The bass was made by John Frederick Lott in London, England circa 1815. The peg box & scroll broke off- split with the grain in the typical manner. On a commercial bass we might decide to pin & bolt it to repair or perhaps put on a whole new neck, with a commercailly carved peg box & scroll. But given the historic nature of the bass, grafting the original peg box & scroll to a piece of well seasoned flamed maple matching the original wood is the only real solution. Any other repair would devalue the instrument.

Using a variety of hand tools I carefully remove the scroll & peg box from the old neck & take out half the thickness of the peg box cheeks down to the depth of the peg box. A flat piece of scrap hardwood with soft graphite on it is rubbed against the carved surface to show high points. I then carve off the wood where the graphite highlights until I have three flat surfaces.

The original peg box & scroll is carefully fitted to the new maple neck. I can't finish fitting & shaping the neck butt until I have the scroll fit.


I like to rough shape as much of the neck as possible before any gluing. I add a 1/4"-20 bolt at the butt to reinforce this weak point, with the client's permission.

The neck is glued in, then the new ebony fingerboard is glued on. The peg box & scroll are then glued to the new neck. This makes all of the fitting work easier and keeps the valuable original wood work out of harm's way as much a possible. You can't be too careful!

You also can't have too many clamps!

The original varnish was already long gone from the front face of the peg box- the result of an earlier scroll graft- so I took it down to the wood and matched the varnish to the original.
The owner of this bass wanted an extremely short mensure so I used a false nut- this way the next owner can have it easily lengthened to the average 41 1/2" length e flat the neck is a match to.

The flame of the new neck maple is quite apparent in the picture at the right. I hand select all my wood from local mills and air dry it before I use it on an instrument. A bass of this caliber desrves the best wood I can find.

At left is the finished bass with its new neck, ready for another 200 years of music making.

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Copyright 2009 William E. Merchant. All rights reserved.