Last winter, I was fortunate nough to purchase the
Stack Knob Jazz bass owned by
Walter “Uncle Bookie” Booker
(Cannonball Adderley, Thelonious
Monk, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins,
Sarah Vaughan, Chick Corea). Yes,
it was a basket case. Yes, it was
the most important piece I’ve ever
purchased. Yes, buying it made
absolutely zero fiscal sense from
a dealer’s perspective. And no, I
would not have done anything differently. In my March and April
2010 columns, I described buying
the bass and offered an overview of
this historical instrument. In this
installment, we’ll look at what went
into resurrecting and restoring it.
You may remember that the bass
was painted with a brush, had all the
wrong components, was unplayable,
and required a full restoration. I purchased the bass in December 2009,
and it took until September 2010 to
finally complete the job. Any retailer
Left: Walter Booker’s Jazz bass before the restoration began.
Right: The “Bookie bass” after resurrection—a stunning beauty.
“The bass is nuts.
She oozes all the
magic and mojo that
an instrument of this
who buys stock to sit on for 10
months before putting it up for sale
is basically asking to go out of business. But, honestly, we did not buy
the bass for that purpose. This was
a labor of love, and we don’t think
this bass is going anywhere anytime
soon. We love it too much.
After I bought the bass, I had to
decide what to do with it. Even after
a thorough analysis that involved
at least 50 professionals—including
players, dealers, and folks who work
in antique restoration, instrument
preservation, and music history—we
still couldn’t reach a decision. A
conversation with my dad, a non-
musician, finally put it all together.
He said the bass was meant to
be played, so make it play. This
thought process took six weeks.
The bass needed a
complete and total
None of the wood
could be altered—
nuance was already
in factory order.
The bass had to
have an honest look
to it—no jellybean
colors, no matching
The dates and original paint in the
cavities had to be
No Compromises My criteria for Krishna Jain’s cosmetic restoration:
Only old-school techniques and products
could be used.
KEVIN BORDEN has
been playing bass since
1975, and he is currently the principal and
co-owner, with “Dr.” Ben
Sopranzetti, of Kebo’s
Bass Works (
kebosbass-works.com). You can reach Kevin at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to call