Benthoven

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About Benthoven

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  1. Hi everyone - Here's an opportunity to pull a little cash out of your boneyard of old student bass tuners stashed away somewhere. A customer brought in his old-ish Englehardt bass with the D tuning key snapped clean off. So I am putting out a request here to see if anyone has the matching complete machine plate rattling around in your spare parts, and if you are willing to part with it for some of my customer's cash. It is the D-G side plate, and if memory serves me correctly here, it is about 93mm center-to-center between the D-G shafts. Thank you for looking!! Ben
  2. Yes, pictures would be a big help, but I see your dilemma. Is it faster/easier/less work/cheaper etc. to just replace the neck with a pre-carved neck (which you will only find in the white) or go to heroic measures to re-construct and repair this one? (don't forget that with a new neck, you'd have to put on a fingerboard, either new or from the old neck) plus finish-matching etc. If you really do have all the pieces of the pegbox and the broken neck, I'd lean towards heroic repair if the neck joint is still sound. Depending on where the break is in the neck, I'd even look at pulling a pegbox/neck section from the old boneyard, and grafting that on, instead of heroically repairing a badly shattered pegbox - that job can really be a pain and you don't have much room for error there - that repair really has to be strong or it will just pull itself apart under tension... Post some pics!
  3. I'd tend to agree with Evan Smith's post above. However, be SURE to monitor the neck angle when you do this though. Even a couple MM change at the neck block would change the angle enough to make it necessary to either adjust/re-cut the bridge (if even possible) or even replace it to accomodate the new projection height.
  4. Thanks, Violadamore. This thing sounds a lot better than it should.
  5. I've come into possession of an older laminated bass with a very small black sticker with white letters inside reading "MadeInGermanyUSZone" - It's never had any major repairs or even been opened as far as I can tell, except for a pegbox repair somewhere along the way - Does anyone have an idea when it was made? How much it might be worth? Thanks!
  6. I just used the torrefied "guitar bracing" stock from StewMac to make 'aged' crack-fill material for an old mandolin restoration I'm working on, and the patina came out as a perfect match for this 100-year old spruce top. For $8, they sent a piece of quarter-sawn torrefied spruce, about 19mm thick, by 50mm wide and about 500mm long, plenty of stock for dozens of repair projects like this one. With the clear shellac applied and rubbed-out, it's almost impossible to see that there was ever a 2-3mm open crack filled on the top of this instrument - no color touch-up needed.
  7. Fascinating subject, and I'll be looking forward to the results of the research. StewMac has started supplying "torrefied" tonewood for guitars that "looks and sounds like wood that's been broken in for many years." Have you sampled any of this product? The process involves heat-treating in an oxygen-free kiln, but it's not clear if there is any chemical process involved. I've just ordered a piece of torrefied spruce "uncarved guitar brace" material for $9, a piece of quarter-sawn 20" x 2" x 3/4" spruce stock, to make my fills for top cracks with spruce that already has the patina and dimensional stability of aged wood. They also supply torrefied maple neck blanks for guitars, etc., but I would presume they will make violin sets available at some point as well. I'd be very curious to see your research include some torrefied woods for comparison to these other processes.
  8. The first guy who taught me about rehairing bows was definitely a gluer. Nothing crazy like I've seen done to many of the hundreds and hundreds of student bows I've rehaired, but he wanted me to put just a dab of liquid hide glue on the plugs at both ends, just to "immobilize" them in their mortises as a matter of course. But the more I've fought with glued plugs, and the more I have read and studied the art, learning to cut my angles correctly and consistently, there really should be no need at all to glue the plugs, assuming the mortises are also cut correctly. As mentioned above, I really hate these student bows where someone has just squirted a blob of white glue or whatever into the mortises and you basically have to drill them out, carve all the glue and hair residue out of the mortises and make new plugs. Half the time they get glue in the slide too and then you really have some hard work to do getting the slide out intact. Sometimes the mortises in student bows aren't even angled correctly enough to get a plug to 'bite' mechanically as it's designed to do, and then I'll use just a toothpick dab of expired liquid hide glue to hold it in place, but even that's become a fairly rare circumstance for me.
  9. Well, consider the sponge, which is really a very wet and very porous type of wood which thrives in an underwater environment. If you let it dry out, it shrinks and becomes very hard, and after some time, brittle, just like land-dwelling woods. Restore its native moisture content and it becomes flexible again, and if you let it dry while formed into another shape, it mostly takes that shape. Land-dwelling trees just have much smaller pores and hold less water.
  10. Beautiful photography, Neil, and a really nice master class in how to tackle a neck removal cleanly.
  11. I got a bass repair job in on Friday, and was just thinking how a scope like that would be soooo useful to have in the shop. So, for $32 can I get one that's twice as good?
  12. Well, the bass sorta made its own decision (as they are wont to do). After about 24 hours of running a humidifier, I was in the adjoining room doing other things and heard an audible "crack". It started in the middle of the lower C bout running south, directly down the center of the worst warp in the back plate. So I left it alone to observe while working on other things, and it eventually opened itself to about 3/16". There. Tension released. I guess sometimes you just have to let it crack, right? It's not like I could have stopped it. Back plate reglued, crack filled and touched up, action set up, sounding as great and thumping hard with its new wooded end pin, and gig-ready before the deadline to return to the bandstand. http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/b580/rblinfo/Finished_zps4d9d0c39.jpg
  13. Wow! Boy do I have a happy customer today! Chuck Traeger makes a VERY strong recommendation in his book for installing a wooden endpin in a double bass to increase the volume dramatically and improve the tone as well. It's one of his 4 "genies" of optimum sound for the bass. I was a little skeptical that something so simple could have Traeger singing such over-the-top praise in his book for what it does to the tone, but I was curious and finally broke down and installed one on my own bass. Well, it DID make a noticeable difference in my bass, both in the way it sounds and especially in the way it vibrates in my hands and against my body, which was a little startling. Shortly afterwards I had the occasion to mention it to one of my really high-profile clients in town when I had his bass in the shop for some other repair work. Even though I knew what it had done for my bass, I didn't want to over-sell it, or come across as pushy or a little blinded by the results of my own work on my own bass. So, a few months later he brought his bass back to me and said he was ready to get that wooden endpin installed. It was a very easy installation, though going to the drum department at GC to find 5/8" diam drumsticks was a big education in itself. They had hickory and maple sticks, but what I was really looking for was a nice piece of ash. (some here may know that old joke) Anyway, I still want to try oak but they didn't have any in 5/8", so I settled on the hickory sticks. I may yet try to find some oak dowel stock, but in my experience the diameters of dowel stock just seem to be a suggestion what they might be close to instead of the actual diameter, and this endpin stick has to fit the endpin plug nice and snug. Drumsticks are smooth and are produced in very consistently milled diameters, so that's the best bet. Anyhow, it wasn't until my client got his bass back into his own recording studio under controlled conditions that he was able to fully gauge the difference. Here's the exact quote of his text to me the next day: "Man! That end pin is AMAZING!!! I'm on cloud nine! :)" This guy is a very prominent and well-known virtuoso type of a bassist, with the best ear for nuance and tone you could ever ask for, and it made him this happy. You just know how that made my day! So, I did make the metal tip for it on my lathe, and now he carries two wooden endpins in his bag, one with a rubber tip and the other with the metal tip. I used black leather dye from Tandy to color the stick. If you want a really happy bass customer, definitely make this recommendation to them. http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/b580/rblinfo/Photo-Jan-06-5-51-09-PM_zps510fe41c.jpg
  14. Hi everyone - I hope someone here has successfully dealt with this problem before, and can offer some insights to help me solve this one. This is actually my own personal instrument (not a customer's), an 1870's German bass with a flat backplate that has developed a nasty warp in the lower bout over the years. This bass has been here in Las Vegas, in the dry, arid Nevada desert environment since at least the 1960's, and I only acquired it about 3 years ago after it sat warped, seams open, and unplayed for at least 20 years. We got it closed and reglued in 2012, and since then this bass has performed beautifully and sounds magnificent. I've been playing it almost daily with no further problem since then. However, like most of the rest of the US, we experienced a really wicked cold dry weather snap this past weekend. In addition to that, the bass has for the past 3 weeks been housed 24/7 in a new environment - on the bandstand in one of the major shows on the strip, where it's too hazardous (and scary) to haul it up 10'-12' on and off the raised bandstand every night. So, as you can see in the pics, over the weekend the bass popped *wide* open on the G side of the lower bout, with the backplate warped back into a fairly severe concave profile. This backplate is so stiffly warped, I cannot even push it closed with my fingers without creating new cracks in the backplate, so even if I were to just crank it down with clamps and glue, I'd probably just create even worse problems to repair. Can anyone suggest a strategy as to how this warping can be eased? My instinct is to come up with a gentle way to re-humidify the backplate while clamping it flat somehow, and have some ideas how this could be done (all without taking the two-piece backplate completely off), but I'd sure like to hear from someone who has done this successfully before. Any suggestions? Just as a post script here - what I've observed dealing with stringed instruments in this harsh desert environment over the past 10 years has been the biggest challenge of my woodworking career. The desert just sucks the moisture right out of anything wooden, and I've found that humidifiers of any kind are practically useless here against the forces of mother nature. It's been better here to just let wooden instruments shrink, acclimate and find their stable new 'normal' here, and just regulate for the environment. Any attempt to maintain moisture levels in wood beyond what the desert will allow you, is a futile tail-chasing exercise in my experience. The upside is, that once the new normal is established, it's generally very stable, but getting there can be pretty rough on instruments.
  15. Well being a jazz bassist and a luthier are the activities make ME happy. I've always wished the jazz audience were a much broader section of the population, and I've encountered far too many people with the same level of awareness as the guy quoted here. What does he produce of any lasting value? Likely nothing, while the work I've done will long outlive me. So there's that. I'll never forget the girl who asked me, after finishing our set of original jazz, "Was that a real song or did you guys just make that up?" It's sad to watch the jazz audiences get older, smaller, dumber, and less willing and able to support live music in general. That's the only time I ask myself "what are we doing and who actually cares?". Great Lutherie, however, I never question the value of.