GW Basses & Luthiery

  Restoration of a broke and beat Rickenbacker bass

I had a really nice Ric that was stolen around `91 or so, and I've always wanted to replace it. However, as weird as it may seem, I had been looking for one that was beat up or broken so that I could restore it and hot rod it as I saw fit. Well, I finally found one that had a pretty bad break in the neck, and had many "modifications" done to it over the years (parts removed, spray painted, etc....). I got it for a pretty reasonable price and so the restoration began.

What I'm planning is to first repair the neck break (already clamped and glued the day I got it). I decided to remove the original truss rods and fill the truss rod slots with purpleheart stringers and then install a new dual action truss rod. Then a new stabilized flame maple fingerboard with block inlays.

I'm then going to take about 3/16" or so off of the top of the body and put on a burgundy / rasberry dyed through maple burl top on it. Electronics will be a DiMarzio bass pickup up under the neck, and a DiMarzio humbucking bass pickup in the bridge position with gold mounting rings for both. Hardware will be either a gold Hipshot Model A bridge or their new individual string through body bridge saddles and gold Hipshot tuners. Once the new maple top is on it, it will get all new creme binding on the body, neck and the headstock. Oh yeah, and gold Q-Parts dome knobs with red pearl tops.

The Restoration / Customization Process

The neck break as it came out of the case, low E string side

and the high G string side

Ho-made pickguard, neck pickup missing, etc. It is hard to tell from these pics, but it had a black spray can paint job over the original maple-glo finish. The biggest clue is the black goes all the way to the bottom of the binding in the neck pics above, whereas about 1/8" of the fingerboard should be visible between the black finish and the fingerboard binding on a factory paint job. Of course, I knew about this when I bought it.

Neck break glued and clamped

Neck crack glued up to stabilize the neck so I can remove the fingerboard

Using my a block plane that my Grandfather made to remove the original fingerboard

A block of lead had been put in a hollow spot in the back of the fingerboard... weird, huh? I talked to Rickenbacker and they said it was for helping to eliminate dead spots.

Original non-functioning truss rods removed

Neck planed down and cleaned up

I decided to fill the original truss rod slots with some purpleheart to stiffen the neck up a bit

Purpleheart stringers glued and clamped

A couple of close-ups of the purpleheart stringers being glued in

After planing the purpleheart down to the surface of the top of the neck, I added a 1/8" piece of wenge to the front of the neck for additional stiffness and to put some thickness back in the neck. In this pic and the one to the right I've also removed 1/4" from the top of the body to get ready for the new maple burl topset.

The dyed mapel burl topset is on, routing the new dual action truss rod channel

Testing the truss rod fit

The new stabilized flame maple fingerboard is glued and clamped down

The clamps are off, looking more like a bass!

Greg helped out with the binding

Decided to put binding on the headstock too. Imho, Rickenbacker should do this from the factory....

Scraping the binding flush and scraping the remaining black paint off

New inlays going in fingerboard. I had this inlay design idea floating around in my head for a while and decided to try it on this bass. The bars coming in from the side of the binding are cut from left over pieces of the maple burl top. The dots at the 12th fret are white mother of pearl, the rest of the dots are black mother of pearl. The inlays are cut through the binding so they show through and serve as the side reference "dots".

A coat of tru-oil going on to give it that nice, amber "glow"

And the finished bass after a whole bunch of coats of clear Nitro Lacquer and all the new hardware installed. It's ALIVE! The FrankenBacker!

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