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Kay Plywood Bass, Top sinking and playwood under bridge seperating

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Sam_Brown1, Jan 4, 2017.


  1. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    I just bought a 1947 Kay M-5 bass for $2,000 (Which I now was too good to be true) the bass was in wonderful shape, but the soundboard was sunken about 1/4" and needed the action raised, I took it to a luthier (who doesn't work on orchestra instruments) and he said he could feel the layers of plywood on the inside portion of the F hole, where the bridge would sit, were separating, he was worried that the top would get worse, and would come off in multiple pieces, I want to know if this is normal, and fixable or should I save up and have a new top made for the bass (and about how much that would cost), currently it is sitting in a relatively warm room, with the string tension lifted and the bridge removed
     
  2. pnchad

    pnchad

    Nov 3, 2005
    Since no one will chime in I'll try. Not a luthier but have worked on my basses a lot. Having a new top made would cost more than it's worth. I guess maybe you could find another with a good top but damaged elsewhere to canniblize.

    But, if I'm not mistaken the right guy can fix it. I have seen these 'sags' lifted with moisture & heat. Then they an be reinforced from the underside with a patch. Find a good luthier. I would search here for the Kay experts. They will know.
     
    Acoop likes this.
  3. ...and that's one of the reasons I don't f*** with Kays any more.

    It should be fixable by injecting glue between the laminates to replace the failed adhesive and clamping them together but it's a job. $$$

    The last one I had suffered from separating back laminates, and I considered a repair with hide glue and magnets in place of clamps but ended up selling it as-is for short money. You do NOT want to hit a plywood bass with moisture. Ply is floppy and will return to round with a little coaxing once the plies are rejoined.

    A buddy of mine effected a similar repair on his favorite Kay but he had to take the back off. First bass repair I ever heard of that involved cinderblocks...

    You can get a replacement top from Engelhardt but it will need a bass bar, trimming to fit the rib garland as well as varnish. $$$

    @james condino to the white courtesy phone...
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  4. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    What Kungfu said.
     
  5. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Taking it to a luthier who DOES work on orchestral instruments might be a reasonable starting point...
     
    RSBBass and robobass like this.
  6. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Welcome to talkbass Sam. If we knew your location, we might be able to suggest someone locally who could help you.
    My own '47 Kay pretty much arrived as a parts kit after a big flood with a ton of delamination and collapsing arches. So far, I've yet to see an old Kay top that can't be brought back to almost better than new condition. That is one of the very cool things about them- they are not a 300 year old Italian bass or the loudest or the sweetest, but they have a particular funky vibe and they tend to encourage self reliance and tinkering curiosity like owning an old VW bus or a tri5 Chevy.

    You just need to find the right person who has a full set of Kay top and back molds and a heat assist vacuum system for re-arching them back to original spec....

    j.
    www.kaybassrepair.com
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
    misterbadger likes this.
  7. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    Thanks, knowing this is repairable, makes me feel better, and I did not know engelhardt sold top and backs, and being only around $400 I will greatly consider doing this.
    Thanks -Sam
     
  8. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    Both of the Orchestral Luthiers in my area are out of town for atleast a week or more each. I only asked this luthier because I work with him
     
  9. If you're $2000 deep already, don't take any shortcuts. That generally doesn't end well.
     
    RSBBass likes this.
  10. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    [QUOTE="Sam_Brown1, post: 19573254, member: 302051"..... being only around $400 I will greatly consider doing this.
    Thanks -Sam[/QUOTE]

    Sure, $400 spent and then another $1000 for bassbar, installation, and setup and another $1000 for finish work and when it is all done, you just dropped the street value of that bass in half; like putting a Chinese engine in your vintage corvette.....this is NOT the way to approach the issues you have.
     
  11. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Good thing basses don't need smog tests!
     
    juancaminos and rgull like this.
  12. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    Sure, $400 spent and then another $1000 for bassbar, installation, and setup and another $1000 for finish work and when it is all done, you just dropped the street value of that bass in half; like putting a Chinese engine in your vintage corvette.....this is NOT the way to approach the issues you have.[/QUOTE]
    I don't think you understand, I don't want this bass to just look cool or be all original, I bought this bass to be played and I'd have to spend a hell of a lot for it to get close to the cost of a hand made 5 string bass, This is my way of getting a relatively cheap, incredibly durable 5 string bass that I will be able to play for a long time (hopefully) But if I can I would much rather have it repaired then have to put a new top on it, the top new would only be considered if the original top is unrepairable
     
  13. Inky13

    Inky13

    Nov 13, 2016
    Buffalo NY
    I am having similar issues with my '56 Juzek. My luthier says that the steam/heat treatment won't last and the only thing to do would be to replace the entire top. Because older Basses aren't standardized, this would be a tall order. If you can find a donor bass, that might be your best bet. I'm looking at a '47 Kay locally, but I think my UB days are numbered. Been using my EUB more anyways. Still, there is nothing like an acoustic upright.
     
  14. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    I got a luthier about an hour north of me to do the work (6-8 weeks and about 1500$) he said he would take the top off use a syringe to push glue in between the laminates and clamp it, make a new bassbar and put it back together
     
  15. Inky13

    Inky13

    Nov 13, 2016
    Buffalo NY
    I hope the repair goes well. My problem is that the entire top is caving in. Still playable, but will get worse over time. I don't play it enough to justify that kind of outlay. Again, best of luck with the fix.
     
  16. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    If the top's coming off already, I'd consider a belly patch.
     
    james condino likes this.
  17. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    James,
    Do you sleep?:)
     
  18. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Very little.....

    Any update on the original post?
     
    Max George likes this.
  19. Sam_Brown1

    Sam_Brown1

    Jan 4, 2017
    Michigan
    I might be about a year or so late on an update, but the I got the bass back 4 months after the repairs started and I believe the repairs have finally settled. The top isnt perfect, but its about 1/2" closer to original than before and im very happy with results. The bass is very loud, plucked and bowed, and sounds and plays great
     

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