Way back when I was taking lessons with one of my bass teachers, we got to talking about what he was doing when he wasn't playing, teaching or working in a music store. And I got more and more intrigued by the fact that Bill had designed and built some of his own basses. They were pretty elaborate, all being 6 string basses with some intricate construction techniques. When I asked him for some guidance on how to get started, he said that I should probably start with something simple, like a kit build. This was back around 1993 or so.
Fast forward to the present, and the bug hit me again. But the inspiration was to build something that wasn't readily available. At least not without plunking down a hefty amount of cash. So I started doing some research, trying to find the parts for the bass that I wanted for myself. So what did I want?
-A Precision Bass with a Jazz bass neck
-Nitro finished body & neck
-A vintage style pickup
-A 4 ply vintage style tortoiseshell pickguard
So, how to source this with good parts without breaking the bank? Well, I found an eBay seller called Stratosphere
that deals almost exclusively in parted out instruments. And there I was able to buy a Fender Classic 50's P-Bass body with a nitro finish.
I had also been hoping to buy a Fender Roadworn Jazz bass neck from them, but the one I had my eye on sold out before I could get it. So, I took to searching elsewhere for a suitable replacement neck. I found it after posting an ad on Talkbass, and this Allparts Jazz bass neck that was finished by luthier Dan Atkinson arrived yesterday. It's got a beautiful finish, with some nice relicing on the back of the neck.
The previous owner of the neck took the Atkinson logo off of the headstock. But he did include a Fender decal that I could put on if I chose. I've got somewhat mixed feelings on that front, since I wouldn't want someone else trying to pass off an Allparts neck as a genuine Fender neck to me.
At this point I have almost all of the parts. The pickup I chose is a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II precision pickup. I went to Stewart MacDonald and bought their premium P-Bass wiring kit, complete with cloth covered wire and CTS solid shaft pots (can't forget the wiring diagram!). There were some assorted bits of Fender hardware that I either had on hand or picked up. As for the bridge? I've got an old BadAss II bridge, but I also picked up a Fender vintage reissue bass bridge. I want to see which one gives me a little more room to make adjustments.
At this point in time, I've only got a couple of parts to source. I tried buying a set of Fender tuners today, but when I opened them up they were missing the mounting screws as well as the bushings. So those need to go back and get replaced.
Also due to get replaced? I found a tort pickguard that was pretty reasonably priced at only $14. It had the traditional 60's style 13 mounting holes. But alas, they didn't line up well with the 10 drill holes in my P-Bass's body. So now I'm checking with Pickguard Heaven
about getting a custom pickguard for this bass.
So does anyone else have some parts bass stories/lessons to share? I'm very much interested in hearing how other builds have gone, and what challenges presented themselves for your own builds.