Sunday, October 13, 2013

Next project: 1940 Epiphone B-3, #218 named Frixo

Well it has been raining, and raining, and is still raining this morning.  I think we are over 9” of rain in 3-4 days.  With no outside work because of the excessive rain its time to get busy in the workshop. 

While I thought the next bass restoration was going to be the 1941 Epiphone B-2 with the busted top, there has been a slight detour in our plans.  There is a possible bass repair project coming from Kentucky in the next month or so…so we did not want to get deep into a complex restoration only to put it aside for another bass.  We find if we get too many things going at once we lose the fun factor…so we keep it simple…one bass at a time.

Yesterday Lonnie and I were looking over “the herd” to see if there is a bass that needed a little TLC and not too time consuming.  Well…there has been a special Epiphone that has been pushed to the back of the stack several times.  We got it out, looked it over and said…WOW…I had forgotten how nice this bass was!  This would be a 1940 Epiphone B-3, #218.  A beautiful blonde Epi that has remained in remarkable condition.  We bought this bass about four years ago from a rather eccentric gentleman in Florida.  Seems the bass lived most of it’s live in North Carolina, un-played at his parent’s house and had recently moved to Florida.  Once the bass was in Florida it remained “un-played and in the way”.  We were happy to relieve him of the bass but it was a challenge to pin him down for a courier pick up and payment.  All was fine…after about 20 phone calls and an angry courier…but none the less…it was all worth it in the end.

The day we added Frixo to the collection 3/10/2010

Oooohhh...that beautiful flamed wood

Lonnie said it took real effort to get rid of that masking tape, wonder why it was there?

This is the minor detail that makes it a B-3 Epiphone.  The purfling circles up and into the button on the back

Brass tuners with lots of not polish that patina!!!  It takes years to make brass age to this lovely shade of tarnish

We knew he was a looker the day he arrived

This bass is a VERY early Epiphone and one of the few original surviving conditions B-3’s.  It is a classic example of an early Epiphone with a HUGE hand carved scroll, beautiful flamed wood, and delicate pre-war F holes.  The bass has no neck break, no repairs, no broken edges; no nothing…it remains in remarkable condition.  The top is thick and in excellent condition, the original rosewood fingerboard and tail piece are in tact as well as the original enamel Epiphone tail badge.  It is clearly stamped #218 which makes it the 118 bass made before WW2.  We named him Frixo as this bass most closely resembles the style of bass Frixo Stathopoulo (Epaminondas “Epi” Anastasios Stathopoulo younger brother) made for his own company “Frixo Bass” in 1949. 

This makes the bass the 118th bass Epiphone made before WW2

The first thing Lonnie did was cut off the old nasty strings.  I do not know what brand they were but definitely of no use.  They were steel wound with a horrible tooth to them.  They looked like instant blister makers to me.  The bass had an old style adjustable end pin that was most likely not the original.  The original end pin would have been a wooden dowel often offered in two lengths.  The old end pin did not fit well and was shimmed with a nice piece of copper that would only be good for making pennies.  Lonnie lightly scraped the rosewood fingerboard; some of the shavings came off lighter then the others.  It was very interesting to see the shavings flow off the board; I have no idea what grain in the rosewood would cause such extremes of light and dark shavings. 

Great condition and all three original badge pins are still in tact...very rare

Non-original end pin with that nice copper sleeve as a shim

New ULSA end pin installed, easy job when you own three size tapered reamers

Working on the original rosewood fingerboard

The rosewood board is producing light and dark shavings...that is a new one?

This bass will get the normal set up features; a new ULSA ebony end pin, a Hi-Tech tail gut, new Thomastik medium Spirocore strings, fingerboard scraped and oiled, and if needed a new bridge, sound post and nut.  There will be very little cosmetic work required…if any. After that the bass should be ready to sing.  I know this one has been sitting for years, maybe decades un-played.  Even though it was playable, I can see why it was not played…a cheap strings and high string height…the enemies of a bass player.

Lovely thick top, nice spruce grain.  This bass has some heft to it!

That big ole scroll...SWEET!

They don't factory hand carve them like this anymore.

Getting ready for the  bridge and strings

 I’ll look forward to the quick completion of this bass and being able to put him into my playing rotation.  The 1941 Epiphone #623 named Ruben has been my “go to” bass since March.  His voice has definitely opened up and the bass now roars with the Golden Spirals strings.  It has been a real joy to play and listen to it come back from years of silence.  

I would say that is one of the most fun things I get to do…play a newly restored bass and listen to it re-mature into a sweet playable bass once again.

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