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1st Build - YELO Bass, Case and matching Electric

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Yelo, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Hey guys... I guess you could classify me as a bit of a lurker around here. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the builds and am learning constantly from you guys.

    To start off with, I'm sure you've heard it all before, but I have zero woodworking skills but I'd like to think I'm not completely lacking in the logic and motivation that's required to develop these skills as I go along.

    A little of the history of this build...

    I haven't played bass in a good 10 years and I recently got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about starting up again. Instead of buying a bass I thought I'd ask my Uncle to build me one as he's quite into building electric guitars. He said sure, if I don't mind waiting a good year or more until he's finished the current guitar projects which lie unfinished in his workshop.
    Then I start researching what it takes to build a bass... oh great, now my enthusiasm is focused on attempting this myself.

    So I start out with a design...


    Always been a Music Man fan, so had to go with the single MM pickup. Also have been a big Telecaster and Jaguar fan, hense the shape. The big big yellow scratch plates on the body and headstock work well in my head... we'll see how they work out later on.

    I did a lot of research on scale and fret positions and electronics and wood and bridges and bridge placement... all of which are very very daunting for a first time build like this.

    I settled on the following:

    Through Neck
    34 inch scale
    5 string fretted (despite the design picture)


    African Mahogany for the body core
    Maple and African Rosewood laminate for the neck
    Birdseye Maple for the front and back of the wings.

    disclaimer... I'm sure there are some processes and techniques which aren't great here... but I did build a lot of this before finding talkbass.

    So I order the wood (no I never went to choose the woods, I just ordered the sizes I thought I'd need) Next time I think I'll be more selective.


    The African Rosewood fretboard I was planning on using (changed my mind there)


    The African Mahogany Core


    The Maple and African Rosewood cut, ready to glue for the neck. I never paid attention to the grain like I should have here...


    Now rosewood you'll say is not a good laminate wood... well, I'd agree with you especially reading after I'd already glued the neck up that Fender ditched Rosewood because of how unstable it was... I panicked at this point. But my uncle assured me that African Rosewood was very far from the typical Indian Rosewood... he claimed its more akin to bubinga. Lets hope... so far so good, not battling with the African Rosewood at all.

    Okay... clamped all the pieces together overnight before committing to the glue.


    Next day I glued it together...


    And also glued the wings together...


    All out of the clamps and ready to be squared up...


    All square up... okay, I don't have my own bench saw so I took it to the local timber shop who did it for me.


    I overcompensated terribly on the sizes of the wood I needed


    Tape on my template... I think I designed the body too small... so I adjusted that on the fly.


    The headstock design...


    Altogether now...


    Okay don't have too many pics of the scarf joint, here it is glued.


    Post glueing


    Re-apply the headstock design...


    couldn't resist, just had to cut it out


    I have some work to do quick... will post more in a bit...
  2. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Looks great, chief. I really dig your design, in spite of the fact that I really hate both the Telecaster and the Jaguar. Your design is pretty sweet. The yellow and black look great.
  3. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Ok, where were we...

    I don't know how I managed to skip some photos but here you'll see I'm cutting the wings out and doing some shaping along the way.


    The tummy cutout...


    Now this is where the bass build has halted I'm afraid. Why? Because I've ordered all my parts for the bass over the course of this build and they're all sitting with my parents in Florida where I'm sitting here in South Africa. My Mom should be flying out in the next month or two and then I can resume.

    So the next steps will be to route the neck for the Martin Style truss rod as well as 2 steel stiffening rods. I went with steel mainly due to price.

    Then I need to route the neck shape out and begin shaping the neck. I have a lovely Ebony pre-slotted LMII fretboard arriving with my parts.

    Electronics, I've settled on the EMG MM5TW. I'm kinda thinking I'll need to add to that the EMG BTC control...

    Then my tuners are black Gotoh's with a Black Hipshot bridge.

    Scratchplate wise I still need to track down the right colour... I'm very nervous to make the scratchplates... but needs to be done.

    more to follow...
  4. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Oh I must add that I haven't glued the wings onto the neck yet as I need to route and cut the neck out first...
  5. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Ok, now this is where it gets interesting...

    So now I'm bored... waiting for all my parts to arrive. So I think... I'd like to get back into playing electric again as well.

    So I decide with the left over wood from the bass to build a matching electric.

    So using what I learnt from the bass build I did one or two things differently and in 2 days whipped up this..


    Now this kinda of kills two birds with one stone... it's allowed me to get a bit further than I have on the bass as I made the neck differently. So now I plan to progress on the guitar before the bass to perfect the techniques I need to finish the bass up.

    Because both of these instruments will be painted I'm not too stressed that I never matched the woods or even that I didn't do a laminate for the neck.

    Also because there will only be a truss rod in the guitar I epoxied in ttwo short steel rods for my own piece of mind over the scarf joint. I'm really nervous about scarf joints for some reason lol.

    So once again I sit at a brick wall due to parts...

    So I think, ok... After I'm done with the Bass I'll need a bass case surely.

    So away ticks my mind and I come up with a design I quite like. Something that seems unique and perhaps over engineered as well.


    Two pine side plates joined together with pine quarter round.


    Ok, skip a few steps... I basically filled the other two sides in with pine and added some strips around the edges which I will glue and nail the 4mm plywood sheeting to.


    How the lid will open... at this point I'm planning on using some kitchen cupboard hinges but can't find ones that will work.


    after much frustration I give up on finding simple hinges that will work for this and decide to use typical door style hinges... I go looking around my garage and look what I find


    These are the exact design hinges I've been looking for the whole time... not to big to take space away from the interior and simple enough not to give me a headache.

    So I fitted the hinges...


    I will be painting these black when the time comes.

    At least I'll be able to finish the Bass Case before my Bass parts arrive... well the bits of the Bass Case that don't require a fully contructed Bass to test fit with...
  6. Awesome stuff
  7. Subbed. Want to see how this turns out. Great job man.

  8. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Thanks guys...

    Let's see, what else am I missing... Ah, an amp. Tick tick tick...
  9. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    This is very cool! I dig the shape, design and your thought process. Nice job!

    I'm fairly new to building myself, but I'm guessing the five string will be a little heavy. Just because of the wood combos and the steel stiffening rods in the neck. Maybe you prefer a heavier instrument. That's fine, some people do. I personally will be paying more attention to weight on future builds, as I've found things end up heavier than I planned, lol.

    I love the case design. I may have to use your idea soon ;) But I think I'd go for a much lighter hinge (sorry to harp about weight).

    Keep up the good work!
  10. crobasster


    Jun 16, 2009
    That will be a really hard case.

    Nice bass allthough!
  11. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Well, regarding the weight of the case... so far I'm at 3kg (6.6 pounds) almost on the dot. I'm trying not to go over 4kg. That's 8.8 pounds.

    The average bass (simple) case is around 7 - 7.5 pounds.

    @FatStrings I must admit I'm worried about he weight of the bass too. It is pretty heavy as it stands. I've been toying with the idea of chambering out some weight behind the many scratch plates I have. But I'm going to only worry about that once the neck, fretboard etc it altogether so I can make sure I can balance the bass out to prevent neck dive.
  12. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    That's one of the coolest case designs I have seen..!! I built one, a simple one, long ago and it turned out to be 8kgs !! Mine was very lightly built compared to yours.. but I guess a lot of foam and tolex covering added more weight than expected.
  13. I really like the design you have going on. It really stands out from other instruments. And i love that you are making a guitar to match! I cannot wait to see finished products!
  14. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I dig this build - especially the Italian-styled design. :D
  15. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    Italian?!?!?! OMG what have I done?!?!?! ;)

    Thanks for the comments guys. I should have another Bass Case update soon.
  16. Yelo


    Jul 2, 2012
    South Africa
    An update to my Bass Case build.

    I got some 3mm commercial plywood, cut to size and glued/nailed into place. I had initially designed the case for 4mm plywood so I had to plane the sides down to fit.

    The one night I left the case open and it poured with rain... and a leak seems to have developed above my workbench. Like somebody opened a tap and most of my bass case filled with water... there was easily half an inch of water sitting in the case when I found it like that in the morning.

    So I've been drying it out. It seems the wood filler I used has 'dissolved' out, there has been some warping but odly enough in a good way. The lid now fits better.

    I'm just happy my bass wasn't on the workbench when the rain came down.

    These pictures were taken after the water damage.

    After putting the top and bottom 'skin' on... I found it very difficult to open and close the lid. Hence the 'finger slot'.

  17. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Gorgeous..!! keep em coming
  18. subscribing!!
  19. lowendrachel


    Sep 11, 2012
    GTA, Ontario
    Wow, that looks great already. I'm subscribing too.
  20. Nomad98


    Dec 13, 2005
    interesting build...

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