Car wrecks and bass ressurections




































































A  good friend calls me up and tells me he was in a car wreck and needs my help. No problem; I’ve got your back. I’m thinkin’ I need to get it together and head over to the hospital or pick him up at the sheriff’s office.  Nope. He’s fine, but his bass is another story. We schedule a meet time and he brings it by.

He claims the bass is still in the case, but when I see it, there is no way that can be possible. The  wreck was bad but my friend made it without a scratch. Looking at the remains of his bass, I cannot believe this is possible. He must be the luckiest bass player on the planet. There is nothing left of the bass- just a pile of splinters. I’ve never seen plywood THAT busted up; I wonder what it would have looked like if it was his carved bass. An old AlCoA would have looked like it went through a beer can recycler. I give him a hug and tell him I’m glad he is ok, but the bass is beyond hope, and then try a little bit of encouragement: YEAH!!! Awesome excuse to go shopping for a new bass!!!…..Nope…..

Next comes the sad look and the stories of Grandpop thumpin’ away and all of the family ties to that bass. Here we go; this is sounding like a guilt trip from an old girlfriend……I cut him off fast and ask him if Granddaddy liked tequila. Huhhh???  No- whiskey; he was from Tennessee. Good. Go out and buy a big bottle right now and bring it back to the shop. We’ll call it a day, have a few shots for old Gramps, a couple more for us, and then throw the rest of the bottle on the pile of splinters and set it all on fire and have a giant funeral pyre. NO WAY!!!!! Not happenin’.  He is VERY emotionally attached to this. We talk about a few ideas and then I tell him straight up- there is no way I’m taking this on.  Just because I can, does not mean I should . This was  HIS  grandfather’s, not mine. Mine played the mandolin….

After more stories and sad looks, we come up with the idea that this will be his introduction to learning how to work on basses. I’ll take him on as a student and help him with the tricky areas while he does the bulk of the tedious puzzle pieces and together we’ll do our best to bring her back. I suggest finding another trashed old bass for donor parts. No more sad faces.

About five months later, she was strung up and running. Not pretty, but  functional. We were able to save the neck and heavily damaged rib garland and he found  a donor top from an old German ply and got a deal on  a rough, but newish Englehardt top.  Six months more and it is still settling in but you can play tunes on it.  Every time he picks it up, a little bit of Grandpop  still hangs on and the old workhorse gets a couple of more memories. We should all be so lucky,  tough, and enduring as this old bass…..


January 2015