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3 wood challenge: The cheapskate jazz bass.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Ronbeast, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Alright,

    this is gonna be my first build thread ever, and my first post here in a long time. To be honest, I'm not even sure that this bass will be finished in time, I just like the spirit of competition and the motivation that comes along with it.

    As it stands, I'm already a little bit late out of the gate (About a month late!) , but I think I'll still be able to finish if I keep up the pace I'm at. I'm currently working on the neck, which is a failed attempt from before that I'm trying to fix up and reuse, I spent yesterday building a router jig so that I could route a trussrod channel into an already shaped neck. In my younger stupidity, I never thought things through...

    So, enough rambling, time for the specs:

    This project is called the cheapskate jazz bass because almost everything is recycled from another project or was given to me for free.

    -3 piece pine body (Tree fell in my yard a number of years ago and has been drying since). My uncle owns a saw mill and prepped it for free.

    -Canadian hard-rock maple neck, the maple was bought with a giftcard that I was given, I even got a discount on it because my other uncle works where I bought it. :smug:

    -Still trying to figure out the fretboard wood, I found a few decent sized boards on the beach near my house, just have to plane them and choose. I don't really care about the longevity of the board.

    -Pickups will be a no-name set of jazz bass pickups from Evilbay.

    - Bridge and tuners were both salvaged from other project.

    -Pickguard and the rest of the hardware will all be purchased from ebay.

    I decided to do a fretless jazz bass due to the fact that I want a fretless and a jazz bass, and they are hard to come by for a decent price in my area. So, wish me luck and thanks for having me.

  2. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    sounds cool, be looking forward to the initiation.
  3. Thanks for the interest,

    I've got a bit more done with the neck so far. I routed the truss rod channel and inlaid it, and the headstock has been planed to the right thickness and shaped.

    I realized that I don't really like the headstock design now, it's too elongated. Now I'm gonna try and come up with a smaller headstock. It could also help with offsetting the weight of the headstock compared to the lightweight body. I imagine that a heavy headstock would cause the bass to have a lot of neck dive... Hmm.

    Back to the drawing board.

    EDIT: Alright, so I got around to taking a few pictures, please excuse the quality, they were taken on my cellphone. The images can be viewed here: http://s1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj482/Ronking92/

    I cannot upload them to the forum, it tells me that the size of the images is too large, I'll have to figure it all out later.

    In the pictures, I've removed the fretboard and routed for the trussrods (Three pieces of 1/4" steel wrapped in duct tape and then epoxied into the neck :p). I resurfaced the neck and decided against reusing the original fretboard. It had warped pretty badly from the removal. I decided to go with a birch fretboard.

    I also reshaped the headstock. Before the reshape , the headstock was too large and clunky, and the strings would have been leaving the nut at weird angles, so I felt I needed to fix that. Right now, I'm doing the rough sanding on the back of the neck to even everything out a bit, and I will probably drill for my tuners tomorrow.

  4. Does anybody have any advice on rolling the edges of the fretboard? I'm not on that step just yet, but I want to know how it's done for when I get to it. I've read up on it and it seems that most of the advice online is to do with fretted instruments, not a fretless bass.

    Some people have said to use a screwdriver or other similar object and do a rolling pin kind of motion over the sides of the board, other people have told me to simply used a sanding block and gently sand the fretboard edge until it becomes rounded over. It's hard to decide what to do, but I'm leaning more towards the sanding route. Any opinions?
  5. If you upload the pictures here:


    You can copy and past the second url in the list of four (after uploading, you'll see what I'm talking about) into the reply box here on TB and post pictures without any issues!
  6. Thanks Dave! I'll have to give that a go and see if it will work for me.

  7. Alright,

    I've finally decided on the three woods I'm going to use for the build. They are: Maple, Birch, and Juniper (Tamarac?). I decided against using my pine because 1) It warped like a cork screw and would have been nearly impossible to true up :/ and 2) Even after drying for over four years, it was moist to the touch and I could see little spots of sap on it after it was cut.

    So, I decided on Juniper for the body. It's an easy wood to work with and in my opinion, it has a beautiful straight grain. I've used it on necks before with no trouble. I decided to use it for a body this time around, but I had to use 7 pieces to make up the width of a jazz body... Lets hope my attempts at grain matching will work...

  8. ronaldpdbrandt

    ronaldpdbrandt Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2011
    Suffolk County, NY
    From one Ron to another, good luck with the build.

    Now, let's see some pics!
  9. Finally figured out how to upload pics (Thanks Dave!!)

    Alright so,

    Here is where I am so far with the body, I got the wood for the body blank today. It's 7 pieces of juniper (I've heard it referred to as tamarac and larch before) , it's not a bad looking wood and it takes a finish nicely.


    here are some shots of the neck building process (It's crude, but the neck feels solid and comfortable). :

    Inlaying the truss rods, please don't kill me, almighty luthiers of talkbass; I like cheap things and I had some 1/4" steel rods kicking around...


    Trimming the fretboard:


    And the neck, as it stands (hahahah, get it, STANDS, :bag:)


    Anyways, I guess that's all for now. I'm waiting on the glue to dry on the body blank before I go any further. I think I'll pick up some finishing supplies when I'm in the city tomorrow. My plan so far is to do the body and neck in minwax wipe on poly and the fretboard will be coated with envirotex lite. Does anybody see any problems with that combination? I'd like to avoid as many unforseen problems as I can.

  10. I got a bit more done today, the body blank is planed to thickness. I drew the body outline on the blank and drilled the holes to keep the template aligned. I think I'll cut the body out on the bandsaw tomorrow after work and then perhaps route it if I have enough time.

    I forgot to add, I also picked up the minwax wipe-on poly for this project today. It was kind of expensive, but the container I bought should be enough to do both the body and neck in a nice thick poly finish (the way I like it).

  11. This thing is looking good! I hadn't seen this thread before today. Keep up the good work.

  12. Thanks for looking!

    I have another question,

    My body blank is a hair thinner than most fenders I've seen, 1/16th of an inch thinner in fact. So my question is, will this throw anything off? I'm going to be using this blank regardless, but I'd like to know if that much discrepancy in thickness is enough to throw my build off. Any advice or ideas here?

  13. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    I'd imagine the discrepancies in wood density mean there will be several types of Jazz basses that will have balance + overall weight akin to your final result. Basically you can throw a high mass bridge on to correct balance should it dive, and you can do some tweaking should dead spots become an issue.

    Good luck, I like the approach, It's a cool Idea.;)
  14. Good idea Moderno, if I do have any problems with it being off balance, I'll just use a highmass bridge.

    I don't think that 1/16th of wood off of the top will have that big a difference in weight though. I think that the wood I'm using for the body is slightly heavier than the average alder body, but I haven't cut it out and routed it yet so there is no way for me to confirm that yet.

    I will hopefully be cutting the body out and cleaning it up with the router today. Actually, I think I'll grab a bite to eat and go do that right now ;)

  15. Alright,

    I did a lot of work with this body today, and here are some pics of the process:

    Here is the body after being rough cut on my bandsaw:


    The template attached to the body for quick cleanup with the router:


    And finally, the cleaned up body, resting on the wood pile ;) :


    That's where I am so far. I might attempt to clean up the heel of the neck and route the neck pocket sometime this week. I'm currently waiting for payday to order the rest of the required parts. This is really starting to take shape.

  16. I ordered the rest of the parts for this yesterday for a grand total of $62 shipped to my door. Yup, that`s pretty cheap, which is what I was going for! So, here`s what I`m expecting in the mail:

    1) a set of j bass knobs $3,
    2) a set of pickups $11
    3) a pickguard $9
    4) control plate with prewired harness $6
    5)Straplocks $4
    6)8oz can of envirotex lite $21
    7) Forstner drill bit $4
    8)1/4" straight router bit $4

    So, not bad for the price I paid. Once I recieve all of my orders I will have everything I need to complete this bass. I'm not sure if I should wait to do the neck pocket or if I should try it without the forstner bit. I guess I'll have to decide.

  17. Alright, I'm back!

    And a few different parts have finally arrived. I got my forstner bit, and my router bit, as well as the envirotex lite. So, I'm trying to decide what the next step will be. I'm thinking that I should route the neck pocket and the pickup cavities etc. and then I'll do my roundovers and cutouts/ final shaping on the body.

    But I'm not sure If I should do that just yet. I haven't received the pickups and I want to be sure I get a nice tight fit.

  18. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Play it safe... It's coming along too nicely to rush and mess up...
  19. Well,

    I decided to hold off on the routing of the pickups etc. , but I think I`m going to go full swing on the project tomorrow and knock out a solid day of work. I`m thinking about routing the neck pocket, cleaning up the heel of the neck, drilling the bridge location, and possibly starting the envirotex lite process on the fretboard.

    Also, the straploks arrived yesterday. They look like solid clones of the dunlops I have on another guitar. Nice quality for the price (Less than a third the price of the dunlops). So, when the other parts show up (hopefully soon) I`ll be able to finish this project off.

    I might be able to finish it in time afterall!

  20. Did some more work today!

    Neck pocket routed:



    As you can see, the "dimples" left by the forstner bit are still there, but that's alright. They aren't as bad as they appear and the rest of the pocket is completely level. I'll just be a little bit more careful on the next build I do with a fender style neck pocket.

    I love how this thing is starting to take shape and I cannot wait to do a mock-up once I have the pickguard and other parts in my possession. Next step, clean up neck heel and mount it to the body. Then allign my bridge position.


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