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Kay Bass Neck Re-Set

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mike Carr, Oct 1, 2003.


  1. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I just got a Kay S-8. Looks to be made about 1950 and looks to be in pretty good shape, all things concidered. Took it to a local bass shop that I've had good luck with as far as set-up type work in the past, but this is the first time I've been there for anything that I might concider to be "major".
    The neck is begining to pull away from the bass, in the area where the heel meets the body, not a lot, but you can see the beginings of a gap showing.
    I was told that this repair will include installing a "dowel" to reconect the neck to the bass. Tell me, does this sound like the "right" way to go about an undertaking of this sort?
    Any input from you guys would be greatly appriciated, especialy from Jeff, Arnold, Bob B, Bob G (all hail) or Nick.
    I'm nervous, this is my first Kay and it seems like it's got real potential to be a great bass, has an ebony board and besides the neck problem, otherwise seems in good shape. I just want the neck problem fixed right, the first time, but this is my first experiance with a repair of this type. BTW, the cost I have been quoted is what I concider to be reasonable, that's not the issue at all, I just want to know if any of you guys think "doweling" a neck on a Kay is a good idea.
    Please help, I'm getting the work done this week.
     
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Do you mean they want to drill a hole down through the heel of the neck and into the spruce body block, then glue a dowel into place?
     
  3. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Nick & Bob, thanks for the reply.
    I'm not sure I compleatly understand how he wants to go about it, but he did say that some drilling would be involved, and used the term "neck re-set", talked about taking the neck off and re-attaching it, with a wooden dowel as part of the process. So...how would either of you guys approach a job like this, are there other ways to preform a neck re-set on a Kay?
     
  4. Although dowels are often used to repair a broken heel, their use anywhere else is unacceptable. Removing a Kay or Englehardt neck can be a very difficult for even experienced bass luthiers. Unlike most basses, these use a dovetail on the bottom of the heel. I've attached a photo of one so you can see for yourself how they go together. On the neck block, there is a matching dovetail that the neck slides into. Assuming that the repairer has successfully removed the neck from the body without damaging something else in the process, all that is needed is to remove all of the old glue in both the heel and block. While installing the neck, any looseness and play can be eliminated by placing small pieces of hardwood veneer in the dovetail way. After making sure the neck is on straight, all that is left to do is glue it in with hot hide glue. There is plenty of strength there and no need for any "reinforcement".
     
  5. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Kay Bass Update:
    What I didn't mention when I first posted was that I had left the bass at the shop, at first trusting that a good job would be done with it's neck. I've had good luck with set-up work in the past on my other bass, lots of other players have work done there, so I figured it was a safe bet.
    But after reading the most recent replies this morning, all my alarms went off and I called the shop straight away to see if they had began the work. Maybe I would have time to rescue the bass. But they told me they had already "pinned" the neck.
    They said they drilled the neck and used a metal bolt to make the connection.
    I'm feeling a little sick to my stomach right now.
    I'm wishing I had followed my first instincts, and taken the bass to Lisa Gass at LA Bass Works first, instead of going to "***** ** ****" as I don't think "bolts" are part of Lisa's standard M.O.
    I'll be picking up the bass Friday or Saturday, and with any luck it will still play and sound ok.
    But I'm really wishing that I called Lisa first.
    I'll let all of you know how the "neck job" turned out in a few days.
    So is the anyone out there that has seen or owned a Kay, or other plywood bass that has been repaired in a similar manner. If so, tell me if having a "bolt" in there has a negitive effect on it's sound or structural integrity, as I'd like to know what to expect now that it's too late to do anything about it. I'm not looking for consolation at this point, just honest input from anyone that has personal experiance with a plywood "bolt-on".
     
  6. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Though I don't think it's the most advisable way to fix a neck, the same thing was done to my American Standard with no adverse affects. A hole was drilled in the fingerboard and the bolt was put through to the heel and a plug was put back into the fingerboard. It's been holding up for a couple of years now. The next thing I need to do is have the neck replaced. It has 5 or 6 cracks in the heel. That will be a budget buster.
     
  7. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Were the heel cracks in your American Standard caused as a result of the "bolt-on" neck?
     
  8. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    No, the cracks were old when I got it. The repair tickets were with the bass for previous fixes by Jay Rury in Dallas - the last one being in 1990. The more I played it, the more they opened up. I had it fixed two more times (reglues) before the bolt repair. It was recommended that the neck be replaced and this was a cheaper alternative until I can budget for a new neck.
     
  9. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for your reply, I feel a bit better knowing that your Standard still played and sounded good, even after getting "bolted".
    I'll hope for good luck with mine too.
    I don't really want to go to war with the bass shop over this, because all in all, they are good guys and they do fill a need in my town. One of the few places were you can just walk in and find almost any kind of string for a double bass, or be able to buy a Polytone, or A.I. amp without having to go thru an internet dealer.
    In a world where giant chain store operations, like Guitar Center or Mars Music are the rule, it's nice to still be able to go to a shop, get what you need, and maybe run into one of the masters of the bass, guys like Al Mackibbon hang out there regularly, and get there basses ajusted there.
     
  10. I've seen dozens of school basses that have been bolted by repairers who do quick and dirty repairs for the schools. If the nut is secured with a pin or locktite there shouldn't be a problem of rattles. If the nut is not secured, the vibration from playing can cause the nut to loosen and rattle. It's quite probable that the crack will open up slightly over time due to the different coefficients of expansion between wood and metal, but rarely is it enough to cause a playing problem. While a bolt is not the best way to "pin" a heel break, but under normal use it should hold for many years.
     
  11. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thanks Bob, my blood pressure level is almost back to normal now!
    The good news is that I acquired this bass thru a trade, for a Carruthers Stick Bass that's been going unused for several months now since I got my Eminence Removable Neck Bass (btw, a bass that uses a bolt in it's neck to good effect, has a METAL dovetail joint araingment that works perfect every time!) I had the Carruthers listed for a while for sale at only $1000 and had very few bites. I wound up getting the Kay in trade for it and the Kay's seller contributed $375 in addition, the price of the neck re-set, a new ajustable bridge and a new soundpost. So all in all, I'm still ahead of the game!
     
  12. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I can't see anything wrong with your trade. You'll have fun. I wish I'd bought one 20 or 30 years ago.
     
  13. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I think my guy used a lag bolt or something similar and I imagine that it is just a matter of time before the whole heel blows out. In the mean time I'll just try not to abuse it.
     
  14. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Well yes...I think I made a good trade, a stick bass that I don't use and couldn't sell for a "real bass" that I can get lots of use out of. I talked to the person doing the repair today and she (not Lisa) told me that she has put together many basses and that mine was going to be "fine". She works out of the bass shop with the good reputation, and I have a good relationship with the shop's owner, he's a good guy who plays well too. I'll pick it up this Saturday, the shop is on my way to a gig I've got that night, so at least I'll be making money with the Kay right away!
     
  15. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    doh! sorry, should have read your profile. sometimes after work, the brain goes into neutral.
     
  16. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Hey, playing bass is fun! The best part of my day!
     
  17. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I picked up my Kay today from Stine On Vine. Gary Stine and Danella did a fine job that I am very happy with. The neck is fine now, firmly attached!
    Had the ebony finger board planed, and a new bridge and sound post installed too. It now wearing new Spirocore Wiechs.
    Plays great and has a much better tone than I expected, my earlier encounters with Kays were limited to some poorly set-up school basses that didn't sound too good.
    But this Kay sounds remarkably good. And boy is it ever loud! Moves tons more air than my german hybrid.
    I'm quite proud to say that I'm the new owner of a Kay S-8 serial number 20821, I looked it up on Kaybass.com, looks to have been made in about 1950. It's honey colored. Some of the purfling is messed up in back, but it looks pretty good for a bass it's age. It's got a big ballsy sound and I like it a lot!