The Traeger Bass Book Is Here

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bob Branstetter, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. The book I've been waiting for has finally arrived at my door. I received the 377 page book, The Setup and Repair of the Double Bass for Optimum Sound, in the mail this afternoon and I've spent the last few hours trying to get a feel of the book. I can see now that it will take many days or weeks to get through it. A better title for the book might have been the "Encyclopedia of Bass Repair". I have tried to think of all the items that I think are needed, and so far everything I can think of has been covered in the book sometimes multiple times. This book is not just a repair manual where Chuck Traeger says "this is the way I do it and that is the only way to do it". On the contrary, Traeger has on many occations to called on his bass luthier/editor friends David Brownell and Bill Merchant to describe their methods when they do a particular repair or adjustment in a different manner. As a result, there are (atleast) two different methods shown in detail on how to make a fingered "C" Extension from scratch or how to execute a neck/scroll graft. Traeger is not afraid to admit he was wrong in the past when a better method is discoved later.

    In the prologue there is one paragraph which sums up Traeger's approch to writing the book. I quote from the book. "This is a repair book written primarily for bass players. Yes, it is written to help the general repairer who gets a bass only occasionally on his work bench. It is written for the bass specialist to show him or her better ways of doing things. It is written for the young repairer just starting out as a guide on how to do proper bass repairs. But it is written for the player for three reasons. 1) Section II details how to make any bass sound louder, evener, and easier
    to play at very little cost. This section will be invaluable to any player and bass maker. 2) Other sections show how the proper repair can lead to the production of optimum sound. 3) It is written to demystify the repair process so that the player can get an idea of what goes into a certain repair and thus its cost."

    In the relatively brief time that I have spent reading the book, I have already found several tips that might helpful for even an experienced bass luthier. One simple tip that I found of interest had to do with matching varnish color. Traeger suggests mixing a small amount of colored varnish on a small piece of glass. Placing the glass over the area that needs patching allows you to see and adjust the color without actually applying the colored varnish to the instrument and avoiding a possible mismatch. I'm sure this may be nothing new to some of the bass luthiers here, but it was a new one for me. It is one of those "Why didn't I think of that" kind of things. I'm absolutely sure that I will find lots of other tips that I will be using in the future.

    I'm sure there will be some things that will be chalenged by the establishment, but IMO Chuck Trager has written the definite book on bass repair and more importantly on the setup of the doublebass for the best possible sound. There seems to be something in this book for everyone. Traeger was one of the founding members of the Catgut Acoustical Society and there are chapters explaining the modern methods used to enhance the sound of the db. There is even a chapter on bass bow repairing and rehairing. You name it, and it (seemingly) is there.

    The book is available primarily from the publisher Henry Strobel. The price including shipping is $94.00. New Yorkers will probably find the book available at Bill Merchants Shop. This has to be the greatest bargain I've ever seen in luthier books. By comparison, the Hans Weisshaar book goes for a lofty $300 (and well worth it). Anyone who repairs or wants to repair basses can not afford to be without this book. This book was well worth the wait. Until someone writes a better one, this is the best bass book out there.

    With that said, I would like to thank everyone I've meet through the Talkbass forum. For the most part, I have enjoyed being a participant on the forum. However, in the year since I had my knee replacement surgery, I've found that TB, for a number of reasons, is no longer fun for me and it is my intention that this will be my final post on TB. I'll probably drop by every now and then to check things out, but I plan to be a lurker rather than a participant from now on. (With this book out, I would probably just tell you to get the book rather than trying to explain it.)

    EDIT 8/9/2005 - Mr. Traeger asks that anyone who has questions about ANYTHING in the book to contact him by mail. (However, It would help to actually read the book prior asking the questions!) Mr. Traeger does not have an internet or email connection.
    His mailing address is:

    Charles Traeger
    PO Box 187
    Yulan, NY 12792

    FWIW - When I wrote Mr. Traeger about a statement in the book, I received a very articulate four page letter of explaination back in less than a week.
  2. idahohay


    Nov 22, 2002
    Priest River, ID
    I too received a copy of Chuck Traeger's book and many thanks to the authors. (ditto Bob's comments). Truly a great value for a book of this type. hr
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Take care, Bob. You'll be missed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
  4. This is an exciting time, I feel , for bassists and bass luthiers.
    I think we are finally becoming a force to be reckoned with in terms of knowledge of our instrument as well as the possibilities of different music being written expressly for the double bass. Not to mention the advancements made by great jazz bassists, the time for our instrument is now!
    The luthiers advancements are as exciting as the musical advances to be sure. There are so many bass luthiers out there making wonderful instruments with the love of the instrument in mind as well as the need to provide a way to make a decent living.
    I'm really looking forward to getting the Traeger book and I hope that the players, not only the luthiers, can find a way to pop for the book!
    Branstetter is a good friend of mine, so i'm not surprised to hear the news of his decision to back off of TBDB.
    It was because of him that I found and joined this second home. As most of you know, I came on the Forum right after having lost my wife of 27 years to Ovarian cancer.
    Because of Bob's friendship and the fact that TBDB provided a venue for me to talk, make new friends and concentrate on the DB and a chance to help the newer, younger players with some stuff that is the result of a bunch of experience, it buffered and, I feel, helped me through the grieving process.
    Bob hasn't been posting alot lately probably partly because of the pain issues involved in his recovery, so many of you newer people haven't had the chance to get to know him.
    You can always go back in the Archives and dig around for his posts.....Alot of knowledge there and above all, alot of love for the Bass!
  5. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    If you're still lurking Bob, Thank you for everything - I wish you all the best. :)
  6. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    This thread makes me feel very bittersweet. The book is great news & I intend on getting it but, Bob, I always love reading your posts.
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Gotta admit, though, Bob's review of the book is a great parting shot, and a classy exit. I don't need to hear anything more about the book; I'll be ordering it!
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Damn. The ratio of 'hippies and communists' to 'me' just lurched the wrong way.
  9. What?
  10. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks for all your time and input, Bob. It has been very helpful to guys like me, who have no local resources from which to learn more about the instrument's construction, maintenance, and history. I'll be buying the book myself, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge.
  11. Conservative Midwestern Luthier

    I think Bob was the first person to respond to my first post on TB. He has taught us a lot over the years and I too will miss his input.
  12. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Bob, if you leave it's going to get very dull around here. Who will anybody argue with anymore? I think we remaining TB'ers should designate a formal position as "honorary Branstetter crumudgeon", or "HBC", and keep our eyes out for another outspoken, opinionated, articulate engineer-luthier-bassist to keep this place interesting. Would you please check in with us once in a while? We'll miss you...
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I've ordered the book, too, and I'm sure it's magnificent, but it won't be any substitute for being informed by Bob Branstetter.

    I have learned much from you, Bob. Thank you and all the best to you.
  14. I have just ordered the book, on your recomendation Bob. Enjoyed you posts.
  15. I too have enjoyed Bob's posts and will miss his wit and vast wisdom of bass luthiery.I am sorry we never had a chance to chat,but I have learned quite a bit from your exchanges w.Sirs Schnitzer's and Bollbach and company[You too Nicko]
    I am excited about this book as I am primarily self taught and will take in this new insight with open arms.
    Bob, if you say it's good ,well thats good enough for me.
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Amen - well said.
  17. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    You've helped a ton of people get a start with the DB, and I'm one of them. Thank you, sir.
  18. Tom Hutton

    Tom Hutton

    Nov 22, 2004
    Bob, I've never conversed with you directly in this forum, but your past posts have been a goldmine of information for my current restoration project and my knowledge of the bass in general. Many thanks, and best of luck.
    Yours aye,
  19. Indeed, and every time I asked you why something was so you always replied and imeasurably increased my store of knowledge even though the questions were a bit dim.

    Very best wishes and much happiness to you.
  20. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Thanks for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience Bob, and thanks for calling it as you see it.