Sunday, January 31, 2010

Epiphone B-4

Lonnie is starting to make some real good progress on the bass. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

The neck pieces have been glued and clamped together into one strong piece.

The work on the edges continue. There are some pretty big chunks that needed replaced.

The lower portion of the neck being fit together into one soild piece.

Some seam and edge details on the body. The body looks ot be in good shaped and gives a deep tone when you thump on it. We have high hopes this bass will be a good one!

The neck after the hide glue and clamps. It is all starting to come together.

Now that the neck has been “knit” together with hide glue, Lonnie is moving onto re-enforcing the injured areas. At this stage others would be driving in metal pins or using dry wall screws to re-enforce the neck. Lonnie has different plans, he want to avoid using “iron” in the repair. He is trying wooden biscuits. He has it all laid out in his head how he wants it to come together. There are still areas on the heel that are too tight to get into with a power tool in, those area’s will chiseled and re-enforced by hand, eye and skill the ole fashion way.

Things are looking up for this bass. We can’t wait for the repairs to be completed so we can move on to the set up…that is really the fun part. This bass is scheduled to get a new ULSA ebony end pin, Hi-tech tail gut, new Despiau bridge, and Thomastik Spirocore weich’s
….but it will be awhile until we are that far down the road.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Epi B-4 continued...

Today was an exciting day as the UPS man delivered some new power tools that will help Lonnie make a better repair...he is a happy, happy man!

Let’s see where we are…the scroll has been fit and glued on to the neck. All the puzzle pieces went together pretty well. Lonnie is now working on piecing together the parts to the heel of the neck.

Most Epiphone basses have a two piece neck which is one of the reasons for the larger turning of the scroll. There was more mass to the neck and they were not made from one solid piece of wood.

The nasty neck break has Lonnie working with three pieces too glue together. He is currently working on cleaning the wood and making shims for the neck repair. Once all the piece are fit back together, glued with fresh hide glue Lonnie will reinforce the neck with wooden pieces called biscuits.

What is going on in the workshop are tedious, time consuming repairs but they are absolutely necessary to bring this bass back to healthy playing condition.

This bass had a purple grey paint line around the front outside silhouette. The paint was to hide some previous repaired edge delamination. Lonnie has decided to go all the way on this bass and will remove the paint, repair the edges and custom color match the repair to the bass. This is a similar repair that he did on the 1942 Kay S-9 and that bass turned out beautifully. The fresh edge repairs really make the bass look like it has had an easy and caring owner…which this bass does.
Keep coming back for updates!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Epiphone B-4...

Have you ever stepped into the water to realize it was deeper then you could see from the shore? Well…that would describe this bass project.

From a distance the bass looked as if it needed a simple neck repair and a new set up, something we have done successfully in the past. Now having stepped very deep into the project there is much more to it then we expected. The epoxy glue was difficult to loosen and remove from the neck joint. It has caused many wood slivers and splintering to the neck. The normal steam and water used to loosen hide glue has caused the wood to discolor and twist. All in all…this is a difficult repair.

Lonnie has come to the conclusion this is not what we thought it was going to be…BUT…it does not matter. He will use his 30 years of skill and expertise to cobble these piece together in to a wonderful playing Epiphone bass. I have said before; don’t tell Lonnie it can’t be fixed. He will only dig in deeper to prove it can be fixed and not half ass’ed, but it can be fixed and done right!

He has moistened the piece of wood that have twisted, clamped them back together so the can dry in place…kind of using the memory in the wood to fit it back together. Once the entire piece will fit back together like a puzzle he will glue them together with HIDE GLUE and then begin to use pins to reinforce the repairs. If all of this goes well, the fractured repairs will knit together and this bass should be able to with stand the tremendous tension of the bass strings…no small feat.

For Lonnie the “thinking part” has now moved into the “doing part”. I have full confidence in his skills, persistence and patience.

This bass will swing again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Epiphone B-4...

Happy New Years!

This little Epiphone bass is proving to be quite an adventure. From what we can surmise this bass had neck damage at one point in its life that caused injury to both the neck and the scroll. There was one wooden pin the scroll and one wooden pin of the same diameter in the neck. Both fractures were well repaired but with a “non-approved” glue (most likely a two part epoxy) which is making Lonnie’s job more difficult then it should be. The glue we dug out of the joint is sticky, slimy and dries to hard crystals.

Normally repairs to string instrument are made with hide glue to allow the instrument to be put together and taken apart for repairs. When the wrong type of glue is used it may perform for years of playing, but heaven help the next person who tries to get the old repair apart to make a new repair. That is where we are, all the normal techniques of water, steam and force did not work to release the old neck joint glue. After many evenings of patiently working to loosen the neck from the neck block, Lonnie moved to the next level of force and made a neck puller that pushed the remaining piece of the neck out of the joint.

Doing so has caused some tearing of the wood fibers and the excessive use of steam and moisture has caused some finish damage, but we were at the end of the line of what we could do. If we could not get this piece of the original neck to release, we would resort the chipping it out of the neck block with a chisel, then it would require a whole new neck be made for this bass. We do our very best to keep the bass original with the original scroll, two piece neck and intact serial number. Replacing the neck would be a more economical, quick fix but it would no longer be a classic Epiphone with the two piece neck and nice big scroll. We want to try and take the three broken piece of the neck and scroll, and knit them back together into a strong original Epiphone neck.

I have great confidence in Lonnie’s patience, craftsmanship and persistence. I have said many time before on our blog, most normal people would not put forth this much effort to save an old plywood bass…this bass has a soul and it wants to make music again…I can hear its voice in the silence of the workshop…it is singing some Texas swing.