First a shout-out to my buddy John Scott at Bluesman Vintage here in Nashville
for helping to make this blog (along with the restoration) possible … Thanks
John! Now, let’s get into this story.
This bass is currently owned by Georgia picker Wayne Kistner who traded for
it it way back in 1971 from super-picker Les Dudek who, in addition
to his solo material, has played guitar with The Steve Miller Band, The
Dudek-Finnigan-Krueger Band, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Boz Scaggs, The Allman
Brothers and many more uber-cool cats.
So, this bass has some History with a capital “H”!
Okay, so take a good look at the above pic of the bass; kinda makes you
think “what the heck?” … right? Looks
like some of the guitars that were found floating in a swamp after hurricane Katrina. But no, this guitar was not the victim of
THAT kind of natural disaster … it was ANOTHER kind of natural disaster! You see, that early plastic pickguard (a concoction
of nitric acid, sulphuric acid, cotton fibers, and camphor) was just doing what
nitric acid and sulpheric acid naturally does over time … it was an agent of
corrosion! If you have a vintage
instrument with any plastic parts made from this highly unstable and corrosive
early acid-based plastic, here is a key:
Don’t keep it shut up in a case for long periods of time, because if you
do, when you open the case you might well see somthing like the horror pictured
here! For more on this dangerous off-gassing, read this Gibson blog on
And so, this is the condition the bass was in when it hit the shop of
Bluesman Vintage. They carefully disassembled
her and lovingly put her back together again, cleaning and re-using as many
original parts as they possibly could.
The dead-as-a-doornail pickup wound up (no pun here :-) in my shop. She looked terrible … but in a cool vintage
kind of way! When I cut and removed the
coil, I found just what I expected: a LOT of corrosion on the magnetic pole
pieces; this was probably what led to the pickups demise!
So I stripped her down and cleaned and polished her up on the inside, but
left the outside looking fully “vintage”.
Next, I fully covered the pole pieces with Kapton tape prior to winding, to
ensure corrosion would never again suppress this gal’s voice.
Then I re-charged the magnetic poles, which were reading nearly fully dead. Luckily, they charged nicely up to a very
healthy level for AlNiCo 5!
Then it was on to the hand-winder for about 10,000 turns of period correct
Plain Enamel coil wire.
The original lead wires were re-used for historic integrity. The cotton jacket on them was flaking just a
bit, and the black lead had turned more blue-ish in color, but they were fully
Then she got a nice comfy cotton-string protective wrap, just like she was
given at birth back in 1968.
And then it was on to a nice dip in my own proprietary vintage tint lacquer
And last, we checked her vitals, just to make sure she was fully recovered
and ready to once again make folks realize that, after all is said and done it
really is “all about that bass”. She
clocked in at a perfect 8.7K resistance and 3.66 Hernies of induction, those
numbers combined with her average pole gauss readings in the 1,100 range mean
she is just flat PERFECT.
And, doesn’t she look sweet!
Speaking of looking sweet, I’ll end this blog with some pics of the fully
restored bass. Contrast these to the pic
at the top of this blog. And remember
children: watch that old plastic “explosive”!