2/23/2018

1920s Unmarked 3/4 Double Bass




A customer of mine "up the hill" owns this bass. It has a repair label in it from 1964 (presumably when the non-original plywood back was added), but I'm imagining it dates from the 1910s or 1920s judging by the original tuners on it. It has a carved top and maple sides. It's seen a very rough life and at one point the top seems to have been reglued to the sides with the "help" of a ton of tack nails. Ouch!

The owner just wanted it setup and running again so he could have it has a "house bass" for jams. Condition issues with the fingerboard (it has a dramatic "scoop" -- or warp as we in the guitar community would call it) mean that it doesn't play ideally but it will definitely serve for bluegrass or folk back-up. Lots of old "repairs" mean it's somewhat fragile in spots, too, so I chose a set of Corelli 370M strings (very light-gauge rope-core steel) for it to keep it healthy.

My work included fitting a new adjustable bridge, cleating and sealing two previously "repaired" top cracks, and general setup and fussing. I like the direct, plainspoken tone but I'd love to hear it under a bow.




I added side dots while I was at it. They're a lot better than the random remains of tape-markers that it came in with.


I set the bass food pretty high in elevation via the adjusters because I know that in summer the top swell will bring that down a ton. This is the driest the bass is at for the moment, coming out of the middle of winter.









I can't help but think that despite the material (cheap ply), the fella who swapped-out the back at some point did a pretty decent job.

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