I have a new end pin installed on my double bass. It’s a nice brass and ebony one with a nice solid-looking post and an extremely pointy tip – nice for plugging the bass in to a nice hardwood floor. This little detail rounds out the recent set of repairs that I had recently performed on my contrabass. You can see those photos of the restoration work here.
I took my bass again to Alex Friedman. Alex is a relatively new double bass luthier for the San Francisco Bay Area, and is also a fine jazz bassist as well. He did the work very well, nice and careful with everything. I am also managing his shop’s website now. You may check out the new web digs at www.acousticbassshop.com. The site that you see there is only temporary – I fully intend to evolve that design into something more original and compelling. But it’s job now is to help him get some more business over there and get his new business’ name out. I’m sure that with a little exposure, he’ll be as swamped as anyone could be with new orders.
Alex does excellent repair and restoration work. He regularly works on many of the basses from the members of the bass section in the San Francisco Symphony, so he’s got some very solid credentials there. I was impressed with the level of detail that he put in to his work on my bass and the other basses in the shop that he had there at the time. I doubt many others would have put in such an effort on the minute and insignificant details. He took care of stuff that I would never have noticed or really known about had he not explained the items to me: such as the height of the strings to the fingerboard, the height of the bridge, the spacing of the strings on the bridge being too wide apart for classical, or the height of the fingerboard at the end in relation to the top of the bass. He measured these items with minute precision, and the result was that this bass sounds much louder, much warmer, and it is much much easier to play now. Plays like a dream, in fact. I always knew that this bass was underneath all those cracks and the years of neglect and damage… now I am very glad that I bought this bass back then when I did. I’m glad that he took the time to explain each of these sorts of items to me and why they mattered, and I was most impressed with the final result.
Another thing that impressed me with Alex’s work was the speed at which he got things done. I saw one bass that was just trashed in there. They were trying to use a forklift to get a bass in a flight trunk inside an airplane cargo hold, and it fell onto the tarmac. Firewood I thought. But he got it back together somehow – fixing the ribs, the cracked-through surfaces, the broken neck, all in just over a week. I was thinking it would have taken someone several months to piece it all back together.
Finally, he has a couple of new basses that he is working on. I had a good look at the insides of these instruments before they were glued together and there is some really impressive work in there. The wood looks top quality, with a nice even grain on the top and a beautiful flame pattern on the back. Both basses use close to the same cuts of wood, but each has a distinctive body shape – almost a male and female kind of pair. Today when I was over there he was carving the scroll of one of them, totally freehand with no guides other than some measurements and pencil marks, so it has a nice natural character to it. I can’t wait to hear these basses when they’re done.
So there, that’s my plug for the Acoustic Bass Shop. If you are in Northern California and looking for expert double bass repairs, restoration of an old instrument, or are looking to buy a new bass, a bass amplifier, a french or german bow, or need to rent or buy a flight case for your bass, then this is the best place to go in the San Francisco Bay Area.