This past Independence Day, I officially strung my first custom build. Being that I drag fire hoses around as a day job, I've dubbed my bass The HoseDragger
. I started it well over two years ago, taking my time and even laying off sometimes for months, while real-life happened. My original inspiration was a lust for two basses: a Wak Mk-II and a Lakland 44-02.
My buddy has a Mk-II 5er that he brought over and let me trace. I love the look of a wood finish bass with one wood as a core, with a contrasting color making up the front and back. In the case of the Wal, the woods merge nicely at the gut cut and the forearm contour.
The Lakland has a very graceful upper horn, and an exaggerated lower horn cut, that allows for easy access to the upper frets (where I never go anyway).
I started with two pieces of alder I found in my dad-in-law's woodshop, glued them together, then found some pieces of mahogany and koa. I split the koa for the front, to get a bookmatched set, and placed the koa in between them. I wanted to do the same for the back, but the mahogany turned out to be too narrow.
Before I cut the body, I routed the pickup and electronics cavities, as well as the neck pocket. I didn't have much confidence that I wouldn't screw up, so I left myself some fudge room to change the body shape a little if need be.
Gradually, I radiused the edges and sanded, and sanded, and sanded, until I had contours that looked and felt good.
Then it happened - my first screw-up. While drilling the channel for the bridge ground wire, I didn't have a flat enough angle. I missed the cavity and the drill came out the back. You can see the errant hole right where the mahogany meets the koa. I was so pissed, I didn't touch it for a month!
After I filled the hole and my anger receded, I continued, until I messed up again. My dad-in-law kept reminding me not to move the body after drilling, until the bit stopped completely. I was in too big of a hurry to get supper, and gouged the front with a spinning bit as I pre-drilled one of the mounting holes for the J pickup. Dammit!
My first thought was to cover it with pickup rings, but they were so ugly, I just filled the hole and continued, again.
So, now it's finished, and here are the specs:
Neck - Mighty-Mite P-Bass (1-5/8" nut) rosewood fretboard with threaded inserts
Tuners - Schaller M4S
Pickups - Lindy Fralin P/J set
Bridge - Babicz FCH
Strap Locks - Dunlop Dual-Design
Pots - CTS (wired volume-blend-tone)
Output - SwitchCraft
Strings - R. Cocco nickels .045-.105
Weight - 8 lbs. 11 oz.
Scale - 34"
Finish - True-Oil (6 coats)