Sunday, July 25, 2010

California here I come...

The Epiphone is almost completed. The final detail, as small as it may be, Lonnie is trying to find the small brass “tack nails” that hold the Epi badge in place. He has the badge glued in place with a small dot of an adhesive as insurance so it won’t be lost. Since the tailpiece is not original for this bass the three pin holes for the badge are missing. He has been searching for the small tacks and an even smaller drill bit to make the pilot holes. As they say the devil is in the details.

Yesterday we had a visitor to the workshop. We asked if he would indulge us and play this bass. Jim is a local music teacher and a professional jazz musician for 30 years. He made the bass sound great and pulled tone out of it that we never could.

It was very rewarding to hear this bass make sweet music after many years of silence. She will soon be packed up for her long journey west…California here I come!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A good day indeed!

Well…today was a very good day! This bass was tuned up and played notes for the very first time in a long time. Things are going well.

Below is the bridge pre-final detailing. At this point the feet are fitted, the final detailing is not completed.

Now that the bridge has been cut, carved and detailed we can put the neck under some pressure by tuning the bass and playing it. The photo below is Lonnie detailing the bridge...his way.

The bass sounds great! Has a really great E string. True to form Lonnie went the extra mile and hollowed the bridge after we tested the volume. We did a test of before the bridge was hollowed and after the bridge was hollowed. I can say with a scientific measurement of a sound meter the hollow bridge makes the bass louder…two decibels louder.

Below you can see the bridge blank before it was detailed (on left) and after the final artistic carving and signature of a Bass Monkey bridge (on right)…awesome.

Lonnie will move on to mounting the Epiphone badge to the non-Epiphone tail piece. Detail the back of the neck with his secret Bass Monkey "speed neck" treatment. There are some final cosmetic details to the button at the neck and nut, but this bass will be jamming this Thursday and Friday for sure. I am excited to play this bass in an open jam to see how well it holds down the low end. It has a killer growl…but then again…it is an Epiphone!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The home stretch...

Tuesday evening Lonnie worked on re-fitting the sound post and nut. The original sound post is in good condition but poorly fit, barely making full contact with the top and back of the bass. Fitting a sound post through the FF holes either goes really smooth or really slows…some what like building a ship in a bottle.

This one wasn’t too bad; Lonnie needed to sand off the top and bottom of the sound post to make it more flat. The previous fit was too tight and the sound post was wedged in at an angle. Though he has the sound post fits well right now, the bass will get a final tweak once the strings and bridge are in place. We take great effort to move the sound post around to find the “sweet spot” where the bass comes alive and sounds the best (at least to our ears). The nut is in good condition and is the standard factory original two piece rosewood nut used by Epiphone during its 20 years of production. It had to be reshaped for the new steel strings which require smaller grooves then the red gut strings (possibly Red-O-Rays) that were previously on the bass.

Last evening I was in the kitchen making dinner when Lonnie came up from the workshop and said, “Come down and pick out a bridge for this bass”. Whoo-hoo! Sweet music to my ears only followed a few minutes later by another request, “pick out the strings you want too” (I get all the really important jobs!). Double whoo-hoo…we are coming down the home stretch. What a great feeling.

After dinner Lonnie went down to the workshop for another three hours (this was after a 10 hour workday at his real job in a 100 degree warehouse) to begin to fit the bridge. He get’s into a zone when he can see light at the end of the tunnel and doesn’t want to stop. He can’t wait to hear the bass make a sound for the first time…something you have worked on for so long finally speaks to you. It is a very exciting and rewarding feeling.

I think I’ll need to make a video just for posterity.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Epiphone final set up...

The neck is securely reset and the glue has rested (as if it was tired) for a few days. Lonnie’s moving on to the final set up. Right now he is working on scraping the factory original rosewood fingerboard. It has some dips and humps so he is working them out to a nice smooth surface with just the right amount of scoop (relief) in the fingerboard.

The process is all hand, eye and a feel for what is just the right amount of recess in the fingerboard. Once the bass is set up with a new bridge and strings he will check the fingerboard again for buzzing and the easy of playing.

Lonnie and I will work together on the final set up and approval.

That is the fun part…where I get to test drive the bass.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As of yesterday the neck is now glued in place. This is a HUGE step forward in the completion of this bass.

The color touch up work is completed at the scroll and neck joint. The hide glue is set but we will let the bass rest for a few days. Once Lonnie is satisfied with all the repairs he will move on to the set up, another huge step forward. This bass will soon be swinging again.