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Well my dad will be 70 this year so I'm going to make a commemorative bass.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Blazer, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Well so my dad's 70'th birthday is nearing and I decided to make a bass in his honor, a bass which he unknowingly designed.

    See back when I was a boy he once made me toy guitar by sawing out what is roughly the shape of an electric guitar on a piece of plywood with a piece of construction lumber as a neck.
    [​IMG]
    The neck has long since gone but the body was always kept, the paintjob I did back then has since flaked and faded.

    But I kept looking at that old body and going "How cool would it be to turn this old thing into a real playing instrument for dad's birthday?"

    So I took it to the workshop, traced it onto a new piece of plywood, cleaned up a lot of the wonky lines and made it into a template for a four string bass.

    Initially my idea was to honor the original toy by using scrap material so I routed out a body from pine, to be finished in black with a Fender style pickguard (you can make out the place where I drew the pickguard on the original toy) but when orders came in for basses made from very pretty pieces of maple I decided to make it into deluxe bass.

    So it'll get a body with a striped maple top, Cedrella (Spanish Ceder) core and striped maple back, I made bass neck a few years ago which again is made from striped maple and ditto fingerboard with 24 frets in a Fender scale.

    Pickup-wise, I'm going for the tried and tested double J-bass set up and the pickups will be wound to my specs by our pickup guru.

    At the moment of typing the body is clamped creating the hippie sandwich, tomorrow I will start routing out the lot and bring along my camera.

    My boss tells me that this will be the most beautiful pig-ugly bass that was ever made in his workshop.

    I'll keep you guys informed on the progress.
  2. CarbonTom

    CarbonTom

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    Cant wait to see how it turns out. Subbed! Great story behind it too. My dads hitting 70 in a few weeks, I'm not quite making him a bass, but carving him a pipe!
  3. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Well then today I did a lot of work and here's the pictures to prove it, first up, here's the routing template I made using the the original toy, the lines are more worked out and less overall wonky.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the pine body I initially made, I'll keep that one around for when inspiration strikes again.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This here is the back of the new body and when we turn it over...
    [​IMG]
    Now ain't that a pretty top. the two pieces in the neck extension are to keep the shape intact when I rout out the shape of the back. They will go away when I'll rout out the neckpocket.
    [​IMG]
    And the cedrella mid section.

    And here's the back once more after I routed out the outline of the body.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    and from the front once more.
    and to show off that Hippie Sandwich once more.
    [​IMG]

    Well with the main rough work of the body done, time for the neck.
    [​IMG]
    I clamped on the fingerboard the night before so now what I need to do is saw off the excess wood.
    [​IMG]
    And trim the fingerboard edges.
    [​IMG]

    And here's where we are now.
    [​IMG]
    The neck will actually sit deeper in to the body but I'll be the first to say that it looks wonky, wonky but fun.
    :bassist:
  4. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

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    Hate to be that guy but with the dimensions of the body this would look really nice as a short (30") scale bass.
  5. Splods

    Splods

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    I'm really not sure how to feel about this.
  6. Andii Syckz

    Andii Syckz

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    +1, the long scale neck, specially 24 frets, looks bit out of place. You could do a short scale neck with 24 frets. that would be cool and fit the bodys' look much better. Also, easier to play and practice too
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    The long scale is going to look fine. Its a 24 fret neck with no overhang, so assuming its a 34 scale bass it can move much farther into the body. I think I would have just done a 20 or 21 fret neck though. That lower horn is going to limit those last frets anyway.
  8. Blazer

    Blazer

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    And to be honest with you I'm not the kind of bass player who ventures into the upper region of my basses that much.
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

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    I think it was just the way you had the neck laying on the body in the picture that had some people confused.
  10. IvanMunoz

    IvanMunoz

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    Interesting build, great story. Very touching. (It takes alot for something to strike me as "touching" by the way, this one really is a great thing)
    Subscribed.
  11. IAmACrocodile

    IAmACrocodile

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    A beautiful story, and I'm sure that your dad will be very deeply moved when you hand him this bass on his birthday! Funnily enough, my dad will be 70 next year, and I will be building a guitar (as opposed to bass) for him... I'm already looking forward to it so much!

    Good luck with your build! This will be a fantastic thread to follow! :)
  12. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Well I didn't have much time to do work on the bass but I did at least do something.

    [​IMG]
    Here's the body with the positions of how deep the neck will sit and the positions of both pickups drawn out using pencil.

    and rather than to make a completely new template for the control cavity I opted for using an existing one, here I am routing the recess for the back cover.
    [​IMG]

    And here's where I'm busy routing the control cavity itself.
    [​IMG]

    Done.
    [​IMG]

    But for the neck I had a problem, the neck I made was made using a template we haven't used in years, so I had to use a template for a different kind of neck to rout the neck pocket. So knowing that there was a chance I could seriously screw this up, I decided to use the pine test body instead.
    [​IMG]

    And that decision turned out to be a good one since the resulting pocket doesn't look neat at all.
    [​IMG]
    Oh dear...

    So I wrote down some notes on what measurements the as yet to be made template should have for a good neck cavity to be routed.
    [​IMG]
    Luckily for me this is only the test body, so when it comes to making the neck cavity for the real one I have a proper routing template ready.
    [​IMG]

    Further developments are that I'm working on an inlay at the 12'th fret of a rosewood "70" and a likeness of my dad's face inlaid at the headstock face.

    I'll keep you guys informed on how it develops.
  13. TundraMan

    TundraMan

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    Very cool. Subbed. Great way to honor your father while he's still alive.

    My dad also made me a toy plywood guitar when I was a child. The guitar is long gone, but the memories remain. I would unfold the hide-a-bed in the basement as a stage, and spend hours air-guitaring to old Grand Funk and Uriah Heep albums.

    Sadly my dad passed recently. I am building an instrument (Stratocaster) posthumously in his honor from wood taken from the scraps leftover from the cremation urn I made for his ashes. That wood came from a walnut tree on the family farm that he played on as a boy. Years later, when the tree was old and dying he cut it down. I'm seriously considering hollowing out a portion of the body under the pickguard to hold some of his ashes. Haven't yet decided if that's cool or morbid.
  14. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    I did some work on the bass today.

    [​IMG]
    Here's the "70" inlay at the 12'th fret before I sanded it level.

    And here's after doing so.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After which I started working on the neck pocket, this time using the proper template.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Fits like a glove
    [​IMG]

    And so I started working on the pickup cavities.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next up: give the neck a profile, put in frets, round off the body edges, do all the preliminary sanding, glue the neck in carve the neck joint, carve the neck, drill the holes for the pots, tuners and Jack and after all of that comes painting...
    [​IMG]
    Needless to say I have a LOT of work ahead of me.
  15. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Supporting Member

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    AWESOME
    & youre a cool son
  16. Shakin-Slim

    Shakin-Slim

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    Looking great, and I really like the shape of those horns.
  17. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Well it has been a while but that doesn't mean that I haven't done any work on the bass.

    In the meantime I beveled the body, fretted the neck and glued the neck in place and today I spend time working on the neck profile.

    [​IMG]
    Here's just after I rounded off the neck joint, showing the contrasting colors of the maple and the cedrella.

    [​IMG]
    My colleague made several photographs of me working on shaping the neck.
    [​IMG]
    No machinery here: chisels, rasps, 60 and 80 grid sandpaper and a lot of sweat from yours truly.
    [​IMG]

    But the result is looking very well.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This will be a great playing bass but I fear also a top heavy one.

    Finally I wanted to incorporate something that would represent my dad as I know him: as my dad.
    [​IMG]
    This picture of my dad was taken in 1976 the year of my birth. It will be printed onto the headstock via a clear transfer before being sealed in lacquer.
  18. Salamenster

    Salamenster

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    This is so awesome! What a great thing to do! Respect and I subbed!
  19. lustersilk

    lustersilk

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    OP - you are awesome - your post brings a tear to my eye - way to be a cool son!
  20. Blazer

    Blazer

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    Thanks you guys and here's a fitting song.

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