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33'' Fretless - Piezo Only 5 String

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Simo, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. It's been a long time since I've posted a build thread on here, so I thought I'd post a build diary of my current project..

    It will be a 33'' scale fretless, 5 string, 'piezo only' bass, fitted with a Hipshot bridge loaded with GraphTech 'Ghost' saddles. The body wood is Black Walnut, with a Black Limba bookmatched top, Maple neck, and Ebony fingerboard (lined). Something along these lines..


    I already have a neck blank ready for this bass, so the first job to do is to plane the faces of the Black Walnut body blanks, and thickness them to the correct size. The pieces are then jointed by hand and glued together.




    Once the glue has fully cured and the blank has had a final pass through the drum sander, I use a clear acrylic template to position the layout of the body shape. Then it's cut out on the bandsaw, leaving just a couple of millimetres to trim off with the router.



    The Black Limba top is jointed and joined together using the 'tape tent' method. Once the glue is dry, it's sanded with a random orbit sander to remove the course drum sander marks.




    After trimming the body outline on the pin router, I also route out the chamber, which is then sealed with a coat of finish.


    The top, along with a piece of black veneer, are attached to the Walnut body using the vacuum bag.


    After selecting a piece of Ebony for the fingerboard, I hold it down to my workbench using a couple of bench dogs and a small wedge to lock it in place. Then it's time to plane it flat, ready for slotting.


    That's all for now, I'll update this thread when I've made some more progress :)
  2. Good gravy that Limba top is AWESOME!!! Looking forward to seeing how this build turns out.. Always nice work..

    Question: What is the "Tape Tent" method?
  3. I cover it briefly in this blog post: Joining A Bookmatched Top Using Tape

    Chris Paulick gives a better explanation on video..

    buzzwah and bassbrad like this.
  4. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    I really like the combinations of wood in this. Especially that black limba. Looking forward to seeing more.
  5. eottjake


    Jan 30, 2009
    Fairborn, Ohio
    Lookks good! Love that limba's figure.
  6. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    This looks awesome!!!!
  7. It sure looks like my next top will be bookmatched black limba, that looks really nice.
  8. PDX Rich

    PDX Rich

    Dec 19, 2014
    Portland, OR
    I dig the design and the wood!

    I also have hand plane envy now. :)
  9. redboy1975


    Apr 24, 2011
    Any progress ?
  10. Here's a bit more progress on the body..

    After the top had been glued on, it was trimmed flush and then the edges of the body were sanded smooth using a bobbin sander, along with some hand sanding.


    The controls on this bass will be very simple, just a volume control and a mini toggle switch, to change between the mid/dark tone settings on the GraphTech preamp. I drill the holes first, then route out the control cavity on the rear of the body.


    Next, I route a 1/2'' roundover on the back, and a bevel on the front.


    The 'S' hole is also routed out, using a small spiral cutter to ensure a clean cut. The cutter can't get right into the corners, so I finish it by hand, using scalpel to carve out the shape, followed by a file, and finally sandpaper for a smooth finish.




    The last job until the neck is ready, is to drill the holes/recesses for the jack socket, strap buttons, and neck ferrules.



  11. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Very nice work!
  12. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    This is some seriously amazing craftsmanship! My bass is black limba as well, but it's no where close to the figuring in this bass :sorry:

    Simply beautiful drool
  13. So awesome!!! Beautiful work!!
  14. I've had a lot time out of the workshop lately, so not a massive amount of updates.. but here's a few pictures showing how I line the fingerboard with veneer.

    First, the Ebony is slotted by hand.. in this case for 22 fret positions (33'' scale). I use a fret slotting jig from Stew Mac, which I've modified to accommodate wider bass fretboards. I've also fitted a couple of toggle clamps, which slide along a piece of track, to hold the wood firmly in place while sawing.


    Previously, I've used CA glue to fit the veneers, but after developing a sensitivity to CA (cold like symptoms a few hours after use :(), I've switched to using standard Titebond. I use some a small needle bottle to help apply the glue into the slot, with a minimum amount of mess.


    In the past I've simply held the veneer in the slot for a few seconds, while the CA glue dries. Obviously the Titebond needs a little longer to cure, so my solution is to slice up a mountain bike inner tube.. the rubber bands are a perfect size and elasticity to hold the veneer in the slot. I apply a bead of glue, fit the veneer into the slot, slide it a little from side to side to spread the glue, I then hook the rubber band over one end, stretch it underneath and fasten it to the opposite end, before wiping away the glue squeeze out.



    Once the glue has dried, I nip off the ends using my fret cutters, and then carefully slice off the veneer with a sharp chisel until they're flush...




    ...a quick sand, and it's ready to go.

  15. Sorry for the lack of updates, I've had a lot of time away from the workbench lately. Anyway, here's a brief update.. more on the way shortly.

    The neck is made from 3 pieces of Maple, with black veneers laminated in between. The headstock has Ebony veneers on both sides.


    I use some masking tape to make the centre lines easier to line up, then after fitting some alignment pins underneath the fingerboard, it's glued on and left to cure, before being planed flush.




    The tuner holes have been drilled, and it's starting to look like a neck..

    Marial, emjazz, rwkeating and 4 others like this.
  16. Beautiful work. Cool plane!
  17. I installed the Luminlay side dot inlays yesterday. I like the look of the inlay positioned right on the join of the neck and fingerboard.. the only downside to this, is that if you drill one slightly off, it's even more noticeable (don't ask me how I know that), so you need to take care marking the holes.


    A good quality drill bit makes life easier, especially when drilling through two different types of wood in one hole (I use the HSS Professional bits made by Fisch).


    The Luminlay is fitted with a few drops of CA glue, and then filed flush with an Iwasaki carvers file.


    PDX Rich, afa3, ctmullins and 2 others like this.
  18. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Beautiful work! Might have to try some of that Luminlay...
  19. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    That is freaking clean work.. It looks exceptional. Hand planes make me so excited I think I need medication for it. Ahh-Mazing!
    kaoskater08 and Simo like this.

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