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My New Aluminum Doublebass -> Fingerboard Issues

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Wafoleri, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Wafoleri


    Jan 15, 2008
    Greensburg, Pa
    So I just picked this baby up and while it plays and sounds great, it has a few problems.

    First the fingerboard is cracked, raised, separated (whatever you wish to call it) from the back of the neck. The fingerboard itself is level, but this seems like it may be cause for concern.

    Here are a couple pictures of said ailment:



    I'm not sure if this next condition is really wrong, it may just be my naivety when it comes to double bass. This really doesn't effect anything as far as my playing goes now, but I'm curious as to if it's supposed to be this way.

    Anyway, toward the bottom of the neck, right along side the A string, there is a sudden drop off, creating sort of an edge? It's hard to explain and equally hard to photograph. I am just not sure if it is supposed to be like this or not.

    I hope the pictures can explain more than I:


    You can also see that the bridge is not symmetrical, and follows the curve of the neck. I've just either never noticed this on other basses or this isn't supposed to be.


    Thanks in advance.
  2. ctregan


    Jun 25, 2007
    Syracuse N.Y.
    It looks like the bridge is reversed.
    Neat bass, but it could probably use a complete overhaul. Find a good luthier (and tinsmith) willing to take it on. Good luck!
  3. two basic shapes for a fingerboard..round and beveled, you have a beveled..also get someone capable to repair the separation asap.;)
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If the fingerboard has simply come unglued on the underside, it may be no big deal for a luthier to glue it back and sand the bit that splintered - I've seen that happen before, and the repair was easy. But I'd also want to have the set of the neck checked and have somebody who knows what they're looking at. The bridge looks reversed to me as well.
  5. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    It looks like you picked up an old Pfretschner bass; show us some more photos! Make sure you check out johhnyatomic's recent post to see how he polished and hotrodded his pfretsch.

  6. Wafoleri


    Jan 15, 2008
    Greensburg, Pa
    Thanks everyone, I never would have even thought that the bridge was reversed. Wonder how that happened? I'm going to try and find a good luthier in the area; anyone know of one in the Pittsburgh vicinity?I got this fairly cheap, so I'm willing to get everything fixed professionally.

    I did see Johnnyatomic's post, what great inspiration to get this cleaned up! Here are some more photos:


    As you can see the guy I purchased this from painted it brown, and added this rubber edging around the entire bass. That will need to be cleaned up. There also appears to be a dent towards the top of the body and others here and there. The tuners are engraved with what I was told is an Orchestral stamp, but I'm not positive if that's the case.

    I love it though, it's a dream come true for me to have a double bass. I started playing electric bass only because I couldn't afford a double bass at 12 (and I wanted to be John Paul Jones). I'm excited to start taking lessons for double bass now!
  7. Bevelled fingerboard, not a problem, they're intended to be that way.

    Your bridge is reversed, that might go a long way to fixing the horribly high strings.

    That split behind the fingerboard is bad news, get it fixed ASAP. Not terribly hard to fix, and therefore not terribly expensive, but important.

    It's worth getting a decent setup done... if you're just beginning, you'll learn lots of bad habits and maybe even injure your hands badly trying to play it like that.
  8. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    You might want to loosen the strings a bit until you get the fingeroard re-glued. The neck depends on that glue joint being solid to be able to hold the tension of the strings, and without it the neck will bend under the tension. You can hold a straight edge against the glue line and see how bent your neck is.
  9. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings, Aguilar Amplifiers
    You should consider giving Mike Shank a call. He's the best bass luthier in your area, one of the best period in my opinion. He'll do the repairs correctly and charge you a fair price.


    Best of luck with your new bass.
  10. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Call Craig Schaeffer at String Workshop in the Southside.

    Craig Schaeffer
    2005 East Carson Street
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Phone: 412-390-0670
  11. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings, Aguilar Amplifiers
    I'm sure that Craig does fine work and is a great guy. But, with all due respect to him and the above poster, you have a bass and you should really consider taking to a luthier who specializes in basses. It looks like the String Workshop has lots of good stuff happening, but it does not appear to be a specialty bass shop. Mike is not that far from you, guys drive much further to get to him and other luthiers of his caliber. Your instrument deserves a good going-over by a bass luthier. As you become more involved with the world of double basses you will undoubtedly walk into his shop someday anyhow. Now is as good a time as any to make introductions.
  12. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    With all due respect to someone who hasn't met or had work done by Craig....
    Craig will be the first one to tell you if you need to make two 8-hour round trips to Elizabethtown if that's what you really need.

    In the meantime, DO NOT take the bass to any advertised "luthier who specializes in basses" any closer than Elizabethtown. I've tried them, and wouldn't let them anywhere near my bass again.

    Craig is a bassist and will steer you in the right direction.
  13. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Transducers, D'Addarrio Strings, Aguilar Amplifiers
    You're correct, I do not know, or even know of Craig Schaeffer, nor have I heard of his shop. I was interested to learn of him, and his shop, from you. I'm often on the road and the more reliable repair shops I know about around the country, the better. So, I did a google search and was directed to his website:


    Few of the links on this page work, so there is little information available. That's why I still don't know anything about him. But, what is apparent to me is that this is a shop that does lots of different things and one of those things happens to be "basses". It's unclear if they sell them or repair them, or if they do neither. It IS clear to me that "basses" is not high on their list of things they do. If anything, this shop appears to specialize in mandolins, since the mandolin link is the only working one (leads to a blank page, by the way) and the only image on the site is of a mandolin.

    Double basses, aluminum, plywood, carved, new or old; are unique among string instruments. They're even unique within the violin family and they are best maintained and repaired by those who do little, or nothing else. I don't take my basses to my mandolin guy, and vice-versa. This is why I'm persisting in this thread.

    With regard to Craig being a bass player; I'm a professional bass player and I'm not qualified to do the repairs this bass seems to need. I'm also a pet owner, that does not qualify me to be a vet. I only know that when they're sick, or need a checkup, that they go to the vet and not to the pet store.

    I'm sure that the proprietor of The String Workshop is a stand-up guy who pets stray dogs, runs a nice store and does no harm to the instruments that come to him for repair. I'm also sure, based on the available information, that he is not a professional bass luthier. Or, if he is he's; keeping it a secret.

  14. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    OK. We'll just keep it a secret.
    Disregard the local pro because his new website sucks.
  15. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Mandolins and basses???? Not trying to get folks too worked up, but...

    Sounds a bit odd, but I can also understand. After 30 years of lutherie, I happen to live in a town that is saturated with guitar gurus and fiddle folks. Even though I've built over 250+ guitars and done countless expert repairs on them, there are a lot of other folks whose prices are lower, so they usually get the first repairs and checkouts from other luthiers.

    Mandolins; I've built about 100 of them and have a regular column with Mandolin Magazine. Folks know me and I get about 50% of my business from them. There are also no other good mandolin guys in the area.

    Basses: I always have a couple of bassses in under restoration, have been doing it for about a decade, and it represents the other half of my business. I've built one fully carved bass and have another in the works. I don't consider myself the bass jedi, but you have to drive several hours to find another luthier who has any idea about them.

    I gig on all three of those instruments every week. As odd as it sounds to the casual web reader, you can find folks who have mixed specialties that are very good in their fields. I know another local fellow who is fantastic with both fiddles and banjos. I find that working and playing on several different instruments benefits both my playing and lutherie skills. It also helps a lot to have some diversity in a recession.

    Lets not forget that Edgar Meyer also has more than a casual interest in the mandolin. He's both a player and can be found hanging out with Chris Thile all of the time.

  16. skullhead


    Aug 27, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I’ll tell you what I know about Craig…….

    I don’t think bass work is his favorite thing to do. His shop isn’t huge, and he has plenty of other work. I think his personal interest is in mandolins and ukuleles and lord knows what else, but you wouldn’t know it walking into his shop. Bows seem to be a big part of his business. PSO players (and bassists) trust their bows to him.

    I’ve had three of my bows for rehairs and one bow for ivory tip and grip replacement. Great work – reasonable price.

    He’s fitted an adjustable bridge and soundpost on my Czech ply, which has a dip under G-side bridge foot and must have been a chore to do right. Great work – reasonable price.

    He’s glued some seams and re-shaped my saddle on my Chinese carved bass. Great work – Cheap. At the same time, he identified a major problem and wound up saving me money, as the problems were covered under warranty.

    He’s apparently been here ten years and apprenticed with Rodney Nicholas in Pittsburgh and Jerry Pasewicz in New York. (I think he mentioned studying in Italy too) Although I have no personal knowledge of either of these guys, I see that Jerry’s name has come up here on occasion, and is considered by some to be the go-to bass guy in Raleigh, and some kind or restoration/bow muckedymuck at Oberlin.

    Does this make Craig a bass luthier? I don’t know, but he’s my go-to bass guy in Pittsburgh and I’ll recommend him whenever asked.

    Can he carve a new bass neck for this aluminum bass, if that’s what’s required? My guess is yes, but he’d probably pass on that type of work.

    That’s what I know. Simply things to consider before dismissing the local guy.
  17. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    That's very nice but I still wouldn't let him cut a new bridge for my bass or dress the frets on my mandolin! :(
  18. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I'd let Edgar cut a new bridge on my favorite bass, no problems. The only issue I'd have with it is that I'm pretty sure he could chop up an old 2x4 with a hatchet, mash it in place, and then still blow the doors off the bass with better chops than I'll have in the next three lifetimes of practicing 24 /7!!!


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