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Manton Customs: Cherry and Maple Sirius 4 String 32" Scale Bass Build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Manton Customs, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Luthier, Manton Customs
    Hello all,

    I have always been a huge fan of this forum but have just lurked around before. Seeing as I have learnt a lot from this site over the years and seen some beautiful basses, so having this bass to work on I saw it as a great chance to share something.

    This is a build I have been working on for a while, it is a bass version of the Sirius guitar (pic below). It is a 32" scale 4 string bass. The top and back is of Cherry with an English Maple core. The neck features the same woods, a three piece laminate construction with a fingerboard again of English Maple. So 10 pieces of wood from only two species!

    Electronics wise its going to be passive with two Kent Armstrong precision pickups.

    The bass was actually started over a year ago now, but I got so busy with commissions this build had to wait. Unfortunately I didn't start taking pictures at the begining of the build, so the first picture you see is when I started documenting the build.

    This is where I started documenting the progress. The shape has been cut out and the roundover to the body cut, though the neck profile has yet to be carved.

    [​IMG]

    This is the little brother of the bass, the Sirius guitar. The same three woods were used for this instrument also. Though the body is a single piece of Cherry here, as apposed to the 6 pieces used for the bass body.

    [​IMG]

    Time to polish the fingerboard to a high gloss; this was done with Micro-Mesh upto 12000 grit. There is no finish on the board here, the shine you see is just from the polished wood.

    [​IMG]

    Next, I installed the frets. I prefer a hammer to do this as it's nice and quick (30 mins max) and gives good results. The wire is pre bent using a fret bender before this. I don't have a picture of this, in the picture here I'm beveling the fret ends using a home made tool which holds the file at the correct angle...It looks a little rough as it has been well used!

    [​IMG]

    After that I level with an oil stone and crown with a crowning file. Then I sand/file smooth all sharp corners.

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    Onto neck carving, the most enjoyable part of the whole build for me! I start by marking up the facets which will create the rough shape, then carve to these facets. Following this more facets are drawn and carved and we are getting close to final shape, where it is then sanded to the finished contour. All of this is mainly done with the tools you see here, a Drawknife and Surform (not pictured) for removing the main meat of the neck, then spokeshave and micro plane rasp for the more detailed areas.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the neck nearly finished, it still needs a lot of sanding but its close!

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    Jumping to body now, where I have drilled for the neck attachment ferrules and bolts. I have also made up a pickup template, so next update I'll be routing for the pickups.

    [​IMG]

    That's all for now, check back for more updates soon. Thank you for checking out this build.
  2. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Next up is the pickup routs. This bass is having twin P pickups which are a fiddly shape to make a template for. But here it is attached! The front pickup is in the traditional place for a Precision pickup (though scaled down with the 32" scale) and the bridge pickup is in a similar place to a Jazz Bass.

    [​IMG]

    Here it is with the pickups routed, the line behind the bridge pickup is where the bridge will be mounted to give an idea of scale. You'll notice the corners of the pickups are still rounded, as the bearing of the cutter cant get to these. There are a few ways of dealing with these, but as I'm fairly proficient with chisels these are going to be cut with a few chisels a bit later on.

    [​IMG]

    Now onto the control cavity. A nice messy action shot here! I just love the shavings Forstner bits create, so thought I'd share a picture of them.

    To get to this step a template was made, the pots drilled for, then the bulk drilled out with Forstner bits to save on the router cutter.....and make pretty shavings!

    [​IMG]

    The finished cavity, the lid will be routed for with a rabbetting bit when the majority of the sanding has taken place.

    [​IMG]

    I realised I didn't have a shot of the side showing the construction, so here is one!

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    Here is where we currently are with the body. Basically done except the pickup corners, cavity lid and a whole lot of sanding!

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for checking this build out :).
  3. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Now with all those nice sharp chisels (see tutorial in sig) I get to work!

    Here I'm chiseling out those troublesome pickup corners mentioned earlier. I say troublesome as a pickup usually has 4 corners but these have 7...and there are two pickups, so 14 corners! It wasn't too bad really though and was completed in around an hour. The key to good results is using the edges (which should be dead straight!) of the pickup rout as a guide by resting the back of the blade against them and using the chisels almost like a plane. Just don't try and take too much off in one go or it'll chip and look awful!

    [​IMG]

    Here are the pickups roughly in place, I have also drilled the holes for the pickup wires, as you can see them coming out the back.

    [​IMG]

    The jack drilled for, I'm using a Gotoh football style jack plate with a switchcraft jack. That's now the body done except for some minor tidy ups and sanding.

    [​IMG]

    Onto one of the final jobs on the neck...drilling for the tuners. It is important to make sure they are symmetrical and none of them interfere with each other.

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    A Mockup of the body :)

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    A full mockup picture. There isn't a lot of work left now really, just sanding finishing, assembly and setup.

    [​IMG]

    That's all for now, thank you for stopping by :)
  4. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Thought I'd carry on sharing this here even though there's not been a lot of interest!

    Bit of a gap in the updates due to having a few weeks off with flu and some other work taking priority. But we are off again!

    Just some small jobs to finish off before we move onto finishing. Here's a picture of the first one, which was installing the side dots.

    [​IMG]

    The next job was to rout the cavity for the lid, this was done after the majority of the sanding has taken place to ensure an accurate depth for the lid.

    [​IMG]

    After plenty of sanding its time to apply finish. Here is the neck in my drying cupboard which I built a few years back. It's basically a pine cabinet with a small shelf near the bottom, under the shelf is a 100w light bulb to provide heat to aid with drying.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the rear of the body after finishing and ready to be assembled. As you can see I'm going for a satin finish as opposed to a full on gloss. This is in keeping with the general natural feel of the bass and the neck will feel like playing on natural wood.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the front. So we are onto assembly next!

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking.
  5. KramerDon

    KramerDon

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    Very nice,the cherry will really look great as it darkens.Your work looks really well done!! I used cherry for the bass in my avatar,actually still finishing the last little bit on it.It's unusual to see cherry being used for guitars/basses but it's a very beautiful grain.
  6. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Thank you, the bass you're working on is very nice too! Yes, I love it how Cherry darkens as it ages, sun light can apparently speed up the process. Though I actually cheated a bit here and used a some Alkanet root in my finish to darken it a tad. It's a shame it isn't used more really as its a great choice in my opinion, being attractive, strong and close grained so not requiring any pore filling. Thanks again and good luck with the finishing :).
  7. GrafZeppelin

    GrafZeppelin

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    Endorsing artist: Yamaha basses, Ultimate Ears monitors
    Impressive building skills! Although I'm not feeling the body shape I find your originality refreshing. :)
  8. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Thank you :). I appreciate your thoughts on the shape, I always like to get feedback on my designs and realise they are never going to be to everyone's taste.

    This ones assembled now so hopefully some finished shots wont be too far away!

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