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'66 dot/bound J replica neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Not sure where this fits best, but as I'm a regular on the thread I'll start here. It's previewing a new neck I'm having made by SF luthier Dan Ransom. I've made my own bodies/basses featured on this thread (Teardrop fretless, Steinbacker fretless, Supersonic, Bass King) but have chosen to leave neck building to a pro. High respect and Kudo's to all the DIY builders on this thread who do amazing complete basses, neck and all.

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    Anyway, I started this out in the "Tricked Out Squier club" thread after buying a new 'loaded' Squier VM Jaguar P/J bass (above pic). I didn't own a P bass, and have never owned a P/J. (or a Squier) The price was right and so the plan was to have Dan make a neck for it. He made my Supersonic 24 fret neck and I love it! I could have gone a few different directions, but my favorite (looking) Fender neck is the early '66 dot & bound Jazz (pic below) so I figured that was the tact I would take.

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    I also love the way an early Jazz neck feels. Can't afford either, so I decided to have a replica made. For the most part, it will be accurate but since I'm not doing it for any other reason than because I want that thing I love (and will be using it - not investment/collecting it) - it will be accurate to a point. So the butt-end truss adjuster is a Gibson-style instead of the Fender screwdriver style as it accesses cleaner. (L socket-wrench) We chose a beautiful slab of Honduran rosewood, gold pearl dots, and just off white binding (seen in the top neck pic hiding under the Stew Mac catalogue).

    The neck was made for the Jag, but in the interim I decided to do a neck swap from my mongrel J. It has an AllParts Fender authorized J neck w/an ebony board that I really like. That ended up working well on a few levels for the Jag (installed - top pic), and I decided to put the custom neck on my trusty J. So no longer part of being a "Tricked out Squier" and I'm not actually making this neck but I thought it would still be of interest to the folks on this thread. The other reason I thought this could be pertinent is that a lot of what eventually ends up on a Fender product is inspired by DIY'rs doing "tweeked homage" builds of things they can't access. (like a nice early '66 Jazz bass for instance) Maybe it will trickle up to the R&D folks there under some sort of VM classic? ...

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  2. Splods

    Splods

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    Looking great. How much did it set you back?
  3. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    It's going to come in around $400 Spods. I love playing my basses and after Dan built the Supersonic neck, I realized how valuable this connection is. Considering how personal an instrument can be, I really like knowing the person who is making it - being part of the process as it's being built. I'm also a big advocate of supporting local artisans/craftspeople in general. Just seeing it today and hangin' w/Dan in his shop discussing pros and cons & details of the build is what will make this neck worth every penny to me.
  4. belgabass

    belgabass

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    That's so well said. I'm not a big fan of dumping a lot of dough on an instrument, but the way you put makes total sense to me. Let the artisan get the money not the big corporation.
  5. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Being an artist/artisan myself, it always seems obvious to me where hard-earned money should be spent, and it always nice if you can support your community. But if I want a drill, I'll shop around and buy the best (name-brand) product for the best price I can find. Likewise, sometimes a (name brand) music related product fits the bill and doesn't break the bank - done! I owned a few Kubicki Factors (original "boutique" basses) and from the very first (used) one I bought, I called his number with questions and Phil answered the phone, giving me personal consideration. His basses are unique and amazing, and the man who's name is on it stood behind every one of his basses. (you are missed Phil)

    I'm not especially bustin' (brand name) companies across the board, as it all depends on how that company, no matter how big it gets, backs up it's product. I primarily use GHS strings because I can call them and they (a real person from Michigan - no automated "menu") are listening and doing their best to promote good will for the company by helping me out when there is a problem/issue related to their product. I hope they can survive Michigan's current economic/political dilemma- but that's another story...
  6. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    :rolleyes: here we go again... Once something is started, it can take it's own course evolving from the source of its origin. (or something to that nature...) So what started with the making of a '66 replica neck is now spreading to becoming a whole homage to an early '66 Jazz bass. Not exactly a RI, but could be. (are you listening Fender?) Love the Olympic white & tort Jazz bass (just so pretty/classic), so I popped for a (VGC used) Fender MIM alder body and a new tort guard. I'll use most of the parts from my Jazz body to build it up, which will allow me to do a comparison test. I love my (1989) stripped to natural alder Jazz (copy) string-thru body, so will determine once it's guts are transfered to this 2012 alder white body - will it be that same great bass, or not? Or possibly could it even be better? Either way, if it's the same or better - done! If it turns out to be anything less than it's wonderful original tone/presence self, boom- back to the original, no real loss.

    I want to establish for myself, in this specific case, what makes a bass what it is. One side says it's the wood, one side says it's the neck, another says it's the pu's/electronics. As judging from only one example, this will not be the definitive truth. But I know my Jazz bass inside out - I know it's essence, it's character - so if it loses or gains w/the transference, it will be very obvious to me. Should be an interesting experiment which will give me perspective as an assembler/builder.

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  7. Joel Graham

    Joel Graham I Brake for Basses! Supporting Member

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    Subbed! This looks interesting...
  8. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    In anticipation of this project, I need to considered all the parts that will determine the whole. When doing a somewhat controlled experiment, we need to know all the similarities and differences.

    My Signature J body was made in '86 in (?), it's alder and on the heavy side. It is a string-thru and I installed a Hipshot bridge years ago. The neck pocket was not tight so I added a wood shim/spacer to get the fit snug. It originally was finished in a wine-colour, but I stripped it to the clear wash-coat. (love the satin feel) I will compare the bridge pu measurements when I get it, but I suspect the white one, which is considered a 'vintage 60s reissue' has "classic J" neck-to-bridge pu-center 31-3/8", where as my Sig J is 32", so more like the 70's bridge pu positioning. Otherwise, it's pretty much a basic Jazz body.

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    The white body is a 2012 alder MIM Fender Jazz. I chose it for a few reasons. It is routed as the original 60's J's were, other than the 2 dime-sized cavity's on the lower horn (behind the pg) and in the neck pocket (can anyone educate me as to why these are there?) Maybe for storing parking meter change? For installing a tracking device? :meh:
    Anyway, other than the routing, a primary reason for me was because it is alder which I prefer and that it's finished in Olympic white, which I favor for this project. And it's of similar weight of my Sig J (5.10lbs).

    So old vs new wood, both around the same weight, both w/finishes abet a bit more on the white one. The white one is not a string-thru and I will not use a fancy bridge on it. I will install a standard Fender-style. (the bridge that came on my Squier Jag as a matter of fact) I will put the same pu's, electronics and type/brand of strings that were on the Sig J.

    The neck that was on my Sig J (now on the Jag) is an AllParts Fender authorized ebony boarded J w/a brass nut. The replica neck has a rosewood board and will sport a traditional bone nut. Both necks will have the same large plate lollypop-style tuners.

    So a few differences, a few similarities and some common parts. Once I get the neck and the white body, the tests will start with installing the new neck on the Sig J and playing/listening for tonal differences. The rest will follow - stay tuned.
  9. IvanMunoz

    IvanMunoz

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    Always love your builds and projects!
    Being a fan of "the perfect bass" and knowing a bass inside out. Also, customizing a bass to be the perfect bass for exactly me, I am really interested to see how this comes out.
    Sounds kind of silly but the best bass is one you bond with, so making a super bass out of all your favorite aspects and parts you love is really awesome.
    Subscribed!
  10. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for following Ivan - You are correct about 'bonding' w/an instrument - it's funny because I believe in the "if it ain't broke..." logic so never should have started taking my beloved mongrel J apart. It was one of my first project basses and it went through a few changes before I dialed it in. It started off w/a fretless maple P-neck and it wasn't till I stripped it and mounted the AllParts J neck that it came into focus. So now taking that neck off made me feel like I was risking that bond! (...whatch' doin' to my neck?)
    But as nothing will be irreversible, I have an escape clause that will return me to what I'm currently unraveling if it doesn't pan out.

    And yes, the perfect bass exclusively for me - I've been fortunate to land a few of these and hope that remains true w/the evolution of this one.
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Picked up the neck today - looks so pretty! Dan once again nailed the '60 J spec'ed nut area - love that taper! It's raw, nothing on it so will need to determine what to do next. A mild vintage tint always works for me a w/satin-feel neck and slightly darker headstock tint w/gloss. I have the option of doing a matching olympic white hs face, but I'm on the fence about it.

    The pg came today also and the body should be here soon. The pg was inexpensive but of good quality and it is on the red side, but it may just work. As much as the more brown/red/black/orange 'meat-loaf' tort is more authentic, I have yet to see a modern version that I like, finding the right one is such a crap-shoot. (and I certainly am not popping for a vintage one!) It will just depend on how it all looks together on the white body.

    The last pic shows the fingerboard after I rubbed some fretboard dressing on it - it brought out the 'rose' in the rosewood!

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  12. IvanMunoz

    IvanMunoz

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    That looks great! Love the bound neck dot combo!
    The grain on the board is really pretty as well, I imagine it will get even better once you play in finger oils a bit.

    Based on what you said about constantly changing instruments around and frankenstining them, I wouldn{t go with the matching headstock just looking foward, it cuts down more mod and mismatching parts potential.

    I can{t beleive I just said that either because I absolutely love matching headstocks.:)
  13. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm with you on loving the matched hs face - only one of my basses has it which I did a few years ago. (actual '66 Mustang short-stemmed lollypops)

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    Good point about keeping parts fluid though - as in they can be mixed and matched easier. I like it either way really, and in some ways it might get too 'fancy' if it were matching... I'm leaning toward natural (unmatched).

    I also got a period specific Fender decal -
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  14. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Applied a wiped-on/wiped-off coat of lightly tinted Waterlox tung-oil (1/2 satin-1/2 gloss) to seal the maple and start the finishing process. Some people don't like oil on a neck saying it's too soft (prefer lacquer) but this product is some very serious stuff. Good ventilation is mandatory as it's pretty toxic smelling. Not to be mislead by "water" being in the name - this is a very hard/durable thinner-based finish that is made to seal and protect wood floors. (maybe the brand-name stands for locking water out of the wood it is coated with) It initially absorbs into the wood and by wiping-on/wiping-off (using a lint-free rag) a few successive coats (overnight dry), it bonds and builds thin w/o surface texture. Very controllable. It has a rich amber colour out of the can and as any true oil product, it will age/amber over time. So not much tint was added, just enough to initially enhance the warmth and character of the wood - time and use will do the rest. So far so good - I'll get pics in the daylight after a second coating.
  15. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    While waiting for the body, I found more reference pics of the coveted white/tort early '66 Jazz bass. Once again w/a matching white hs face. Lovely.

    I know that on natural faces, whatever Fender used to seal the decal did amber it darker than the rest of the neck - I wasn't aware they used the same clearcoat on painted faces as well. Could be a opening for me doing a matching 'ambered' hs face knowing that an exact body to hs match wouldn't be an issue. huummmm...
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    Too late for me addressing this detail now, but check out how the neck binding wraps the edges of the nut -
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    Depending on lighting, the same Olympic white looks very different from the top shots.
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    ... and different again! (this is the warm & fuzzy shot!)
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  16. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Made a few updates since last posting - I ordered yet another tort pg that will hopefully look more or less authentic once it arrives. The second one I ordered is not even close. (tort hunting is such a crap-shoot) The next potential candidate looks like this (buy not exactly this one ~)

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    I decided to send my neck to Pat Wilkins to do a vintage tint & Olympic white hs face because he did such a great job on my SS neck and I'm spoiled now. So I've got another waiting-period before this baby gets assembled. I'll post pics of the body & pg once they arrive.

    And lastly, I ordered these split-pole knobs to maintain the 'look' of a classic J while keeping my Audere pre-amp set-up.

    [​IMG]
  17. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Just got the body and it looks excellent - exactly what I wanted! As "like new" as you can get! (thanks Bob!) I've owned a few white basses over time, but this is by far going to be the prettiest! I've also never been one to call my basses by a (female) name, or refer to them as "she", but this bass may start a new trend for me. ;)

    I used shielding paint in the cavities and installed the bridge and my Dunlop strap-lock buttons. I'm going to wait before moving the rest of the parts over from my Sig J as I still want to try the new neck on it and compare the sonic differences of the two bodies/necks.

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    Here's a pic w/the first red-ish pg & thumb rest, and a spare plate I had.

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    Here's a pic of the second too dark/brown pg - (I'm sending it back), and the ashtray cover

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  18. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    As I just went through a very protracted and unnecessary resolution of a problem w/a seller on ebay, I will pass on what I learned so hopefully you won't have a similar problem in the future. It relates to most all ebay sales in general, but for me it was centered on a pickguard, and specifically a tortoise pg. Make note there are a few differences of tort; red tort, brown tort and (generic) tort. Some are dark, some are light, and they all have varying textural differences. All tort, all different. If you want a specific colour of tort, make sure the word red or brown appear in the listing. (if you want or don't want red or brown tort) It's hard enough to get the exact tort pg you want on-line because most sellers have many and post only an example picture. The pg you receive will be "like" the one in the picture.., or not. If it is not, you may have no case to return it as "like" will be hard to protest/debate in a resolution. (BTW, this wasn't my issue) Some sellers will return it, some won't - and that's just up to how good a customer relations person they are IMHO.

    So in general ask questions, scan the ad for any pertinent details etc, know all the particulars before you order your next tort pg on ebay.
  19. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Third times a charm? Well, close enough (for Jazz) anyway. It doesn't look like the posted pic in the ebay post (what a surprise :rolleyes:) and it's a bit dark, but it has the general mix of black, red-brown and burnt-orange (for lack of a better name) which is reason enough to keep, while putting up with a couple of non-authentic details like being three ply instead of 4 ply and Fenders strange reason for not being consistent w/screw hole placement. The screw to the left of the pu is placed lower than on a "standard" J pg. (?!?) Yes I know - a total nerd-factor issue, but I would like to know why they can't just make one J pg w/the same hole positions regardless of model or where it was made.
    Is there some stratigery :p that I'm unaware of that merits such?

    UPDATE; I think I may be on to why & when this lowered screw placement pattern was introduced. I've studied many pics of 70's-80's Jazz basses and found that when the thumb-rest moved north on the pg's of later 70's basses, they lowered the screw like on mine. I've seen tug-bar versions w/the standard placement, and some w/the lowered screw. The gold-hardware Jazz of '83 had the lowered screw position and a gold tug-bar.

    Always one to figure logic guides functional design, let's say one takes that upper-side tug-bar off the bass and doesn't want two screws next to each other so close but w/o the bottom tug-bar screw it leaves the lower bump on the pg with an open (unanchored) section of the pg inviting warping or catching on something. With the lowered screw placement (like on mine) only the top tug-bar screw needs to be put in leaving the bottom one off. The top tug-bar screw is the same screw placement as the upper left-side pg screw as far as I can tell. Just conjecture on my part but it seems plausible.

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  20. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    The Squier VM P/J Jag (first pic posted) is getting a lot of attention while waiting on this J neck - the rest of the stable is restless, and the Oly wht J body is frozen in nervous anticipation! (fortunately, the new tort pg is keeping it distracted w/silly jokes about thumb rests and pu covers) :smug:

    Goes to show that it's not how much something costs - it's how you either bond to it or it just doesn't grab you. An instrument is a very personal tool.

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