c.1985 Jim Palmer Acoustic Bass Guitar

This is a friend's bass in for a bit of setup work. At the same time I found a couple loose braces which were vibrating painfully and corrected those as well. It's a strange, curious instrument and bears "Jim Palmer, Lake Wales, Florida, 1985" in pencil on the backstrip. As an acoustic bass guitar sound-wise it's a step up from something like a Martin ABG but it's certainly no competition volume-wise for an upright bass, electric bass, or my recent banjo bass. It does have a good amount of warmth and could carry just fine playing acoustically alongside a couple other flattop guitars but it would struggle in any other situation. Maybe it's best use would be for recording or popped in front of a mic?

The construction and wood choice is all interesting! The top seems to be solid cedar while the back and sides look like some sort of red-tinged walnut to me but I really have no idea quite what they are.

This has a short 30 3/8" scale length and a radiused, ebony fretboard. Check out the big pearl dots!

There's a copper dot at the 12th fret and I polished it up so it'd shine. The frets are all in good shape but the neck itself has some weird twisting that means that it actually plays like a well-adjusted bass from frets 1-7 but feels a little higher at frets above that. I think this might be a bit of an advantage, though, as even with the low tension the strings don't rattle against the frets as you go up the board.

I added some string mutes above the tail to cut down on rattle and overtones. Kluson tails tend to get weird rattles. I'm not sure why but I think it has to do with the strings vibrating in the front-edge slots rather than coming out against a flat underside as on other tails.

The builder was quite clever in using a pin-bridge style glued-on bridge but then hanging a tail. Most ABGs with pin bridges sound terrible. Using the tail cuts the sideways tension, boosts the volume, and allows for lighter bracing inside.

Isn't that back absolutely gorgeous?

This stuff looks like quilted walnut or mahogany but I'm pretty sure the grain pattern rules out mahogany and it certainly doesn't look like any normal sort of koa which would be another good guess.

The 5-piece maple neck has a birdseye center strip.

And did you catch this? Big deep sides... of vertical piece! That's an intense amount of work!


Anonymous said...

Hello, i´m no expert but could the back and sides on that bass be cherry? greetings from Denmark Andreas

Jake Wildwood said...

Andreas: it's entirely possible, but I think it's some sort of species related but not quite the same.

Acoustic Bass Guitar said...

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