5/28/2010

c.1965 Univox? Hofner-copy Electric Bass


Can't remember if I posted this fellow before, but this is a semihollow electric bass "based" on the German Hofner violin-style basses that a certain Beatle made famous. This one's in fairly unplayed condition with really good frets and fretboard, smooth and easy playability (since my cleaning/setup/etc.) and that typical rounder, tubbier more-like-an-acoustic bass sound. The short 30" scale helps that, too. I used this bass the whole time I was recording Destroyers of Venus, which you can download for free at my site.

It's lightweight so it doesn't kill you playing for hours at a time, has a comfortable fretboard with great access to those upper frets, sports a mahogany neck (I believe) with more-than-likely laminated maple back, sides, and top. Rosewood fretboard with MOP dots. Funky Japanese pickups and aesthetic give this a great vintage feel, tone, and look. Definitely a fun one. The strings are just-broken-in D'Addario half-rounds which give it a feel somewhere between regular strings and flatwounds, but with a slightly mellower roundwound string feel.


Truss rod... nice quick, fast neck.






Main vol shutoff switch, individual p/u shutoffs, and tone and volume controls.


Back... a little overexposed in the photo, I'm afraid.


Tuners work just fine.



"Made in Japan."





Overall, a great recording or backing-for-acoustics bass. Depending on how you've got the tone setup, it can also sound really great for vintage ska or reggae. Your mileage will vary depending on what amp you use.

5/27/2010

For the banjo player...?

I was leafing through old SS Stewart Banjo & Guitar Journals when I spotted this bit of trivia in the "Correspondent's Column" of one of them. I love that, 120+ years ago, SS Stewart gave the same response I give to people asking me about banjo bridges... though I suggest thin film (transducer pickup style) removable adhesive for the bottom of bridge feet. Here's the quote:

"A.C.F. Writes: 'I enclose 12 cents, for which please send me two of your maple bridges, if you can tell me about how high bridges should be for my banjo, a description of which I gave you in a former letter.'

"ANSWER.--No one can tell just how high a bridge should be without seeing the instrument it is intended for. The height of a bridge depends upon the pitch of the neck, and upon the taste of the performer. If a bridge is too high, it should be lowered by rubbing the feet upon a flat surface of sand paper, after which a little rosin dust may be rubbed on to prevent slipping."

5/26/2010

New Homepage

I just finished up work on a quick website for Antebellum that also includes all current instruments for sale.

Click here to take a look!

No longer will you need to ask "is x available?" as I'm going to start keeping track of everything available in the store and on eBay at the same time (as there's always stuff kicking around that I'm not listing on the 'bay).

"AntebellumInstruments.com" should start forwarding there as opposed to the blog fairly soon.

c.1925 Regal Fancypants Tiple


It's not often that I get a chance to show you all two finished tiples within a span of a few days. It's even rarer that I have two Regal tiples done in the span of a few days. This earlier, 1920s tiple, gives nice contrast to this earlier posted 1930s tiple.

This particular model is the same model and specs that I own myself... and I like this one just the same. Great big, lush, sound and (after resto & setup) a superb player, too. This tiple is in pretty good shape to boot -- original bridge, crack-free save for 3 tiny, tight, secure 1" hairlines on the lower bout, and nicely functional tuners, too (though I replaced a couple missing gears with some vintage stock).


Woods are: solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, cedar? neck, rosewood headstock veneer, misc. dyed hardwood (pearwood? maple? something?) fretboard with inlaid MOP dots. Bound top and back with black celluloid, soundhole and top edge inlaid with colored herringbone marquetry (used on many Regal instruments throughout the 1920s).


Love the colors on this model -- subdued mahogany red with yellowed spruce top.



Headstock with original nut.


Fretboard's looking good -- frets show a bit of wear here and there but have great height (no divots) and are ready to go another 90+ years.


Some playwear on the treble side from picks or fingernails.


I installed a new bone saddle to replace the fret-saddle as after the neck set I needed a bit more height. It also clarified the tone and boosted volume and richness.


Some soundhole nicks and dings -- but I've repainted the black edging to keep the look consistent.


Another shot of the bridge.



Mhhh... mahogany. With some honest use-wear, too, but still looking grand.





I'm always surprised at how well these stock tiple tuners weather time (though I did clean them up a bit).



5/25/2010

c.1915 Vega-built Schmick "Lyric" Banjo Mandolin


What a rare bird!

William Schmick of Camden, New Jersey, was certainly taken with the English zither banjo (which this style of top-tension rim is based upon, but improved upon, too)... but he went a step better and got Vega to build his banjos for him. This banjo-mandolin is certainly worthy of the Vega factory -- it's very well-built, sturdy, and plays and sounds fantastic. The top-tension rim and soundholes on the resonator facing forward give it plenty of direct volume right out to the audience -- where you want it.


Restoration included general cleaning, teardown, setup, etc. as well as reinforcing some earlier back repairs. It's all-original, though I opted for a new rosewood bridge over the original maple/ebony banjo-style bridge, which was slightly too low and applied too much pressure in the center of the head (smaller base means more sink). The original bridge will of course go with it to its next owner.


This was a photo taken while I had it all apart -- this is inside the resonator. Apparently, a Kodak camera & music shop? Cool!


Amd here's Schmick's label and the 1914 patent date of his "invention."


Nice materials in this instrument: solid maple neck and resonator back, sides, and top. There's rosewood edging at the "soundwell" and a rosewood veneer on the headstock. The fretboard is a nice thick piece of ebony with MOP dots inlaid and nickel-silver frets and there's an ebony heelcap, too. There are side dots as well (which is super nice!) and a bone nut. Black celluloid binding on top and bottom of the rim, also. Overall? A really quality build.






Here you can see some buckle scratches, finish wear, and two long dryness cracks which have been filled.


Good quality tuners with bakelite buttons. Maple neck is laminated with a center strip of rosewood?




Side dots.





Yessir, she's a beaut, and like all Vega-built mandolins and banjo-mandolins -- sounds great and feels great in the hands, too!