Saved From The Burn Pile....The Chrysalis Project

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Koog, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    This narrative will be a bit long. It talks about an extensive bass restoration and may be worth the read to those interested in such things. Photos following the narrative and are worth a look.

    Earlier in the year I had been looking for a five string bass I would not worry about taking to the stage in some of the dive blues bars and jam sessions I’ve been playing off and on for the past several years.

    I’ve always had great luck in finding good value in used instruments here on TB and in April was successful in finding what I thought was a bass to fit the bill. It was represented to have been gigged but “it’s in great shape with a slight wear mark where a previous owner rested his thumb”, said the owner. Photos in favorable lighting supported this. There were no other disclosures. I had decided I would change out the tuners and electronics when the bass arrived….really minor stuff, made an offer considering the expense of the mods and it was accepted.

    When the bass arrived it soon became obvious it had been misrepresented. I attempted, and was unsuccessful, in working out a partial refund for the bass. Because I liked the woods in the bass….a very old piece of Walnut for the body, and a very dark Ebony fingerboard….when the seller became difficult, I decided to walk away from dealing with him, move on, and do a full restoration of the bass.

    Master luthier and custom builder Andrew Drake is one of my greatest friends. I knew he would do the restoration for me and we’d have a great outcome. He agreed to advise me during the “discovery period’ on the bass so we could tackle all the problems. We planned the restoration together and he did the work.

    When it arrived:
    • The numbers on the back of the neck did not match the numbers stamped on the fingerboard, and there was a third set of numbers on the back side of the electronics control cavity cover and a build date that did not match what was represented by the seller.
    • The tuners were mismatched. Three looked OK and two had significant wear. Was going to replace them anyway, so….
    • Actual weight was 9 pounds, 11 ounces. It was represented at 9.1 pounds.
    • The fingerboard was cracked from below the 22nd fret to just above the 16th fret.
    • Frets 20 – 24 were filed flat. Later we figured it was to accommodate setup because of misalignment. 15 – 19 were filed flat on the treble side.
    • Frets 15 – 20 were unseated and coming up.
    • A complete refret would be needed. When the refret was being done, the two worn, mismatched tuners fell apart….Was going to replace them anyway, so….
    • The body and neck were misaligned. When we took it apart, pre-restoration, it appeared the neck was designed and cut for a double cut body, but the body was a single cut. The neck pocket was too large for the neck to fit properly. No problem….someone along the way filled the neck pocket with epoxy to stick it together. But this ended up exacerbating the misalignment, and again, was probably part of the reason for filing frets….someone’s solution for accommodating a setup.
    • The electronics were epoxied in the control cavity.
    • When the pickups were removed for the restoration we discovered the pickup routes were not square.
    1c.jpg 1d.jpg 1g.jpg 1h.jpg 4.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg 8.jpg

    The Work:
    • Repaired the fingerboard crack.
    • Did a complete refret with stainless steel vintage sized frets.
    • Modified the truss rod access and made a cover.
    • Made a permanent neck shim at the heel to help realign the neck with the body.
    • Sanded the gloss finish off the back of the neck and refinished using oil. Very nice natural feel.
    • Did a Walnut Burl laminate on the headstock facing.
    • Converted the body from a single cut to a double cut.
    • Rebuilt the neck pocket to make it smaller (again permanent shims) for correct fit and alignment.
    • Hand carved the newly cut upper horn to achieve a “snake tail” scroll.
    • Reshaped the body contours for better ergonomics.
    • Deepened both the forearm and belly cuts, again for ergonomics.
    • Stripped the old finish and refinished in a durable oil/wax based product.
    • Did a Walnut Burl laminate on the front of the control cavity cover.
    • Converted the electronics from active to passive and realigned the control knob setup.
    • Did an inlay to cover an extra hole in the control area. The inlay is a button from my father’s WWII Army Air Corps dress uniform.
    • Routed pickup cavities to accommodate soaps. This corrected the non-square routs and removed the thumb blemish which was deeper than superficial.
    • Replaced the bridge saddles….Hipshot A style, brass. The old ones were nasty.
    • Enlarged the holes and ferrules for string through option to accommodate the silks on flat wound strings.
    • New tuners are Hipshot Ultralites.
    • New pickups are Nordstrand Dual Coils, Alnico V. Controls are volume, tone, volume, tone, with a coil tap switch.
    • Recessed Dunlop straplocks.
    • New Neutrix output jack.
    • New weight is 8 pounds, 13 ounces.
    We started on April 18th and I took delivery August 1st. It took a little while to get some parts because of supply backlog due to Covid-19, but it’s been worth the wait. The bass is just great. Looks really good (better in person). Its a super player, and sounds magnificent.

    We began by calling the bass the bass the Stray Dog Project, because it was just beat up like an old stray dog. But as planning and then work progressed, we decided it should be called the Chrysalis Project. Aptly named?

    Anyhow, that’s the project. I have been very excited about it and am even more excited about the outcome. I wanted to share it here with my TB brothers and sisters.

    Thanks to Andrew Drake, we made a great save. I could not have done this without Andrew.

    Enjoy the photos.

    110a.jpg 111a.jpg 112a.jpg 113a.jpg 114a.jpg 115a.jpg 117a.jpg 118a.jpg 119a.jpg 120a.jpg 121a.jpg 122a.jpg 123a.jpg 124a.jpg 125a.jpg 126.jpg 127a.jpg 128a.jpg 129a.jpg 130a.jpg 131a.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    GHOST AT, KaraQ, tindrum and 38 others like this.
  2. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Looks wonderful!
    Koog likes this.
  3. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    That is fantastic.
    Koog likes this.
  4. EXCAV8


    Dec 15, 2019
    Anyone else think the horn looks a little bit like a doodie?
    McFarlin likes this.
  5. cmcbass

    cmcbass Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2018
    Anyone else think you should be more respectful?
    pwilson, GHOST AT, LBS-bass and 7 others like this.
  6. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    Very Nice! Great work!
    LUpton and Koog like this.
  7. stuntbass77


    Nov 6, 2007
    Well done Sir !
    Koog and Flaked Beans like this.
  8. Eneade


    Jun 14, 2008
    Was the original bass made by Warrior ?
  9. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Best save I've seen in a long time! Excellent!
    Koog likes this.
  10. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Wow. Good for you to have way more tolerance for the seller than I would have. Way to turn a sad story into an inspirational one! And nice bass!
    Koog likes this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    very nice, great work! congrats on your efforts and your cool instrument! :thumbsup:
    Koog likes this.
  12. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Good job!
    Koog likes this.
  13. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    YIKEs - that's definitely a Warrior neck... The body however? Looks way different than anything I've seen from them.

    OP, awesome turnaround, nice lemonade!
    eastcoasteddie likes this.
  14. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    You definitely saved that one! Great work by Mr Drake.
    Koog likes this.
  15. Bassaga


    Sep 4, 2015
    I wish my best friend was a master luthier.
    Stumbo, zubrycky, Koog and 2 others like this.
  16. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    That is spectacular. Mister Drake is a very tasteful luthier!
    Koog likes this.
  17. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Ok - that is / was a Warrior.... How are they still in business? I've played only one myself, but it was a total dog and ludicrously overpriced. Must've been unpaid youth group interns doing the work on this thing originally.

    I'm not familiar with your luthier friend Mr. Drake, but he certainly deserves some major props for sheparding this thing into a legit instrument. Much more worthy of it than Warrior who let this thing out originally...
  18. What a wonderful turnaround, and utter proof once more that a smart player teamed with a smart tech or builder can yield some fabulous results. It's also endlessly fascinating what a previous owner of the bass you just bought had been a good idea as regards their time with the instrument.

    I don't always like 'brown' basses, but this is some wonderful woods and it works well. I'd have kept the wooden knobs, but that's me.

    Congrats and All the Best,

    Koog likes this.
  19. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    A TBer sold you a list of problems? I'm curious about whom it was.
  20. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    I posted this thread to show an unusual bass that was created with some careful thought and marvelous craftsmanship, not to identify and discredit a specific seller or the original producer.

    I hope we can keep the thread positive and just enjoy, or critique, the result of the restoration.

    Thanks, everyone for the comments so far. I also appreciate your many likes.


    EDIT and PS....The brown is the color of the Walnut. No tint was used in the finish.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 29, 2021

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