Double Bass #2 105


(click any of the thumbnails for a higher-resolution photo)

This Carpathian spruce-topped double bass is the latest project for an owner of numerous Skipper instruments. The solid carved top and one-piece carved back are accentuated by subtle but classy abalone top purfling. Its "growl" is enough to excite the heart of any bass player, be he or she be a bluegrass picker or an orchestral bassist.

Construction Photos

Construction begins with the acquisition of the wood -- huge chunks of wood. I found these at Old World Tonewoods, owned by John Preston, in southern West Virginia. The head block is shaped on the table saw, and the ribs are bent over a hot pipe and fitted to an internal form.

Corner blocks are fitted and trimmed, and kerfing is glued to the perimeter. Work on this 65-pound slab of European maple begins with a router and power plane,

and progresses to hand planes and scrapers. The top is joined and shaped in a similar process. Here's a shot of the shavings from the back and top, and yep, that's a five-gallon bucket on top.

The wood is cycled through damp/dry cycles until it begins to stabilize, indicating that it's fully air-dried. The neck is shaped primarily with hand tools.

Purfling is installed on the back, and the tuning machines are fitted to the peghead. The scroll and peg box are brought to final dimensions.

The back is glued to the ribs with hot hide glue, activated with steam. The abalone purfling is added to the top, the f-holes are cut, and the bass bar is fitted and glued in place.

The end pin is fitted, the top is glued in place, and the laborious task of finishing such a large instruments gets underway.

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