spool clamps

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by johnhoef, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. Hello, fellow bass luthiers,
    I am ready to glue the top of my bass to the body. This follows the replacement of the neck block. Problem is, I am a poor guy.....most of you may well understand this financial dilemma. Anyway, looking at the cheapest possible way to make home made spool clamps, and the cost is still (believe it or not) beyond my budget. Threaded rod, washers, wing nuts....it adds up to a high bill! So, wondering if any of you have a really cool idea on how to clamp the top down and walking away with the wallet not so thinned out? Or perhaps one of you would be willing to sell me your no longer useful box of bass spool clamps? Or, how about lending me your clamps? I'll pay shipping both ways? Any other thoughts?
  2. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    I have the same issue coming up - I made about 30 the way you describe a few years back & they worked just okay and I could have use many more

    now I have a back that needs to be reglued and have been thinking about maybe using elastic bands the way classical guitar guys do on binding & tops

    much harder to do at DB scale
  3. Rich Green

    Rich Green Guest

    Apr 15, 2013
    Lowell, Ma
    Make fewer clamps and glue in sections. You don't absolutely have to glue the entire joint at once. Glue one or two bouts at a time.
    pnchad and james condino like this.
  4. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    yeah that's what I had to do last time but I'm afraid this back will need to be anchored in at least 4 places to keep the ribs aligned as I glue
  5. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Here's a few low cost ideas to get it done. Luthier James Ham has a technique of gluing the plates on using a steamer, you first apply glue then position the plate on the ribs, then clamp and apply steam. The steam softens the glue. You could modify this technique by using sand bags instead of clamps. Cut off old pant legs and shirt arms, fill w/sand, lay them on the plate and use the steam technique, you could even heat the sand bags. You could also "spring" clamp like the way acoustic guitar braces are glued onto the soundboard - wooden poles are bent between a frame and the top to apply pressure. Both of these techniques were employed in the old days before metal clamps
    pnchad likes this.
  6. Thanks for the input.....Powerbass, the steamer is out of the question...this is a laminated bass, and I fear it will delaminate with steam. I sure like the idea of the spool clamps.....if only I could make them cheaply. I do have seven carpenters clamps here, which is a good start, but still, I need so many more!
    Any other ideas?
  7. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    You might go online and find the hardware cheaper than at the Big Box. At Mcmaster.com for example (and not the cheapest place to get fasteners) you could get yourself 50 3/8" wing nuts and 24' of threaded rod for well under $30 + shipping. I'd use nylon insert locknuts at one end ($3.17 for 20 at Mcmaster) and wings at the other. Doesn't seem like much considering the cost of one bass string, and the clamps won't ever need replacing:)
  8. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    The steamer wouldn't damage plywood, as mentioned you could heat the sand bags. Years ago hide glue was the only glue, used in chilly shops, heating the sand bags or cauls was standard practice. I've included the Jim Ham article. If you have scrap wood handy you can make clamps w/wood and wedges.

    Attached Files:

    gerry grable and pnchad like this.
  9. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    very cool piece -thank you for sharing I'll have to spend the time reading through it
  10. gerry grable

    gerry grable

    Nov 9, 2010

    This was great! I never heard of a treblebar. I wonder why basses don't have them?
  11. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA

    Attached Files:

  12. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Are those clamps from the Stradivarious collection at the National Music Museum in Vermillion? if so, I've seen them; simple and effective.

    If you only have seven clamps, then just glue one linear a foot at a time. In the time that this thread has been running, you could have glued the entire top plate on with this simple method and no out of pocket expense. I spent lest than $2.50 making each of my spool clamps and they have fixed several hundred basses. If you have a tablesaw, you can cut up a few dozen six foot strips of scrapwood and use them as a traditional "go-bar" where the bent strip forces pressure between the plate and the ceiling. I do some variation of that regularly. It is pretty standard for guitarmakers. If this is a low end bass with thick nitrocellulose or similar tough finishes, a simple roll of maksing tape will work to clamp the entire top. If you are not careful, it will shred the finish on less durable surfaces. Do not use the commercial "binding tape"- it will destroy finish; I use it all of the time on raw wood, but not on finished instruments....

    I encourage everyone to be self reliant and creative beyond their own boundaries... with the caveat that they do their best to fix it right the first time or you'll spend the rest of your life fixing the "fixes" every six weeks. On any given day of the year, approx. 85% of the work that I do is fixing someone else's questionable work. Good luck and show us the results!

    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Just a note: I recently needed some threaded rod, and found that it's considerably cheaper in the electrical department of Home Depot, than in the bolt & nut department. It's sold in 10 foot lengths, for hanging stuff from ceilings in commercial installations.

    Realizing how lucky I got with reassembling my first bass, there are some things I would do differently as an amateur. Notably, I would practice laying out the tools and going through the entire process, a couple of times, before committing to real glue.
  14. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    thanks for the heads up

    I had the same experience - folks were yelling and screaming here on TB - don't do it, you're crazy blah, blah

    turned out pretty good - could have been cleaner but you learn
  15. You all are great!!! Thanks so much for all your thoughts. After considering all your ideas, and doing some extensive searching on the web, I have completed the task of glueing the top on my bass. In addition to the several bar clamps I had, and borrowed, I borrowed a heap more bar clamps from other friends, bought four more at Harbor Freight ($4 each), and used rope and my rope handling and knot tieing skills (I'm a sailor). The top is on, and it looks great. So, now I'm busy fine tuning the mortise joint for installing the neck. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and looking forward to hearing the first note on my "new" bass!! Thanks again you all!
    Oh, a new dilemma.....deciding what strings to buy for this bass!! Overwhelming.....the choices...where to begin!
  16. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Go to the string section of TB, you'll get a ton of conflicting opinion over there too!
  17. I'm sure we would all love to see pics of the work you've done so far. :thumbsup:
  18. Hi, everyone,
    Wow, it's been a few years since I took on this project. The bass has been finished for quite some time, and have been playing it with great fun! OK, per your request, I'll do some photos for you all. Let's start with a comparison of the two neck blocks. This photo is a comparison of the two. It's so obvious which is which. I was appalled with how poorly the old neck block was made as you can see. The new one shown is hardly in it's final state, but a nice clean joint.
    Neck block - new and old side by side.jpg
    Bar Star likes this.
  19. By the way, this is what the bass looked like when I purchased it for real cheap....
    Englehardt - as purchased 02.jpg
  20. Here's a photo of the finished neck block glued in place: Bass neck block in place 02.jpg
    Bar Star likes this.