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S.O.S. luthiers! Damage prognosis...

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by csrund, Nov 13, 2017.


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  1. In 40 years of playing and transporting basses, I've never had an accident with an instrument...until Saturday afternoon. While picking up my bass to start the 2nd half of rehearsal, it inexplicably slipped from my grasp while in a nearly upright position. It fell into a Wenger padded bass stool, landing on the upper portion of the C-bout. There was a sickening *snap* sound; at first the instrument appeared to be intact, but closer inspection revealed the damage to the rib section (which is willow, by the way). The instrument was still in tune when I recovered it, and I finished the rehearsal and following concert without incident (other than nausea), at which time I took string tension down probably 60-70% and packed the bass for the trip home. (FWIW, this is a Shen spruce/willow 5-string model with low B.)

    C-bout_catastrophe.

    I have attached a rough diagram illustrating the damage. My question: given the proximity of the damage to the f-hole, would you suggest first attempting repairs without removing the top? Perhaps with linen? I know it's difficult to make an assessment without laying eyes on it; just wondering what your initial thoughts would be on approaching a predicament like this. If good repair is possible without pulling the top, I'd just as soon give it a shot.

    Please send happy vibes. :(

    P.S. I watched the Upton guys' recent video on laminated ribs, and I'm a believer. :meh:
     
  2. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Beautiful bass!

    It is hard to see the cracks in the photo, but, yes, I think I would carefully consider whether they could be repaired without opening the instrument. I think I understand you to be saying there are three longitudinal cracks, and the whole area has been shoved in, slightly, but no lateral cracks, right?
     
  3. Hi, Chet...thanks for the reply. Actually the lateral line is a crack (more like a tear, given that it's against the grain, but it's relatively straight), and the portion below is pushed in. The other cracks (highlighted in green are longitudinal). They are all very subtle. The lateral wound looks like a varnish scratch until you look closely. The vertical ones are hardly visible, but you can see hairlines of daylight coming through when you look inside the body. I'll get some better pics up this evening.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I've had longitudinal rib cracks repaired successfully, top on, for what it's worth.
     
    csrund likes this.
  5. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Should be possible. That is about as good an access point as you'll get
     
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  6. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    I don't consider myself to be an expert at crack repair, but that looks "do-able" to me. I assume that you have a local bass luthier who has earned your trust.
     
  7. Thanks for replies, everyone. Here are photos of the actual damage, which takes on a slightly different appearance with each different lighting angle. Let me know if you have additional thoughts. ((P.S. the longitudinal cracks do radiate on both sides (i.e. above and below) the lateral split.))

    IMG_5066.JPG IMG_5067.JPG IMG_5068.JPG IMG_5071.JPG
     
  8. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Are you able to push the stoved-in area back into place from behind with a dowel through the ff-hole?

    If you are you might not be sunk.

    What I’d do is lay the bass down on the G side, press the bout back into round with a long dowel and get HHG into those cracks before the vertical ones travel. Hold in place for AT LEAST ten minutes.

    If that operation is a success, you should be able to float linen and glue into the box through the ff without popping the top.

    With that said, it may be worth opening the seams along the length of the bout including the corner blocks in order to release any tension in the rib and make your life easier as you cuss it all back into round.
     
    csrund likes this.
  9. Yes, actually the pushed in lateral tear has relaxed; everything is quite flush and looks like it can be persuaded to reunite. I consider myself lucky; could've been a helluva lot worse.
     
    John Chambliss and KUNGfuSHERIFF like this.