Five String Conversion and Restoration
This instrument was brought to my shop by Drew Giambrone, a fine bassist from So. Oregon. He has owned the bass for many years, and like a lot of old basses, this one had endure much damage and mediocre repair. He was interested in a five-string conversion, a virtual requirement in modern orchestral playing, and was concerned about the bass’s fragility and stuffiness. It just wasn’t singing like it should. We decided that a two phase approach would be best. The first step was to get the bass stabilized and sounding good, the second step would be the ultimate five-string set-up.
The Initial Assessment
The bass was very fragile, with ribs that had started to break up into little squares, a common condition in older instruments with highly figured maple ribs. A previous repair had been made; all the ribs had what appeared to be poplar overlays on the insides, completely covering the interior surfaces. This is an often used repair method and is considered by some to be acceptable, but in this bass I suspected that the overlayed ribs might be responsible for the stuffy tone and lack of power. There were also cracks and old work in the top that needed to be addressed.