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32 inch scale Monarch/Birdsong style first build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bass_of_space, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Hi all,

    I have been lurking on LC for months but haven't been active on the forum for the past couple of years. I have learned a lot from both professional and amateur builders on here and have finally decided to attempt my own build. I have a decent amount of woodworking experience and will be using the wood shop in my college for this job.

    Here is my design:


    (I would like to thank Beauchene Implements for his wonderful tutorials on CAD design that helped me make this illustration on Rhino. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/tutorial-cad-cam-luthiery-954348/)

    Anyway, as you can see, the body shape is very similar to a Fodera Monarch. I scaled it down a little bit to look more proportional with the 32 inch scale and changed the curves of the waist and horns a little bit.

    As this will be my first build, I don't want it to be too expensive to make so I will be using some parts that I already have on hand:
    -cream DiMarzio model P/J set
    -black ''Hipshot A style'' generic copy
    -black generic tuners

    The woods I will use will be as follows:
    -mahogany body
    -quartersawn curly maple neck
    -ebony fingerboard
    -purpleheart fretboard side dots and truss rod cover

    The bass will feature passive vol-bal-tone wiring, a series-parallel switch for the P pickup and a series-parallel-out of phase switch for the blended position. The P pickup is in the Stingray sweetspot (like an SD curlee, I think) and the J pickup is a little bit closer to the bridge than the Rickenbacker neck pickup position (all scaled down to 32 inches, of course). The control plate design is still a work-in-progress.

    The construction will probably be bolt-on but I'm contemplating going with a set-neck for better comfort. I am also undecided on the position of the neck pickup. I may go for the regular J neck pickup position.

    I am not sure using the J pickup from a P/J set will be a good idea because it is a bridge pickup, therefore longer than a regular neck pickup so I may have some string alignment issues.

    I would love to hear any and all opinions and/or suggestions from all of you. Input about the control plate design, pickup positions and neck to body joint are especially welcome.

    Thank you all very much, and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!

  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Nice - very elegant design. A few humble suggestions:

    1. For a first build, bolt-on is easier, can sound just as good with careful construction, and can be just as comfortable as a set-neck if the heel extends past the end of the fingerboard. I strongly recommend threaded inserts and machine screws.

    2. Interesting pickup layout - I like it! I wouldn't worry about the pickup polepiece spacing. People make far too big of a deal about that. It'll work fine, especially with 2 polepieces per string. I also like the reversed P pickup layout! This will tighten up the lower register and keep the upper notes full.

    3. Consider a rear-routed control cavity. I think it would look less fussy.

    I'll be watching!
  3. Thank you ctmullins! It's encouraging to have a great builder like you following my thread.

    I'm not sure I was totally clear when I referred to the comfort of a set neck. What I meant was with a joint like luthiers such as Fodera and Carl Thompson use, there is no actual heel to get in the way of the fretting hand in higher positions. With a bolt-on it is necessary to have such a heel to mount the bolts through. While I trust my woodworking experience enough to think I could pull off a set-neck, I am definitely considering a bolt-on and would use threaded inserts with allen head machine screws, like you said.

    The reason I wanted to go with a front routed cavity was to have the option of changing the wiring scheme without worrying about number of knobs etc. and to have something to break up the (IMO) slightly boring look of mahogany. However, the design I have right now isn't working for me at all and if I fail to come up with a better one, I will definitely do a rear mount.

    Thank you for your feedback.
  4. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    Looks good man. Please fix up that headstock though, because it looks stubby in comparison to the smooth elegance of the body.
  5. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    And beyond the aesthetics of it, the E and G tuners look kind of close to the nut. This could cause a problem with the E tuner - you want it at sufficient distance so that the reduced diameter windings land on the post, and not the full thickness portion of the string.
  6. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Not to mention, the tuner probably will not fit there at all with a volute in the way. That all depends on how the headstock is built though.

    I'm with CT though, I like the body shape. Should be comfy. Good luck to you. Take it slow and think thoroughly through each step and you'll have a fun bass to play in the end.
  7. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    LOL! Thanks for the chuckle - I'm just a hack, I assure you! :hyper: I have so much more to learn...

    It's a bit difficult to describe. I have a bolt-on (Gibson-era) Tobias at home that is extremely comfortable. It's similar to this one.



    Notice how the neck extends further into the body, and the heel is very small as a result. That's the way I like to do bolt-ons.
  8. :eyebrow:so 11 pickup combos to choose from:confused:
    :rolleyes:lose the tone and throw in a kill switch and it sounds like something I would do:rolleyes:
    you got to do a video demo when your done :smug:its the rules
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Oh yeah, forgot to mention - don't bother with the series/parallel for the P coils. Parallel mode sounds wimpy. You'll hate it, and never use it. BTDT.
  10. Thanks for the heads up guys. I have revised the design a little bit. I am having a hard time drawing a nicer headstock shape on CAD so I will probably try doing that by hand.


    Oh, I get it now, thanks. Though, I'm not sure how that would work with my neck pickup being right up against the neck heel.

    I will definitely do that.

    I respectfully disagree. My EMG split coil pickup is wired in parallel and SD Curlee basses have the series-parallel option and those sound pretty good IMO.

    I will be buying the mahogany and cutting the body shape in the next couple of days so stay tuned!

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