Tacoma Thunderchief, damaged. Need Advice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassAxe, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. BassAxe


    Jul 22, 2002
    Culpeper, VA
    I'll try not to go on forever about this, but...

    My Tacoma CB10 has one of those adhesive plastic pickguards. The pickguard is kinda shaped like a kidney bean. One day it developed an upward crease, about an inch long, starting at the inside curve. The next day, that crease had shot across the pickguard almost in a straight line, slightly curving downward as if to point at where the E string anchors to the bridge. I've seen adhesive plastics bubble and warp due to age, temperature and humidity, but never something so straight and sudden like this. In the next day or two, two more creases began to branch off from the center, almost at a 90 degree angle to the original crease forming an "X" shape. The only explanation I could think of was that the wood top was bowling inwards. I'm not an expert on acoustic instruments, but I don't think that's normal. I had also noticed that recently my bass wasn't projecting as loudly as I seemed to remember.

    I took it to a local music store, the only one in town, which happens to also be a Tacoma dealer. The guy there tapped his fingers all around the body and told me it sounded like it had a loose brace. Looking inside with an inspection mirror, he pointed out where the beads of glue were alongside the braces, the braces which run from the neck to the bridge. The glue, he explained, had oozed out when the two pieces were pressed together. But there was a point closer towards the bridge where those dried beads of glue no longer existed. He suspected that it was there where the beads didn't exist where the braces were no longer attached to the top. But he couldn't get the braces to wiggle at all.

    He placed a length of thread across the top and pulled it tight, you know, so it would serve the purpose of a straight edge. Sure enough, the top was curving inwards. He told me that he couldn't work on it due to the off-center, odd-shaped soundhole of the CB10. It didn't allow him enough access.

    Later, I remembered that I had found something that looked like bits of sand rolling around inside of my bass about 2 weeks prior to the creasing. Thinking back even further I remembered being at an Open Mic and a fat guy accidentally sat on my hardcase, which had the bass inside. He was only on it for a brief second because he wasn't expecting it to be there in the first place. It was one of those situations when things happened kind of fast and I wasn't sure if I had actually heard a crack, or just imagined it. I pulled the bass out and it looked like it was still okay at the time, but I now believe that was when the problem started.

    Anyway, I took the bass to a guy 35 miles away, which is probably the next nearest music store, and he came to the same conclusion. He also couldn't work on it due to its design.

    I emailed Tacoma about it. The short story is that they said it would take 4-6 months for them to work on non-warranty repairs. FOUR TO SIX MONTHS!!! :eek:
    Yes, I was honest about it. I'm not going to try to sneak a non-warranty job and get it done for free under the warranty.

    So I asked about their authorized repair places, mentioned in the FAQ on their website. Their nearest one in North Carolina said he was so far backed up on work (not just Tacoma repairs, but everything) that he wasn't accepting anymore jobs at the moment, and besides, he'd charge a hefty price to work on anything with that off-center soundhole. The people at Tacoma then recommended another guy in New York. He said he'll work on Tacomas, but only the models with the round center soundhole. :mad:
    Okay, so obviously there's a trade-off here. You can't expect every garage in town to know how to work on a Lamborghini. I tried a lot of acoustic basses, and the Tacoma sounded best, hands down. If I knew about the design causing this problem, I'd probably still would have bought it.

    Fourth call to Tacoma: This time I got to talk to a guy who has a shop there in Washington. I don't know if they forwarded my call to his shop or if he happens to also work there at the factory, but he has his own shop. I described the problem to him and he said he'd fix it in a week. Sweeet! :D

    He has had it for 3 business days now and the only thing he says he can find wrong with it is the setup, dead strings, and the wiring is loose.
    I'm like, what the hell???
    No, I didn't ship it UPS from Virginia to Washington State for new strings and a set-up! I can do my own set-up. The action changes with the climate and there's a very different climate between Washington State and Virginia. Any set-up he does there will be a waste of his time and my money.
    Yes, he says the top is curving in slightly, but he says that's expected on some instruments.

    Now I'm not sure about this guy. After thinking about it, I called him back and asked if he could try seeing if he can slip a thin piece of paper anywhere between the braces and the top. He said he'd try, but this is so frustrating not being able to see it, to hold it, to do anything. I can't figure out if he's right about the braces. I have no idea how competent he is and he has my precious Tacoma in his shop.

    Has anyone had an experience like this? Does anyone know any good repair shops, anywhere in the U.S., where I should send this repair? I know it has only been a few days, but I now have the feeling that either this guy just doesn't want to work on it, or doesn't know what he's talking about. I should probably just be more patient.

    If you have no suggestions to offer, thanks for at reading all of this. I know you had better things to do with your time.
  2. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    It sounds like it's not worth your trouble to repair the bass. I'll tell you what, I'll take it off your hands for a couple hundred bucks. just out of the goodness of my heart, you understand...
  3. It really does sound like you have the Lamborghini of basses. No advice to offer other than to say I'm in a similar situation, and I feel your pain! My acoustic guitar has a similar problem, the top piece is warped a bit. It didn't help when I tried alternate tunings that involved more tension. After the 'pop' sound inside....

    Hopefully something will come up. If it comes down to it, the bass can always be taken apart. I cringe just thinking about that option. Or even placing a bead of glue on your finger tip and reaching your hand in there as a last resort. Buy a new pickguard and ignore the problem altogether?? Whatever comes of this, I wish your Tacoma a long, productive life.
  4. BassAxe


    Jul 22, 2002
    Culpeper, VA
    I'd almost be willing to go the route of completely removing the top for a full inspection. As far as I know, the top and bottom need to be completely flat so that they resonate together in order to project the sound.

    Did I mention that I have pics of Victor Wooten playing this bass at Bass/Nature camp and Chuck Rainey's autograph inside the soundhole?

    I feel like that scrawny creature and the ring from the the Lord of the Rings movies. "My Precious, my precious bass... No... Shmeegle no kill Luthier..." :meh:
  5. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I would suck it up,tell the guy who's working on it to pack it upand send it back to you, and get it off to Tacoma even with the four month wait.

    I know I would be :crying: :bawl: if my precious Thunderchief was away for that long, but if it's like mine,then it's a fantastic instrument and worth waiting for.

    BTW, where did you get the tool for adjusting the truss rod? I've never dealt with that kind of adjustment before and mine could use a tweak.
  6. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Noll Guitars in Warwick RI.

    Best shop on the planet.

    Call them up and ask for Stan or Jim. Give him a rundown of the problem, see what he says.

    I trust them with my vintage '63 Gibson.


    They ain't pretty, but they are really good ...