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Vintage Danelectro bridge block & Masonite repair

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by cdlynch, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. I have a '69 Ampeg Dan Armstrong-modified Danelectro U1, and the bridge screws have pulled forward so much that even a drop-in intonatable bridge can't make it play in tune. The screws aren't bent; the bridge block screw holes have been pulled oblong.

    I imagine the best fix would be to replace the bridge block with better wood, but I assume that'd kill the value of the bass, and might be more than I can handle anyway. The next best fix would be to fill the existing holes and remount the bridge in the correct place. Either method requires patching the Masonite over the old holes seamlessly. THAT is my question! How is it done? IS it done? I can't find anything about it here or all of Googledom.

    I doubt I'll sell it, but as the most valuable bass I own, I'd like to either have the option to sell, or at lest make it playable. I might be able to sell it as is for a good price, but I'd feel much better about selling a tuneable instrument. I'd just like to make sure a repair won't wreck the value. I've never cared about resale value before, so this is an opportunity to learn new skills.

    Bonus question: How to repair the cracked chrome cover of the lipstick pickup, and maintain vintage value?
  2. Pics will help us help you more. ;)
  3. Home Depot sells oak dowel rods.
    If you were to buy one in, oh say, 3/8ths diameter,
    drill out the screw holes to 3/8ths and glue in short peices of oak,
    you could then redrill the holes in oak and have a way to solidly mount the bridge.
    Sure, it will look patched, but will be mostly hidden by the bridge.
    cdlynch likes this.
  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    cdlynch likes this.
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Not much to go on here. It sounds like the problem is that the mounting holes are out of round and allowing the screws to tilt forward. If that is the case, precision micro-dowels can be used to shim the holes. After cutting to length, slather with Titebond, place in the holes, and drive the screws straight. Remove the screws the next day and install the bridge.
    cdlynch likes this.
  6. Thanks for the replies! (and sorry for not picking the correct forum for this initially)

    I'm good with doweling and I even have a set of dowel cutters so I can orient the grain correctly, but my main concern is patching the Masonite seamlessly, if that's even possible. My goal is a flawless finish with better-than-new functionality.

    As I wrote in my ID post helpfully linked by @Beej, the only things keeping it from full vintage status are one tuner (double line Kluson with bass friendly hole size pops up sometimes) and the Dan Armstrong pickguard, which I've never seen come up in an auction.

    Fixing the bridge would technically make it less original, but if done with love and fully disclosed, I'd hope a collector/player wouldn't quibble about it. I don't want to sell it, but in a pinch it could get me out of a bind. And @Beej, as much as I appreciate your appreciation of my Frankenfarter, the TB Mod Police would probably value it around $350-400 tops. The Dan Armstrong Modified's do quite a bit better!
    Beej likes this.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Sure, it isn’t a perfect specimen but it’s rare enough. A repair to make it playable isn’t the end of the world. It’s not that you ruined it it’s that it’s made of junk pulp product and worth way more than it should be.

    I would plug it and leave the remaining damage to be displayed as a war wound. Call it patina.

    As for the lipstick tube, are the covers removable? If so, would remove it, clean it, wrap the outside with electrical tape to hold it in shape and glue it from the inside with a good slow set epoxy. Let it set up, remove the tape, et finis.

    Aside: I knew a guy in the military and he had some expoxy he took from the motor pool that was a thick spreadable gel goop that smelled like new vinyl & seemed like it turned to hard vinyl or polyurethane, he’s gone who knows where now and does anyone know of this stuff? perfect for the above job.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
    cdlynch likes this.
  8. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Precision micro-dowels are tooth picks. No need to pull out any jigs or power tools. Unless the holes are grossly out that will do the trick.
    cdlynch and 96tbird like this.
  9. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    I'm working a similar problem with a 'thrift-shop rescue' strat-type guitar I picked up; the screw holes in the body on the bass side have elongated to the point that the low E won't intonate properly. I've already tried filling the screw holes with 1/8" dowels and redrilling. More meat with harder wood is required however to hold it. I plan to try again with 1/4" oak dowels to provide a sturdier anchor.
    cdlynch likes this.
  10. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Dowels present end grain to the screws. Screws do not hold well in end grain. It doesn't matter if the dowels are balsa or lignum vitae, the result will be the same.

    Plugs, on the other hand, present side grain to the screws. Instead of buying dowels, buy a plug cutter. Stack the plugs in the hole with some glue and let it cure. Then bore new holes for the screws.
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  11. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Good point. Time to spin up the plug-cutter, I guess.
    cdlynch likes this.
  12. I do have plug cutters, and I'm not afraid to use them! Looks like the consensus is not to sweat the Masonite patching, but I'm a stubborn ass, so I might buy a slab and experiment with ways to make patches seamless. Obviously I will share my failures and hopefully some level of success.
  13. Well, for the Masonite on the top I suppose you could use a plug cutter on fresh Masonite and make a plug. Never tried that I don’t know how well a plug cutter would work in Masonite.

    You’re on your own on color matching paint though.
    cdlynch likes this.
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I would add though that black is not as difficult to match as other colors are.

    I would lean toward epoxy wood (not the typical cheap water based putty type) filler to fill the gouges after you get new wood in for the screws.

    First sand and feather the clear coat to remove rough edges around the repair. . Then epoxy filler: you can cut an appropriate sized spatula from sheet metal. Then Paint then touch up the clear coat and polish it out. Look at videos on StewMac site on how to make a razor scraper to level clear before finish sanding and polishing.

    Edit: heck here you go...
    cdlynch likes this.

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