Have a lot of time on your hands? Of course not, and neither do we. But sometimes it’s fun to go nuts. I know that many shops would recommend simply replacing a neck when you have damage in the neck heel like this. But the truth is that just anything can be fixed if you’re willing to put in the effort. Plus, the public school that owns this bass when faced with that kind of bill would likely put this instrument out of commission along with the other wrecks that faced the same rough treatment. In Wisconsin, before one billion dollars was taken out of the public school system in 2010 I didn’t think things could have gotten worse. We know better now. At least those currently in power in this state can look at this repair, then proudly point to their Milton Friedman inspired fiscal policies and say – “see, I told you that charitable giving would make up the difference!”
This Engelhardt came to us with not only two cracks in the neck heel but the male part of the dovetail was destroyed. With an insert it’s possible to kill two birds with one stone – reinforce the breaks and come up with a new dovetail tenon. It’s easier when you can do this without the fingerboard attached because then you can use a router or table saw to hog out much of the waste. But here we used drills and chisels to make a straight sided but tapered pocket as big and deep as we dared to go, using little die makers squares to try and keep things squared up.
If you can manage to keep the pocket more or less square then fitting an insert isn’t that bad. Yes, I know that the blind back wall is a stress riser that may contribute to a future crack but the back corners do incorporate a large corner radius, plus that part of the neck heel is thick. The Kay/Engelhardt basses are ideal for this type of reinforcing spline because the grain of the wood is going the same way as the spline.