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uk_lefty

New Bass restoration project Day! And diary

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So after a two week wait the day has arrived. My 1984 (year of birth incidentally) Aria SB Elite has arrived. Its a white, thru neck, matsumoko built bass. I got it for a relative bargain knowing it was in a state and prepared to spend a bit of money getting it going again. Here's the rub, I'm no handyman. But I want to learn. What better way than buying a bass I want with hopefully not too many hidden gremlins? 

The good points :

I'm told the pickup works. 

All tuners and the bridge are present though tarnished. 

The paint chips are smaller than I was expecting. 

The headstock logo is present and correct and the batwings have had a paint chip but no wood chips. 

Fingerboard and inlays look ok

The questionable:

It's filthy and nicotine yellow instead of pearl white. 

Theres no nut

The neck bows backwards at about the 12th but I don't know how long it's gone without strings

Theres a knob missing and I haven't been able to find replacements yet, will keep searching 

Theres a lot of lacquer cracking at the back of the headstock, I don't think this goes any deeper but need to investigate. 

I don't know what really works, i.e truss rod and electrics

The bad:

I can't find a picture of John Taylor with the pearl white one! 

 

So this will be a job I get to over the next few weeks when I get some spare time and will have to order in parts and tools just to see what will and won't work. 

Advice from you all would be very gratefully received. I've already asked about getting rid of felt tip from the headstock, but general cleaning...? My Stingray came with some packs of wipes but not sure they'll be heavy duty enough. It might be dettol spray and a kitchen cloth just to get started! 

Before I invest too much time I want to get a nut on and some strings and test the electrics. I'm guessing setting strings on in tune will help me get the neck straightened out too? 

Any advice on where I can find Aria replacement parts on the Web would be gratefully received. 

I'm praying that the pickup is still alive... 

IMG_20200225_083905.jpg

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Some of the frets are rough as hell and quite worn... This may be going Fretless at some point in time. 

On inspecting the headstock lacquer cracking what do you guys think of this? I've given it a firm woggle and there's some play in there, but not sure if that indicates a structural crack that needs repair (something I can't do) or if it's just normal because it's a thin neck? 

The bridge is tarnished but the springs are still springy, I reckon it's still working. 

IMG_20200225_085242.jpg

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Not sure if the Elites had a brass nut like  my SB900 and other SB Proll's but easily bought and profiled to suit.

My SB900 had some bridge bits missing, and i contacted Aria UK and a nice chap on the phone said he'd look for some spares, and about 3 months later, they turned up in the post. That was down to the great institution we call Royal Mail ( or the Post Office ).

He couldnt find everything i needed  (  understandedbly -  bass is over 35 years old ) but a visit to a nut and bolt shop got me the rest.

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PS  if you think there's some movement around that cracking at the headstock, then its possibly had an impact trauma at some point.  If it was just cracking lacquer, i doubt you would see movement.

As for the nicotine yellow, i'd hazard a guess and say thats probably the cellulose lacquer thats aged rather than nicotine stains. There maybe enough thickness of lacquer to take this back with some wet n dry and then buffed again for a gloss finish.  If not , it will need taking right back to paint and re-lacquered

This could all be total rubbish, so wait and see what some experts might tell you.

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2 minutes ago, fleabag said:

PS  if you think there's some movement around that cracking at the headstock, then its possibly had an impact trauma at some point.  If it was just cracking lacquer, i doubt you would see movement.

As for the nicotine yellow, i'd hazard a guess and say thats probably the cellulose lacquer thats aged rather than nicotine stains. There maybe enough thickness of lacquer to take this back with some wet n dry and then buffed again for a gloss finish.  If not , it will need taking right back to paint and re-lacquered

This could all be total rubbish, so wait and see what some experts might tell you.

Thanks. I'm not bothered about the yellowing too much, think it's just been out in the sun a lot in the last 35plus years! 

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Might be the photo, but the neck/headstock joint does not look healthy to me. Hope it’s either superficial or fixable

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12 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Might be the photo, but the neck/headstock joint does not look healthy to me. Hope it’s either superficial or fixable

I think it's the angle of the photo making it look worse than it is... Hope / think. 

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The pickup works! Not great but working at least. I fitted an old string to the bass and used a right handed bass nut form the spares box to prop it up and I'm getting something from the pickup. However, both pots seem to be volume only and the switch just saps volume altogether... Needs more investigation, I expect the whole guts need replacing then starting again really. I've seen far worse conditions inside a control cavity before 

IMG_20200225_113651.jpg

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1 hour ago, Beedster said:

Might be the photo, but the neck/headstock joint does not look healthy to me. Hope it’s either superficial or fixable

On closer I section it seems like the fingerboard is coming away at the top end and the play in the neck feels like it's just that, though one of the cracks appears a bit more sinister than I had thought at first. 

I've tried the truss rod, it turns. There's no strings on now so not wanting to push it but I got a quarter turn each way, back and forth, with only a slight cracking noise from stiffness then not too much of a push required. My Fender jazz had a stiffer truss rod so hoping this is a good sign that the neck can be straightened out. 

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Whatever caused the suspicious cracks at the neck/headstock likely also caused the fingerboard to loosen. Given its NT, I would get this looked at before you do anything else, it’ll be repairable whatever the issue, but cost could be the challenge. 

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Remove the bullet of the truss rod and put some graphite grease on the thread, it will help a lot.

You can reglue the fretboard using aliphatic glue : a white carpenter glue transmitting the vibrations and not absorbing them, that can also be painted. 

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2 hours ago, fleabag said:

PS  if you think there's some movement around that cracking at the headstock, then its possibly had an impact trauma at some point.  If it was just cracking lacquer, i doubt you would see movement.

As for the nicotine yellow, i'd hazard a guess and say thats probably the cellulose lacquer thats aged rather than nicotine stains. There maybe enough thickness of lacquer to take this back with some wet n dry and then buffed again for a gloss finish.  If not , it will need taking right back to paint and re-lacquered

This could all be total rubbish, so wait and see what some experts might tell you.

Given when this bass was made, the finish is almost guaranteed to be poly.

If this bass was mine I'd be considering getting the bass refinished in it's original shade of white, so if your budget allows for this you could try carefully removing the finish in the area of the cracking to see what is underneath.

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31 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Given when this bass was made, the finish is almost guaranteed to be poly.

If this bass was mine I'd be considering getting the bass refinished in it's original shade of white, so if your budget allows for this you could try carefully removing the finish in the area of the cracking to see what is underneath.

Thanks I was tempted to do this even if not going for a refin just so it's more comfortable under hand and at the same time see if this crack runs deep. 

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43 minutes ago, Beedster said:

Whatever caused the suspicious cracks at the neck/headstock likely also caused the fingerboard to loosen. Given its NT, I would get this looked at before you do anything else, it’ll be repairable whatever the issue, but cost could be the challenge. 

My thinking also. I'm not sinking cash until I know its a go-er. I think there's a few things I want a professional opinion on: state of the neck, is it cracked and needing repair and if so how much? Will the neck straighten? Frets, are they salvageable? If not this may go Fretless, the board itself is in OK condition as are the inlays. Electronics, what's going on? May replace the guts but want like for like ideally, and hopefully the pickup itself is OK. 

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Someone on a Japanese guitars Facebook page has pointed me to reproguitarparts.com who do a pair of the knobs for 7.50 dollars, so that could be that sorted, though if anyone UK based answers my wanted ad then I'll go for that. 

Also just unscrewed the pickup because it seemed quite low at the bass string side... It doesn't move. Might be stuck to the foam beneath it, made a bit of a creaky crackly noise when wiggled... 

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25 minutes ago, uk_lefty said:

My thinking also. I'm not sinking cash until I know its a go-er. I think there's a few things I want a professional opinion on: state of the neck, is it cracked and needing repair and if so how much? Will the neck straighten? Frets, are they salvageable? If not this may go Fretless, the board itself is in OK condition as are the inlays. Electronics, what's going on? May replace the guts but want like for like ideally, and hopefully the pickup itself is OK. 

A very good mate of mine, who makes very very good instruments said the following when we were confronted by a building issue: "If it's made of wood, you can fix it, simple as". It's a rule I've found it to be true without exception :)

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When I was repairing one of these for a customer a while back, I found an online supplier of those pickups. Can't recall the name at the moment, sorry.

If it turns out that you do need the pickup replaced, let me know and I'll try to find it. Or maybe a google search will find it for you. :)

 

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20 minutes ago, gary mac said:

When I was repairing one of these for a customer a while back, I found an online supplier of those pickups. Can't recall the name at the moment, sorry.

If it turns out that you do need the pickup replaced, let me know and I'll try to find it. Or maybe a google search will find it for you. :)

 

Thank you, I have heard before there's someone in Finland who makes them?! Either way, with a single string fitted on a dodgy upside down nut it made some sound, I'm thinking a review of the electronics should be done by a professional when I get the neck checked out. However, if I need to replace it I'll be straight back in touch! 

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On 25/02/2020 at 13:35, uk_lefty said:

Someone on a Japanese guitars Facebook page has pointed me to reproguitarparts.com who do a pair of the knobs for 7.50 dollars, so that could be that sorted, though if anyone UK based answers my wanted ad then I'll go for that.

I recently got a pair of these for my very long-term SB Elite B&G resto (in many ways in worse condition than yours!) and they are excellent quality and look the part. I'd recommend grabbing these rather than fruitlessly searching for years for originals, like wot I did.

Replacement pickups, if necessary, are available from Rautia and Dan Armstrong, as far as I know the Rautia versions are exact reproductions, that's what I'll be sticking in mine.

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It's been a while folks but the virus and other things, mainly me getting my finger out, has lead to me procuring a part that isn't expensive but I think I can't progress the neck repair and check of the electrics without it. 

So now I'm looking for someone who's been hands on with nuts... 

This was the only one I could get in the right size. Do I need to fit anything under the screws? All the slots appear to be the same width too... Any advice gratefully received! 

IMG_20200318_161916.jpg

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One more while I'm at it... This bridge is/ was brass. Its now tarnished and gunky. Any recommended products for removing the dusty gunkyness from it? Was hoping it could unscrew the bridge and dip it in some sort of cleaning fluid. That might be daft though... 

15845487654582721914453167961308.jpg

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1 hour ago, uk_lefty said:

Do I need to fit anything under the screws? All the slots appear to be the same width too... Any advice gratefully received! 

This is a height-adjustable nut - with each string individually adjustable.

Basically, the v-grooves in the top of each nut are your nut slots and the strings lie on top of them.  So basically turn each screw until the bottom of the v-groove is at broadly right height, make sure it is in line with the string and then try it with the string in the groove.  Just turn each up or down until you have the nut height you want for that string and it's done. 

The V grooves for the bass strings are wider than those for the treble strings to account for the different string widths.

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19 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

It's been a while folks but the virus and other things, mainly me getting my finger out, has lead to me procuring a part that isn't expensive but I think I can't progress the neck repair and check of the electrics without it. 

So now I'm looking for someone who's been hands on with nuts... 

This was the only one I could get in the right size. Do I need to fit anything under the screws? All the slots appear to be the same width too... Any advice gratefully received! 

IMG_20200318_161916.jpg

From angle of picture that not is way to short. It should clear the fret board more. With the screw adjusted correctly the strings look as if they will be on the fret board. Never mind clear the frets. Obviously I'm just going on the pic angle. 

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1 minute ago, Twincam said:

From angle of picture that not is way to short. It should clear the fret board more. With the screw adjusted correctly the strings look as if they will be on the fret board. Never mind clear the frets. Obviously I'm just going on the pic angle. 

You're right. Looks like it needs some material underneath it. 

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