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ISB "blockless wonder" article

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by 360guy, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    I've heard several references to an article in the ISB magazine "Bass World" on repair of basses with no neck block.
    Can anyone give me a specific issue # for that article.

    I don't think it was the article by David Gage called "The Blockless Wonder" as I just found out it was only a couple of paragraphs long.

    Thanks for your consideration, John
  2. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    I'm not sure what you mean by "origin".

    Here's what is going on: My brother has recently bought a bass that doesn't have a neck block. It has been appraised in the $6000 range. He would like me to put a new neck and a neck block in the bass.

    I am an experienced repairman but this would be my 1st time with this sort of job so I am looking for any info I can find. My brother recalls seeing an article in Bass World on the subject. I recently called the ISB headquarters and they sent me a photocopy of the article " the Blockless Wonder" but as I said this article appears to not be the one I am looking for as it is very short.

    I have the ISB index but haven't come across any titles that seem to match. Thanks for your reply, John
  3. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    If your asking where it was purchased----Guarneri House in Grand Rapids MI
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    A neck graft may not be in order, but this is going to be a helluva job. More difficult than a traditional neck graft. The ribs are "let into" the sides of a through-neck joint.

    So... top off/cut ribs/separate heel from back/make and glue in new spruce or poplar body block (this is the very hard part)/top on/set neck into new block/setup.

    What is your experience with bass repair? This is a not a 3 or 4 day job.
  5. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Often the original neck can be adapted and turned into a conventional heel saving an expensive neck graft. Also I would say most of these basses don't warrant a graft being that they are usually factory instruments. A scroll is valuable as a maker's signature-if there is no real maker.....put in a new neck.
  6. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    OK I have a little more info on the bass: NO Label 1890 German flatback
    has new bass bar, no visible stress cracks in the back. The pegbox has been repaired at the nut ( it is holding but for how long???)

    Here is a little more info on my experience ( BTW I did make a profile on this site yesterday): I studied under Ray Dooer for several years. I am a professional woodcarver with a fully equiped shop.

    As I can visualize this job: measure outside of upper bout/ remove top/ make an inner form to retain original width of upper bout/ remove neck ( leave as much of the ribs as possible)/ fit a neck block/ create neck mortice/ install complete new neck/ new fingerboard/put her back together.

    Not a simple job. I think the key is to take lots of measurements of the bass in original condition ( neck angle and relation to the upper bouts).

    Since the scroll area of the original is in questionable repair and I HAVE a new rough neck ready to install, I think replacing the whole neck is in order.

    In regards to the article on such repairs...
    Could it be:"The LaFaro Prescott Restoration" Bass World 1988 XIV 3 P. 56-63 ?

    I am using an index to come up with this and I don't have access to the magazine in question. In Michigan the libraries only go back as far as 1990 with Bass World.

    Thanks for your help!
  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Neck sets are done with the top on. You need the arching and ff-holes as references to get the correct set and alignment. What is the current overstand and bridge height on this bass? Can you post some pictures of the top and of the neck set? Your current neck set may not be the right one. These mass-produced German blockless-wonders usually benefit from a higher overstand.

    You mention there is new bass bar. Are there large spruce cleats (1"x4" or 1"x5") glued against the grain on the inside of the top plate?

    I understand you are looking for the ISB article, and I can't help you there. However, there are several excellent bass luthiers on this board that can assist you with your project.
  8. 360guy

    360guy Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    Sorry but I don't have the bass in hand. It is 70 miles away and I have never seen it. I do think there are some existing troubles with the neck set and the bridge height.

    And now that you mention it I can see the need for setting the neck with the top on.
    Thanks, John
  9. John, the issue you need is: Volume XII No I, Fall, 1985.
    MSN doesn't seem to help me scann it and Email it to you. I'd be glad to copy it and send it....if you send your snail-mail address to me.
    Also, i sent the above in a PM to you.
    Best, PW
  10. I own one of these Blockless Wonder's that I had Lenny Harlos restore about 8 years ago.
    For the life of me I will never know why he left the bass blockless because I am a steel string Jazz bassist and the original beech neck had two cracks in it. { In the heel area and back of neck.]
    I removed the top a few years back and now had my friend Carl Mesrobian install a neckblock.It had a Spanish Hook simular to a flat top guitar.Lenny said that the bass was German or Tyrolean from around 1850. It's flatback andi it's ribs were inlaid into the necks heel.or maybe should I say slotted into the heel.
    My problem now is to set the original neck or graft it.I am leaning to the graft as I will be able to control the D neck better and maybe keep the string length under 42 inches.I love the original scroll and want to do the right thing for this bass.Lenny did good work on the bass bar,patches and edgeing, but the neck was never there.The bass sounded hollow when strung up..Maybe I can post some pix.Any thought's....
  11. This is why the graft is more attractive in this basses case as I also have control of the heel...how it's shaped, how it's set , everything including string length.
    I would' not mind a longer string length if I could get the D neck, but this bass may only yield an Eb. It's cut on the backside is long ..almost 15" from heel to back button.
  12. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Go for the graft. Of course you can make it a D neck. You will have a larger neck heel, but so what... I have found that putting a neck block and a good neck into these basses transforms them in a major way. Next best thing to an Italian (or English) bass.
  13. The good thing for me is the chamber is done and is healthy.Also the varnish is nicely touched up.I am looking forward to hearing this beast someday w. the proper graft into a new block.
  14. I do have some shots...I will need help posting them as I am kinda stupid on the computer.Maybe I can PM you Ken in the nex't few days...

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