Is my baby worth it?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by JJBluegrasser, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Okay, this is the most selfish thread I've ever posted here, but I'm looking for some moral support. I have a beat up 45 year old german plywood bass that I love. I have thousands of hours on it, and it's made me a good deal money, but more importantly, it's MY bass.

    I took it to the luthier the other day, because I'm going to be doing some more recording soon (my own band this time) and I wanted to just 'get everything straightened out'. As I requested, he began showing me everything that was wrong with it, most importantly, that it has a horrible scoop in the neck that I've just gotten used to. It's always hurt a little but I just thought that was bad technique. Turns out my baby is in need of some very expensive TLC. New fingerboard, and while we're at it, a graphite rod in the neck to ensure that she keeps playing for a long time. These repairs are going to cost me over half of what I paid for the thing 3 years ago. It's a great luthier here locally that's done me right on small stuff in the past and I'm sure they'll do it right, but it's going to cost me $1300.

    I've thought about it a lot, and I just don't think I can find a better bass for the money anywhere. I've never played one I like more, and I'm just so connected to it, I'm not sure I could let her go even if I did. So I told them to order the 'stuff' today and they've got time to do it in the next few weeks.

    I'm just looking for some "yea, I did that to my old bass it was awesome when I got it back" or "a new fingerboard made my bass play better than ever" or "worth every penny" stories to help me wash down the costs of repair.

  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    If you are that attached to the instrument, and nothing else is structurally wrong, fix it. A new board is a wonderful thing on an old bass. You will notice more sustain, a fuller low end, and a general alignment of the planets.

    The price you posted is in the ballpark. It would cost that, maybe more, to get a new plywood, and it wouldn't have the character that yours probably does... being 45 years old... it's worth it, imo.
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    The fact that you love it is the only important issue I think. Could you love another one as much or more for the same money? Could you love one a lot more for more money and do you want to spend it?

    I don't think it's foolish to spend that kind of money on an instrument you love if it means getting years more enjoyment and use from it. You said it's made you a lot of money, so it's clearly getting used and meeting your needs. Feel good about it.

    And name the old girl. "It" is so impersonel for a loved one. :)
  4. I have a 6 year old Strunal hybrid bass that I bought brand new. When I first got it I had the board dressed and they put a really deep scoop in in it. For the first 4 1/2 years I owned I played it that way, but the bass just got too difficult to play and had the board put on in September and my bass sounds, really different. More low end, more sustain, and a real tone in thumb position. My bass cost $1500.00 and the board was $1000.00. I have no regrets and I suspect you wont either.

    Good luck,
  5. I mite have a feel good story for you in a few months. My school cut its music program and i was rumaging throu the back rooms (the insturment grave yard) and i came across a guisic bass (don't realy know how to spell it). I aquired it and i had it quoted to see its worth and... If restored its worth around 12 to 15 GRAND. but as it is now (gashes down side and the bottom back is loose and chips all over it) its worth about 3 grand. It'll probably cost me about 12-1500 to fix it. And i will also be replacing strings ect... so if it works in a few months (this thread will be irelavent by then) i will post it here on how good of an idea it was and how i got my money's worth. I to have a "laminat" or "plywood" bass that i play on the most .
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Wow... does your school happen to teach grammar, sentence structure, and spelling as well?
  7. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Nick -- I think he'll have a hard time answering that question, at least for a few days :).

    If you love it that much, it's always worth it. I bought my bass for $2000. It's a 50 year old German laminate (Hofner.) I brought it to my teacher for an "appraisal" (very informal :p) and he practically smacked me into buying it. I can honestly tell you that if it became necessary, I would spend half again as much to fix a problem like the one you described. I love this bass, and have only really liked the feel and tone more on a couple other of the many DBs I've tried out (including Rob Fahie's very old, very wonderful Tyrolean and a Peter Chandler with Eudoxas.) The Peter Chandler cost, I think, somewhere around 3 times the price of my Hofner. I can't fathom what the Tyrolean cost Mr. Fahie, but it's a beautiful sound to be sure. Even if I could afford it now, it'd take a long time for me to find a bass I'd switch to.
  8. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    Hey JJ,

    Who is doing the work? Inquiring NC bass minds want to know.
  9. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    My feeling is that a bass you love is like a pet. Doesn't matter if it's a mutt from the pound....if it's YOURS in every way, do what it takes to keep it healthy and happy. It needs you.
  10. Fred W

    Fred W

    Feb 21, 2002
    Bronx, NY
    I had similar work done on my old Kay M-1. Cost 1500. It was well worth it. Like I got a new bass- easier to play with a more complex tone. Since then I've never had a blister playing my bass, which used to happen. Ask your luthier if your bass would benefit from a little overstand ( wood strip placed under the fingerboard) to enable use of a taller bridge. Go for it!
  11. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Yes, Guisic basses can be worth up to $15,000 as opposed to the lowly Juzek which tops out at $8 K on a good day.
  12. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Hi Jim,
    Jerry Pascewicz is going to do it for me. He's a great classical luthier out of Raleigh. PM me if you'd like his contact info...

    Her name is 'Lusa', I just hate to admit that I've named her in public:)

    Thanks for all the positive comments. I feel better already...


  13. Do it. It will improve the sound and playability of your bass noticeably. The price sounds very reasonable.

    I've been playing the same old Czech bass for over 30 years. It's a lifer for me, it's like a family pet. I know its sound intimately. I was very pleasantly surprised at the difference a new board and bridge made to its sound.

    To a degree, fingerboards are a consumable. They wear at the playing positions, get dressed, move and develop buzzes, get dressed some more, etc. Eventually they end up too thin to adequately support the neck and need to be replaced.
  14. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Hi guys,
    Thanks for all the encouragement. I dropped her off today. They're probably measuring for surgury as we speak...:)

  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    How bout the Clawed "O", or Pienormous or even the Murican Pressed Top?


    Aug 26, 2005

    ...UNLESS you run across one of those extremely RARE Juzek's which had the mis-printed labels!:bag:
  17. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Ahh, it's worth it!

    Just IMHO there's no putting a price on improvements to your bass.

    I had a new FB put on mine a few months ago, and lucked into an outstanding board blank that had been cut for a 4/4 bass; had it cut down and installed on my 5/8 size. Now it goes up to "a high R" (3 octaves above the open string) and it really did improve both the sound and the playability, a lot.

    Just a FYI I had some emails conversations with Larry at about FBs for double bass that were acrylicized. He had not done any to date (December '05); it may be of interest to check with him and see if he has processed any board stock for double bass yet and if anyone has planed one and installed it. If it works out, it will allow average-quality ebony - and possibly other hardwoods - to have the rigidity and plane-ability of AAA ebony (and therefore, theoretically, make our fingerboards cheaper!!!)

    Theoretically, using acrylicized wood, we can have highly durable, laminated fingerboards that look like this (or whatever; fairly limitless) (the gamba is just a stock picture and to my knowledge does not have an acrylicized board). If the pattern just HAPPENS to be an asset to precise intonation I have a feeling most bassists won't complain too much.

    Just some info that came drifting my way, thought I would share FWIW.

    Attached Files:

  18. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    that fingerboard has a very thin veneer, suitable for gut string bowing... acylicized fingerboards are very interesting though... a lot of ebony is being used up at a very alarming rate...
  19. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    Yeah, I know the boards for gut-stringed instruments require less durable surfaces, but that's where the acrilicizing changes everything. for electric basses they are making 'boards out of such woods as spalted maple, birdseye and other "compromised" and difficult-to-plane figured woods, and since the wood is "stabilized" down to the cellular level, the builders are reporting that under the plane it shaves like cheese (instead of chipping), works beautifully, and is at least as durable as the best ebony. From what I understand it may be considerably MORE durable than ebony and the limitations are just not yet known.

    Even if for some reason it doesn't work for fingerboards, it can work just fine to make the smaller parts (tuner buttons, tailpieces, saddles) out of gorgeous figured woods. It may have tremendous benefits if the maple for the neck of a bass is processed before carving.

    It might be cool to start with violins and try the concept out with a relatively small investment in board blanks. Larry at Gallery Hardwoods was specifically interested in developing a laminated FB for double bass, hence my derived thoughts about it being patterned. Larry has a thread in the BG section on talkbass with lots of pics. He requires that he be in charge of the source material, so he doesn't process existing fingerboards.

    Very excited about the idea that one of you luthiers will be able to do something with it! I own a wood shop - have seen and felt the stabilized wood on my customers' bass guitars and it does have the feel of ebony; in the case of DB the first question that popped up what whether or not they can be adhered with hide glue. Anyone who gets it going, please let me know! I want one!:hyper:
  20. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Got her back today.

    Worth every d*mn penny. And some. I can't even believe it.

    Thanks for all the encouragement.