Robbie McIntosh, Luthier

Specializing in the Double Bass


Repair and Restoration

crack clamp

As a luthier who works on fine vintage basses my first objective is to do no harm. The original varnish and the original wood are protected and conserved as much as possible. To that end, I have developed techniques for making repairs through the f-holes and endpin hole that obviate the need to remove the top. This saves the owner money and prevents needless wear and tear on the instrument. When removing the top is unavoidable I take measurements and make jigs that records the position of the neck and fingerboard relative to the upper corners of the body. Before removing the top I make a cradle that perfectly matches the contours of the back, and use it when clamping the top back on. This ensures that the instrument plays and feels the way it did before the repair.

inside brad's inside reach











New bridge

Re-fit or shim old bridge; re-cut string slots


Handmade maple “DiLeone” adjusters; aluminum; Full Circle, etc.




fingerboard dressing; new fingerboard


Re-set old post; new soundpost; summer/winter soundpost;

“Neutral top” soundpost, using a dial indicator to determine the “neutral” position of the top. (This is a technique developed by Lou DiLeone.)



Re-set the neck for maximum ergonomic utility and playability

New neck and scroll, hand carved to replicate an old scroll, or factory made to save money when the old neck fails.

Neck graft to preserve the old scroll

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C – extensions


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Capo mounts now available in black anodized aluminum.

Capo mounts now available in black anodized aluminum.


Tuning machines

Often the tuning machines are misaligned, which makes them difficult to tune and causes premature wear and malfunction. The remedy is usually to install bushings in the pegbox and drill new holes for the pegs. Sometimes the machines are so worn that they need to be replaced. In the case where the character of the original machines is important to the integrity of the bass, replicas can be fashioned using the same type of material that match the originals exactly. When converting a three-string bass to a four-string, the fourth gear can be fabricated to match the original three as was done on this Prescott bass. (See the article about another Yankee bass 3 to 4 string conversion, the J. B. Allen, here.)

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Below is a tuning key whose brass “pillow blocks” had worn so severely that the worm would slip on the gear. The pillow block on the end was bushed and re-drilled. The old ivory wouldn’t have survived being removed from the stem, so a new pillow block was assembled around the stem. Jonathan “Josh” Ward of Kingsbury, New York, is the mechanical wizard who does this kind of work. His phone is (518) 747-7875. He also plays the bass and is an accomplished guitarist.

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Josh also makes new tuners. Pictured below is my #4 bass with Josh’s custom tuners and one of my early C-extensions.

#4 tuner

McInbass #4 is a 3/4 size round back with gamba corners. It’s made of locally sourced sugar maple and red spruce, and has a spirit varnish.