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Josef Novotny?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by mojoluthier, Nov 8, 2008.


  1. mojoluthier

    mojoluthier

    Feb 17, 2007
    Petaluma, CA
    I recently acquired, as a trade in, a CZ flatback in rough condition. I have the back off (way too easy) and the top upper bout loose. I have taken out the bogus construction plywood cleats as well as a couple of square feet of 10 OZ canvas! The neck was out of line and the back needs a piece scarfed on to the inside to replace the button. In the end I expect it to be a decent instrument, if somewhat rough cosmetically. I have here a picture of the label, and I wonder what anyone can tell me about this basses historical back ground. And what the heck does the date read?
    label.
     
  2. mojoluthier

    mojoluthier

    Feb 17, 2007
    Petaluma, CA
    I am deeper into this bass than I have gone into one previously, and am surprised to find myself enjoying the process. I am replacing some plate material both top and back, and 3 of the 4 back braces had to come out, 2 are back in. The tail block was cracked so it is now out, and it was holding the ribs (long) apart causing the top cracks to be unable to close. This is alleged to be the long time bass of the "Sons of the Pioneers" and to be worth the trouble despite it's otherwise modest pedigree. The neck was so skewed that the bridge almost had a foot in the bass side ff hole! I do wish someone could tell me anything about the maker.
    tailblockout.
     
    Doctor Intrepid likes this.
  3. wrmerkel

    wrmerkel

    Jan 9, 2012
    Arlington, VA
    I bought my 1929 Josef Novotny from a guy in Springfield, Mass back in 1991, paid $2,000, and it was in playable, but only fair shape. I loved how the instrument projected, even with a few open seams, so I took a flyer on it and brought it home. I had Lou DeLeone in New Haven do a few small things just to get it into playing shape and played it in that condition for the past 20 years.

    Recently the neck popped and, living near DC now and being in a better position to fix it properly, I took it to Thomas Wolf at Wolf Instruments in The Plains, VA for a more serious overhaul. He knew a bit about the maker, saying it was a respected name and that mine was sold by the prestigious Rudolph Wurlitzer shop in NYC. Tom said he'd owned one at some point and wished he still had it.

    I had Tom remove the back and replace quite a few bad repairs, as well as reseat the neck, replace some missing edge material, reposition the bridge and sound post, as well as replace the saddle cord and some perform some reconstructive work on bits of purfling here and there. The bass came out just fantastic, extremely playable in every position and it projects like never before. I'm just in love with it now.

    I'll try to get some pics up. I know that this is in reply to a very old posting, but I thought I'd do my part to add to the Novonty lore.
     
  4. APompa

    APompa

    May 26, 2018
    IMG_1054.JPG IMG_4085.JPG A neighbor had a 1929 Novotny (not a flatback)in his garage for decades. I talked to him about my son (who plays and loves Jazz)because he was interested in learning upright bass.

    It's in rough shape, but I'm thinking maybe it can be restored. No idea what to offer neighbor for it or how much of an average investment it will be to restore.

    I've emailed a few luthiers and none have replied.

    Any thoughts? I also messaged some posters here.

    Appreciate any help or direction!
    Annette
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Wow, look at that fingerboard. Is the neck even attached to the bass? Split up the center seam. Even if you get it for free, the cost of repairs could easily exceed the bass' value. Where are you located?

    You're better off getting a good quality, newer bass for your son. Not a project bass like this one!
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Eric are you sure you're seeing that right? Somebody ran a piece of twine from the tailpiece to the scroll to keep it in place. Or are you talking about that crack from the endpin block that goes up about half of the bottom bout, just to the right of the tailpiece in the first pic? I've had a similar crack on my bass that's remained stable for well over 20 years.

    Anyway, to APompa. You and your neighbor should take it (not email) to a luthier and get an estimate for the repair. That will give you both an idea of what it's worth and what it will take to get it into shape. If you're still around...
     
    APompa likes this.
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Well, Doh!!!
     
  8. Is that twine or jurassic Red-o-Rays?
     
  9. DrayMiles

    DrayMiles

    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Tom Wolf is a baaad mutha... (shut yo mouth!)
    But I’m talking about Tom?!
     
    Don Kasper likes this.
  10. APompa

    APompa

    May 26, 2018
    Yes. Not a crack. Full solid piece of wood front and back. It was an ancient bass string.
     
  11. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Hi A Pompa,

    Mr. Fuqua is right - it's really difficult to diagnose problems from pics (other than the severe re-edging needed on the bottom bout). There are lots of other potential problem areas that you haven't provided pics for (neck/body join, pegbox, back, ribs...).

    If you let us know, approximately, where you're located we can recommend a luthier.

    Cheers,

    Paul
     
  12. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    The top cracks appear to have been repaired, but who knows how well? That tape on the lower rib could mean some serious damage there. Was the fingerboard cracked and glued? Overall the bass might be well worth saving.
     
  13. APompa

    APompa

    May 26, 2018
    I've had some emails with Tom in VA as suggested above. We are in central east PA. I've tried to contact a luthier in Sciota, PA with no reply. One in Connecticut Averaged 5-6k for repairs. 3mo time. I will take pics of neck and areas mentioned.

    Thank you all for taking the time to share input!
    Annette
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Last edited: May 29, 2018
    Phil Rowan likes this.
  15. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Also consider Bill Merchant Welcome to Merchant Bass. He keeps a shop in NYC, but his main operation is in High Falls, NY. A bit of a trek, but I think he wouldn't ask for that much money.
     
    APompa likes this.
  16. APompa

    APompa

    May 26, 2018
    Both bill Merchant and Tom Wolf were very prompt and helpful! Thank you!
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  17. The latter.
     

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