Advice for repairing dents in solid wood, semi-hollow bass body

Keshim

Member
Messages
2
Hey GearPage, first time poster, saw some good activity here and figured I would seek some advice regarding a situation with a bass I picked up recently.

I finally got around to picking up my dream bass, a Warwick Infinity NT, for a couple and a half grand, and it needed a little work on the strings and neck tuning (truss rod adjustment, etc) and a bit of oil to freshen up the wood. So I took it to a well known repair guy around here who specializes in wooden guitars, and while taking it out of the case and putting it on his repair rack, he dropped the damn thing onto the floor!! It fell onto a cinder block and put a couple semi-deep gouges in the back of the wood. It was painful to watch and still kills me just thinking about it.

So... I need to figure out how to restore the damage as I don't want the value to depreciate at all, and I'd like to keep this in good condition as long as possible. From what I can tell, no chips of wood were actually taken out, just a few dents (this bass is SO solid all things considered). I called a luthier who is set up about an hour away from me, and he recommended a steam press to help raise the wood back to its original form, but I'm not sure how legit that is, and I definitely do not want this to get any worse at all. Does anyone have any experience working with this kind of problem? The dents are in a unique position as well, which may complicate things (on a curved part of the body, see attached image). I'd rather not sue this guy for the depreciated value or whatever, assuming that's even possible, I'd just like to get this thing back to the condition it was in. Thanks in advance!


 

erikzen

Member
Messages
1,631
In my opinion damage is damage, so there is no getting it back to the original condition. Someone who is great at refinishing might be able to fix it so it can't be easily detected but if you were to sell it, the refinishing would diminish the value of the guitar, provided you disclosed this information at the time of the sale. If you didn't disclose the damage, that presents something of a moral dilemma.

I believe the steam approach is a legitimate one. The heat and moisture should help the guitar to recover its original shape but I can't imagine it will fix the problem entirely. You would probably still be able to see some kind of mark which would need filling and painting. Sorry I can't see image. The link appears to be broken.
 
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wetordry

Member
Messages
4,648
Steaming is used alot on gunstocks. Wet rag and a clothes iron. It will pull out deep dents but if the fibers are broken it won't work since they have nothing to pull/shrink against. It's pretty common so you might approach it from that angle.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,306
I would have expected the guy who dropped it to say something like "that never happened and the next time you see this instrument there will be no evidence of it." Even more I'd expect it to remain in the case until it was being worked on.

Steaming out dents is legit. Combined with drop fill and other techniques a lot of damage can be made to disappear.
 

B. Howard

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,211
OUCH! Steaming may help some but by your description of how the damage occurred I doubt it will bring the situation back to anything close to acceptable. The type of wood also matters, dense or oily woods like most tropicals do not respond as well to steam expansion as most domestic species. I also take it this instrument has an oil type finish.These finishes while easy to repair as far as wear are incredibly difficult to hide damage under. Most of the dent fill tricks we use like CA don't look good at all in these situations. Without seeing it is hard to determine what may be the best approach.....

To me the man who dropped it should be seeking out these answers and making it happen at no cost to you, that is what I would do if something like that were to happen here. At the very least he should be paying the bill for whomever you decide to have repair it. This brings up another point that most never think of, is the guy who has your expensive instrument in his care for work insured? Any good professional should be, I am just in case of a situation like this.
 

Keshim

Member
Messages
2
Thanks for the advice everyone! I finally got around to checking this out again, here's a link to the image that shows the damage.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9CaSA7aa39PUFE5b2J1bUM1Ny1NUHhUS0tDWXZqTC05UHJz/view?usp=sharing

Not sure what this indicates. Not a huge deal overall, the instrument still plays and sounds great, and the damage hides well when on stage, but I'm still very much burned that this thing won't be mint condition when I go to resell it many years down the road. Again, thanks for all your advice!
 

swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,497
I think you are just going to have to leave it as is. Anything you do is going to require refinishing. The luthier is who should be restoring it. That's an expensive bass for someone to be dropping. Geez. I have successfully filled things like that with epoxy, but then you have to finish over it somehow.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,451
Dan Erlewine discusses this type of repair in his book. Its a great resource. Get the book, and if you arent comfortable with doing the work yourself, at least youll be armed with good info for dealing with or finding a good repair guy.

He discusses steam repairs and drop fills in detail.

Good luck.
 

0018g

Member
Messages
1,902
Is that an oil finish? That complicates things. Just by the looks, I doubt it's gonna steam out, either.
 

Sweetfinger

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,440
Any decent luthier should be able to make that look pretty good. You'll always see it as an imperfection but it can be made to look much better and feel perfectly smooth.
 

-CM-

Something Clever Here
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,726
Think of it as the start of a true relic.
 




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