A Tele style 32 inch scale bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Drake Custom, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Hey all,
    I was just asked to build a custom Tele style bass in 32 inch scale for a customer and I thought I would share this build with the TB crowd.
    For this bass it was decided that we would have a Maple neck and FB with a Walnut body along with a Curtis Novak Fatbucker in the neck position and a Tele bass pickup in the bridge. We are also going with a 32 inch scale. We decided that with this one we are going to keep some of the traditional features common to the originals with some modern updates thrown in as well. Our goal is to have a very cool, easy playing, fat sounding bass.

    This time I will start with the body.

    This first picture is of a template I made for this project. I based it off of a GL ASAT body. I am not sure that I will cut the inside of the lower horn as deep as the template shows but I like to be able to reach all of the frets. We will see how it shakes out later.
    Here is a picture of the neck and body blanks that just arrived from Exotic Woods out in NJ. The Maple is quarter sawn and very clean. The Walnut is that nice red/purple/brown color I love to see in Walnut. I get so much Walnut these days that looks gray. It is nice to see some good colored stuff once in a while.

    The first step for this bass is to cut the blank in half. Gidwani was so kind as to glue up a beautiful two piece blank but I want to remove some of the weight so I have to do some surgical slicing.
    After I get the faces off I plane down each side to make a nice smooth gluing surface. I only remove the minimum from the inside facing surfaces as I want the grain lines to line up when it all goes back together. I remove over all thickness to suit from the outside surfaces. The blank started as 2 inches thick but I am making this bass about 1 3/4 inch thick.
    I trace the template on the face of the back and on the face of the top so that everything lines up. I mark some reference lines down the side of each half so that I can align my tops and backs easily.
    I then chamber out the bass side of the body blank to remove some weight. I don't chamber the treb side as the rear routed cavity will remove most of the weight from that side. That will be done later. I then clamp the tops on, using the reference lines, and drill some small holes for my toothpicks that I use to hold the parts together while gluing. You can see that I have added a thin pinstripe off Maple between the top and back. I like the little detail it brings to the overall look when carved. I should explain the way the blank is shaped here. I cut the blank back so that I can get my clamps in deep enough to reach inside the shape of the bass. I also leave the edges squared off so that when I join the two halves together my pipe clamps will have flat surfaces to bite on. Keeps the halves from yawing side to side when glued and under pressure from the clamps.
    Now I took it all apart and glued on the tops.

    Next time I will join the two halves of the body together.
    Thanks for checking out my build.
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    As much as I dislike Teles, this one should turn out really pretty. Thanks for sharing your builds, Mr. Drake - it's a treat to see such craftsmanship!
  3. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars: Ulyate Pickups & StringJoy Commercial User

    Oct 4, 2008
    not much on short scale or telecaster shaped basses, but this is intriguing.
  4. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    Great start - looks like something I would like to own.
  5. M.Mannix3


    Jun 12, 2010
    A tele bass with no humbucker butting up against the neck? Blasphemy!

    Just kidding! Looks like a cool project.
  6. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Oh yes.... :hyper: there will be a humbucker right at the end of the fret board. A Curtis Novak Fatbucker will take up residence there. The single coil looking pup will be in the bridge position.

    I may have to trim the over hanging FB back when I see what the pickup will need for space. I have not received the electronics yet so I will have to wait until I get them before routing the pocket and finishing out the neck.

  7. M.Mannix3


    Jun 12, 2010
    Nice! I was going by the pictures on the table. Sounds like it'll be pretty sweet!

    I just went and read the first post and I now understand your intentions. Maybe I should read before I post
  8. MJT

    MJT Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    Looking great, Andrew!
  9. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Thanks for the replies.

    I have made some progress on the bass this last week and I feel that it is moving along well. In this post I have finished the body blank and fret board as well as installed the truss and carbon fiber.

    Ready for glue.
    In the clamps. See how the flat edges helps with clamping. The small clamp is to help the accent line align correctly.
    After cutting away the waste. Note that the area around the neck pocket is left with a little extra wood so that my neck pocket template has some support. It will get removed later.
    My neck blank was ordered real thick so I could cut the FB off the top and when everything gets glued back together it will have the grain lines blending together nicely. The whole neck blank was quarter sawn so the fret board is as well.
    I routed slots for the truss and carbon fiber.
    Here I have shaped the headstock.
    This is my fret board slotting jig that I used to slot the fret board. Next time I will complete the neck assembly.

    Thanks for looking.
  10. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Today I am going to show the assembly of the neck.

    For those who have seen my previous builds know that I leave the blank whole when I glue on the fret board. I also use toothpicks stuck into the waste area on either side to hold the FB in line while clamping and gluing.
    Here she is with the glue applied and ready to go into the clamps. You can see the toothpicks sticking out.
    In the clamps. I use the squeeze clamps around the perimeter and then use C clamps down the center in between. I also use small slips of wood to keep from compressing spots into the face of the FB. They can be hard to sand out later.
    Out of the clamps and ready to be rough sawed to the basic profile.
    After bandsawing. I then take my template and large bearing bit to route the shape of the neck. I accidentally lost the shots of that being done but you can see that process in my other builds on TB.
    Here is a shot of the truss adjustment access. I usually do the access at the nut but for a Fender style neck I put it here. I have to route and access slot in the body for this design. Don't worry the humbucker is back just far enough to alow the wrench in without neck removal.
    Now here I was putting a radius on the fret board with this nice Stew Mac radius beam. Makes quick work of it with good results.

    More to come.
  11. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Thanks for the PMs everyone. I may be re-shaping the lower horn and the upper part near where the strap button will go. I used a template that was from another project and will adjust the shape as I get to the carving phase. Remember that the extra around where the neck pocket will be is purposely left there so it will support my neck template. It will be removed after I cut the pocket.

    Here you can get a basic idea of where this project is going.
    Now let's get some face and side dots going.
    The customer wanted a simple layout of black plastic .25 inch dots on the face and small black plastic dots for the side. A good look for a Maple on Maple neck.
    Dots are simple, I just used a 1/4 inch forstner bit to create the small cavities for the plastic dots to go into. Add a drop of superglue and Bob's you Uncle. The black plastic dots were about .06 thick which leaves plenty of room to sand them back level with the FB. I then re-radiused with fine grit sand paper attached to the radiusing beam that I used earlier.

    Same process as the face dots but with a smaller bit for the side dots.

    Once the fret board has been prepared, I finish the face with several coats of varnish and let it cure before pressing the frets in. This makes a cleaner look when completed. You do have to be careful not to ding it up while fretting and carving the neck. Some varnish gets into the fret slots but I clean them out after each coat to keep them clear.
    Now while the varnish dries...I will move on to the joining of the body to the neck. Many of you who have seen my other builds know that I use two pieces of wood on either side of the neck to make a template for routing the neck pocket. Sorry but I did not get any pictures of it this time around.
    I first set the neck onto the body about where I want it. Check to make sure it is centered using the center line (glue joint) down the center of the body and some yardsticks. I then use two sided carpet tape to stick the two pieces of my wood template down each side of the neck heel. This forms a template for which the router can travel along. I remove the neck and use a forstner bit to remove the extra wood. Then I get the router with a bearing bit and route the pocket. I then use the chisel to square off the corners. The pieces of the wood template are tapered so that the neck pocket has a slight angle to it. I hate putting shims under the neck so this eliminates that need.

    Once the neck is fitted to the pocket, I drill holes for the mounting bolts to go through. I use a small tapered bit set with the stop on my drill press to make it so that just the tip of the bit sticks out of the back side of the body. This leaves tiny holes on the back of the bass.

    I use the small holes to align the spike on my 5/8 forstner bit which cuts the recesses for the neck bolt ferrules. I then drill the holes bigger to fit my neck bolts.

    I can now pop the neck into place. After checking everything over, I can drill the holes in the back of the neck heel to accept the mounting bolts. I clamp the neck into place and drill from the backside through the mounting holes I just drilled. I tape my bit so that I do not drill through the FB.
    Also, you can see that I fretted the neck just before this process ( which you can see in my other builds). I do this so I can check the angle to the bridge. I want the neck to sit in the pocket so that I can lay my straightedge along the top of the frets and have it rest on the saddle when it is set at the lowest setting. This allows full adjustablility of the bridge during setup.

    Well that's all I have time for today. Please check back for more progress.
    Thanks for looking.
  12. bassingeorge

    bassingeorge Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    San diego, CA
    I want to see how this turns out!
  13. MJT

    MJT Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    The future owner is getting excited. (ME)

    Thanks Andrew!
  14. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    I was able to make more progress on the bass these last couple of days. I just found out that the customer needs it for a show coming up so I had better get busy.

    Here is the nut I made the other day. I don't like slot style nuts so much so I made the nut like I do on my other basses...at the end of the FB. I make and install it so that I can blend it with the neck.

    In the next couple of pictures I am carving the neck. As you can tell I use a very Low-tech method for doing this. I just carve away everything that is not a neck.
    With the neck carved I moved on to the body.

    Here are some pictures of the heel and neck pocket.

    I like to use counter sunk ferrules and screws for my bolt on necks. I do not use the plate method very often as I like to contour the heel a bit for comfort.
    Here are the electronics I will be using. The humbucker is a Novak Fatbucker and the single coil is a Noval BV tele. We will have stacked V/T controls and a 3 way switch.

    At last I was able to route the cavities for the electronics. We are going to have the Tele style plate on the front of the body for looks. I won't drill the holes for controls until it arrives.

    Thanks for checking out my build.
  15. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars: Ulyate Pickups & StringJoy Commercial User

    Oct 4, 2008
    WOW! That is beautiful!
    You should do a 5er! :D
  16. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Inactive

    Jan 20, 2011
    Looks awesome. He's going to cheat death with that bass.

    How much would you charge for an all-maple fretless neck (fits Fender '51 reissue/Sting) please?
  17. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Wow. A mudbucker and a P51 pickup. This is going to be something unique.
  18. subscribing!
  19. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    Drooling on my keyboard
  20. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Thanks for the compliments guys.

    Chuck, you will have to PM me as it is against the rules for me to respond in this forum.

    I guess I did not show the electronics cavity and cover I made. The grain on the cover does not get to matchy but the color of the wood is almost a perfect match so I used it for the cover. I do not get too hung up on the grain too much. I do on some projects but that is not the goal of this one.

    After all of the carving and routing is complete, I do what I call "clean up". Clean up is where I drill all of the holes, dress the fret ends, fix any dings and scratches, and pretty much assemble the bass with the pups in place and with some old strings so that I can check the neck angle and to be sure that all functions well. It does in this case. I am still waiting on the pots and cover plate to arrive before I move on with the rest of the drilling.
    Below are some shots of the bass as she is now. The string retainer is just an old one that I have for this purpose. I have another nicer one I will use for her in the end.

    Thanks everyone for checking out my build.