Experience building a Warmoth bass
Hey guys, so every week I get a new idea about what type of bass id like next and this week is no exception.
That being said, I am beginning to think that the only way I will get something truly unique for a decent price is to put together a bass from warmoth or other parts. I'm wondering if you guys can share your first timer warmoth experiences and if there are any "must know" things before you start. I've taken apart and put my basses back together, cut nuts, installed pickups, do my own set ups and recently tried a refinish with duplicolor aerosol paint. Would a warmoth build be something I should be able to handle? (Is there a lot of fretwork that would need to be done? I'm not very confident with frets).
I'm thinking some type of wood that could be finished in just Tru Oil and an all rosewood or wenge neck that would be left raw.
Tips or pointers?
Thanks for your help!
Hell Yeah, go for it.
I built myself the sweetest Fretless J around from an MIJ 60's reissue fretless neck I got from the Stratosphere ebay store* - that I epoxied my self with west systems; a warmoth chambered J body (trans-black with masked binding); and some SD antiquity II pick-ups.
I really wanted a high quality Jaco style fretless, but didn't want the boring old three tone burst, a relic or any of the other standard fender colors. You can't see the headstock in this picture but it is the only photo I have that captures the beauty of this finish. (it is really hard to photograph.) But, everyone that has ever held it agrees that it is spectacular.
Playing a show on an instrument that I made was one of the more fulfilling things I have ever done as a musician.
*(check them out, they are a store that specializes in ripping brand new fenders apart and selling their parts.)
I went with a genuine Fender neck (MIJ specifically) because I just love the 60's Jazz Bass "trademark electric bass" decals and I wanted a real Fender Serial number in case I ever wanted to sell it... But that would never happen now as it is just too damn pretty. :)
What are you thinking of building?
Dude, that is a sweet looking jazz. Do you find the chambered body is neck heavy at all?
I'm thinking of a jazz bass to begin with. Problem is I start browsing and end up wanting to build ten different basses haha. I'd really like something with a very raw finish and I'd also like to try an active preamp. So for I've kind of settled on either a black korina or black korina topped with koa jazz body, wenge or rosewood raw neck (maybe some block inlays?) no pickguard, black hardware, and a j retro preamp. Not sure what kind of pickups but that would be the last part of the equation.
It seems like you have the chops to do this. As for the frets? That can be hit or miss. But for best results, a leveling/crowning/polishing could never hurt. And as I recall, Warmoth recommends it. That's not to say you will need it. There's a chance you might. But there's a better chance you'll want to.
There's always fleaBay for parts, which often can be had for cheaper, but I could never recommend Stratosphere at this point. A: Their prices have gone way up. B: What they offer seems to be largely parted out B stock, or lower. My last purchase from them was a train wreck of a neck, which they shipped with the truss rod cranked all the way tight. They offered to take it back, but after my drastic attempt to level the frets, I told them I did not think that would be fair to them. So they offered a $50 rebate. I accepted it, thinking I was being generous to them. After that, they refused to sell to me. Go figure! The good news is that after a four months or so under string tension, the neck is playable.
Maybe something to consider is a Squier neck off fleabay, and give fret leveling/crowning a go. You wouldn't be out much if it doesn't turn out, or you'll get the hang of it and lose your fear of it.
I'm actually in the middle of my first warmoth build: a Deluxe 5-string Jazz. I have similar experience of working on basses as you do, maybe less. The only issues I've had so far are minor. The tuner holes were a bit tight for my 1/2" ultralites, but I fixed that with some sandpaper. Also the mating surface between pickguard and jazz control plate doesn't line up perfectly so I'm probably going to file the control plate a bit to better match the angle of the pickguard. I'm thinking of posting pics when I'm done. So yea go ahead, it's fun.
My experience of building Warmoth basses has been a little varied.
The first time out I thought to myself 'I wish I could have a bit of everything in a bass' - so what I built had a jazz neck, precision body, musicman pickup, and Warmoth's '72 P pickguard. It was pretty good but not really what I was after.
My next one I experimented with woods. I bought a walnut Jazz body which weighed a ton and put the neck from the previous bass (maple / ebony) on it, with a set of Lindy Fralins. I didn't like it either. I put some Barts in it which I preferred but ended up selling the whole thing.
The next one I built was fantastic! It had a maple/maple neck with black blocks and binding, an ash body which I stained black, black Marcus Miller pickguard, Badass II bridge and an Aguilar preamp. I installed the Lindy Fralin's in this one and loved them. I really regret selling that bass although it did weight 11.5lbs.
Warmoth's standard necks are HEAVY due to the steel rods and I find them very cold sounding and they don't sound like a Fender.
I haven't tried their graphite option yet but I'd imagine they are much better in both sound and weight.
Stick to classic tonewoods if you are looking for a classic sound (alder / ash , maple / rosewood)
It can work out quite expensive when you factor in all the parts you'll need.
It's a great way to get exactly what you want but just make sure you know exactly what you want!!
If I was to get a fiver I would seriously consider building a Gecko.
One thing that I realised after all of these builds, was that certain combinations just work, and that none of the combinations I tried sounded like what I was after - which was actually Fender.
My initial problem was that Fender didn't make exactly what I wanted so I turned to Warmoth. I've since purchased a Fender Jazz and it's exactly what I've always wanted (even though I owned one before the Warmoths!!) I just hadn't found the right one for me until now.......
Yeah, if you are going for a raw look, that sound pretty good.
The chambered body would probably be neck heavy, except I have a 60 stack knob dual varitone in there (volume tone, volume tone, varitone, varitone) im not sure how much it weighs, but it certainly helps balance. I had to drill through the chambered body to mount a side jack. That was kinda scary, and it took me about 20 mins of shaking to get all the dust out.
Tips and recs, Dont be afraid to shim the neck with cardboard or brown paper packing tape to get the alignment just right. And reasearch the sound you want very carefully and make sure you know the electronics and pickups you want before you buy the body. Warmoth can route just about anything you want, but they cant un-route it. ;)
As far as skills go - it sounds like you're more than up to doing the job well.
I'm like MVE. My first (and only, so far) build is a lined fretless J. Warmoth body and Allparts neck. I had never done any kind of work on a bass prior. I'd say it turned out great! And I, too, take some extra pride when I have played it out.
I even did my own graphics in Photoshop, printed my own waterslide decal for the headstock, and had a neck plate custom engraved.
With the work you've done before, I would say you can easily build one from Warmoth parts. If it were me (with my lack of experience), I'd probably do my best and then take it to somebody (like Gary Brawer, in San Francisco) and have it Pleked and setup. At that point, there's no reason it couldn't play (and look) like any multi-thousand dollar boutique bass.
As far as fretwork, the necks play pretty well without a fret levelling but will definitely benefit from one.
Great job, that thing is pretty.
I built it as a passive setup, but reading this thread has gotten me to thinking about putting a preamp in.... OH! Dang it! And I just realized that it's top routed, so there's really no room. Oh, well. Just as well. It's great, just like it is! :-)
I have 7 or 8 necks around the house and several full builds . None of them needed any fret work , all of them have ss6230's . The nut work has been dead on with all of them , only thing I do is run a nut file through a few swipes per the gauges I use just to make sure . I'm a big fan , some of the best instruments I have are Warmoth builds and they all have that little something special , that extra mojo or connection that comes from you building it . Nothing can be more fun than dreaming one up and seeing it through all the way to stage or studio . I highly recommend it ! Cheers , oh pics you say.. :D
Warmoth Snakehead on Fender FSR swirl
Warmoth 32" J Claro Walnut body & Ziricote
Warmoth Tele neck on a Renegade body
Warmoth LP neck on a Renegade Hog body
Warmoth 32" sc in Maple & Padouk
Warmoth '51 slab
most of these I finished in fresh Shellac & Minwax wipe-on satin :bassist:
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