1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

3 Wood Challenge: 5 string fretless

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by HaMMerHeD, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005

    Here's my entry for the 3 wood challenge.

    I'm building a 5-string fretless bass. Here are the specs:

    Body: American Ash (Fraxinus americana)
    Neck: Chakte Kok (Sickingia salvadorensis)
    Fingerboard: Curly ambrosia maple (Acer saccharum)
    Scale: 34"
    Fingerboard range: 2 octaves, fretless with lines, 12" radius
    Pickups: 1x EMG 40TW twin-mode humbucker
    Electronics: Volume, Tone, Coil tap push/pull
    Tuners: Gotoh sealed
    Bridge: Carved Chakte Kok, 2 piece
    Finish: clear shellac

    It'll be a deep set neck. The neck pocket will reach down to the pickup route and the neck will be glued in place. I haven't decided 100% on the fingerboard wood yet. I have a bloodwood board, but I'd like for there to be some contrast between the neck and the fingerboard. I think curly maple would be awesome, but then I'd have to coat it, and I'm not all that confident with that process. I do have some surfboard resin, so I might give it a shot. Purpleheart would be cool too.

    The Design:

    Edit: looks better at playing angle:

    The Wood:
    Chakte Kok:
  2. dremy2006

    dremy2006 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Miami Gardens, Fl
  3. kris pung

    kris pung

    Jul 25, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Love the design.
  4. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Cool design. And pretty non-traditional for a fretless.
  5. Sweet lines! I'm stoked to see Chakte Koke in a build, too- I've made some stuff for the house out of it... so pretty under gloss, and it smells great when you cut it.
  6. boethius


    Sep 27, 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    A wenge fingerboard is an option as it doesn't require the polyester resin. Depends what your tonal goals are. The polyester resin fretless fingerboards like on the Pedulas are very bright and an unfinished fingerboard of denser wood would end up sounding...woodier, or warmer. Either way, nice design...wish I had the wood skills to pull that off. I am shaping my first stick though this summer...although I may have someone else glass it locally in Wilmington.
    Love to hear how it sounds!
  7. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Wenge is a nice option, but I'm thinking I might go with walnut for the fingerboard, for a couple of reasons:

    First, I like the look of walnut.
    Second, I've never seen one before (I'm sure someone has, but I haven't seen it personally.)
    Third, it's pretty inexpensive and readily available.
    Fourth, I generally prefer darker fingerboards.

    I'd have to coat it with resin, but that's not a big deal really.
  8. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Also, I've been thinking about finishing the ash in black, like the Warwick nirvana black oil finish, like this:


    I'm also thinking about popping a piezo transducer under the bridge saddle.
  9. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Very Cool Mark, this is going to be a cool build
  10. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Coil tap or coil split?
  11. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    The EMG TW pickup series has 3 coils. They are referred to as dual-mode, rather than coil split. Here's how it works, taken from EMG's site:


    Also, I found an old cocobolo fingerboard blank I forgot I had. It might do the trick.
  12. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Interesting design, I like it I've got to decide if I'm going to attempt a minimal power-tool build for the challenge this year.
  13. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Found a wicked awesome piece of curly ambrosia maple for the fingerboard.
  14. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Here's the fingerboard wood:
    And the curl:

    And what the wind does around here every spring..
  15. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    So here are all 3 woods together, and some info on the finalized plan for this bass:


    The body will be ash, the neck will be chakte kok, and the fingerboard will be curly ambrosia maple.

    The neck will be finished in clear shellac.

    The fingerboard will have a polyester surfboard resin finish. It'll have black position markers on the side, but no lines and no dots on the fingerboard surface.

    To make the maple fingerboard contrast well with the ash body, the body will be dyed black and finished in clear shellac similar to Warwick's nirvana black finish, as shown a few posts above.
  16. dremy2006

    dremy2006 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Miami Gardens, Fl
    awesome stuff
  17. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    I decided to re-arrange the ash to get better matching grain:


    And jointed and glued:


    Also roughed the fingerboard out:


    Going to thickness the fingerboard and body blank tomorrow, and cut the body out on the bandsaw.
  18. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Thinking about doing something fun with the headstock...


    Considering inlaying a piece of curly maple (cut off from the fingerboard stock). Then I'd inlay a circle of black dyed ash, onto which my logo would be attached.


    Hmm. The more I look at it, the more I think the black dot makes it look too busy.

  19. I really like your design. On my build I want to do a Warwick type finish as well as long as I can find some 8/4 ash, any suggestions?
  20. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    I've never done it before, so I really don't know how it's going to end up getting done. But it'll be an amusing learning process anyway.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.