Saturday, February 23, 2013

Epiphone #623 finish line...

The Epiphone’s bass #623 is pretty much completed.  We took it out last Thursday and Friday to jams.  The D string is super strong; it will rattle the fillings in your teeth.  After two nights of playing I asked Lonnie to lower the string height just a bit.  I felt like I had to dig in too much to get the feel I like when playing (I have been told I play with gusto…that works for me).  My Gunner (Epi B1) plays like butter, I just love playing that bass.  It has the Gamut medium lights on the G&D with Spiro weich on the A&E…this set up on that bass works very well for my playing style.  

The bridge was removed for a bit of tweaking
This week Lonnie lowered the string height at the nut and bridge and brought it down to a really comfortable set up.  It took only a few millimeters to make a big difference.  Originally he left the string height higher because the fingerboard is scraped pretty flat with out much scoop.  We were not familiar with the vintage (no longer made) Golden Spirals and did not know how much “swing” the strings would need to clear the fingerboard.  After playing the strings they are no different then any other gut string.  They swing more then a steel strings but not super bouncy.  The don’t roll under your fingers like some of the non-gut strings do (Super Nils and Innovations). 

All back in place and ready to jam

Now that I have played the bass at two additional jams with the lowered string height it feels more like home.  I can dig in and get some real punch from the bass.  It seems as if the bass is opening up and responding with each hour of play time.  This bass sat dormant for many years, maybe decades with out playing.  The G&D are loud and I barely need to touch the strings.  If I had to make any change at all it would be to switch the Spirocore mittels A string with a Spirocore weich A string just to balance the tension between the D & A string.  I dig hard on the A&E and nearly fly off when I get back to the D string.  I just need to back off a bit and adapt to this set up.  The down side to a Spiro weich A string could be reduced volume, which I am not willing to compromise.  We play all acoustic jams with no amplification, volume is necessary to hold down the low end.

As soon as the weather breaks and we can get out side for a final photo opportunity I’ll finish the slide show on this bass.  Lonnie nailed the touch up color and really made the character marks blend in.  The bass has tons of character and gig wear, we just made it a bit more purdy to look at.

Stay tuned…more to come.  In the work shop right now is my Martin guitar for a set up and lowered action as well a Lonnie’s Stelling banjo for a new head and set up.  We are trying to get all the non-bass instruments playable for impromptu guest jams at the workshop.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Epiphone gets a lift...

Sometimes I just shake my head because I don’t want to know.  

Lonnie being the creative person he is, found a way to work on the front and back edges of the bass at the same time…by putting the bass on stilts.  Now I gasp (holy crap is what I thought!) when I first saw this contraption but upon a closer look, it is stable.  He tends to have crazy, non-traditional ideas but this one is pretty wild.  I don’t question why he does things the way he does because I know…if he screws up he will be the one fixing it.  I think a good future project will be to design and build a bass rotisserie so he can turn the bass around to work on all sides at the same time.  

The broken edges of the bass have been repaired and the first layers of color are drying.  Lonnie had hoped to have finished the bass this past weekend but a Momma squirrel in the attic had other plans for us.  Hearing scampering sounds at 4:00 a.m. tend to make for a short night and a long day of searching for holes in the attic. 

"Rough in" on the edge repairs

The edge all sanded down and first layer of color

Beautiful flamed neck.  The flame goes the entire way up into the scroll

Good shot of the serial number and placement

And another shot of the serial you know where to look!

Monday, February 4, 2013

1941 Epiphone B-5


Lonnie’s chugging along.  Bit by bit the bass is getting closer to jamming.  The set up is mostly finished; the bass has a super strong E string.  The Golden Spirals and Spiro seem to be a great traditional combination.  The nut had to be completely reshaped because so much of the fingerboard was shaved away to remove the deep grooves in the fingerboard.  Lonnie is now working on the cosmetic details of rebuilding the chipped edges and adding color to blend in the surface flaws.  

Seam repairs and pushing out the dent from the inside out

Never enough clamps...

The pusher stick, heat and glue to repair the dent

Pushing the dent from the outside
The bass had a tiny quarter size punch mark on the upper bout.  It wasn’t enough to pop the back to get in with a clamp so in his ingenious way he figured out a way to push the dent out.  Not sure exactly what he did but the dent is popped out and smoothed over that you would not notice it.

The beginning of the edge repair and color matching

Edges are smooth as silk.  With layers of color touch up they will disappear
As always, we don’t want the bass to be to perfect. This one has lots of vintage character but we try to clean up the edges so they don't snag on the gig bag.