Bass Restoration Fundamentals

2023 UNH Violin Craftmanship Institute will be held online.

The class will focus on common problems in the bass repair shop. These will include:


  • Preparations for conserving the shape
  • Bracing the neck
  • Re-installing the top
  • When to re-line the edge.


  • Soundpost patch, other inlays
  • New bass-bar
  • Cleats


  • Repair, re-build, or replace a frayed or missing edge


  • Dressing a fingerboard
  • Installing a new fingerboard


  • Remove the neck
  • Re-set the neck using a laser for alignment
  • Neck graft (scroll graft)
  • Shear plate in pegbox to arrest movement


  • Tune up the old ones
  • Bushing oversized holes
  • Alignment of new machines

THROUGH THE f-HOLE — avoid taking off the top

  • Wire-pull patches
  • Magnets
  • Re-arch a Kay top


  • Re-brace a flat back to avoid future problems


  • Necessary pre-conditions
  • Geometry and layout
  • Fingered or chromatic?
  • Hardware


  • Jigs, tools, and appliances for performing various tasks 
  • The geometry and ergonomics of the bass.
  • How to re-arch a deformed top; when is this extreme repair necessary?

Select a repair you'd like to work on. You should have tools and materials needed to do that repair. If you wish to focus on a topic not listed above, please contact us as soon as possible so we can be prepared to make your UNH-VCI experience as productive as we can. For larger projects we will help you map out next steps for work on your own time.

The class is open to students with previous experience in instrument repair or who have participated in the BASS SETUP class.

A full list of tools and materials can be found in the Tools & Materials tab above, or by clicking here.

Tools & Materials


Bass Restoration Fundamentals

Bass Restoration Fundamentals - Tools and Materials

Instructor: Robert McIntosh

Questions can be directed via email to mcinbass@gmail.com.

You should bring with you (shipping not advised) one standard ¾ bass (due to space and time constraints). Select a repair you'd like to work on, based on the topics in the course description. You should bring tools and materials needed to do that repair. As projects will vary, we hope to reach out to you for information on your project prior to the workshop. This will help to ensure that you can complete or make good progress on your bass. For larger projects, we will either work out next steps for your own work or you might bring it back at a future workshop. 

Required Reading  
Bruce Hoadley Understanding Wood
R.G. McIntosh Wood Drying (mcinbass.com)


Recommended Reading  
J.E. Gordon  The Science of Structures and Materials
J.E. Gordon  Structures, Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down
Henry Strobel See his website for other titles
George Sturt The Wheelwright’s Shop
Weisshar-Shipman Violin Restoration: A Manual for Violin Makers
Henry Strobel Useful Measurements for Violin Makers
Henry Strobel Violin Maker’s Notebook
Bob Flexner Understanding Wood Finishing


Recommended Tools (You should acquire the essential tools if you do not have them)  
Notebook and pencils Essential         
Violinmaking knife  Essential
Measuring tape Essential
6”, *12”, and 24” straightedge Essential
Combination square or similar Essential
White wax china marker Essential
Fine-toothed saws, rip and crosscut  
Spindle clamps  
Long-reach clamps  
Hot hide glue, dry and mixed   
Glue pot, brushes, rags  
Small spatulas (palette knives) Essential
Scrapers Essential
Sandpaper, sanding blocks, self-stick sandpaper  
Bench light Essential
Planes, finger planes, chisels (I use a 1” mostly) Essential
Gouges (#3 x 20mm recommended) Essential
Heat gun  
Repair wood  
Sharpening equipment  
Cordless drill/driver  
Apron Essential
Mallet, hammer Essential
Tools that may be used in demonstrations  
Heat blankets and control  
Laser, jigs for aligning the bass and neck  
Tormek grinding wheel  
Grinding wheel  
Aluminum oxide and Arkansas stones  
Diamond hones  
Glue pot  
Titebond liquid hide glue  
Heat gun  
Spindle clamps  
Long-reach over-the-rib back clamps  
Long-reach bass bar clamps  
Cordless drill/driver  
Sling psychrometer  


Instructor Bios


Bass Restoration Fundamentals

  • Robert McIntosh

    Robert McIntosh is a native of Lynn, Massachusetts, and graduated Lynn English High School in 1969. He studied architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, class of 1973, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in the Building Sciences.

    In 1977, He married Bliss White, who had built a house on her family’s farm in Cambridge, NY. They have two daughters, Annika, and Helen. In 1993, when Annika was 14, she said she wished she could play the bass.

    At the time Robert was a cabinetmaker. A friend, fiddler George Wilson, gave him a wrecked bass that was in his woodshed. His violinmaker friend, Geoffrey Ovington, offered his guidance, which carried Robert as far as setting the neck, for which he would need the advice of a bass expert. Geoffrey introduced him to John Feeney who was in town to play the Dvorak Quintet. John urged Robert to call Lou DiLeone, the master bass restorer who had worked on his own bass. This serendipitous introduction was a turning point in Robert's life. Lou DiLeone was the teacher that his 20 years as a cabinetmaker had prepared him for.

    For 25 years Robert's clients have included local high school students and the bass section of the Met. He just completed his 12th handmade bass. He received a Certificate of Merit for Tone at the 2015 ISB, a Silver Medal for Tone a the 2016 VSA, and an Honorable Mention Convention Favorite at the 2017 ISB.

  • Keiran O-Hara, Assistant

    Keiran O'Hara is the owner and head luthier at O'Hara Fine Instruments, a shop just north of New York City specializing exclusively on Double Basses. Studying Music and Environmental Science at Florida State University, Keiran was drawn to work on instruments for the mix of art and science. While at Florida State, he took classes and independent studies in the Piano Technology Shop in the College of Music and then for four years taught a class in String Instrument Repair for Music Educators. Naturally, as a bassist he wanted to specialize in the instrument that felt at home with. This led him to work in the shop of Arnold Schnitzer. In the Schnitzer shop, Keiran grew to take on the duties of repairs, assembly and set up of the New Standard Basses, chromatic extension, and restorations. After eight years, Mr. Schnitzer retired and Keiran hung out his own shingle in 2017 to serve the greater bass community.

This course is currently unavailable.