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Tragedy Struck!!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Samie, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I still can't believe it.

    Something went wrong and in less than a second my bass fell an the neck came right off.

    The whole piece came off the body cleanly, very little damage on the neck and on the body, I guess I was somewhat lucky. It fits in its place almost perfectly.

    I should take it to the luthier... but I wont! I want to fix it myself, nothing to loose now. Its a really cheapo bass and I had been able to make is sound great for jazz.

    The neck was a little off-center and the figerboard had some huge deeps that made it imposible to get a low-action.

    I will take this oportunity to change all that. I want an Ebony finger board, that's for sure.

    Here are my questions:
    1) There is some toffee color glue on the body were the neck was before. How can I tell if its hide or synthetic glue?

    2) If its hide glue, how do I get rid of it? do I sand it like if it was synthetic? hot water?

    3) While I am at it, should I replace figerboard and neck? will I gain much more that replacing just the tainted figerboard for an ebony fingerboard?

    4) Safe ways to separate the figer board from the neck....

    5) What was that book from a NYC luthier? cant remember his name.. I think I will be needing it.

    Any other advice, apreciated.

    Don't mind messing up things really bad. I was planing on getting a real bass sometime next year anyways. If I cant fix this one I will just get it sooner.

    It was sounding so good :scowl:
  2. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    Is the bass a new bass? I am curious if we have to wonder about past work etc. Did it really come out clean? There is no damage to the mortice? Pictures???
  3. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain

    Yeah, its a new bass. Lets asume that. Some very kind man with spare money donated 5 db's to the local music center. Some pieces were missing. Becuase they had no budget, they managed to assemble 4 working from the pieces of the 5th. Minor pieces, not the neck. This is the only blonde of the bunch.

    The mortice along the body was already a cracked right were the neck fits. On both sides there was a cracked line which was very similar to one on the kay neck sample on your site, except it was in horizontal from front to back.

    There is some mortice damage, but not much. It looks a lot like the bass that fell on your site (the neck part).

    It looks like this picture but mine came off were it was glued. There is dry glue all over the neck and the body.


    I will post photos, it still is to painful to look at!! :scowl: It was sounding so good. :rollno:

    Do you think I should replace the whole neck and figerboard? or just the figerboard?

    Do they sell necks with ebony fingerboards already on them? like the one on that kay bass you restored. How much would that type of neck/figerboard combination go for?

    thanx for your reply!

    BTW, Nice site, nice work, really nice!
  4. The book you refer to is Chuck Traeger's Setup and Repair of the Double Bass for Optimum Sound. Many dealers now stock the book. There is a detailed section on rejoining the neck and replacing the fingerboard. Most of the stuff in the book is quite detailed but I found the FB removal technique described to be somewhat brutal;- but perhaps there is no other way. There is always the possibility of dressing the fingerboard that is on your bass as well.

    One option that I have not seen described here (or in the Traeger book) for faux fingerboard improvement is the laminated ebony FB. This is a very old technique that was employed on lutes. The fingerboard needs to be straight with no camber or scoop, but should be evenly arched and a suitable thickness ebony can be veneered onto the surface. If you do this, make sure the veneer is thick enough to accomodate your final dressing. My plywood bass (also needs a neck rejoin by the way) needs some drastic fingerboard work and I am considering the ebony veneer solution (recommended by a lute maker/player) as a less risky and expensive alternative to a completely new fingerboard. I know it is not the best type of repair, but with instruments of lower value, it is important to keep the repairs within the value that could reasonably be expected from the repaired instrument.
  5. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    From merely the labor standpoint the work involved to veneer a fingerboard seems a REALLY odd substitute to doing it the right way....then add how long it would last, the feel of still having maple give way at the end of the board and again the time....just odd. Then for relief if you are to "zero" out the board before the application of the veneer, then give it relief you will go past the depth of the veneer (isn't veneer .5mm or less?) you just spent time and money installing....add to that the fact that you want to play this bass every day and it will surely wear. IF you were to do this (DONT) you would be best to relieve the board and then add the veneer.....??

    With the exception of a early viols...gut strings, no relief, some fretted. It's just silly and no other way to say it and has no application for the double bass. I understand the thought of not wanting to sink to much bread into a bass, leave things alone rather then to veneer the fingerboard.

    Did this lute maker ever try this idea on a bass? Please tell me of a ebony veneer that is this thick if you find it.....also what type of backing would you have on the veneer? The heat activated stuff would surely loose bond?

    Another thought, if this really saved time or money don't you think the Chinese would use it?

    I'll tell you what, come down the shop with your bass and veneer. I'll install an ebony board while you are veneering your fingerboard, we'll see who finishes first. Then when we are both done we can compare.........AND were not even talking about longevity.
  6. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com

    Let’s wait for picture to discuss the repair of the neck block and neck. For DIY a new neck really wouldn't be a good idea and is not a typical repair. Technically the Kay could have used a neck graft but the cost of that correct repair would far exceed the value of the bass, thus the replaced neck. Also, the Kay neck replacement at http://stringrepair.com/db7.html did not have a fingerboard attached and I am not sure what lead you to believe this? I'll have to look for more pictures to add to that page. Think about it, how would you chalk fit the neck and the neck mortise with a thick ebony fingerboard adding weight? I don't even leave the tuners on an old bass while fixing a neck set.

    If necks were sold with fingerboards attached the skimpy boards that would come on them from the factory wouldn’t be worth it, you need a nice fat fingerboard, about 15mm depth at the nut.

    Thanks for your kind words about stringrepair.com we have a LOT more to add and hope to have it up in the next few months.
  7. Like I didn't know that suggestion was going to ignite someone's fuse. I'll attempt a reasonable explanation and simply finish by saying violin makers have their ways, lutenists (players/builders) of lutes have theirs. While these ways could be shared, for some odd reasons they are not even "borrowed". I reject this exclusivity of method as baseless.
    Sometimes sawing the portion beyond the neck off and routing the rest off is preferable to attempting the removal of such a board in one piece, as the board has no salvage value, and forced removal is risky to the neck of the instrument. Not all cheap basses were built with hide glue between the FB and neck. If one has the tools, sure it is less labor to rout off / saw off the old board. If one does not this is quite a bit of work. Removing the excess camber would be much less work and not require specialized tools beyond a block plane and an arched scraper (which can be improvised from a broken jar or bottle). Attaching and clamping the veneer could be done with hide glue (probably best choice here) and it could be clamped with a simple wrap of heavy string, or lightweight jute rope. Putting in the camber first would leave one trying to bend the ebony veneer in two directions at once and that will not work and would build forces that might warp the neck at worst, but would probably just cause the ebony to lift up at the least provocation. Ebony veneer is available in several thicknesses and lengths. The local source for such is Carlton McClendon's Rare Woods (Atlanta) and I have seen several sources on the internet. The veneer is much less expensive than the cheapest (and we have been adequately warned against those) ebony FB's. An ebony veneer, curved across the board will add considerable stiffness to the mystery wood in the higher reaches and will improve the feel. No it won't be like an ebony fingerboard, but let's face it, it was never like an ebony fingerboard before either.
    Your opinion is duly noted, as such.
    No, this luthier or lutenist builds lutes and theorbos, gambas, and classical guitars. He is not a violin maker or he obviously would not suggest performing such an unthinkable deed. My old plywood bass will be the test case if no others are known. I see no need for "backing" of the veneer, it will be glued straight to the current FB with nothing but the hide glue in between. In my case I was not going to camber it at all, as I realize that this is mostly preference. An uncambered board works fine in many cases and I know of a few players who prefer it. I guess if it wears out (before the rest of the bass) it could be re-veneered or if for some reason the value of plywoods goes up considerably, the FB could be replaced entirely. Nothing recommended is mutally exclusive of the "right way" being done after the more economical way wears out. Realistically, it will take a very long time to wear through even a 1mm thickness of ebony, but we are going to use a somewhat thicker piece, probably a little less than 1/8".
    I'm sure that it is cheaper than an ebony board and more expensive than dying mystery wood, but the Chinese largely copy what has been done elsewhere as far as method and marketing.
    Such a challenge! You with a completely outfitted bass work shop, me with a block plane, scraper, glue and a thin piece of ebony and a ball of jute! Of course you should be able to do it better and faster, and the cost for your services no doubt will reflect that also.

    I was simply trying to offer Samie an alternative to an expensive FB replacement, which he intends to do himself without the advantages of a fully equipped workshop. You know as well as I do that some of the most famous violin makers historically used veneering on the fingerboards. True, it is not currently in vogue, but it is unusual to me that given the cost of ebony, it is not more frequently employed today, especially on double basses where the amount of ebony needed is becoming cost prohibitive.
  8. Which then might look something like this? I think the drawing is of Italian necks.

    Attached Files:

  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    The relief in an DB fingerboard always approaches and often exceeds 1.5 mm. Using SS's prescribed method, you'd scrape through the veneer during setup.

    3 mm is nearly 1/8 of an inch. You'd never be able to bend that to a fb radius with any level of success. Even if you could, it would only take one more setup a couple of years down the road, and you'd be through it as well.

    Doesn't seem practical.
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    IMO, this is a much better option than veneer:

    Click here
  11. The camber does not always approach or exceed anything but is totally a matter of personal preference. Currently I'm playing a board with less than 1 mm. camber and I really like it. Some people like the board with no camber. Read the post again:
    I am not suggesting that someone scrape through the veneer. You must have misread the post.

    The 3 mm. will wrap over the fingerboard along the grain fine. I have seen the lutes this fellow builds with ebony wrapped around the curved back of the neck. It is laminated onto a very light wood and stiffens the neck against the high tension in the lute or arch-lute. It will easily wrap over a DB fingerboard that is arched, a bevel might require a different strategy, but that is not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting no camber (or perhaps camber<1 mm) on an arched fingerboard, no bevel sheathed in 3mm ebony.

    Admittedly, it is considered an archaic method but was common in the time of Stradivari. In order to save on materials, I intend to use it in my repair as suggested by the fellow who is teaching me. I'll let you know how it turns out. He is on vacation now, but we will be doing this as soon as he returns.
  12. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com

    Sorry man, I did not mean to go right at you. I can just imagine a guy who has never worked on a bass before trying to veneer his fingerboard....before/after relief, whatever. Simply bad advice that may end in a huge mess.

    You have to be careful in the "advice" you post.

    Again, veneer all you want and the board would still be Maple at the heart and give under your right hand EVEN with 3mm thick venee. I would like to see that bent over the radius of the board. That's the thickness of ribs....and those being Maple, a pain to bend.

    I did not look but what would the LANDED cost be for the ebony veneer you suggested, in USD? To save you the hassle if its a reasonable cost I'll give you a good fingerboard for the same if you like.

    If you really do this to your bass, take some pics along the way and let us know if it did ANYTHING at all for the sound, feel etc. (beyond the psychological for the player)

    Violins are violins....
  13. Take lotsa pictures and post 'em here.
    It'll do wonders for your credibility.
  14. Well, yes and the grain run angle to the bend is 90 degrees against the bend on the ribs and on the FB veneer it is parallel to the long dimension of the board, so the bending is very different. The cost of the ebony to me will be much less if any, than the UK supplier because my luthier teacher has some in stock in various thicknesses. I would have to search for some more sources in USA. A violin parts supplier I visited recently (I don't remember which one, Quinn?, Luscombe? perhaps) has smaller pieces (violin/cello sized), but there was another supplier that had a good selection that I found once of larger pieces. Carlton McLendon does have a web site. He died this year, but his assistant has continued the business. I believe my teacher cut his own from thicker stock with a band saw, but it is commercially obtainable if not always plentiful pre-thicknessed.

    I would take you up on the FB, and I thank you for it, but offer it to Samie should he go that direction. I have a reasonable source for the veneer and an instrument to work with and a knowledgeable guide. Neck and fingerboard veneering is something I must master anyway if I am to build any authentic lutes down the road.

    I have not noticed my new ebony FB being significantly stiffer in feel than the old maple one. The reason that I am doing work on the maple FB is the same as Samie, very excessive camber. The veneer should adequately solve that and the color will not rub off on my fingers as much.

    I will photograph the entire repair in detail including the neck clamping, the veneering process, the endpin reset, and the bridge re-fit. The "two necks" drawings features an original baroque Strad neck on the left. I'm sure my posting that did wonders for his credibility too!
  15. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'll never spend that much on a bass. I'd much rather put my kid through college and play an undistinguished bass that SOUNDS like I paid $80k.

    What a waste. You could help so many people with that money (including yourself).

    It's the ear, not the gear, folks.
  16. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I shouldn't take the bait, but *** has this "50-80k" statement got to do with anything said in this thread?

    Sorcie that's a maniacal thing you're planning on! I will not talk down to you and say it's wrong, or that it's stupid, or any other senseless thing. But lute fingerboards are small and flat, not large and curvey like a bass violin board. You gotta eat your wheaties to tackle that veneering job.

    (BTW, it seems to me there's been more than one piece on bending veneers in Fine Woodworking within the last few years.)

    If you hang around long enough, though, you see everything and this I'm gonna love to check out. Bring on the pix!

    Keep marching to the beat of your own drummer, SS, and do what you want to that bass of yours.
  17. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    "I'd like to apply for a loan, in the 50-80k range. It's for a double bass, which is kind of like a big guitar. I play one daily, as my sole source of income".

    (cue crickets chirping........)

    PS....Sam Sherry For President
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Yeah, but he doesn't, so he is. You do and you're not. See the difference?
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Actually, I think we all own "valuable" basses. I measure "value" by playing, smiles on gigs, and by listening back to clean, even, recordings. The above is the kind of statement that tends to make eyeballs roll so hard that they threaten to pop out of sockets. FWIW, while I think COPPERCONJURER's idea is pretty sketchy on this issue, I don't think we need to resort to snobbery to shoot it down. Just my NSHO.