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Advice on Building a Bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Ely, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    I know this has been done to death, and I'm not sure where to put this, but I'm planning on saving my money and building a Warmoth as my next bass and I need some advice as to how to acheive the tone I desire.

    Alright, first off... I want a fretless, tuned CGDA, with no volume/tone controls, one pickup, and a ton of midrange while still keeping a good low-end. I want to keep costs as low as possible, but so far I've got...

    P-Bass Body, but not sure what kind of wood, preferably one I can put an oil finish on
    DiMarzio Split-P Pickup, only in reverse position with the bass side closer to the bridge and the treble side closer to the neck
    Moses Graphite Fretless P-Bass neck w/ 2+2 headstock
    Hipshot Ultralite Tuners
    Those new Hipshot Single String bridges

    Anything can be changed, as long as it goes along with the whole idea. I'm not sure about the graphite neck. I really love the feel of graphite, but I'm not sure how much that particular neck would cost, and I'm not sure how it will contribute to the tone. Anyway, sorry if I come across as a stupid newbie. I'm not really, I swear... :ninja:

    Anyway, thanks for any advice in advance,


    - Ely
  2. And a question for you: Are you looking for that fretless 'mwah' tone or more upright thud? That may affect your pickup selection. As to wood, I think you could do an oil finish on just about any kind of wood, but IMO it looks best on a well-figured wood- quilted maple, ash etc.
  3. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
  4. For that, you may want to position your pickup near the bridge. I once butchered the frets out of a Hohner/Steinberger & ripped out the neck pickup. It actually plays well, & sounds much better than you would expect. Good mwah. Also, there have been several threads recently on fretless- lots of info you should find useful.
  5. This is sort of funny. You list "midrange" as if it is something you buy in a jar and bolt on to your instrument.

    This setup simply won't get what you want tone wise. So unless you intend to do ALL of your tone control at your amp, you should consider at least SOME tone shaping circuitry.
  6. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I would say a swamp ash body, J pickup at the bridge, no neck PU, maple neck and brass nut.
  7. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    To better phrase this, what body wood would I find best suited to get a really midrangey tone? Sorry, I burned a hole in my brain a long time ago and it's hard for me to think straight sometimes. Any suggestions are appreciated. Any. At all. Thanks.
  8. My current favorite fretless is an all maple Jazz that I built. maple/ebony neck, 2 soapbar HB's and a 3 band preamp. It's pretty much got it all from Bakithi Kumalo to John Paul Jones but it's that growly modern tone I like the best. Now, the funny thing is that this entire electronic package came from a beautiful swamp ash DeArmond Pilot Pro 4. I liked it in there but it didn't do what it does in the maple body - don't really know why. If I could have earpicked a package for this instrument, I couldn't have done better but I wouldn't have thought that this preamp would sound better in my instrument than it did in the DeArmond.

    So my point is that you can attempt to shape tone before the sawdust flies till the cows come home but you'll actually have to experiment with things after the instrument is built to really get what you want. All the more reason that I don't worry too much about tone character before completion. I reason that if I build with quality materials and use good technique, then I will be happy with whatever the instrument sounds like at first. THEN, I can tweak it to perfection with all of the possible choices in pup, electronics and hardware. YMMV.
  9. What comes to my mind if you really want a tight sound (which could contribute to enhancingthe fretless qualities you might want) is looking at the warmoth dinky j-bass bodies routed for a musicman pickup.

    Part of the classic fretless tone (ala jaco) is the use ofthe bridge pickup, the closer the pickup to the neck the more round the tone IME and conversely the closer to the bridge the tighter the tone.

    I apprecate the desire for minimal hardware but you will suffer flexibility.

    The non-standard turing thing is interesting. Another advantage of a musicman or soapbar pickup is that there is even balance from "top to bottom". I don't know about reversing the p-bass pickup, i dont really think that they typically are different regarding bass and treble side.

    Harder woods will result in brighter tone in both the body and the fingerboard - ebony is really hard. Alder is not, ash is sorta hard, maple is considered qute hard. The tighter the grain in the wood the tighter the tone qualities generally.