Had a customer bring in an upright bass with a broken neck. The neck actually broke at the heal, fracturing it into a couple pieces. The neck is completely free from the body of the instrument. Does anyone have any experience or ideas on how to repair it?Thanks,


Tags: bass, broken, help, neck, upright, violin

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Hello Rob, 

Let me start to point out that those cheaper range double basses (plywood) are usually very poorly constructed (neck/body joint) with bad fitting/glued parts.. 

So the fractured neck is one thing, but unless you are willing/ able to redo the neck heel, graft pieces from new material and after that redo that joint properly , there's little chance of getting it repaired properly. (bare in mind that you might be opening a can of worms, with every step)

So before you start it might be a good idea to consider whether this double bass is worth all the trouble.

If you want to carry on, the following sources might provide some insight/inspiration:

- Chuck Traeger - The setup & repair of the double bass

Good luck

You might post this over at the Maestronet, many brains to pick over there for viol family instrument repair.

You can buy an unfinished Maple neck for less than $100 US, finish it and transfer the fingerboard, hardware. You'll need to clean up the neck socket so you'll have fresh wood to fresh wood with no voids to get a good glue joint and set the dovetail.

If a new neck was not possible I would glue the incomplete break nearest the fingerboard back together with lots of thinned hot hide glue. Red cap Titebond thinned 10% w/water is an option, but you only get one chance to get it right. Get it as deep as you can with a glue syringe and needle. Pull it together by spanning the tip of the broken heel to the end of the finger board with a clamp and carefully tighten the jaws until you have squeeze-out completely around the break. When it's dry, remove the bottom section of the broken heel from the neck slot, clean the old glue off and glue to the rest of the heel. Optionally, after it dries, rout out 2-3, 1/4" top to bottom channels spanning almost the entire heel in the surface facing the neck pocket and insert 1/4" Maple (or in this case maybe plywood) splines to supplement the heel strength. Remove all old glue, fill any divots with wooden plugs and level the inside heel surface. If you kept the original dovetail geometry it should slide in and pull the joint tight. 

Here is one I did a while ago. Might help w/ ideas.

glue as many pieces/chips as possible back together w/ hide glue.

rout and chisel flat surfaces

build out flats w/new spruce

fit neck into new pocket w/ chalk or carbon paper

Make sure the neck as the right projection and is aimed at the center line between the F holes as it is fit. 

Nice work, David... love your shop!  

No kiddin' - that's good craft there!

Cost-effectiveness is always a consideration, and at our shop, a tired old plywood doghouse bass with a broken neck tends to remind us of why West Marine epoxy comes in gallon cans. . .

Thanks. I think Rob's is gonna be a tough one.

The difficulty of shipping a bass helps the local repair cost equation, especially if some one blows one out and needs a replacement now.

It never ceases to amaze me how much effort is put into the smooth finish on student instruments. then the wind blows too hard, the neck comes off, and re-veal's a neck joint with almost no wood to wood contact.

I'm frequently trying to dream up ways to keep them out of the bin at a reasonable cost.

It was a really cheap student bass. The customer decided to not get it repaired in the end.


Yep, wow, love your work David.



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