to do by myself.
    I have a gouge in the top of my 1920's 1/4 size bass. This gouge is about 1 inch long, and maybe 1/32 of an inch deep. It is deepest in the center tapering off to the surface on each side forming a sort of scoop shape. It is about 1-2 inches on the E string side of the top near the 14th position. My Question: How do I fix it?

    Can or should I try to fill it with something?
    Is there such a thing for tops?
    What varnish should I use after wards? Should I just lightly sand it the reapply varnish to seal it?


  2. Don, you've got an unusual bass there. Maybe not unusual in the sense of basses in general but unusual in that we don't get that sort of thing around here very much.

    Is there anyone here experienced in repairs of UAB's??

    If not then you should post your question over on the Musical Instrument Makers Forum - www.mimf.com - They have members from all over the world with incredible obscure skills. I'd bet a set strings that you get an answer for this over there. Put your post in the "Practical and Political Issues of Instrument Repair" forum.
  3. Thanks Hambone. Do your friends call you Ham for short? I did post on MIMF too. They were *fairly* useful. Their FAQ was also very good. Thanks for the advice.
  4. so then this is a gouge and not a dent?
    i had read in a repair book, that with a dent, the wood is still there, it is just compressed. so if you took a damp washcloth, placed it over the area, and then used a soldering iron to heat the area, the wood would swell back into place.

    not sure if that will help you out in this case.
  5. Assuming it is a gouge and not a dent, here is how we would have done it when I was working in a violin shop years ago:

    1. Fill the gouge one thin layer at a time, using Deft™ wood finish which has been allowed to evaporate until it is the consistency of thick honey. We always kept a jar of it around. Just drop a little at a time in with a small thin brush or a pointy stick. Try to put it only in the gouge and not on the surrounding varnish. Use a magnifier and good light. Let each layer dry for several hours to a day.
    2. When dry, carefully level the surface of the repair with a small, very sharp cabinet scraper until it matches the surrounding varnish.
    3. Using water or alcohol dyes and a fine brush, match the varnish color and add grain lines if needed.
    4. French polish to smooth the surface and seal the color.

    This will only work if it's just a gouge; if there is an actual working crack it will have to be repaired first.

    You can do something similar with cyanoacrylate glue and an accelerator. It works better if you apply the accelerator to the surface of the work before adding each layer of glue, rather than after. It has the advantage of instant curing, but it's runnier than thickened Deft and harder to control.

    EDIT: oh yeah, on the steaming thing, that works pretty well on woods with a fairly uniform consistency like mahogany, alder or basswood. On spruce, which I assume your top is, the summer wood is so much spongier than the winter wood, that you end up with reversed grain when you steam it, and still have a levelling job to do. At least in my experience...
  6. Your welcome. I use the MIMF for research all the time.

    Most TB'ers call me "Hammy" :D
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