Trying to restore a factory-forsaken bass with no shop...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by PlayItAway, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    Hello everybody! I'm just starting my foray into the world of lutherie. I decided to buy a bass from an online "Factory Buyout Clearance Sale" from This is a Chinese P bass (Elioth Revolution, not much info online) with what I think is an active/passive preamp and a 3-band EQ, that had probably been sitting neglected at the back of a factory for years.
    I don't work out of any one shop, so that'll probably be my biggest challenge. There supposedly is a large workshop sort of space in my city that owns and rents many different tools, but I haven't checked it out yet. So far I've been doing everything in under-equipped spaces and/or friends' houses.
    The neck and body seem to have a solid foundation, with the only serious issue being the hardware in general. So far, the only hardware that doesn't seem to need replacing may be the knobs and the string retainer - though that may be debatable. No idea how well the electronics work, and I probably won't know for a little while since I'd be hard-pressed to even string it up right now.
    I've already attempted to replace the bridge, and I think it went over okay. I got this strange bridge from the GFS website which is a four-hole mount - one hole below each of the strings. Unorthodox but strangely logical. I just hope I aligned it correctly. I measured twice and cut once, and I think I managed to not put it in crooked, but it may have a bit of a horizontal bias toward the bass side. We'll see, I guess.

    I do have a few questions for all of you, namely certain stuck parts and just strange situations.

    For starters - aside from the copious amounts of grime, what is this truss rod nut?? I know many truss rod nuts strip and holes become practically round, but this one seems to have been built to be round and therefore impossible to grip. Is there a way to remove this and install a truss rod nut that makes some sort of sense?
    round truss rod.jpg

    Second: there are two knobs that are impossible for me to get off. One of them has a tragically stripped set screw -
    stripped set screw.jpg
    - and the other I managed to take the set screw off, but somehow is still stuck on the pot.
    no set screw.jpg
    Is there a way to deal with either of these? I have half a mind to stabilize the bass upside down and let the knobs soak in vinegar or CLR or something. It might be enough for the knob with no set screw, but that stripped set screw is giving me a headache. Someone suggested just sacrificing an Allen key by supergluing it into the set screw hole... anyone else think that might be a good idea?

    Thanks everyone :) sorry about the lack of actually appealing pictures, I'm just too tired to take any new ones right now. The next bit of time I spend with this bass, I'll try to remember to take some pics. It has a lovely blue sparkle finish, and I really dig the idea of what the preamp does.
  2. I hate to say it, but that truss rod looks stripped - it's hard to tell from that picture, but it looks like a rounded over hex. You may be able to get some purchase on it by using the next size up hex key and tapping it in with a hammer. That said, I would question why the nut is stripped, someone was trying to get it to do some heavy work (or is just ham fisted). Does the neck have a forward bow on it? It's almost not relevant without strings on it, but it would be interesting to know what the neck looks like when you sight down it.

    On the knobs. I would try using some penetrating oil on the one with the set screw out, you could also gently head the knob up. On the stripped one you can try the next size up hex key, which probably won't work, or just drill it out.
  3. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    Thanks for the suggestions! The neck actually has a slight backward bow with no strings, which to me seems like it might be a good thing. I wouldn't be surprised if nobody had ever put strings on it. The nut is also broken.

    I'm still not sure how to go about the stripped joints... I've heard of a special truss rod tool that can expand to turn stripped holes, but that may be expensive and I'd really rather just put in a new nut. Assuming it is replaceable at all.
    For the set screw - what does drilling it out actually look like? I tried to use a Torx drill bit to get some grip but all it did was widen the hole.
  4. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    Welp. Turns out I messed up pretty bad. I thought it would be a good idea to soak all the rusted-out hardware (two knobs, mounting nuts, washers, all the pickguard screws) in white vinegar overnight, without even watering it down. The mounting nuts are now half their original thickness, and will no longer screw onto the pots. Wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that I have no idea whether these pots are metric or SAE... the knobs, maybe they won't take their set screws anymore? I guess I may need to just buy all new knobs from BBG?
    And that's assuming I can even get the two stuck ones out.
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    What does the heel of the neck look like? Can you post a pic? I'd also recommend completely disassembling the bass right down to the last screw in order to evaluate the parts and help get everything apart. I'd like to see more pics of it too :) Many of us get kind of crazy over old decrepit instruments. :D
    wraub likes this.
  6. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Commercial User

    I wouldn’t worry about the pots. Pots are cheap and judging from the overall condition of this bass, it’s likely that they would need to be replaced anyway.
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  7. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    True, but I don't know exactly what they are. It's a volume and 3 band EQ on an active preamp.
  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Commercial User

    Pots are pots regardless of the brand. There’s a few different sizes, but they do the same thing regardless. There’s usually a number indicating the value stamped on them followed by an A or a B. My guess (and this is a guess, so don’t buy any pots based on my guess - there’s a really good chance that I am wrong) is 10K Linear (B) for the tone and 10K Audio (A) for the volume. If you have access to a multimeter, it’s easy to test the values.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  9. Looks to me like the truss rod nut has sheared off at the rod and thats what is exposed. I may be wrong. Put up some pics of the heel and back of neck. I think that truss rod will need to come out. I would mill out the anchor and push it out the headstock. I hope i'm wrong and it breaks loose for you.
    TrustRod and Freekmagnet like this.
  10. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    For the knobs/pots - try penetrating oil and let it soak-in overnight (hence needing to take everything apart). At least that should help get the knobs off the pots themselves.
  11. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    Alright, so here's a full photo gallery of the bass!

    oct 13 front shot.jpg
    General wide shot of the bass. Might not come across well in this photo, but the finish is awesome - aqua blue sparkle. The pearloid pickguard is, aside from rust stains from the old rusty screws (which shall all be replaced), in very good condition, though I have yet to entirely remove the plastic film due to the stuck knobs.

    oct 13 back shot.jpg
    The back of the bass. There was a battery that came inside that cover, though I don't know if either the battery or the cover are functional.

    oct 13 tuners.jpg oct 13 tuners from back.jpg
    The tuners are in horrendous condition. If I decide to keep the neck, I will buy all new tuners - most likely Hipshot Ultralites.

    oct 13 old bridge.jpg
    The old bridge that came with the bass. There were no saddles that came with it, so I decided it would be easier to get a new bridge. I suppose this is a typical Asian knockoff operation, mixing and matching things from different well-known brands/eras (in this case, putting a 1951-style bridge on a very much post-1951 P-bass).
    (Also - does anyone know what that yellowish goop is, and if there's any way at all to remove it?)

    I drilled those four holes for this new bridge:
    oct 13 new bridge.jpg
    It's a sort of bastardized thing from Guitarfetish. Only about $20, figured why not. I ordered it at the same time as the bass. I initially hadn't seen this four hole mount thing before, so I was relieved to see that Hipshot makes bridges with this sort of mount as well. Which is good, because as sturdy as the bridge itself seems to be, the way all the set screws are arranged are fairly inconvenient (basically any adjustment requires setting the string aside if not removing it).
    I should also note that I will need to buy new screws for the bridge. I stripped two of them drilling the holes, and so I thought I would only need to buy two - but due to my idiotic vinegar soak that I mentioned above, all four screws got rusted over. Not a big loss, just super annoying.

    oct 13 controls.jpg
    The trickiest part of it all: the controls. Not pictured are the two knobs I took off to try and de-rust them a little. These here are the two knobs that are stuck. I may just completely replace everything, though it does feel a little wasteful to me.

    My next goal is to finally make a trip to what seems to be my city's best tech shop. Their hours are fairly sporadic, so given my equally sporadic schedule I don't know when my next chance will be.

    Here is my to-do list for when I get there:
    • Use an extractor bit to try and unscrew that ultra-stripped truss rod nut. See if it's actually a removable truss rod nut.
    • If it is: make plans to buy a new truss rod nut, a new nut and new tuners
    • If it's something else, and my maneuver ruins the truss rod: make plans to buy a new neck.
    • Use another, smaller extractor bit to attempt to remove the stripped set screw on that knob.
    • Try every penetrating oil they have there to get that other knob off.
    • If all else fails, use some sort of sharp cutting disc to cut the knobs off, and make plans to order replacement pots.
    • Once knobs have been cleared off: remove the pickguard and clean all the rust stains off the screw holes.
    • Is it possible/necessary to get rust out from inside screw holes as well? How best to do this?
    I also need to go to the hardware store, which can be done independently of the tech shop trip.

    Hardware store shopping list:
    • 12 screws to replace the rusted-out pickguard screws
    • 4 screws to replace the rusted-out bridge screws
    • (only if I decide to keep the pots) Nuts and washers for the pots
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  12. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Things actually look to be in really good condition, just dirty. I really think you should completely disassemble this thing so that you can take stock of what you have, and repair what needs repairing and clean what needs cleaning. Regular old furniture polish will probably clean the body up nicely, but don't get any in any screw holes. I'd take the tuners off the neck and then spray them with WD40 and then wipe them down with a clean rag - that alone will probably have them looking like new.

    Taking off the neck may reveal a truss-rod access nut at the heel of the neck (currently buried in the pocket). Manufacturers have done lots of strange things over the years - perhaps the headstock access permitted insertion of the TR, but the adjustment is done at the heel? A better, clearer pic of inside the headstock access will also help sort out what's going on.

    Removing the pickguard entirely will let you get in around the pots and spray them with WD40 or another penetrating oil. It should not harm your pickguard in any way, but put a drop on it somewhere on the back to see what it does first.

    Lastly, that bridge is a pretty commonly available knock off of an old ABM design that they don't apparently even offer any longer. Allparts carried a similar one, and people seem to love the Sung Il version (though I've not come across one myself). I used a very similar one on a recent bass build. Aside from needing some manual adjustment, they work well.
  13. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I read it again... definitely remove the pickguard before you try any other shenanigans with it - it just needs penetrating oil, I suspect you may be overthinking this... :D

    Rust inside screw holes can be removed with oxalic acid, but I would not recommend doing this as it may damage things and is not worth it, assuming something covers the hole when it's in place. :)
    wraub likes this.
  14. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    Thank you! The biggest problem is that the pots are fastened directly onto the pickguard, in what I believe is regular P bass fashion. So in order for me to completely remove the pickguard, those knobs and pots need to come off somehow.

    Re: truss rod - I posted a picture of the truss rod cavity on the first post in the thread. You can judge for yourself.

    As far as the tuners, the other thing is there are some bits and pieces of sharp metal on them too. Seems like the molding may have malfunctioned somehow. Plus over half of the screws on there are stripped. Not sure that it's worth it.
  15. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    If it's remotely like "regular P-Bass fashion" the pots will come with the pickguard away from the rest of the bass.
  16. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    They do, but the wiring is still soldered on. I'd rather be able to keep the pickguard and electronics separate from one another.
  17. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    It's worth cutting and resoldering to get to the parts where you can address them. Odds are, your electronics are not in great shape anyway with all the evidence of moisture/humidity...
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  18. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Man... I dig the body, but if it was my bass, I would throw everything else straight into the bin.

    Also: I have one of those cheap-o bridges and it was so annoying to set up that I just eyeballed the intonation and slapped it on a junky fretless beater.
    wraub likes this.
  19. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    If I need to cut and resolder I will, but the issue still remains that I need to be able to actually take the knobs and pots off. I'll try and do it the easy way (extractor and oil) but depending on how it goes I may need to just cut the knobs off.
  20. PlayItAway


    Apr 24, 2014
    I get where you're coming from with all of this, but I also hate being wasteful. Most of the time, just out of principle, I would rather inconvenience myself than throw something away.
    The only reason I'm even talking about replacing parts is just cause of the difference between inconvenient and impossible.

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