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Strat style shortscale bass build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by FatStrings, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Hi all,

    Thanks to the TB luthiers forum and several other great sites, I got the urge to build!

    This story starts back in '85 when I bought a '78 Fender Musicmaster bass from a friend for short money, basically as a favor. I didn't like the bass, and really had no use for it at the time, but the price was right. $40 if IIRC.

    Since that time the bass was taken apart and re-assembled with a DIY body (made in high school shop class) modeled after an Alembic that I saw JPJ playing with Zeppelin. It didn't get much playing time and stayed that way until a couple months ago.

    Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the original body got lost or thrown away, but I did manage to hang onto some of the key parts that made this project possible.

    Here's a drawing I spent lots of time messing with in CAD software trying to get it right. I used bits and pieces of drawings found on the net and info from books and articles. I really wanted this to be as close to a real Strat as possible.
    [​IMG]
  2. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    I had planned on using a piece of ash I got on Ebay, but it's MC was just too high and it needs to dry for a while before it's used.

    I went to my local hardwood supplier and picked through the short bins and came up with this nice piece of American cherry for $13. I did a little research and found most people think cherry is a great body wood and now I absolutely agree!

    [​IMG]

    Hacked in two, then milled the edges on my milling machine(yes, building a bass in a machine shop) because I don't have a jointer :)

    [​IMG]
  3. tdogg

    tdogg

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    Jan 17, 2001
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    cool so far!
  4. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Here, I flycut the blanks backside to have a smooth starting point. Would it have been easier if i had a surface planner? I'm not sure.
    [​IMG]

    Then I've flipped to the frontside, skimmed the surface to 1.75" thick and traced the body outline just to be sure. That double sided tape is amazing. I actually had to pry the body off the machine table when it was done.
    [​IMG]
  5. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    I've screwed a piece of aluminum to the blank just where the center of my program will be and drilled a hole. Because my machine travel is around 12" and I need around 13", this will enable me to slide the head of the machine out and re-find my program center accurately.

    Then I've completed the first half of the programmed profile. Cherry mills very nicely! I'll be using it again I'm sure :)
    [​IMG]

    Profile complete.
    [​IMG]
  6. refuge4

    refuge4

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    dude. this is going to be epic! keep us updated!
  7. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Control cavity pockets and all the holes. I did add four nail holes to paint just like Leo did, but I decided against using them later on.
    [​IMG]

    Neck pocket and corner rounding. I used a hand held router for the corners and made a few boo boos:( The horn ends will need some touchup. It's been a while since I've routed anything and I should have practised on scrap. And I lost some material at the end of the neck pocket. It just crumbled while I was milling. Doesn't seem to matter though, neck fits great.
    [​IMG]
  8. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Thanks guys! The project is finished, so I'll just keep posting pics! I'm not the type to post as I build. I like to see the finished result first;)
  9. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

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    I want one!!!

    I've contemplated using a Strat hardtail body with a short scale neck. Something like the Landing basses.
  10. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Luckily I had some marine grade plastic filler from a recent unreleted project. This stuff worked perfectly to fill the routing mistakes and machines like butter. While I was at it I decide to recut the neck pocket profile. It seemed a little loose to me by about .020".
    [​IMG]

    Here is the body, sanded to 320 grit and sprayed with three coats of BIN white shellac primer. I used Reranch nitro lacquer for the color and clear coats later on, and that's the primer the site suggests using. Please excuse the messy shop in the background:eek:
    [​IMG]
  11. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    How do you know? Maybe it comes out like crap!:D
  12. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Oops, I got ahead of myself with that primer pic.

    Working on the belly contour. This proved to be tricky for me. I skimmed the arc on the back with my machine, then penciled the edge. Working with a coarse rasp and then a file, and finally coarse sand paper.
    [​IMG]

    Belly contour finished.
    [​IMG]
  13. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    This was basically the point where I decided I wanted the whole bass to look like it was made this way in '78. Maybe a light relic on the body, pickguard and any new hardware to match the original neck and hardware.

    I had a hard time deciding the color for the pickguard. I settled on white, but I may eventually change it to black if I don't like it. I think either color says 1978!
    [​IMG]

    Finished.
    [​IMG]
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood

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    Disclosures:
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Awesome! I have been wanting to do a Jimi style bass and this is perfect. Can't wait to see how yours turns out!
  15. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    I had decided early on that this bass really only needed to have one pickup, basically a shortscale P bass. But how to keep the Strat looks? One real '51 re-issue P pickup (bought here from a fellow TBer!) and two faux pickups.

    I made two '51 P pickup replicas and added a dumby tone pot and 5 way switch.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  16. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Before paint.
    [​IMG]

    I had a blast making the faux pickups. After machining, I painted them with a dark gray primer that darkens nicely when dipped in potting wax. Added the fake magnet poles, wrapped with black string to match the real pickup. Sorry, I don't have any pics of the faux pickups complete by themselves. But you will see them installed in the pickguard when I show the finished control cavity pics.
    [​IMG]
  17. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

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    Looking great!:bassist:
  18. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    The Reranch colors I picked, and a test piece. This shows the color that really says "1970's" to me. Vintage cream. It's supposed to look like aged Olympic white, but I think it's a little too yellow. Not Reranches fault, they recreate the original Fender color to a T IMO. Oh, and my favorite coffee cup, used year round;)
    [​IMG]

    I intended to do a light coat of neck amber to add a little more aged look, but it just looked way too yellow for me. I'm glad I tested first.
    [​IMG]
  19. FatStrings

    FatStrings

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    Gotta go and do some work. I'll post more tonight. Thanks for checking out my project, enjoy!

    -Pat
  20. Skit1

    Skit1 Guest

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    Can't wait to see the finished bass!

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