The Repair Shop
How I got involved
Last summer I was contacted by the production company for the BBC The Repair Shop programme. They were seeking advice about the restoration of a 1966 Fender Jazz bass. I initially thought they might pass that information onto their own in-house restorers. But much to my surprise I was contacted a few weeks later and asked to take part in the programme and be filmed restoring the Fender Jazz bass.
If your haven’t come across The Repair Shop I suggest you check it out. Once you start watching it can become a bit addictive.
The bass that I was asked to restore belonged to Tony Wilson, founding member of and bass player for the band Hot Chocolate. Hot Chocolate has many hits in the 1970’s. The bass had been left unplayed for many years and was in a pretty poor state. But Tony’s son, Dan, had picked up the guitar and was keen to have it restored so that he could learn how to play it.
So what needed to done to restore this bass?
Here is a list of the issues I had to consider as part of the restoration:
- The Fender headstock logo/decal was missing.
- The nut was broken.
- The frets were very worn.
- The was a very nasty gouge in the back of the neck. This was quite deep and not caused by normal playing wear.
- The pickup and the bridge covers were missing. (quite normal for a Fender Jazz bass of this era)
- The tone control was not working and overall the wiring and controls were in a poor state.
- The guitar had not been cleaned for many decades.
- Much of the lacquer had worn off, particularly on the back of the guitar.
Carrying out a sympathetic restoration
When working on a guitar of this age I have to consider and balance what needs to be done to get the guitar in a playable condition, whilst preserving the character and integrity of a much played instrument.
And what to do about the damage to the back of the neck was the most challenging of those issues. It’s probably hard to see from the picture but the damage is quite significant and made playing around the area of the damage unpleasant.
In the end I decided to thin the neck down slightly and get into fresh wood below the level of the damage. I then refinished the neck to the same colour as the original. In addition I re-fretted the guitar, replaced the Fender logo with a period correct decal, replaced the metal covers (after aging them). After giving the guitar a good clean I dealt with all the minor issues that made the guitar less than playable. Dan seemed to be very happy with the work I did on this father’s bass.
It was great fun taking part in The Repair Shop. I have since been filmed restoring another item for The Repair Shop. But this episode is yet to be aired, and so I can’t, at this stage, say any more about this restoration.
If you would like to see the episode in which I restore the Fender Jazz bass please click on the link. The Repair Shop. If the link doesn’t work it may be that the period in which you can watch an item on BBC iPlayer has expired.