Is this worth anything? (old German "blockless wonder")

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by cobee, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. cobee


    Sep 15, 2018
    Hi, I came across a bass for sale locally here in the UK - it's listed as a German instrument circa 1870.
    Doing a little research it seems to be a 5/8 sized "blockless wonder". From the pictures it looks pretty beat up, but worst of all apparently some genius butchered it with some kind of polyurethane stain.

    The ad says that it had "internal repairs" done 5 years ago, I don't know if that included fitting a neck block (I suspect not) or bass bar (these things tended to have integrated bass bars). It also had a neck graft.

    It listed at £1,700. Assuming it's structurally sound is it actually worth anything?
    Is it possible to remove the poly finish? I think I can see the original finish underneath in some areas where it got dinged.

    I'm gonna go try it out to see how it sounds. If its good I'd be half tempted to make a low ball offer, with the idea of fixing it up as a project.
  2. Sure it can be nice, and some of those come out quite well after a serious overhaul, but it will cost you and it will always be small.
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  3. cobee


    Sep 15, 2018
    Any idea how much? I'm waiting to find out who did the previous repair work/what was done (I'm guessing the answer to that is "the bare minimum" judging by the price).

    I'm actually looking for a smaller instrument which is what attracted me to it in the first place.
  4. Man, I haven’t even seen a picture.
  5. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I found one of these in a pawn shop ten years ago. It had a screwed on plywood back and all other kinds of abuses, but... THOUSANDS of dollars later and a three year restoration it holds its own against basses in the $20-$30K range in the orchestras I play in.

    Would I do it again? I really don't know. Before and after photos attached.

    Attached Files:

    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  6. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    My bass is a blockless German, and it's awesome. Nothing to worry about with these by this age, although I'm not sure I'd spend a fortune restoring one. A good one can be a very fine instrument but how will you know unless you bite the bullet? It's a risk...
  7. cobee


    Sep 15, 2018
    Thanks for your comments everyone. I'm thinking at the moment it might be too much work.

    Guess I'll try it and decide based on how it sounds, and the extent/quality of the work already done on it.
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Beyond KFS' well-placed skepticism regarding high investment in small-fraction basses, there's the essential nature of blockless-ness. Maybe the bass has such a great neck-angle and overstand as-is that you could leave it alone and play. Otherwise, here's the job:

    . Remove the top

    . Remove the neck. The neck has the sides set into it so your 'choices' are:
    > Cut off the sides flush so you can save the existing neck.
    > Excavate the sides from the neck, potentially trashing the neck in the process
    >> Here, the existing neck is short-scale so you are evaluating converting to a 3/4 scale anyway

    . Build and fit a neck block
    > Cut a dovetail into the existing neck if you can
    > Build a new neck if you can't
    >> Scroll graft if the instrument merits that

    . Set the neck

    . Reassemble, replace or plane the fingerboard & full setup

    If that sounds tricky, time-consuming and expensive you're hearing correctly.
  9. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    To be absolutely fair, sometimes just a wedge will do the job... Still, "just" a wedge needs to be done right!
  10. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  11. Harry Monkley

    Harry Monkley

    Jan 16, 2016
  12. anything can turn out to be nice. If i had to guess, it will be expensive to restore it but will probably hold its value - we'd need to see more, and better yet play it, to be able to really know.
  13. That’s been on the market for years. The OP is not the first to ask about it.
  14. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Regardless how well it might turn out, £1700 is too much if you can't play it in your local orchestra or whatever right now