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Am I joining the lottery?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by M P-Bass, Mar 17, 2006.


  1. M P-Bass

    M P-Bass

    Feb 27, 2006
    Aalborg, Denmark
    Hello

    I am considering (very much) doing a bass, that I assemble from parts like Warmoth or USA custom guitar, but I'm very much in doubt after taking to this hot shot guitar tech, who has done it himself. He states that the wood is the primary source of tone, and tone varies A LOT in the same type of wood, and you never really know how its gonna sound until you play the finished bass. Some basses would turnout great and some not so great. I've been reading a lot of post on TB on the subject, and everybody seems to talk alot about the different sounds of woods, so I'm quite confused. I hope he's not right about, because it seems there is a chance I'll be spending a lot of money on something that may not turn out the way I want it. I'm curious about your experiences about this subject. Is it really possible to assemble a bass, that for exsample, sounds pretty close to a vintage jazz? Just wondering, before I spend my few hard earned bucks, if I really can build/assembly my "dream bass".
     
  2. Yes it's true that tone between two pieces of the same wood species can sound completely different in a comparison, nased on so many different variables. But generally speaking a species of wood will have a sound quality of some sort. For instance maple has a bright and bitey tone. You can get pieces that are very bitey and pieces that are only a little bit bitey, but generally they're all bitey to some distinguishable degree. If you're aiming for a vintage j sound, I'd point out a couple of things first, that vintage jazz's still had this problem about woods sounding different (actually i wouldn't call it a problem, keeps all basses from sounding the same). Also a brand new jazz back in the 60's, would sound different to that same bass if you dusted it off and played it now. Wood tone just changes as it ages. Using vintage pup's and electronics you should be able to get a really nice passive jazz sound like an early model fender j. I haven't used Warmoth yet myself but all i've heard has been good, just make sure you check whether the wood has any dead spots... dead spots are bad. :meh:

    ... other than that you should have a sweet bass once you're done. :smug:
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Your guitar tech sounds like a bitter man.

    Let me ask you this: how long would it take you to find a bass off the rack that you are happy with the sound of? Your guy makes it sound like making a bass is like playing roulette. I've made over 100 basses out of every wood that I can find and I've never had one come back because of tone. I have had people swap out preamps and pickups and strings. I do not believe that wood is the primary source of tone.

    If you are extrodinarily picky, and reject 90 of 100 off-the-rack basses because you think they sound like crap, and/or if you believe that when you select woods it is as if you are working from a recipe for "the perfect tone", then you should be wary of putting together a bass from Warmoth parts. You should be wary of buying ANY bass in that case without playing it first.

    But if you are like the other 99% of bass players, then buy the Warmoth parts and have a good time making yourself a bass. If it doesn't have the sound, try a new set of strings or a different set of pickups.
     
  4. M P-Bass

    M P-Bass

    Feb 27, 2006
    Aalborg, Denmark
    Thanks for the great replies. Well that eased some of my fears, because it's actually quite close to my own opinion. I think I'm defiantly among the 99%, and this tech-guy is probably among the annoying 1% were it's never good enough. It's my experience, but I’m no luthier, that for example MIA jazz basses with the same specs. will sound pretty close to each other, but maybe just one will have those special overtones and frequency bumps that makes it just the one for you. I'm not expecting this project to become the one, but at least pretty sweet sounding, and quite close to what I expect a vintage jazz to sound like. When I’m talking about “my dream bass” I try not to be unrealistic, and a big part of “the dream” is actually to “build” it my self. I think it would be big fun and extremely rewarding experience. By the way, I’m planning a (surprise;) ) vintage type jazz bass with alder body, marble neck, with rosewood fingerboard, Nordstrand nj4 pu’s, passive controls (250k cts pots) vol/blend/tone, and hipshot hardware. Maybe an aguilar obp-1 preamp, with an active/passive switch for reggae rumble and slap. Not sure about the finish yet.
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    It sounds to me like you touched all the reasons why someone would put together a bass from a place like Warmoth. Go for it.
     
  6. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    You might want to rethink your neck material. Marble might lead to some nasty neck dive, and it'll probably be hard on your tools, too.

    -Nate
     
  7. M P-Bass

    M P-Bass

    Feb 27, 2006
    Aalborg, Denmark
    wow, see you point Nateo. Maybe if I pair it with a marble body it will balance pretty well. :smug: I'm from Denmark, so sometimes the spelling and grammar become slightly alternative.