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Repair my bass, or Buy a new one?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Fractal20, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Fractal20


    Feb 8, 2011
    So I have been borrowing a bass from my Uncle for the past year. I'm not sure how old it it, but my Uncle got it in the 60's, so I suspect it was made in that same decade. It is a German bass, without a name but the sticker inside actually says USSR occupied East Germany which is kind of interesting.

    It is a laminate bass that has seen some wear, but I don't really mind the aesthetics. The real problem is with the neck. It appears that the fingerboard has been removed and re-attached a few times because there is a readily apparent section of glue between the fingerboard and the neck. Moreover there are old cracks in the neck. When I received the bass there was an open crack along the upper bout. I paid a local luthier to glue the crack shut and he also drilled a little carbon rod through the neck to hold that part as well. The pictures show all these problems.

    As of now, I don't think there are any open cracks and that it is pretty stable as is. However, there is a fair bow to the neck that makes playing very strenuous. While the action is fair at the low end and okay where the neck reaches the body it is quite high in the middle of the neck.

    So if I wanted to keep playing this bass it seems like I really would need an entirely new neck. First off, I'm not sure what a job like that would cost but my teacher has suggested that I could get a decent student model bass for not much more. The thing is that this bass has a lot of sentimental value to my Uncle, so there is a chance that he would foot the bill just to keep the bass in a usable condition. But I'm not sure if with a new neck, the bass would still just not play as nice as a student model bass ie a Shen.

    So, does anybody have an estimate of how much replacing the neck would cost? Would you suggest just getting a Shen or something even if my Uncle would pay for a new neck? If I were to look for a different bass I have up to 3k that I could put towards it. Does anybody have any advice?

    Attached Files:

  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I would put your money in a different bass. A new neck would be very expensive, but I would take this bass to a good DB luthier to see what they would do.
  3. Arnold

    Arnold Supporting Member

    There are so many great instruments for sale in this economy. I would take the money and put it into something new or old and in great shape.
  4. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    It looks as though the neck actually broke at some point. Note the diagonal fracture in the 1st pic. It runs almost completely thru the neck and continues into the fingerboard. Ouch. Musta take a massive blow to the backside of the neck to cause a fracture like that.

    And from the pic, the scoop looks excessive. What's the gap between the fingerboard an the strings? Looks close to an inch. :eek:

    Im no luthier, but your bass needs extensive work to make it playable, imo.

    Best of luck with it..,,
  5. Fractal20


    Feb 8, 2011
    Yeah, the scoop is a major pain. I try to tell myself it is like batting with a weight, it will make the real thing seem like a breeze haha. Well, I think I will definitely just plan to go for a new student bass. Thanks for the input y'all.
  6. shadygrove


    Feb 14, 2008
    Marysville, WA
    Good call. That bass looks like my Eberle, which fits the label geographically as Eberle was made by Musima in East Germany. Not a bad bass for what I do with it, but not worth putting a lot of money into if it ever had a big accident like a neck break. You could easily get a comparable or better ply with a good setup (ie Shen SB80) for around $1500.

    A little more info in case you or your Uncle reconsider attempting the repair. It likely wouldn't be "just" putting a new neck on, but also some major construction to create a workable neck joint. See post #25...

  7. omg. i think i have the same bass. i bought it in '83 in NYC for $275. it needed a fingerboard, bridge, tailpiece and strings which i replaced the same year. i think i cost me $400. fast forward almost 30 years, i just replaced everything again, except the strings and tailpiece, added a new nut, peg and reset the neck, all for $600 here in oakland ca.

    granted, it's no show piece, but it's blond, beautiful and sounds wonderfully loud! Again, through the right f-hole it has a small white label printed in red: Germany USSR occupied.


    Eberle? Musima? i'd love to know more about it.
  8. davpal


    May 19, 2006
    Lambertville, NJ
    If you really want to play bass, and are going to spend the time it takes to do it, and you really have the money you say you do, buy something else. A decent new bass will serve you well without all the problems that an older low end instrument will saddle you with...
    sorry if I stepped on anybody's toes but this is just my gut reaction...
  9. NicholasF

    NicholasF Guest

    Jan 17, 2012
    Sentiment means a lot to me. I would say get an estimate, try to explain the situation to the luthier, see if you can get your uncle to chip in ( he will think highly of you trying to keep his bass in tact so you can give it to your nephew, i know i would), and if your really in a bind there are tons of people here ready to give advice and lend a hand. Good luck!
  10. chopsy


    Jul 3, 2012
    Utica, NY
    good point Nicholas! I have an inherited banjo that is very similar... definitely not a good investment to fix it. It wasn't a great banjo when it was brand new almost 100yrs ago but to fix up the same instrument my great-uncle lovingly played is a no-brainer for me.
  11. wcoffey81


    Feb 3, 2012
    S/E Michigan
    i was web surfing the other day and followed a link to:http://www.uptonbass.com/. i am not interested in an upright bass but i found it very interesting to look through. some of the repair pictures/methods look amazing to to me as a woodworker. plus the price range of the listed used stuff was not as high as i expected

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