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Advice on building your own bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by JohnL, Apr 27, 2001.

  1. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    For a while, I've been wanting to build my own. Not having access to an enormous power tool arsenal, I thought it might be more realistic to just buy the body and neck, and customize it as I want to. I wanted to do a little more than just buying a Carvin kit and just assembling it, but I don't think I have the know-how or capability of doing these multi-laminate bodies and necks that are so beautiful. Any feedback on the quality of the Carvin bodies (ash) and necks? I thought I might try planing off the top 1/2" of the body and adding a burled or flamed maple top. I have also looked at those Gecko bodies and necks from Warmoth, and aside from having a lizard inlay on the neck, they seem to be pretty spiffy looking. Anyone ordered one of theirs? Thanks!
  2. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    Wow, sounds like you went the whole nine yards! I liked the Gecko body, just because it wasn't another Fender clone (I aready have two of those), but I agree, that neck was a bit much! As far as finishes, I think I may be in love with a natural wood/oil finish (never had one, may hate it later, any thoughts?), and I thought that might be easier to accomplish, since I don't have a spray booth. Has anyone ever done figured maple with an oil finish? I don't recall seeing one, and I thought it might be because of the woods' properties and/or porosity. I also love the way the Koa looks in the Carvin catalogs, and that seems to be more prevalent as far as an oil finish goes.
  3. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    If you haven't already, you might want to pick yourself up a copy of Melvyn Hiscock's book "Build Your Own Electric Guitar." It's excellent! You can also check in at rec.music.makers.builders or www.mimf.com, both very good resources.

    I'm using a Carvin through-neck on my current guitar building project. It's very high quality imho...
  4. Though your main resource should remain to be TalkBass, there is a great website that anyone wanting to roll their own should check out:


    This is the musical instrument makers forum. You will be in live discussion with some very good pro and amateur builders here. Take a look at the photos and you'll see what I mean.

    Here is my lineup: The third one (obviously) is my own creation - the much discussed CAD/CAM bass. Designed by computer and cut on a CNC router.

  5. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    Thanks guys! I have a router table setup, and a jigsaw, so I guess I have enough to be dangerous!:D Hambone, looks like we have the same tastes. Your creation looks very similar to what I have in my head (although 5-string and fretted), but the top is exactly what I'm thinking of. My J bass is also black, and I also replaced the pickguard w/ pearloid (mine is the aged white), and replaced the knobs with P bass chrome ones. Now if you go telling me you'd rather listen to Booker T & the MG's, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye more than RHCP's, Primus, and Korn, that will be very scary indeed....;)
  6. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I also cannot recommend the Melvyn Hiscock book highly enough!! Rather than buying a neck, try building your own. Honestly, with some careful attention to the details, you can build a neck yourself. I built my first with nothing more than a bandsaw, hand planer, and two Stanely Surforms, (kinda like a cheese grater for wood)... That and elbow grease. The methods covered in Melvyn's book take you straight through the process, and after getting this down, you'll have the techniques at your disposal to make any type of specialty neck you need.

    Current projects that I'm working on using techniques I learned in this book include a 41.5" scale EURB somewhat similar to Bob Gollihur's (All Hail Bob Gollihur!), a 36" scale fretted 5 string, (with a spare fretless neck), and a 30" scale baritone guitar... and I have this slim piece of maple/purpleheart laminate left over from the EURB that I might, (just might), turn into a 36" scale B single string :eek: I think I'll take a shot at pickup winding with that one!

  7. JohnL, given a choice between the two groups, I would certainly choose the BookerT, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown! But my tastes probably lean more to the Santana, Dixie Dregs, Jeff Beck stuff - not necessarily strong vocal formats.

    Though you can't tell from the pic, the CAD/CAM bass is actually a 2 piece flame maple body. Yep, that figure goes all the way around and across the back. It was my first and I got a little carried away. The remainder of that particular board won't be used in such a wasteful way though. I've got plans to saw it into two bookmatched ¾" tops for future projects. I've discovered it's best to spread such nice wood around a little.

    The CAD/CAM was designed in the computer and all of the drilling, inlets and cuts were done on a computerized router table. I did the belly, forearm, and roundover contours by hand.

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