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BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Stratman57 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:40 pm

Just caught up on today's episode and they had a 1966 Fender Jazz bass that belonged to the bass player from Hot Chocolate, brought in by his son who wanted it restored so he could learn how to play it.

There was a bit of a worn patch on the back of the neck which the restorer removed by spokeshaving the whole neck, he also did a refret, replaced the bridge cover and did a general clean up of the body.

What I'm curious about is would this work have been detrimental to the value of the instrument given it's age and history.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:52 pm

Yes, I'd say definitely so. I have taped the prog (I think) and aim to watch to later.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby zenguitar » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:40 am

I'll watch it when it is repeated in an early evening slot. So I'll just comment in general terms as I haven't seen it.

As described, the work has seriously devalued the instrument. And unless in decades to come The Repair Shop becomes a cult classic, the loss of value isn't going to be made up for an increase in value as a result of it being 'that bass guitar featured on The Repair Shop'.

Replacing the bridge cover is fine, you can keep the original. A re-fret is perfectly acceptable on a well used instrument, and it is perfectly possible that it might have previously been re-fretted. But it is the spokeshaving the neck that gives me concerns. If it was so badly worn that it needed that much work, the correct solution would have been to replace the neck with a licenced Fender replacement and keep the original with the instrument.

It's a TV program I enjoy, but in this case my suspicions are that wrong decisions have been made because of the requirement of the program makers to have a suitable narrative.

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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby ef37a » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:44 am

I confess I was rather troubled by the shaving of the neck! Not because I thought of the value of the instrument (doh!) but because of possible weakening of the neck. Yes, I know there is a truss rod but even so?

The Repair Shop is a lovely programme* and my wife and I do enjoy the background stories. I love the insight into mechanisms I have never seen or repaired. I do get frustrated though!

The recent one of the repair of a very early (octals!) battery radio was nowhere near detailed enough for me. What were the valves? (yes, I know, lazy B I shall look it up) The way the guy obtained 90V HT was a bit odd to me? Ten PP3s soldered in series, what does the owner do about a replacement? I would have used a 12V pack of AAs and a DC-DC converter.

*i have complained, along with countless others at the 'king about of Bargain Hunt and put them on notice that if the whizzup kids start making Repair Shop a "pressure Cooker" format I am out of it! Anyone here recall the first Master Chef proggs? Nice, talented but "domestic" people doing their thing with just enough pressure to give it an edge. Then Greg and Co came in and it went all Gordon Ramsey!
If it ain't broke?

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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:15 am

I had the same thought about the in series PP9s.

I'm sure the restorer said it looked like the frets were the originals. I was concerned about the neck being weakened. I have a Manson fretless bass that has a very thin neck which fell off it's stand and snapped, and that only has a small headstock compared to the Jazz bass.

We enjoy the program, however it can be frustrating, they restored and old wooden plate camera, similar to one my Dad had, and I thought great, I'll find out how to fix the bellows and that was the one thing they didn't show, even though it had been done as part of the restoration.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Johnston » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:56 am

Just googled to see if anyone else was as horrified as me by this. I almost choked on my dinner!

Sure, there was a gouged spot on the rear of the neck, but the thing to do in this situation imo would have been to spot fill it with sanding sealer to bring it up to the same level as the surrounding wood, then add clear coat and blend it in. Even routing that area flat then glueing in a spot of maple and shaping that area, though unnecessary would have been less disgusting than what he ended up doing.

If there was a reason that wouldn't have worked (just giving some benefit of the doubt here) then it should have been fully explained because as it is, the guy who did the work comes across a total hack.

I searched him out he seems to be more of a luthier/builder than a restorer who works miracles on yer '59 Les Pauls etc. Definitely not the guy they should have got to do that show.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Johnston » Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:01 am

PS there are some pictures here, on the dude who did it's facebook

https://www.facebook.com/33873502280415 ... =3&theater

Here's the 'before' of the neck gouging, the after is a few pictures ahead, for those with strong stomachs :headbang:
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:30 pm

That damage was little more than cosmetic from what I could see (haven't watched the program yet). A smooth neck is nice to have and relics I have played (as opposed to genuine old guitars) have all had a pristine neck. I would have gone with Johnston's suggestion of filler and clear coat which would, at least be reversible in the future. They appear to have left the damage/wear to the body as is.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby BigRedX » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:51 pm

I don't see what the fuss is all about.

It's old, but it's by no means unique. It's just a mass-produced instrument previously used by the bassist in a minor 70s pop band.

If it was especially rare example or had been used by someone really well known, then I could possibly see an argument for keeping it as it was (maybe removing the stickers from the scratch plate, although they are part of it's history), checking that the pickups and other electric components were working and giving it a set up, and then selling or donating it to some museum or collection.

However it's not. And if in its previous state it was not usable as a musical instrument, then AFAIAC it is worthless and everything that can be done to make it playable is an improvement.

Personally from my own experience Fender necks tend to be on the chunky side and can easily stand a millimetre or two being shaved off with no adverse effects. If it had been mine, I'd have got them to refinish the body at the same time.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:37 pm

Any 1960's fenders original condition is worth a fairly substantial sum, not 6 or 7 figures but still several thousand pounds and originality is usually the key to maximising the value. Of course that may not have been the owners intention, if he intends to keep it forever for sentimental reasons then making it as nice to own/play as possible is probably not unreasonable.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Johnston » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:25 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:making it as nice to own/play as possible is probably not unreasonable.

I'd argue that filling and blending in that area, and keeping the feel and shape of the original Fender neck (which contrary to what the guy above you said, would have been very slim anyway) would leave it playing and feeling better than the thinned down, weakened monstrosity it now is.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:58 pm

One of the cardinal rules of conservation is to preserve the CURRENT condition of the item to the fullest extent possible, especially anything that relates to age or patina. Only if the items survival is at stake would more serious action be considered.

Restoration is a bit squishier and I would favor a less heavy handed approach. It goes to the intent of work. Still, I think changing the physical dimensions goes beyond the remit of restoration.

I haven't seen the show, but this approach falls under the heading of re-build and under that umbrella, who the hell cares?
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:59 pm

Seems like a dodgy decision, but I suppose it's possible that that instrument had already had various things done over the years that would have devalued it, and that it's only significant value lay in its provenance, which will not be in question in any future sale.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:14 pm

You beat me to it Sam, a quick Google shows 1966 Fender Jazz basses in the range of £3000ish for a refinished to £8500ish for a well looked after not messed with one (the latter on Manson's website coincidentally). Considering that a perfectly playable Squier modified Jazz bass (I had the Precision version, until it was stolen in a burglary, which played great) is less than £300, it would have made more sense for the original owners son, who brought it in so he could use it to learn to play, to buy one of those before having the '66 mucked about with on the program.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:52 pm

I've finally got around to watching the program and it does appear that the owner wanted to have an instrument he would play and cherish so maybe ultimate value was not a major consideration. I would still have done a less intrusive repair to the neck and the 'relicing' of the replacement covers was very poor (but they are easy to replace at a later date) but otherwise I thought it was a pretty sympathetic restoration. I'm sure the owner is happy to have his dad's bass to play (and you can't underestimate the value of really loving your instrument when it comes to learning to play).
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Johnston » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:19 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I've finally got around to watching the program and it does appear that the owner wanted to have an instrument he would play and cherish so maybe ultimate value was not a major consideration.

Neither was structural integrity! :thumbdown:

In thirty/forty years when Hot Chocolate dude's son is too old to care about this, or dead, it's simply going to be a 1965 Jazz Bass with a ruined neck that will get parted out.

The producers of the show should hang their heads in shame
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:40 am

TBF, the luthier has a good rep and clearly knows what he's doing, I'm sure the decision was a considered one. I still think it will devalue the guitar but I'd be surprised if he risked compromising it's structural integrity (I have been wrong in the past though).
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Johnston » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:15 pm

I've checked out his website and facebook fairly thoroughly and if he *is* some sort of master craftsman he's kept it well hidden. He makes slightly dated looking guitars out of flame maple, and seems good at it, but that's a very different thing to being a good restorer.

Check out the repair of this sixties Vox Bass neck- incredible work given that there was significant missing wood, and the guy who did it completely kept the original patina and matched the lacquer on the replacement wood too:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Retro169/ph ... n__=-UCH-R
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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:13 pm

Johnston wrote:Check out the repair of this sixties Vox Bass neck- incredible work given that there was significant missing wood, and the guy who did it completely kept the original patina and matched the lacquer on the replacement wood too:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Retro169/ph ... n__=-UCH-R

Now that IS a very impressive and sympathetic repair Johnston! :clap:


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Re: BBC repair shop bass restoration

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:22 pm

Yes it is and it's the way I would have liked to see the Jazz restored but choices were made and we've all questioned them. But, it's still an all original 1966 Fender Jazz bass with decent provenance and a slightly famous owner who's son seems pleased with the work. Any suggestion that the neck's structural integrity has been compromised is pure speculation but early fenders were usually solidly built so I'd be inclined to give the befit of the doubt.
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