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ThunderTwins!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ctmullins, Oct 22, 2012.


  1. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Well, now I have overlapping builds, thanks to Lee's fantastic Thunderbird build, which in turn led me to the TB Thunderbird Club.

    I've always loved Gibson-style basses and guitars, but I never had a particular fondness for the Thunderbird. That is, until I saw Lee's build thread. Thanks Lee! Now I can't get the TBird out of my head. :) I then spent hours and hours reading through all four (now five) TBird club threads, learning lots about the various models and their idiosyncrasies. And, while I could go out and buy one, there isn't a factory TBird available that is set up exactly like I would want.

    So of course I have to build me one. Well, two actually. Fraternal twins, built for rocking out!

    The first one will be a five-string. The body is scaled down from normal TBird proportions, because I'm not a big guy, and I like the smaller bodies. She starts with a body blank that's been hanging around in my shop for years now - ash center, flanked by korina, flanked by alder. Nice and sturdy. Didn't know what I was going to do with it, until now!

    [​IMG]

    I'm going to put a thin layer of either quilt maple or flame maple on the face of it. It'll be dyed black all over, with as glossy of a clear-coat as I can muster.

    The neck is a three-piece flame maple/rock maple/flame maple, which will be set into the body using a deep tenon - a "set-thru", if you will. Here it is all scarfed up:

    [​IMG]

    Fingerboard will be a macassar ebony board from LMII, slotted for 33" scale. She'll also get a pair of Nordstrand Big Splits and a John East BTB-01 preamp. Should be loud and aggressive!


    The second will be an eight-string. I made a few mistakes with my last eight-string, and while I still like it, I thought it would be awesome to have an eight-string TBird, and it would allow me an opportunity to correct the mistakes I made the first time around. This one will be a neck-through, sapele/rock maple/sapele, with body wings of cherry/sapele/flame maple. Not sure about the fingerboard yet, but it will also be 33" scale.

    [​IMG]

    I'll either fit it with a Duncan SSB pickup, or transplant the Dark Star from my other eight-string. It'll get either an Aguilar OBP-1 or an EMG BTS preamp. Not sure about finish.


    Here's how I tried to minimize waste with my neck blanks:

    [​IMG]

    And here's my tablesaw scarf jig:

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for looking! :bassist:
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  2. ps10black

    ps10black

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    aaaah Very cool!

    I am also working on a Firebird at the same time as the Thunderbird so i Guess its more like cousins for me.

    I really need to post some more pics, I have just been busy with repairs

    theres also someone talking about a spector bird build here as well

    Lee
     
  3. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    :) Well, I don't have CAD or a pin router, but I do have enthusiasm and some homemade plywood templates! I figure if I can do at least a little bit every other night, I might actually make some progress!

    For tonight - necks and headstocks roughed out:

    [​IMG]

    Baby steps, right? :)
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  4. wraub

    wraub

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    Location:
    ennui, az
    Disclosures:
    I'll have an IPA, please.
    Definitely watching this...

    wraub
     
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  6. Egbert89

    Egbert89

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    Location:
    Holland
    Subscribed and ready for more awesome pics!!
     
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Thanks, guys! Will try to oblige with as many pics of actual progress as I can.

    For today - necks final tapered, truss rod channels routed, and one fingerboard glued on. The other fingerboard will be another mac ebony one, just like this one. But it and its truss rod are on order, so I was only able to glue one fingerboard today.

    [​IMG]

    I've decided that the five-string will get a trans black over purple tint, and the eight-string will get a trans black over wine red tint. Then lacquer clear-coat over both.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  8. Junk420

    Junk420

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Location:
    Cornwall, Ontario
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Adding the cherry laminations to the eight-string:

    [​IMG]

    Will hopefully have some time tomorrow to rough in the rest of the body!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  10. wraub

    wraub

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    Location:
    ennui, az
    Disclosures:
    I'll have an IPA, please.
    The color choices sound really cool- do it do it do it!

    wraub
     
  11. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Quick update from the "do as I say, not as I do" club: Always glue your nice new slotted fretboard to your neck with the slots facing up.

    Thank God for Titebond III.
     
  12. ps10black

    ps10black

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Uuuuummmmm SAY WHAT????????
     
  13. reverendrally

    reverendrally

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    :D ...sorry, that's not funny... :(
     
  14. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Location:
    Norway
    Must... not.. laugh...!


    :D:bag:


    How did you manage to do that anyway?
     
  15. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    By not paying enough attention!

    I got my package from LMII yesterday, with the Mac ebony fretboard and truss rod for the eight. So I went right out and tapered the board to match the neck. Then I dropped the truss rod in, spread the glue on, and picked up the fretboard and set it down over the glue.

    And then immediately noticed that I didn't see any slots.

    Just a stupid mistake. I had a wet paper towel already, so I pulled the board up and flipped it over and laid it down the right way. There was still plenty of glue on the neck. So I went to work with more wet paper towels cleaning the glue off the board, then used a knife blade to clean glue out of the slots, then clamped her down. Titebond III has twice as much open time as Titebond II, so it all worked out okay!

    My project time is so limited these days, that I think I was rushing a bit, trying to accomplish as much as I could!
     
  16. Beej

    Beej

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I feel for you buddy, that must have made your heart drop in the moment... :D
     
  17. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    It worked out okay!

    Did a tiny bit of work on the body wings - nice flamed maple backed with sapele:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  18. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    The mac ebony fretboards are 33" scale. LMII doesn't offer a 33" scale slotting option on their website, so I ordered two of them slotted for 35", and lopped off the first fret.

    In keeping with the blacked-out theme, the fretboards will remain plain, polished mac ebony, with just a single graphic centered at the twelfth fret, done with paua abalone strips:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's tedious. One down, one to go!
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  19. ctmullins

    ctmullins Registered thumper Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    Location:
    MS Gulf Coast
    Gave the day job a rest today, and made big sawdust instead!

    I took some measurements the other week with the bridges, and it turns out that, even though these are low-profile Schaller bridges, I need a bit of neck angle after all. This is no big deal with a bolt-on or set-neck, since I can route the angle into the neck pocket, but this is my first neck-through, and I had to ponder my options. Turns out the only option is to mill the angle into the body, since the fretboard is already mounted. So today I rigged a jig to do just that. First step was to make a pair of one-degree tapered guides. I placed them under the body section, clamped some runners down level, and went to down. Big sawdust!

    [​IMG]

    Had to do front and back. Lots of wood chips! So now the body is 1 9/16" thick. A little thinner than I had planned, but that's okay, because thin is good, and my electronics can still fit.

    Roughed out the body wings, which were 2" thick, so I used the same jig to thickness them down some. Another huge pile of chips, fluffy white maple ones this time.

    [​IMG]

    (That's the board that my fixed router base is bolted to. I use it inverted in the center section of the WorkMate for router table duty. Can't afford the real thing, and this works fine anyway....)

    So here's where the eight-string is at this point - there is some flame in the maple on the body wings, but it doesn't show in this photo - and remember, it'll be trans black over wine red.

    [​IMG]

    Looking pretty good!

    Also got the inlay done and the fretboard radiused for the five-string. Looks just like its twin. :)
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  20. wraub

    wraub

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    Location:
    ennui, az
    Disclosures:
    I'll have an IPA, please.
    Definitely looking good!
    Still hanging around... ;)

    wraub
     
  21. Splods

    Splods

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Location:
    Adelaide, SA
    How do you plan on combating the neck dive?

    Subscribed.
     

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