Repair reduce value?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mheintz, May 6, 2005.

  1. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    I saw a flat back bass with cross bracing, similar to that used on Jakstadt's. Upon further inspection, the bass had been repaired, and one or two of the cross braces had been replaced with a verticle brace, a strip of maple I believe, along the center seam. Apparently the center seam split, cracking the cross braces. The top would have to have been taken off to perform this repair. The bass plays well and despite occasional seams split, the owner has had no problems. There are no cracks as a result of the seam splits. Does such a repair that deviates from the original design reduce the value of the bass or are there any problems that one might anticipate from such a repair?
  2. I've heard that repairs to flat backs are not uncommon because the braces shrink/expand perpendicular to the plate material. Sometimes they just come loose and rattle. More than likely it would have been the plates shrinking against a stable or expanding brace that opened the seam. The vertical seam may have had a reinforcement there originally as well, unless there is some way you can exclude that possiblilty. Diamond shaped cleats along the seam would have been the other option to reduce the possibility of future cracks, but center line reinforcements are common, if not the best and are not always repair. Sometimes the seam is reinforced this way originally.

    It would be helpful to know the location of the omitted brace. I'm guessing it is not the one at the bend, but the lower brace that typically runs under the soundpost area. Sometime there are 3 braces in which case the repairer may have felt that the brace was expendable. Tell us a little more. How old is the bass? If it is 50+ years it might be pretty stable at this point and usually a well done repair does not devalue an instrument.

    My gut feeling is that it is probably OK, and not devalued, but it would help to know more about it.
  3. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    The bass is about ~10 years old. The vertical brace was along the center seam at roughly the top 1/4 of the back. The seam had previously been reinforced with the cross braces at that location.

    I think that your intuition is probably correct, i.e. the repair will not affect the value. David Gage had explained the purpose of the original cross-bracing to me, but unfortunately I can't relay the explanation accurately. He said something about the cross-braces (rather than a vertical brace) allowing the maker to have a subtle curve on the flat back. Nevertheless, the part of the back with the new vertical brace is flat.

    Thanks for your help.
  4. It sounds like the instrument as repaired may be more trouble free than it was before. To me the most important brace in a flat or bent back design is the horizontal one at the bend. After that it would be the one under the sound post. At ten years old, the wood is probably settled down well and it isn't old enough to have any real value associated with unchanged original construction. It's at the age where basses become valuable primarily if they sound good and are in good playing condition.

    I would caution you that some people have a prejudice against flat backs because of potential brace problems. However that prejudice usually extends to all flat back basses no matter when they were built, how they may or may not have been repaired, etc.
  5. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004