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Neck block isn't flat

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bilko, May 11, 2015.


  1. Bilko

    Bilko

    Oct 12, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    I bought a bass with the top off that was previously worked on and it has a 1/8" step in the neck block as seen in the photo. My question is should I trim the block so that it's flat or should I carve a matching step in the top plate?

    I've inlaid spruce all around the top plate on the inside because it was really chewed up and thin. So there's extra wood on the top to make the matching step at the neck block. Also, both sides of the block connecting to the ribs are flush to the block. So, it appears that the top plate also had the matching step in it before it was taken apart.


    0510152330.
     
  2. Perhaps it is supporting a natural curvature in the top? Says a guy who knows nothing about it.
     
  3. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Fix the block. Future top removal would be really awkward if you key the top to the block! :thumbsup:
     
    salcott likes this.
  4. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Are those saw kerf marks on the top of the block where the last person cut the glue seam rather than steamed it off? Welcome to the world of taking on other people's abandoned projects. You could level off everything and add a shim, but I'd rather see you make up a new block instead of the add on disease...
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
    salcott likes this.
  5. Bilko

    Bilko

    Oct 12, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    There's no glue seam, the step is all one piece. Even though a new block would be ideal, I'd rather not replace the whole block unless I have to because the last neck block I made in a situation like this was a real bear. And cutting a matching groove in the top plate sounds like a bad idea now, so I'm leaning toward just whittling it level. If it doesn't work out, I'll still be able to put a new block in. I'm a student at this and was glad to get this project bass.
     
    salcott likes this.
  6. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Just wanted to make sure you saw the end part of James's proposed solution (and I realize that it's his second choice solution). You probably didn't mean this, but if you just "whittle it off" without replacing the missing wood you'd be adding a whole bunch of stress by deflecting the top to fit the newly shortened block.

    You don't tell us much about the bass. There's always the cost/benefit calculation, meaning an $8k carved bass probably warrants a new block more than a $1500 ply bass.
     
    salcott likes this.
  7. turf3

    turf3

    Sep 26, 2011
    I am not a luthier but I am a mechanical engineer and have done a fair amount of woodworking. Even to me the following is clear: If you choose not to replace the entire neck block, you need to make the upper surface of what is there dead flat. Then you need to add wood to that top surface and contour it to match properly the underside of the top. You should not make the underside of the top weird in an attempt to match the buggered-up block.
     
    salcott likes this.
  8. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    With a straight edge and chisel, you can carefully pair the neck block down until it is in the same plane as the rib/top joint. Depending on how much good surface area you get, you may or may not need to add shims. Make sure you resize the surface before gluing the top back on.
     
  9. Bilko

    Bilko

    Oct 12, 2007
    Olympia, WA
    I get that the block has to be level with the ribs.... I don't have any info on this bass or a maker's tag in it. it's a solid flatback, gamba corners with some shattering in several sections of the ribs and top. Even repaired, it will be a fragile instrument. It appears to be hand made as there are hand tool marks on the inside of the ribs and the corner blocks are quite small and irregularly shaped. It might be an $8k bass if it wasn't so beat up.
     
  10. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Toronto
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)
    Hi Bilko,

    It sounds like possibly a decent bass. Good luck with whichever repair approach you take.

    FWIW, if you post some pics of the body there's a chance that someone will recognize the maker.
     
    salcott likes this.

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