So I bought a B4CE Bass with a little twist to the story.

gilded

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I bought a '93 B4CENT (cutaway electric, natural top) bass today. Looked like it was in pretty good shape. Has a good hard shell case that was 17" across but wasn't a really good fit, as the case was too deep for the thin-line bass and the bass 'sat funny' in the case. Also the fingerboard and the nut area were pushed hard against the inside of the top. A lot of padding under the body will/would be needed to ensure that the bass sits level in the case.

The action was really high but the price was really low, so I bought it! Then things got interesting.

I'm a big boy and I've looked over guitars prior to buying them for at least 48 years. For example, I checked the neck out on the bass and didn't see a problem. I saw that the bridge was lifting a little with a very small belly on the top behind the bridge. I noted that the truss rod had been used to make the fingerboard totally flat, which is a common procedure that people will use to treat the symptoms of high action without doing anything irreparable.

I thought the neck angle was not perfect, but it certainly wasn't the worst. As well, the Saddle was too high, which means that the action issue might be totally adjustable by lowering the saddle.

Anyway, I took it to my luthier's shop, 15 miles away. He looked at the bass for a minute, turned to me and asked, "You did see the crack in the neck, didn't you?" He went on to say that the bridge needed to come off and the saddle could be brought down to completely correct the high action.

But boy, that was a bad feeling!!! I had missed the number one problem! Cracked neck! So, back to place of sale, aka the Pawn Shop. That's when things got more interesting:

First, I looked at the repaired neck in the not-quite-bright overhead lighting of the pawn shop. I knew exactly where the crack was but still couldn't see it. I picked up the guitar and looked at the neck inches away from my face; I couldn't see a crack! I took off my glasses. Again, no crack! I would literally have had to taken the B4CE outside and looked the neck over in the bright sunlight to have a chance of finding it.

What was the problem? Cataracts Stage One, complicated with Old Age Stage 66. Argh!! To add insult to injury, the young female salesperson saw it right away and pointed it out to me, "Here it is!" Mmmn, I guess she didn't have Cataracts, just Tattoos..

Now, here's the high point of the whole Saga. The young female saleperson said,
"Our manager is a guitar player (true) and saw the neck problem, too, so we priced it accordingly (arguable). We spent time today setting up an amp for you to check out the pickup with, putting a battery in the bass, getting the case from the back, setting up a chair (true) but we know that you've got some time in this transaction, too, like going to the bank and back to get cash when we couldn't take a check, then taking it to the repair shop and coming back. So, knowing that we all have time in this situation, how much money do you want Returned To You so we can call it Even For Both Sides?"

Gang, forty-eight years into guitar trading with pawn shops and I had never heard it put quite that way. I told her the amount I would settle for. She conferred for a while with the rest of the salesmen and brought back $124.75. Mmmn, that's what I asked for.

I gave 'em back the 75 cents for the battery and took the bass back to luthier to remove the bridge and take the saddle down.

I'll let you know how it sounds in a couple of weeks and I'll put pics up when I get them.

gilded
 

fronobulax

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Wow. Not the story I was expecting. Just as a data point, I had several people whose opinions I trusted tell me my B4CE needed a neck reset. When I finally found a luthier who would consider doing the job, he told me the neck was fine and then spent a couple hours making a new saddle. The intonation and playability problems went away. But by that time I had realized the B4CE was not loud enough to be my first choice as an acoustic only instrument and not my first choice as an electric. I loved the variety of sounds I could get from the Fishman but that was not enough. However since my sister's family is full of multi-instrumentalists and had people who would try and play bass but no bass I gave it to her.
 

gilded

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Not the story I was expecting, either, frono. I think I was so weirded out that I missed the neck repair the rest of the day was a write-off.

One thing I should have brought out was that the neck repair was very well done. My luthier wanted to shoot lacquer over it, but I think I'd rather leave it alone, so future owners can see what they have..

If people get a chance, I'd be glad to hear what strings people like to use on these instruments. You know, phosphor bronze, taped, etc.

And of course, I would love to find the right case for it! That should only take a couple of years..
 

fronobulax

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My case was a TKL that the previous owner had. It was clearly for a bigger bass - lots of room around the headstock and deeper than necessary. That said, I don't recall any concerns about the bass "sloshing around" in the case. Maybe I can get my sister to look for part numbers or identifying marks.

As for strings I always used phosphor bronze for no particularly good reason.
 

Nuuska

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The case - it is too deep - but if something raises the body, then the neck is fine? Is this correct?

If so - you have once in lifetime chance to build a "trunk" with a lid under the body-part. Space for folding stand - strings - tools - books - etc
 

twocorgis

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Good luck with the new addition Harry! I use to own one of these, a fretless one, and it ended up going back to Germany with Krysh after LMG II or III.
 

gilded

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Nuuska, that's an intriguing idea about storage space. I'll get back to you on it.

And Sandy, I appreciate the encouraging words.
 

gilded

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Let's see if I can do these pics correctly.

The case is 16 3/4" inside at the lower bout. The neck is 17". The depth of the case is 5", so the bass body falls into the body area of the case. As the bass' body sinks into the 5" depth, the bass' neck lefts up substantially above the 'horizon' of the neck's portion of the case. As well, the Grover Bass tuners are very tight against the sides of the case.

My luthier is positive both the tightness of the case and the depth of the case are the cause of the neck's damage. The first 3 pics show the way the neck gets levered out of the case (I don't know if you can see it, but the neck support is the fulcrum point where the neck goes up as the body goes down). The rest of the pics show a yellow piece of paper inserted where the back side of the bridge is lifting up and how clean the front of the bass is. The back ain't bad, either.

The 3rd pic shows a small white spot in the finish of the top. Go right about 3" from the treble side of the bridge and you'll see what I'm talking about. That's the only ding I've been able to find.

Thanks for looking!
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walrus

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Just for the record, I enjoyed the story on it's own!

walrus
 

gilded

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Walrus, thanks so much for your kind words.

I never know whether I've written too much. On this thread, I read this story to my wife and she said,

"If you hadn't been so busy counting the tattoos on the saleswoman, you probably could have gotten All the money back!"

I hate it when she's right, Wal'
 

The Guilds of Grot

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I believe I too had a case loosen up a neck joint on a guitar. When I purchased my FS-46CE From 8th Street Music on one of my Philly trips (pre-internet) it came in a Goya Range Master case. One day I noticed the neck joint was loose. I took it to my guitar guy and he shot some super glue in the joint with a hypodermic needle. A year later it was loose again so I dropped it off at his shop. When I went to pick it up he told me that if I didn't get a new case for the guitar that he wasn't fixing it again!

I didn't get a new case for it but I did put an old folded up bath towel in the bottom of the case to elevate the body and bring the neck and headstock angle down. It's been fine since!
 

hearth_man

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The B4CE is a nice little acoustic bass. I picked one up recently myself. I found a fretless version which gives me the upright double bass feel. To get the upright bass sound I use nylon tape strings. Between the two It gives that sound I associate with an upright. I'm a guitar player so I'm sure I'm not using the correct terminology but when you pluck the string with this combination a held note sort of "blooms" as it dies away.

I have a fretless Guild B-30 that I spent weeks trying different string types, materials and gauges before I found LaBella Black Nylon tape wound 760N strings. I bought the heaviest gauge they made of this type, 0.060, 0.070, 0.094, 0.115 and that got me there! The other nice thing about these strings is that even with a heavy gauge the string tension is less than a typical wound string construction.

I used the same strings on the B4CE when I got it and I love it.

Enjoy yours!
 

gilded

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hearth_man, thanks for the info.

The first Guild bass I had was a JSII fretless from the early '70s, so we got that going for us, don't we?

Are you using an amp with your B4CE? Running it through a direct box, like a Radial J48?

I have a set of Thomastiks Jazz Flats floating around some where. I might try that. Any knowledge or opinions you have would be appreciated.

all the best, Harry aka gilded
 

fronobulax

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I ran my B4CE into whatever amp was already plugged in for my electrics. It was trivial to make it sound like an acoustic guitar only lower and louder. If I played with the Fishman it started reminding me of my Starfire. In hindsight I was reacting to the hollow body, woody component of the sound. I never really chased the upright bass tone but nylon tape wounds would be the first thing I tried and based upon the experiences of others, I would expect success.
 

hearth_man

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I ran my B4CE into whatever amp was already plugged in for my electrics. It was trivial to make it sound like an acoustic guitar only lower and louder. If I played with the Fishman it started reminding me of my Starfire. In hindsight I was reacting to the hollow body, woody component of the sound. I never really chased the upright bass tone but nylon tape wounds would be the first thing I tried and based upon the experiences of others, I would expect success.
I think frono is correct, knows his way around a bass. But since you asked I use an old 1968 Ampeg 18N. I'm an old school guy when it comes to amplification, tube amps for guitar and bass.

Let us know how you make out with your string search.
 

gilded

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I've owned a few B-15s and also played and enjoyed a B18 with a Cleveland 18" speaker in it, but my friend who works on Marshalls and Fenders for me doesn't like to do Ampegs, so I'm out of the ampeg biz.

I agree that Brother frono knows a lot!
 

fronobulax

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In my old age weight has often been more important than sound. I played the B4CE through a 70's Peavey solid state head into a 1x15 and it would shake the room, flap your pants or do whatever you think happens when a lot of air is moved. But that was 60 or 70 lbs so most of the time I played through a Line 6 Lowdown Studio 110 which clocked in under 20lbs. In both cases I didn't do anything special with the amp because I had the B4CE instead of any other bass. I should also note that I don't often play with drummers so my volume needs can be simple.

Both amps are shown below. Posing them with a B-50 was a bit of irony that was lost on the folks bragging on their amp stacks.

IMG_20160223_183010678.jpg
 

hearth_man

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hearth_man, thanks for the info.

The first Guild bass I had was a JSII fretless from the early '70s, so we got that going for us, don't we?

Are you using an amp with your B4CE? Running it through a direct box, like a Radial J48?

I have a set of Thomastiks Jazz Flats floating around some where. I might try that. Any knowledge or opinions you have would be appreciated.

all the best, Harry aka gilded
Harry,

I don't know what sound you are after but I like the sound of flat wounds on most of my electrics, bass and guitar. I use them on my B301A and Guild solid body guitars as well as an X175. But like I said that's my taste. I know some people can't stand flat wounds.

But when it comes to an acoustic bass I like the nylon tape acoustically but once you plug it in you can turn it into any sound you want, as with all electrics.

I'm kind of funny that way. I have acoustic guitars that have no electronics and I want them that way. They get mic'd and sound like a true acoustic instrument. I have solid bodies with under saddle pickups like an FS46 if I want to run it through pedals or processing for a created acoustic sound.

An acoustic bass or guitar properly mic'd is a beautiful thing.
 
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