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6 String Fretless "Rainbow Bass" lookalike

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Stone Age, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    As promised in the JCbasses thread - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=452452 , I wanted to post the build that I just finished.

    This version has the following specs:

    34" Scale
    Sperzel Tuners
    EMG Pickup and Preamp
    Ebony Bridge
    Ebony/Padauk nut
    Walnut/maple/Padauk/Purple Heart Body
    Maple neck with Purple heart and Maple Stringers
    Ebony fingerboard
    2 way truss rod
    Padauk and Bloodwood headstock veneers
    Carl Thompson Strings...:)

    First thing was the body pieces. 37 pieces if I counted right...


    I had some adjusting to do after a dry fit. The tolerances need to be tight to get the lines exactly where you want them.
    I know some of the wood is looking pretty rough in some spots here, but I knew all the bad spots would be either planed, routed, or carved away for the finished product. Don't worry!

    I don't have pictures, but I glued up the body in 3 sections. Then they were run through the jointer and planer together to get uniform thickness. Next, the 3 pieces were glued together, and the body was cut out.

    Next came the neck.
    After the truss rod slot was cut, I cut the headstock angle, and glued on part of the headstock.

    I love the design on this (credit to Carl & Friends), now the neck gets cut out on a band saw and smoothed to size on a Jointer.

    More to follow...
  2. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    So, you cut your neck taper clear through your headstock, eh? I've seen that done a few times, but I've yet to try it...
  3. good to see another rainbow bass :D your last was phenominal
  4. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    The neck is made up of 13 pieces, including the headstock wings and veneers.


    Next, the fingerboard is slotted and attached to the neck. Then smoothed using a flush trimming bit on a router table.

    The stringers were glued up together against a home made caul.

    Then, the stringers were glued on to the neck one at a time. They were rough cut on a band saw and smoothed with a flush trimming bit on a router table. The fret lines and nut slot were then extended through the stringers.

    Right stringer, finished.


    Left stringer rough cut

    Neck with both stringers complete.
  5. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Yeah, it was necessary for this build for the end result, and I actually like it as a permanent solution going forward. No more awkward routing of the neck sides. Maybe, maybe not...

    This is my first build post here. (?)
  6. Jeronimofesto

    Jeronimofesto Luthier: JC Basses

    Oct 17, 2006
    Auburn, CA
    I am guessing it was in reference to the one I just finished? Anyways, can't wait to see this build complete, look great so far!
  7. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    I'm thinking so.


    Ok, so then the Headstock wings went on.

    Then I did a rough cut out of the headstock shape.

    Next was the Face plate, Padauk in this case. The nut there was just a spacer, the part of the face plate that meets the nut had been cut at the same angle as the headstock.

    Once the face plate was glued on, the sides were cut on the band saw and drum sanded. The top was cut to size with a band saw, hand sanded later on.

    The neck was then carved and sanded. At the moment, I just smooth the headstock joint to flow in to the neck to ease the angle for the back veneer. There's a better way to do this that I haven't figured out yet...

    The neck shim also gets glued on.

    And then, probably my favorite aesthetic detail of real CT basses, the back headstock veneer goes on. I just use a piece of plywood for the flat part, and a few small clamps where it curves into the neck. It gets trimmed with a knife and sanded by hand and by drum sander.

  8. Gone


    Mar 21, 2006
    Cape Town
    Jayda custom basses, builder
    Wow, cool build. Some interesting build ideas!
    I like the fact the the "stringers" follow the taper of the neck.
    The veneer on the back came out great as well!
  9. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Beautiful work Stone Age. Can't wait to see it finished!
  10. contakt321


    Jul 31, 2006
    New York, NY
    WOW, two awesome CT builds in one month. I am loving it! The stringers on this and the details are really nice!
  11. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Hey, thanks for the nice words. Glad everyone likes this so far.

    Next thing was the fret markers and tuner holes, not sure which came first...finally the fretboard radius.

    This pic actually shows the finished look, but it's the only one I have. The Sperzels are really cool. They have studs instead of screws, which makes for a tricky but solid install. I broke a tuner screw once in another bass, so I was happy to see this when they came in. So the through holes and the stud holes are shown here.

    And the front side with the tuners in for a test fit.

    The end of the neck gets trimmed. I use a similar neck pocket technique as Jeronimofesto and CT, but I just use plywood. The finished neck gets centered and clamped on to the body, then wrapped on three sides with plywood, and the whole pocket gets routed in one operation.

    There's a 1/8" roundover around the sides and back, then 1/4" around the sides again, up to the tail piece. The pickup pocket gets done with a plywood jig. Same with the electronics pocket.



    The tail piece took a while to figure out. I settled on 45 degree bit along the bottom, drilled through to the front for the strings with the drill press, and some ferrules.


    Next came the carving and initial sanding. Electronics holes were also done at this point. I drill a hole for the pickup connector with a forstner bit, then I freehand the groove for the pickup wires with a 1/4 router bit, since it looks hideous no matter what I try.

    Next I just glue in the neck, no magic here.

    After re-carving and sanding the heel joint.
  12. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    From here, I made the truss rod cover, bridge, and an input jack plate out of ebony. The Nut is ebony with a small piece of padauk. Then I sanded and oiled the whole bass. It's just a danish oil finish.

    Electronics were then installed. The BTC preamp I used barely fit. The body is only 1 3/16" thick. The jack DIDN'T fit, so I had to go with the input jack plate mentioned above.

    And that was pretty much it. All the hardware was installed and the instrument was strung up with some official Carl Thompson long scale strings. Here are some finished pics. I don't have a way to record sound clips at the moment.







    I did sorta end up with a cat's eye effect here.
  13. maybass77

    maybass77 swm

    Feb 26, 2006
    southeast michigan
    i love it! seeing something like this is kinda like watching a band cover someone else's song...i like to see how close they come. I'd say you did a damn fine job!
  14. distrot


    Mar 26, 2007
    you could go into buisness making just this bass
  15. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    That's very funny, because that's how I've been looking at this build...like a "cover". Thanks a lot!
  16. Chipsonfire


    Jul 20, 2007
    Socorro, NM
    WOW! That thing is gorgeous! I wish I had the money for one of those, since I don't have the talent to build one :p Great job!
  17. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Thank you!
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Nice cover...Does it play and sound like a CT?
  19. envika


    Nov 27, 2007
    Bronx, NY
    The knobs are kinda ugly, but everything else is SAH-WEET!
  20. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    I've never played a CT, so I'm not sure about the feel. I'd have to guess no. And it just sounds like any Fretless that I've ever heard. I'm not at all a fretless player, so I'm not the best judge of that.

    Thanks. They're the knobs that come with the BTC. I actually like them, but I know there are fancier ones out there.

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