Hi guys! First, let me take a minute and thank all of the good people in the LC, for without you I would be lost in a sea of doubt and uncertainty. I have learned so much from all of you during my five years here on TB, and I get to play home-built custom basses, built to my own specifications!
I have been planning on doing a five-string fretless build for some time now. I've been knocking around design ideas in my head whilst doing my other builds, really just daydreaming about what I wanted it to be. I knew I wanted it to have an unlined fingerboard, and a curvaceous body, and I knew I wanted to use one or two soapbar pickups with an ACG EQ-02 filter preamp. And maybe I'd try a slotted headstock this time. But beyond that, there were no particulars.
Then I saw this Warmoth Dinky P body in the classifieds:
Didn't need it, but it sure pushed all the right buttons! It remained for sale for longer than I thought it would, and I eventually had to submit an offer, which resulted in a sale! (Sorry for stealing it for such a pittance, Cam!)
Now you're saying to yourself "But that's a four-string body, set up for a standard Fender four-string neck!". And you're right.
But I like narrow-spaced five-strings, and I knew that I could make a neck to fit that pocket that could be wide enough for a fiver.
I call this build "Serendipity", because so many things were just right about this:
- while I'm not a fan of the traditional Precision shape, the Dinky P is very likely my favorite of all of the Warmoth offerings
- the body has a flame maple top, which I love, and a walnut back, which I love
- the body is routed for two EMG-35-sized pickups, which match what I have on hand and what I had planned to use all along
- it also has a generous electronics cavity, with plenty of room for the ACG preamp and a couple of batteries
- it also came with a side jack plate already mounted, and the contoured neck heel option with an included neck plate
I already had some walnut neck stock on hand, that I had purchased a while back, not knowing exactly what I would use it for. And I already had nearly all of the hardware I would need as well.
The seller included a very nice Hipshot A-style four-string bridge in the deal. When I received the body and inspected the bridge, I noticed that the screws were positioned a little differently than the normal A-style bridge; turns out this is the version designed to retrofit the five-screw Fender bridge (although it only uses three of the five screws). I was already resigned to drilling new holes to mount the five-string bridge, so I removed the Hipshot and saw that the body was drilled for all five holes. But wait a minute, that rings a bell. Could it be?
It turns out that one of my candidate five-string bridges, the Schaller 2000, uses this exact same screw pattern!
Between the screw hole pattern and the ability for narrow string spacing, it's almost as if this bridge were expressly designed for four-to-five string conversions. Serendipity!
I ordered a truss rod and a mac ebony fingerboard from LMII, and when they came in, I had everything I needed to get to work.
Here's the walnut neck getting tapered on the router table:
And here's my new fingerboard taper sled for the table saw:
While the neck heel is squared off to fit the Warmoth pocket, the fingerboard taper continues all the way to the end, which helps provide for five strings where there are normally four.
As I mentioned, a slotted headstock was planned, which makes the neck construction a little different, and a little easier. There's no need for a tilt-back headstock, so no scarf joint, but it does mean that the truss rod access should be at the heel. Serendipitously, the Dinky P already had the recess to allow this.
Here's the rod installed - first time I've done a heel access; came out pretty nice:
Glued on the fingerboard, installed threaded inserts, shaped the headstock, carved the neck profile, radiused the fingerboard, and bam! Here we are doing our first test assembly:
Still have a bunch of finish sanding to do, as well as a few coats of Tru-Oil, but here's the headstock - I think it came out pretty well:
Just one pickup installed for now, and still a bit of wiring left to do, so no plug-in time with it, but I got the action set pretty much where I like it. The end of the fingerboard allows 22 "frets" for the G string:
It's amazing how fast a build can go when you stumble across a perfect candidate body at a great price!