Thought I'd go ahead and do a build log of my first build. I know I've learned a lot looking at other people's builds, so maybe this will help others also (or show what not to do
I've been looking for a very portable 5-string bass. I often ride my motorcycle to bass lessons, rehearsals, or jams (trying to save on gas), so I needed something smaller and lightweight. I had a hohner B2 4-string, but prefer 5. Also, I really dislike the rectangular bodies of the steinbergers and steinberger copies and they just don't hang right, so I looked around at what else existed. I really liked the look of the Ibanez Axstars. They look like they will balance pretty well and have just enough body to hang right. Unfortunately, they were only made in 1985 and 1986 and are a little hard to find. Even harder to find is the 5-string version. I've always wanted to build a bass, so I figured I'd build my own. How hard can it be?
Here's what the original Axstar looks like:
Not much to go on, but should get me close. I traced the photo and made up some templates. Then fiddled around with the image to see what it might look like:
I decided to go with 34" scale. The tuners, bridge, and headpiece will be the 5-string black ABM set. EMG-40HZ for pickups. Stewmac two-way spoke truss-rod. I'm also going with a wider string spacing. I think the original 5-string Axstars had a very narrow spacing (maybe they crammed 5 strings onto the 4-string neck).
I've got some Maple and Walnut that I got from my Grandfather when he died, so I thought it would be nice to use that. Here's the body blank made of two glued together halves of black walnut. I've already thickness sanded to the desired depth:
I ordered the fretboard precut and radiused to 16". It's Indian Rosewood.
The neck is glued up from the maple and strips of Bolivian rosewood that I had left over from another project.
Using the paper template I made by tracing the Axstar photo, I made a router template by tracing onto MDF and then scroll-sawing and drum sanding smooth. Here I've got the template laid out with another scrap of MDF for the neck so I can make all the neck measurements.
Closer up with the real neck in position:
After I made my template, I found another picture of an Axstar online and noticed that they continued the body up the neck a few inches, apparently as some added support for the neck. So I remade the template with the extra neck mounting area. The template to the left is for routing out the recess at the upper end of the body.
Neck cut to length and tapered:
I'm not sure how I like having the rosewood taper into the maple. I didn't really get a clean transition like I wanted.
Starting to look like something:
Clamped the template to the body blank and did a shallow pattern route:
Here's after several more passes to deepen the cut:
Unfortunately, my router couldn't quite make the entire depth
So I used the scroll saw to quickly cut off the remaining scrap:
and flipped it over and cleaned it up with a laminate trimmer:
after some drum sanding to clean it up, it's starting to look like what I envisioned:
I put some of the parts on to see how things would look:
I have two pickups and the Axstar has two. I'm still vacillating about whether to go with one or two. Opinions?
Also, I'm thinking of putting a slot in between the last two frets for adjusting the truss-rod spoke. Is that a bad idea?
Should I mount the tuners on the surface or recess them? It looks like the original Axstars had the tuners angled down into the body.
(to be continued when I have more done)