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considering a new fun build - the Solo King bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Jan 28, 2013.


  1. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm considering starting another build project now that my Supersonic http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/custom-performer-supersonic-bass-904968/ is done. I've had this idea for a while, and after an elegant streamlined design concept, I think this opposite end of the spectrum design would be fun. The inspiration is a 1958 Kay Solo King guitar. This is from a pic in a book I have as I've never seen one, and don't know if a bass version was ever made. I love how totally ungainly it is - the note in the book refers to it as "monstrous". As the body is, large.., I am thinking of very lightweight wood and as thin as possible. (recommendations?) I would do 4 in a row Hofner-style tuners on top, chrome soapbars, a trapeze bridge and maybe a dark brown or black (rattle-can) finish w/a parchment pg. I can get a cheap all maple MIC neck and stain/paint and re-dot w/white dots to replicate the 1958 look. Who knows, it might even sound good!

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  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    Basswood or Poplar are both good choices for a solid color bass. Both are light and easy to finish.

    That guitar is 100% fugly, but I would totally rock that thing on stage. This will be a fun build, I think it should be an olive drab green, with a parchment or cream pick guard.

    Like this color
    [​IMG]
     
  3. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    government issue? ...hummmm :meh:
     
  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    Well that color, but glossy, not a matte finish. As soon as I saw that body shape I just saw that color in my head.
     
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  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

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    Hmmm... you could go past the original, and make them all chicken-head knobs!

    Having gotten a body shape, I definitely would want to make a moc-up of something that large in MDF to full scale, to be sure it would be playable for more than fifteen minutes.

    If you could make one change to make the design less ungainly though, I'd like to see it not have a square-ended neck like that, which is horrendous set against the body and pickguard shapes as is. Even just a Fender-rounded style heel -- like you show there -- would eliminate the the part that for me screams "hacked together" instead of the desired "funky retro." It just draws too much attention.

    The bizarre string paths on the headstock are cool and all, but you might want to be sure the A string doesn't graze the E string post.
     
  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    You say "hacked together" as though it's a bad thing! :smug: Here's my sketch from a while back - originally I wanted to make it out of walnut, but I'm on a different tact now. I want to build it for under $200 (materials/parts) and keep it light weight. A thin slab of basswood seems like a good body blank. It's fairly square in shape, so maybe around a 16.5" X 15.5" X 1" slab to cut from. (maybe 15 minutes is all it needs to be played in one stretch!) I have already considered the headstock string arrangement and whatever route it takes, I'll keep it odd and simple. I think instead of hybridizing it, I will try to get it to look as close to the guitar as possible, warts and all. (and as it is a wart, that includes every aspect of it!) :p I ordered a trapeze bridge from England ($20.30) to get it started.

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  8. Beej

    Beej

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    This should be fun. One of the things I like about those old guitars is that they are so thin and light, they feel toy-like. I wonder about slightly thicker, say 1 1/4 or 1 5/16 but heavily chambered. It looks like the proportions of the guitar version are well suited to a bass too, and it seems that if it's a 25ish inch scale, then the body is around 13 inches wide and about 18 inches long. It might be nice to see the bass version around 16 inches wide and 24 inches long. Just a thought... :)
     
  9. CosmoReverb

    CosmoReverb

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    ChiSonics I assume...?
     
  10. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    If I had a slide of it I'd project it on top of a guitar neck as a reference for scale. I measured the bottom of the neck (in the pic) and it was just over and just under 8 units. (length and width) That's how I came up w/my ballpark dimentions. I'll just grid the pic, enlarge from that reference, and adjust from there.

    Chambered might be the way to go Beej - It would keep it light and may give it a cool 'tubby' tone. It would be fun if this bass not only looked odd but sounded odd also. I had an old Resoglass National short-scale that had a great weird tone - like you were playing it in a bathtub! I was planning to do a 34" scale neck, but possibly a short-scale would be better suited. That way I could store it in the overhead bin when traveling...
     
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm sure those are really nice, but I don't want to go boutique w/this one. I found some pu's from Canada (MIK) on ebay that fit the bill both looks and price-wise. ($33 for the pair) It will sound as good as it will for the low-cost. Initial cost estimate is already creeping over $200, which is my ceiling goal. I've got to score a cheap short-scale neck that I could modify to keep it within budget. Anyone?
     
  12. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Taking some time to get this one going - have to spread out the purchases as to not ruffle the feathers of she who keeps the books...
    My goal is still to spend no more than $200, and so far so good. I got a nice trapeze bridge and 2 (generic) chrome pu's (both perfect!) for a total of $55.30. I've got my eye on my next purchase, some old (vintage?) Teisco chrome tuners. I figured I could get away w/this as a bass version of the plastic-pegged tuner guitar would have understandably beefier machines. These seem to be the perfect choice. They are a bit worn and could inspire some distressing all around to give the whole bass some "instant character". :p Like I said - this is a fun build!

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  13. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Got the Teisco tuners - total is now $86.90 - which leaves me $113.10 to spend. Maybe a trip to Tap Plastic will offer a sheet of off-white acrylic for super cheap.(for the pick-guard) I have strings for a short-scale neck, and that leaves the body wood and a short scale neck! I may get a cheap EB-O neck and strip and hybridize it. I have a collection of pots and a jack, and knobs will be fairly cheap (local hardware store) - it will be close, but I think I can do it!
     
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    I love those wacky 60s guitars! My first bass was a Kawai Concert, which was pretty wacky, and I see the name in that image you posted.
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

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    Something to check out, and maybe to address before installation on an instrument -- if (as it appears in that photo) that one tuner has heavy finger wear and the other three have very little, it might have a problem with that unit that caused it to constantly go out of tune.
     
  16. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    one like this wacky one?

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    or like this (truly wacky) one

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    actually love this one! - the green/black-burst is perfect!
     
  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    The black one. My was black as well. Looked just like that. It was painful to sit with, so my bandmates dubbed it the "crab bass". I removed the frets on it. Last time I saw it was about 1973 when I loaned it to a friend of a friend. I had gotten my first Rick 4001 then, so I didn't care when he never brought it back. I wish I had it now though.

    I loath green guitars, unless they are seafoam or surf green. :)
     
  18. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes, green and orange and purple... colours not for everyone! As an artist I love all colours, but not unconditionally. In the case of the smaller pic (which actually looks like a crab!) it really resonates! :D I would love to own one of them even if it was unplayable! It's bizarre in a truly authentic way! (think, if Salvador Dali was a bass player...)
     
  19. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Did my mock-up sketch of the body (18 3/4" X 13.5") shown w/trapese bridge, and got some Dakar knobs. I could purchase exact vintage V/T knobs (as on the 50's SK) but choose not to as the cost is WAY over my budget. (crazy how much people want for these knobs!) I bought two (new) top-hat type Dakar knobs at my local hardware store and ordered 2 more. A little over $10 for all 4. (2 shown)

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    The 2" chicken-head (Dakar) pu selector switch (in my pic) will not be used. Instead, I will use this (vintage) Dakar knob which is exactly like the one on the 50's Solo King guitar. I'm kind of a knob freak and think this design is much nicer than the more common chicken-head version. (and at $7.59 total on ebay, within budget)

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    I also bought some spray paint - "satin espresso" (is that close enough to military monkey s--t green for you Hopkins?) I figure w/my pawn-shop distressing I plan on doing, this rather anti-exciting colour/sheen is just the ticket. This is after all, the ugly cousin of my Supersonic bass and therefore satin brown is only fitting. Pickguard material is still pending as I didn't find anything at Tap Plastic, and considerations are single-ply parchment, cream or matte black.

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  20. Splods

    Splods

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    This will be interesting.

    Is it going to be a slab all round?, or will there be a contour on the back for the belly?
     
  21. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    That color will be just the right shade of ugly for that body :D
     

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