Restoration | Repair | Fine New Basses

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This restoration of an old Italian bass posed many problems. The biggest problem was in dealing with the ribs-very thin, as many Italians are-and well hammered. Usually, when ribs are as cracked as these were, they are doubled. This process involves gluing cross-grained wood to the entire inside surface of the ribs. While this is an effective repair, it also deadens the tone of the bass. I felt this bass deserved a better solution and I alternated thin strips of spruce with linen. This resulted in a very light and responsive rib assembly. The down side to this is that it took far, far longer to do than if I had doubled the ribs. This was because each strip required 5 clamps and either adjacent side another 4 or 5 to keep all the cracks joined in the gluing process. Only one strip could be accomplished in one day.

Some luthiers frown on linen repairs. One reason is that it is often used as a quick fix and is frequently relied upon by amateurs. In these situations linen often buzzes. However, there is ample precedent for expert use of this material. Strad used it, as did most of the truly fine makers. When properly used it is much lighter and more flexible than wood, while still providing strong repair. I use the finest grade artist linen and take great care in its application.


359 Miller Avenue, Freeport, NY 11520
(516) 867 1395 ·
[Directions to the workshop]


© 2004 Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc. All rights reserved.