Seems like its hollow body month. I rarely get these types to work on and yet here I have two in the same month. But this time she’s a koool bass of vintage Italian design and she’s a mystery girl at that.
Will the real ID please step forward..
It has only one guaranteed identifying feature, a made in Italy stamp on the back. Other than that the rest is conjecture and familiarities to a host of possible close relatives.
EDIT: We may have a winner.
The folks at Scotts bass lessons put me onto a Reverb advert that pretty much nailed this lady down to a
67 italian Made landola/Crucianelli Espana EL-38 Bass semi-hollow archtop
Now in their specific description of the bass it mentions a problem with no tone control.
there is likely a loose solder point which is bypassing the tone controls.
So its a common fault? and here is why. The pots are installed with spacers but no lock washer. This means as time goes on the wood, squished by the pot nuts, thins which now means they loosen and thus can turn in their holes. Over time this can rip the wires and in our case the caps, from the solder joints. My advice, replace the spacers with lock/star washers.
the Beatles influence..
The 1960s/70s saw a massive spike in the manufacture of guitars of this type mainly due the to popularity of the Beatles. VOX produced the Cougar bass which is very close in a number of ways to this baby. Lynx guitar, Imperial Tonemaster also close relatives. Vox purchased guitars from the likes of Italian EKO and Crucianelli and if one looks at these enough, certain tell tale factors start to stand up. The machine heads are a specific type, the volume and tone knobs very specific, the truss rod cap and pickup covers again specific as is the bridge and tailpiece. I have found all of these exact parts on makes of this era but never found them all together on the one guitar and this guitar has no badges.
It’s a mystery to me
The game commences
For the usual fee
It’s in a diary
This is my investigation
It’s not a public inquiry ~Dire Straits Private investigations
She no speak..
If only she could tell us her story but at present not only is she non sentient but also outputs no sound. Onto the surgeons table for a prod and poke. The input jack was noisy as were the pots. The selector switch was having no fun and something was troubling the pups. An internal colonoscopy through the fhole revealed a few traumas and a nice collection of dust. The tone pots seemed disconnected and a tone cap was left sulking in the corner, its mate missing in action completely.
Pot wire broken, full of dust bunnies
Dejected tone capacitor sulking in the corner.
Birds nest of dust and sad input jack
during this invasion of her private bits, a good scrutiny was undertook of the many surface cracks to see if it was simply cosmetic old girl skin or problems within. The xray like, careful, inch by inch scanning gave her the all clear.
fhole too small..
Unlike the Artcore job previously, these fholes were way too small for any tool or part transplanting. We will have to go in through the bridge pickup. At this stage we are still unsure where the problems are. Like a current pandemic, the more we test the more problem areas we find ;(
Surgery will have to be through the bridge pup.The switch is dead
First the switch is dead, these old wafer types often need a clean and a re-align of the wafers. Interestingly the switch feeds the two pup signals to the output, one via a resistor the other via a cap.
Wafer 3 way switch
Two problems on the switch. The contacts I cleaned up with fine emery paper. The toggle position holder thingy was a little more tricky to get right and in alignment. This is what holds the toggle in position.
toggle switch and the position thingy
With the switch now working it was obvious we also had a issue with the input jack. Nothing left but to remove all the inner organs.
With everything out now we can get a clearer picture of what’s going on. We have two volume pots,two tone pots not connected by any wires to anything. A disconnected capacitor, a missing capacitor and four very dirty but period original LESA made in Italy pots.
Its not a clear picture but the bridge pup has some issues. Its too wide for the screw mount housing. The springs have been riding on the coil’s wire for decades, crushing them in some places. The pups still seems to function so the best we can do is use smaller diameter springs and carefully nudge it aside some more so the pressure is at least resting on the cover plate and not the coil like it has been since the day it was born.
bridge pup crushed coil other side
Bridge Pup coil crushing damage
These pots of old are resilient fellows see my post on pot luck repair. So much better than the current crop of plastic fantastic (IMO) and thus worthy of repair rather than replace. Each one was similarly dismantled flushed and reassembled.
whats in a name…
While Im at it here are a few more ID images.
Headstock, with no badge, very frustrating but fairly grunty tuner cogs. Mind you one is damaged.
The only text on the bass, apart from the LESA stamped pots.
return of the bits..
Space is premium inside these semi hollow bodies and there is no ease of part re-orientation and manipulation once inside so I find it best to wire it up on a template board made from scrap wood. I use a 1mm 18awg copper wire to serve as the earth and keep things in relative positions to each other. The pots go in two by tow hurrah hurrah!
We get it all wired up , new input jack, clean pots, new caps, fixed switch and test it all before insertion. Trust me you don’t want to have to do this too many times.
You may have seen my heat shrink trick to help pull the pots through on the artcore but these come with handy holes in the shaft. A necessary advanced technique too because we have to weave these pots around some internal structures and body supports. We need a good tug at times. Wire wrapped and pull em through. Oh and don’t forget the lock washers! One was reluctant (not shown as it came after the image) as there was zero clearance in the corner of the body cavity. Patience and gentle persuasion required at all times with a little help from the colonoscopy.
pulling the pots through
is last to go in and a little fragile compared to the others so it was a little tricky too but everything back in order and we can test here out as a bass.
rustic and vintage beauty
A fair amount of general cleaning and dismantle, reassemble and re positioning of the pups took place after this before I was happy with the way it sounded. But in the end there is just something about and Italian and a lemon tree.
lemon tree bass
don’t you think?
If you know her name, I and its owner would be really interested.