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Need opinion on cause of damage

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Etaoin Shrdlu, Apr 13, 2009.


  1. Etaoin Shrdlu

    Etaoin Shrdlu

    Apr 13, 2009
    My my 17-year-old son worked long and hard to purchase his new Stentor Conservatoire 3/4 double bass six months ago. The band director assured him it would be safe to leave the bass at school in a secure room. He left it stored on its side in the case. He was horrified to open the case some weeks later to find two large cracks on the lower bout. The band director confessed she had allowed students access to the secure room, but these were "good kids." She has done nothing to investigate how the damage occurred, and it has been suggested the cracks were caused by heat/humidity. Please see image. There are abrasion marks on the crack running perpendicular to the crack and polishing marks on varnish. This looks to me like it was removed from the case and kicked.

    Stentor_Conservatoire-damage.

    I have several questions:

    1) Could this sort of damage occur because of heat/humidity on a six-month old double bass?

    2) Is it possible for a luthier to repair such damage?

    3) If repairs are possible, will the bass have lost significant value?
     
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    It's not possible to be make a certain diagnosis just by looking at pictures, but I will hazard an educated guess: It looks like the bass is a recently built Chinese instrument made of inadequately seasoned wood. When subjected to heat and dryness, the top plate shrunk significantly, causing the cracks. This is not to say that Chinese basses are of low quality. Some shops are just not careful about wood drying, because they are under pressure so make and sell their products as quickly as possible.
     
  3. Ouch! A Bass Bar crack! :eek: It definitely does look like the wood shrunk. I think the Answers to your questions are:
    1. Yes 2.Yes 3. No, if the repairs are done well, it could actually help the sound (But it won't be cheap! Sorry).
    From the looks of the pics, I seriously doubt it was vandalized, but I'll bet there is no humidifier in that room, but there is a furnace vent blowing warm dry air. Just a question- If he worked long and hard to buy that Bass, That obviously shows some dedication to the instrument, and I respect that. But why would he let it sit untouched and unchecked for weeks, so soon after he bought it?
     
  4. Mr.Phil

    Mr.Phil

    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I can't see it too well without looking at actual instrument, but that looks like a humidity issue to me. It is a fixable, but it will be pricey and although the sound could be the same, I would guess you will significantly depreciate the value.
     
  5. kurt ratering

    kurt ratering

    Dec 2, 2008
    waltham, mass.
    bass luthier, johnson string inst.
    is it possible that the seams were overglued? it seems to me that if the top moved that much that the seam should have let go. assuming its hide glue.
     
  6. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    Why don't you call the people you bought the bass from and see what they're willing to do about it. Do they offer a warrantee?
     
  7. Gary Lynch

    Gary Lynch

    Nov 18, 2008
    Sonoita AZ
    A little off topic but I think appropriate. When buying a Chinese built bass, make sure you get in writing, via email from the seller, it was built using aged wood (usually at least 10 years). Names like Shen and Juzek and others make sure their builders are not using green wood. There are many great Chinese basses being built now and the prices are unbelievable. Just be sure you get one that has been built properly and used aged wood.

    Also, I carry a very tiny hygrometer with me to test rooms where my bass will stay or be played it. A music teacher should know the humidity issues from experience and advise/educate the students and parents about humidity and basses.
     
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Gary, you make a good point about not getting a bass made with green (fresh) wood. But aged wood does not equal dry wood. Century-old wood stored in the Amazon will never dry enough for instrument use. Conversely, wood that is less than ten years old but is nice and dry can be perfectly appropriate. Also, some commercial makers will tell the buyer anything he/she wants to hear...
     
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Some great diagnosis and advice has been offered here that seems right on target. I feel really bad for the 17-year-old kid who bought this bass. If the humidity was uncontrolled well, it seems he bears some responsibility. I, too, can't imagine why he'd leave his bass for weeks. To the extent this problem was "helped along" by improperly aged/dried wood, I hope we all keep this in mind when newbies ask about buying various "off-brand" low-cost, but seemingly ok basses. After all, this was not an "eBay special." I do hope the seller will help out.
     
  10. That Crack pictured was right alongside the bass bar. If they only fixed the crack, and did nothing to the bar, then the bar is loose,
    and the crack will continue to re-open. Sorry.:(
     
  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Wouldn't the bar have to be removed in order to properly fix the crack anyway? In other words, wouldn't any attempt to "only fix the crack" without pulling the bar be a shortcut? Gee, if so, it seems the labor would cost more than the bass-- no?
     
  12. Of course it would be a short cut. Since I can only approximate the size and position of the crack by description, it is possible that the crack was repaired without removing the top, which is much less expensive, but the wrong answer in the long run.
     

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