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Need some help with a Wal...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Ricky Caboverde, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Hey guys, I just got ahold of a 90 Wal fretless bass that was a "smoker" in its previous life. The fire damaged the body quite a bit and took off most of the finish in the neck. Whatever finish that was left, was taken off. My issue is that the neck laminates are starting to separate. What can be done? Is this something that I can do, or should I seek for a good luthier here to help me out? I love this thing to death, and despite the crack, this neck smokes! (pun intended :D )
  2. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    here are some pics of the body....for the curious...
  3. rockstar744


    Feb 15, 2007
    Portland OR
    Actually the black on the body looks kinda cool. Unless you are certain that you are qualified to fix it, I think you should bring it to a luthier. It is a Wal after all!
  4. I'm not a pro by any means, but if I was going to do it myself, I would flood the joint with thin CA glue to keep it from separating any further, then use medium or thick CA to fill the crack. Acetone would clean up any overflow.
  5. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Thanks for the help so far. Although I don't know what would "qualify" me to make the repair, I'm not afraid to work on the bass myself. It would be quite a fun project to do over the summer. I just don't know what would be the best route to take in fixing the neck. I considered wood glue and a vice or clamp, but I doubt that a luthier would try it that way. Using CA sounds like a great idea, but I don't want to just fill in the crack. I want to actually put it back together.....so anyone else?
  6. radii


    Feb 16, 2007
    If you can, scrape all the old glue out of the open glue joint with a thin piece of steele, and then glue it together with wood glue and clamps. Maybe even use gorilla glue if it's impossible to clamp the laminates tight again, because they are so warped from the heat.
    If that doesn't work, one would have to take the fretboard off, split the laminates apart ( no cutting ), scrape them clean and glue it back together.
    CA glue would really just fill the crack but not add any stability.
  7. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    The splitting isn't that bad. I just didn't know if wood glue would be good enough to hold the neck together after it's separated. I'll try it out next week ;) Thanks for the advice.
  8. You might be surprised by how strong modern wood glue is. Definately try cleaning out the gap and re-gluing before you fill it with anything.
  9. Jonsbasses


    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    Definitely scrape the old glue out. Glue wont bond to glue, you'll need two clean wood surfaces for them to bond to each other with wood glue. Use titebond original, that stuff dries rock hard.
  10. idler


    Oct 12, 2007
    Alternatively, you could stick it in a box and send it to me. I'll wander down the road to High Wycombe (after gigging it a couple of times), track down Pete Stevens and get him to fix it for you. Once that's done I'll gig it a couple more times (just to make sure it's sorted out, like) then send it back to you.

    :D :bag:
  11. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Aww man, would you really do that for me?:D
  12. 6Hz


    Jul 12, 2007
    Berkeley, CA
    I've never fixed a neck like this, but I have made quite a few repairs
    to various pieces of wood furniture and such. Generally, the procedure
    is: take the old joint apart, clean it, reglue and clamp it back together.

    So what you're looking at is taking the neck off, removing the fretboard,
    de-laminating the neck at the crack. planing away the old glue, re-gluing,
    clamping it back together, re-attaching the fretboard, and then bolting
    the neck back on. At least, that's what I'd do if you brought me a
    coffee table or a rocking chair with the same problem.
  13. rocking chair and coffee tables don't have such things as a truss rodd, i mean, it's a total different thing..

    Can u poor some glue in to the hole, and clamp it?
    I would do that.
  14. ZolkoW


    May 8, 2006
    Hungary, EU
    +1 to CA and clamping
    if it doesn't work, you can still do the hard way (the splitting is the PRO way, though..)

    once I used it (the CA) with success, but those were minor cracks..
  15. 6Hz


    Jul 12, 2007
    Berkeley, CA
    Sort of. But chairs often do have metal support rods. Fox-wedged
    tenons, dowels, dovetails, etc.

    The problem is, glue doesn't really stick well to glue. And the gap
    is already coated on both sides with glue If you just want to
    fill the gap, then some epoxy colored to match the surrounding wood
    is probably the way to go for a temporary fix. CA will hold for a little
    while. The thing is, you want to fix the actual problem, rather than
    just going after the splitting symptom.

    The real ghetto method is to fill it with Bondo, sand, and color. But
    you're going to get more split down the road plus it's not going to
    add any structural integrity to the neck.
  16. Still had a better solution...go back to scraping whats left out and clamping it back down. U had the right idea.
  17. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    ummm....I'll try scraping what I can and glueing from there. The Pro way seems a bit expensive at the moment, and I'm not really willing to ship the bass out to a luthier...I can't put her down :D
  18. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    A luthier who is well versed in repairs would not disassemble the neck for a simple seam split. That is the equivalent of removing the roof trusses when the roof needs be shingled.

    The crack should be opened and cleaned. Two clean, mating surfaces are necessary for a good bond. This is the tricky part, though. The act of opening the split can easily deepen the split. The remedy is to clamp off the headstock just below the bottom of the split so as to minimize the the chance of having the split "run" when wedged open.

    There a couple of ways to clean the glue out of the crack. Scraping is the fastest. A scraper can be created by taking some .005" shim stock and turning the short edge in the same manner as you would a cabinet scraper. It will allow you to get to the bottom of the crack. An alternative method is to use a long palette knife. Heat the knife and insert. The hot metal will melt the glue and it will stick to the knife. Remove, clean, and repeat until the crack is clean.

    There are several good choice for the glue. Standard wood glues are excellent for this application. Yellow glue (aliphatic resin: Titebond) or white (polyvinyl resin: Elmers) both work very well. They can be thinned with water by 10% and injected with a syringe. Or a palette knife can be used to work the glue into the joint. Some luthiers will suggest the use of a plastic resin glue. That also works well. Epoxy will also work. However, the cleanup for these glues is a little trickier than the simple water clean up used with wood glues. CA glue is a poor choice for this application. It has no shear strength. A blow to the headstock at a later date could easily revisit the split. The mess will be more difficult to clean up then.

    Clamp off the repair after gluing and perform the clean up. It is imperative that clamping cauls are created to allow parallel clamping forces on the sides of the head stock. The cauls can be made of hardwood and padded off with leather or cork.

    This is not a task for those who are not handy in the extreme. If you have to look through your home for the right tools and it takes more than five minutes you might want to consider taking this one to a pro.

    BTW, the scorches on the body can be carefully sanded out and finish reapplied. Or not. Again, if wood working was something you did in junior high school, take it to a pro.
  19. Ricky Caboverde

    Ricky Caboverde Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Thanks for the reply. I never took up woodworking or have any previous experience except building a deck and a few other oddities around the house with my father (he was a REAL woodworker). I don't have the tools you listed, but I live near a home depot and can buy them and do the work myself. It doesn't seem incredibly hard to do; it just seems to demand patience and care. Your response was incredibly detailed :) I especially appreciate the advice about clamping the neck right below the crack in order to avoid further splitting. Since there are no worthwhile luthiers near my city that I know of (Miami, FL - anybody know someone in this area?), I'll have to do the repairs myself. I'll stick to the titebond glue. On a side note, I just went over the neck with a 0000 wool pad and oiled it up and man I gotta say that I'm in heaven :D The burnmarks on the body are never coming out since the damage was severe enough to remove quite a bit of wood from the belly cut area. I cleaned the area up a bit by sanding and then some lemon oil. It looks much better now. I'd rather not have it fixed any further than this, though. I really dig the way it looks (especially the neck - I refuse to touch those burn marks). The bass just oozes character to me, and that means alot more than superficial beauty :bassist: Thanks for all the responses so far!
  20. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    You are correct in that this is a task that requires patience. It also requires the ability to judge how tight is just tight enough with the clamps and just when the wedge may cause more damage than is already there. If you really want to tackle this job it would a good idea to glue up some wood, split the seam, and get some practice before attempting this procedure on a fine instrument.

    Lemon oil is not a finish. It is mineral oil with some scent in it. Use the search function and look for tung oil, Danish oil, or boiled linseed oil. These are finishes. Keep the oil away from the crack until it is repaired. It will not help the problem.

    Certainly there are qualified repair techs in a city the size of Miami. It should not be difficult to research and find one.

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