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Repairing an old double bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Cupjohn, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Cupjohn


    Feb 15, 2014
    Hi, my name is Charlie Upjohn from Rye Studio School, Rye, Uk. I have recently found an old double bass in a music room and I have been given permission to fix it up using any resources I can. I have no clue about fixing this type of instrument and I would love to fix it and learn to play it, I'll put some pictures up at a later date, but it has a split between the back and the side, a few chips out of the outside curved part on the front and the fretboard it warped, bit fixable. Could someone maybe shed some light in how to fix this up, what I would need, and how much it will cost me? Thanks for any help.
  2. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    If by 'split between the back and side' you mean the seam has come unglued, that's a cheap fix involving glue and C-clamps.

    The fingerboard repair isn't something you can do yourself. It might need planing or it might need replacing, or it might be a bigger problem with the neck. Take it to a luthier.
  3. Cupjohn


    Feb 15, 2014
    There are no luthiers nearby, I do a bit of carpentry and know relatively how wood works. I could warp it back, I just don't know what sort of glue to use.
  4. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Pictures are essential for good advice.
  5. Hi Charlie.

    Welcome to TalkBass.

    +1 for the pics.

    IMO the only easy part about Your venture will be the choice of glue, hot hide glue for every joint.
    It can be very rewarding though, but before starting the time consuming and probably somewhat costly repairs, I'd consider making a some kind of a deal with Your school for the compensation.
    Other than being able to use (and expected to constantly maintain) it for a year or a two.

    Hot hide glue is very forgiving, but if someone has been there before with PVA, PU or epoxy, the hardest part will be to remove all of it to ensure a good bond.

    Since it's an (ab)used school instrument, the chances of it being a valuable piece of history is rather slim, but do make sure that that's the case.
    As much as I love fixer-uppers, CCB's and other BSO's, "do no harm" applies IMO here as well as in any other craft.

    BTW, it's called a fingerboard, calling it fretboard will cause seven kinds of hell over here in the dark side of TB ;).

  6. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    I pretty much totally approve of T-Bird's response.

    Knowing what I know of English school music departments, it's likely that there is very little worth rescuing of that bass. It probably arrived in a container from China and would have approximated the shape and setup of a double bass but not gone beyond that. If it's now struggling with physical deformities then that is probably a function of its origin - it's a bass that was designed to be sold cheap and - shortly afterwards - scrapped.

    Assuming this bass is in a state school, don't waste any energy on it. And if it's in a private school the likelihood is that any of the string-playing tutors would've already recognised its value already, and you wouldn't have found it in such a bad state.

    Short answer: Avoid.
  7. 360guy


    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    As long as you don't expect a silk purse I don't think you need to avoid a pig's ear. It has potential to be a good learning experience. If you started with a fine instrument chances are you'd be reluctant to dig in. You can't hurt a crappy bass. So you can relax and try some things to bring it back to life. Best wishes to you!
  8. Cupjohn


    Feb 15, 2014
    Thanks very much for all of the responses, I am going ahead with fixing it up, and it is a crappy bass, but I just want to learn to play it! I'll order some hot hide glue and get to fixing ASAP! Thanks for the good advice T Bird :)