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Old 10-16-2014, 11:23 PM
Ron Bedard Ron Bedard is offline
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Default Light tension strings

Hello, and thanks for the opportunity to ask for a bit of advice.
I build ukuleles, and have acquired a plywood bass that I'm repairing as a nephew's Christmas present. He's 16 and plays bass guitar in a high school jazz combo.
The instrument I've got only had a few minor plywood delaminations out at the corners, and two spots where the plywood seam at the ribs opened up. I've reglued these areas with thinned Titebond and HHG respectively. Also, the saddle glue joint had let go and allowed the saddle to rock up toward the bridge. That problem has also been addressed.
Here's my question. (finally)
There's a slight separation between the neck heel and the button. There's less than enough room to slide an x-acto blade into the joint. The strings were at full tension when I bought the instrument, and the joint doesn't seem to change with tension changes. I don't think the neck is loose enough to warrant immediate attention. Am I mistaken? Seems like the glue joints at the long sides of the neck mortise are still good.
I'm hoping to select some strings that are appropriate for a brand new player with bass guitar experience. The other selection criteria is that they have the lightest tension possible. I'd like to see whether he'll stick with the instrument before I tackle a re-glue of the neck.
Thanks, Ron
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Old 10-17-2014, 02:55 AM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Exclamation Yikes..

1, Your bass may have been made with Hide glue and not white or yellow glue. First mistake I think!

2, Your bass may have a dove tail joint and not a mortise so what you see is the fit of the dovetail's slop as it has come loose. Again, Hide glue.

3, Before fixing string instruments (played with a bow) as opposed to stringED instruments (stringED means the other ones with strings, not bowed), you should learn about it's construction before you start doing repairs that will be harder to un-do than be done in the first place if repaired with the correct glue.

What looks easy now is what nightmares are made of when these come in for repair at real Bass Luthiers shops.

There are a few guys that specialize in Plywood basses and their repairs.

http://kaybassrepair.com/

http://www.fretwellbass.com/

These are two of them and I know there is one more, maybe listed on the first website as well.

The best thing is to learn from people that know before using glues that can't be undone without making a mess and making the job bigger than it was to begin with.

I am sure once you learn what exactly to do, you will see that it is best to do it right the first time. What you have done with the laminations, if and when THEY come apart as you have now mixed two kind of glues in there (the original and the new mix), that re-doing it again will be a royal pain.

The neck repair is a big and important job. It would be advisable to learn more before you try doing it yourself.
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Old 10-17-2014, 09:34 AM
Ron Bedard Ron Bedard is offline
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Default

Thanks,

I recognize the difference between plywood delamination and open seams at the ribs as far as glue selection. I'm familiar with the use of hide glues and which joints need to be reversible. If that top ever needs to come off, the joints at the ribs (HHG) haven't been compromised.

My original question was whether the neck joint needs immediate attention or whether the instrument can be played as is for a while.
I had also solicited some advice on low tension strings for a new player in a high school jazz combo.
If I do need to reglue the neck, my 40 years of furniture construction might help me recognize a dovetail joint. I'd just rather not tackle the job if it might be possible for him to use it as is while he figures out whether he'll stick with it.
Thanks, Ron
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:24 PM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Bedard View Post
Thanks,

I recognize the difference between plywood delamination and open seams at the ribs as far as glue selection. I'm familiar with the use of hide glues and which joints need to be reversible. If that top ever needs to come off, the joints at the ribs (HHG) haven't been compromised.

My original question was whether the neck joint needs immediate attention or whether the instrument can be played as is for a while.
I had also solicited some advice on low tension strings for a new player in a high school jazz combo.
If I do need to reglue the neck, my 40 years of furniture construction might help me recognize a dovetail joint. I'd just rather not tackle the job if it might be possible for him to use it as is while he figures out whether he'll stick with it.
Thanks, Ron
I would not play a bass like that with a loose neck joint. What do you do if it breaks and snaps off and hits someone sitting in front? I once had a neck coming loose at an Orchestra rehearsal so I told the conductor that for safety of the players in front of me, I had to leave.

Lighter strings would or could be solo strings. There are many string options and finding the best ones for a particular bass and player might take time and money as you could be spending 100s per set for most brands. maybe you will get lucky and find a set that works the first time and not look back. Orchestra playing? Jazz playing? Other playing?

Furniture construction is not violin construction. I suggest STILL that you learn about this before continuing. That is my advice.

Oh, and on the dovetail joint, many of them are Burried Under the Top so they look like a Mortise but are actually a hidden dovetail. No way to see that from the outside as the joint is covered by the top below the visible bloc surface so it looks like a mortise but is actually both in some cases. 40 or 400 years of furniture work will not prepare you for what you cant see until you Do see it. Whether it is a plywood bass or a 100 year old Italian bass, the makers, or shops did various things to attach necks. Sometimes even without a block.
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:46 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default

Mr. Smith is giving good information.

Neck joints I have seen for Kay basses had dove tail joints, not mortise joints. Replacement necks for Kay basses online that I have seen have dove tail joints. Personally, I wish they did not use dovetail joints for bass necks.

There are many types of bass strings. As Mr. Smith said, solo strings will have a lower feel of tension because they are less thick than orchestra strings and will be tuned a whole step lower than for which they are designed. However, I have found that when you tune solo strings to regular pitch (EADG) that they are not as loud as orchestra (regular) strings.

Strings are soooo expensive, so ordering several sets to try out is prohibitive. I suggest that the bassest try other basses to see how various strings respond to his/her playing. Also, one type of string can respond differently on different basses. I like to play the video bass demonstrations at George and Tom Martin's bass website. Tom will say what type of strings are on each bass he is demonstrating (although his demonstrations are mostly with the bow). This gives some idea of what to expect from the type of string on each bass.

-Dr. C
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