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Vintage Bass I.D / Repair Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by yesdot, Nov 22, 2005.


  1. yesdot

    yesdot

    Mar 8, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    Will be attaching a few pics of an unlabelled local bass for private sale. It has a number of cracks in the back and ribs. Belly appears to be pine, and back is maple. Has been revarnished at some stage and a rather nasty looking repair on the ribs.
     
  2. yesdot

    yesdot

    Mar 8, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    I know it's difficult to judge from pics, but... How repairable are these cracks? Owner claims bass is close to two hundred years old, of Czech or German origin. Has a warm growl, but has been in storage for 50 years...and of course requires a complete setup.
     
  3. yesdot

    yesdot

    Mar 8, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    Neck is very sold, with no repairs. Not sure what fingerboard is made of. I may see if I can borrow the bass to take to my luthier, which means a four hour round trip. Just looking for as much advice as I can get, before making an offer...
     
  4. yesdot

    yesdot

    Mar 8, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    Hope these pics give a reasonably clear indication. Have more, of button, fixed endpin etc... reached my attachment limit.
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Blockless Wonder type Bass from around Germany. I don't know if it's from the NW area by the Czech border or south by the Tyrol. Many of these Basses now have neck blocks. I have cracks like that in the Ribs of my Dodd that were repaired 25-30 years ago and still holding. It needs to be fixed. Neck re-set and Block added if Blockless, new fingerboard and Bridge with complete set-up. Cost will not be cheap if done right. Looks like a good Bass that needs soe TLC.

    Add: The Top looks to be in Great condition even if it's only 75 years old which is also possible.
     
  6. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    For my edification, how can you tell? Is it the angle at which the shoulders meet the neck and the lack of fillet along the join etc? Or just the presumed age, provenance and look?

    In the pics, the heel of the neck looks *very* steep and high - why is this? Is it typical for a blockless neck?
     
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The raised neck block is usually an Indication of this. Why else would the Maker bend the ribs like that into the neck. It is a bit of extra work and not necessary for a regular blocked Bass. They tuck the rib into the neck itself and the heel of the neck is actually like a tug boat. It looks the same inside the Bass but not as neat. Blockless has exhisted for 100s of years and even some old english gambas were made like this. I have only actually seen one Bass with the original blockless construction. All others 'suspects' were blocked and did not look like the blocks were as old as the actual Bass.
     
  8. Ken's over on the bass forum now(OOOPS! He's fast!!!), so I'm taking a shot at this one. It's the way the rib/neck interface looks. On blockless basses (which is the same way some very fine classical guitars were also made) the ribs are sometimes set into slots in the neck heel, which extends into the instrument body somewhat making a "foot" against the back. It is the the way the ribs butt into the neck instead of bending and blending up along the sides. Where it came from and when is the second clue. That was the common place and time for DB's made that way. I think the guitars made that way were Spanish, like Torres. Classical guitars are now made mostly with neck blocks separate as well.
     
  9. yesdot

    yesdot

    Mar 8, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    Many thanks Ken,
    hhmm, as I expected.
    Also, could I ask... What would the U.S market value (ballpark) be, fully restored and set-up, and as is?
     
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I think that will depend on a few factors. They include the quality of the repairs. The modifications made to improve the Bass. The components as far as parts and set-up. The SOUND. The colors of the Tone. Playability and usability. If it is a good Bass for Orchestral work it may fetch a higher price. The area in which you sell it also matters as far as economics goes.

    I would ask DB dealers around the country and mainly in your area what it can sell for. The repairs needed requires the Top to come off. Who knows what other work will have to be done when you open the Bass up. My Prescott was estimated at 6-8k to restore b4 I bought it. I was willing to go to 10k and add an extension within that. As soon as the top was off, we realized that the Neck MUST be replaced with a Graft into the Scroll and the Block re-cut to fit a regular mortised neck butt. Now I am looking at a 10-12k job to do everything right. On my Bass, I wanted everything perfect to keep the Value as high as possible. This is because of its Pedigree. Your Bass on the other hand may not need the same 'picky' type 'do everything up' kind of restoration.

    I don't know what you paid for your Bass and don't need to know but add the price you paid, the cost of the restoration estimate and about 2k for extras and hidden things. If your Bass is worth that or more, you are ahead of the game. If not, enjoy the Bass as it looks to be a nice instrument.
     
  11. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    My "blockless wonder" is still blockless and very healthy. I have no intentions of changing it. The only reason to have a neck block fitted is if the blockless system is no longer functioning.
     
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    A blockless neck contacts only a fraction of the area a full neck block does. Imagine have a fuller more colorful tone as the Back and Top receive more vibration from the Neck. If and when your Top ever comes off for a Repair, add a real Neck block and see the improvement first hand. The Blockless failing can be a disaster. Imagine it giving at the back joint and the Fingerboard smashing down with great force from the string pull into your Top. Scary? Maybe so, but why wait until it fails? There is a reason why this construction was abandoned 80 years ago or so and why so many German, English, American Yankee and others had gone to a full blocked, cornered and lined string instrument. We know for a fact it was done to save time and money in construction. It doesn't have to stay that way..
     
  13. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    It would be ridiculous me to argue that blockless construction is better since almost all basses are constructed with a neck block. That said, I can't see that the blockless construction is going to give out on me. The back of the neck heel extends about 6-8 inches down the inside of the back and is glued in. There's no way that it's going to pop loose unless the glue is not holding. I've seen quite a few of these basses and all had no neck block. They also all sounded great for their price range.

    To be devil's advocate - since there is no block glued to the top it should be more free to resonate. This may not apply to the great basses it may apply to less expensive ones.
     
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Actually, it is usually done because the neck needs replacing. Often that decision is made because the angle and overstand of the blockless neck is inadequate for steel strings and/or upper register playing. And sometimes the bass' top becomes crushed from movement in the neck joint area. I've done a few of these block installations/ re-necks. IMHO, the sound stays about the same, though the playability is enhanced. That said, I agree that if it's working fine for you leave it alone. The modifications can be very expensive and time consuming.