Sorry, this is long...it's been a labor of love and in the planning for a long time, but wanted to share...
I made a new bass body for my Yamaha BB415 that I converted into a 6 string a while back. It was a bit on the heavy side and I made a new body out of a piece of old growth Douglas Fir that had been in my garage for over 100 years. My brother is a woodworker and given the size of the piece and the tree it must have come from he estimates that itís at least 150 years old.
Sorry, I didn't take any photos of the build progress of the body (which in hindsight I regret). I only have one shot of the wood before I went to work on it.
The Douglas Fir body is very light. The body before being painted, cleared and loaded weighed a little less than 3 lbs. The whole bass weighs about 6.5 lbs. (using my bathroom scale). The upper horn extends a little past the 12th fret and this bass balances quite well given the lightweight tuners and heavy mass Kahler 6 string, fully adjustable bridge.
For the paint job, being an artist and painting many guitars, I wanted to do a Tru-Flame mural on it, but I knew I didnít want the flames to stand out too much. I wanted the flames to follow the sculpted body and be more subtle so that it not only looked like flames, but also as if it could be the pattern in some exotic wood. I also painted the bridge plate and pickup covers to match the flames on the body, as well as the volume and tone control knobs. The headstock didnít really allow room for a noticeable flame job so it was painted to match the colors of the body with an Om symbol painted into the end.
The painted flame job makes the bass appear to change shape depending on the angle it is viewed at and almost makes the body appear even more sculpted than it really is. The back is just black leading into the edge of the sculpted sides where it goes into a very deep dark red of the top edges before transitioning into the flames.
The body shape comes from the fact that I like the look of a P-Bass but it is a little too squared off on the end, while a Jazzís butt end looks a little too droopy (like a Dali clock dripping off a table). I really dig the thinner horns of a Sadowsky, so the shape morphed into this as a blend of all three. I made sure the lower horn cutaway was far back enough to allow easy access to all the frets.
The top is not quite a full arch-top but it is heavily sculpted all around, tapering away from the center. The Kahler bridge is mounted to the downward angled end of the body as it curves around the bottom. So the bridge plate itself is not mounted to a flat slab top. This lowered the bridge so I could keep the strings lower without having to recess a pocket for the bridge plate. Since the bridge is fully adjustable in all directions this was not an issue aside from having to take a bit more time setting up the action and intonation.
The Jazz and P-Bass pups are angled to better suit my desire for the thinner D-G-C strings to have an equally full sound like the other three, with the P-Bass pup reversed to have that side for those strings be closer to the neck. All the strings sound very even like this. With the P-Bass pups in their normal layout on my Yamaha, they never sounded as full as they do now.
The switch on the front of the bass is my on/off switch for my wireless transmitter which is mounted in the body cavity.
The bass feels fabulous and should help alleviate back, neck and shoulder issues from the weight on gigs. The sound is very warm, yet bright and punchy. I donít know if body wood makes a huge difference or not in electric basses, but for some reason this bass sounds sweeter and richer than before. Beautiful sustain and a very even sound throughout the strings and frets. Obviously I dig the look.
Iíve been working on it a little more than two weeks now and just got it done before Christmas. The only cost to me was my time and a little bit of supplies I had already being an artist.
Here's some pics of my custom "M3-Om" 6 string bass. Hope you enjoy...