The double bass is an instrument that is prone to damage because of its sheer size and the fragility of its construction. Transporting the bass often leads to dings, cracks and damaged necks. You can attempt to fix a broken neck by using screws and bolts to hold the parts together, but the attempts almost always lead to poor tone and failed repairs. The best way to fix a seriously damaged neck on a double bass is to replace it.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Hide Glue
- Wood strips
Remove the strings from the instrument.
Pour alcohol into the neck joint where the neck meets the body to soften the glue, and tap the neck foot out with a mallet.
Use a chisel to clean out the mortise, the space at the top of the body that receives the neck. If the mortise is badly damaged, chisel it clean, removing old wood if necessary.
Replace the wood with inserts to bring the mortise back to the size needed for the new neck. Glue the inserts in place with hide glue and clamp. Allow the repair to set for 24 hours.
Cover the foot of the new neck with chalk and slide it into the mortise on the body. Take it out and check the mortise for chalk marks. Use the chisel to even out the mortise or the neck heel until they are evenly covered by the chalk.
Glue the foot to the body with hide glue, and clamp for 24 hours.
Attach the fingerboard to the neck with hide glue, and clamp for 24 hours.
Fit the tuning machines into the pegholes, and attach the strings and bridge.
Tips and warnings
- New necks can be carved or bought. Unless you are a very skilful luthier, buy a neck.
- It may have to be modified at the foot to fit the body joint on your bass, but that is minor compared to carving a new neck.
- Use only granular hide glue on a double bass. Only hide glue allows the neck to come apart at the joint instead of breaking when dropped or struck. The use of epoxies in the joint will lead to snapped necks and serious repair costs.
- Do not use a heat gun to loosen the glue on the neck, as this can also loosen the glue holding the top of the bass to the body.
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