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Another Drake bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Drake Custom, May 27, 2012.

  1. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    This weekend I started another bass build that I will share with the LC crowd. This bass will be my Model #7 bass but I have yet to determine if I am going to do a 4 or 5 string. I will take opinions into account if you want to chime in.
    Right now I plan to have a Maple neck with a 24 fret Ebony fret board. I will probably use my favorite 33 inch scale for this bass. I just can't go back to the 34 inch scale after playing the 33. I found that with the 33 inch scale I can get around so much better as I have small hands and an some severe arthritis. I find that there is no loss of punch or low-end tone and I can still drop tune without too much fret rattle.
    For the body I have some interesting Claro Walnut top wood that has been in the shop for awhile. It is a little rough but I can see some nice figure in the wood. The back of the bass will be Black Walnut from my stash.

    As you can see here...I have gathered some materials. The neck blank is some very tight grain quarter sawn Maple from Exotic Woods out of NJ. The grain mostly vertical so I feel that this neck will be vert stable. Moisture content was very low. They treat me right out there.
    Here is the top wood with some naphtha on it to show the figure. This is the under side as the topside is still pretty rough. I will sand it smooth after glue up and you will be able to see the front better then.
    This is a close up of the black Walnut. I love this wood and find it to be a great sounding bass wood if you like the darker warmer tones.
    These are the peghead veneers that I cut from the scrap of the top wood. They are a little fury but you will see the grain pop out as I process them later on.
    The Model 7 basses that I build usually have a topwood on them so I find it easy to chamber some of the body to reduce weight. On the treble side the electronics cavity is quite large and removes some weight from that side.
    I have prepared the body pieces and have glued the tops on. You may notice the thin veneer of maple that I slip in between the top and back. I feel that this accent line adds to the looks of the bass and separates the two types of Walnut nicely.
    Here is the processed neck blank. They come fairly rough but Exotic Woods leaves the blanks thick enough so that I can work it down to the right thickness and have nice clean wood to work with.
    As I stated before, the grain in the Maple is pretty straight leaving nice grain lines on the top and back surfaces. This makes the neck more stable than flatsawn wood.
    Now to run the neck through my scarf joint jig.
    I then shave the peghead piece down to the correct thickness and flip it over to glue it onto the neck blank thus making the angled headstock that I use.

    I will post again soon. Thanks for checking out my project.
  2. SaintMez

    SaintMez Commercial User

    Jan 3, 2010
    Meridian, idaho
    Blood Brothers Guitars - Luthier, Porter Guitars - Contractor
    Looks like another beauty! I look forward to seeing this build come together. That walnut top looks like its gonna have some cool figure.
  3. Subbed! You do nice work, can't wait to see how this one turns out
  4. pushifier

    pushifier dB basses

    Jan 8, 2009
    Great walnut and maple neck. That neck is quarter-ish in grain isn't it? Is there going to be a wood binding around neck/fretboard?
  5. subscribing!!!
  6. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

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

    I wasn't going to do binding but I will look to see if I have some Curly Maple binding laying around the shop. I have chosen some Gabon Ebony for the FB so I think it would look nice with the binding. Since the neck is Maple, I would probably do my accent line with the binding like you see in this picture of one of my 5 string basses.


    In fact I have not yet determined how many strings this bass should have. I can say that it will be a 4 or 5 as I get mostly requests for them and can't move 6's or 8's as easy.

    My electronics will be EMG P4 and J4 or P and J5's if I do a 5'er. I will use a BTS with an active blend in conjunction with the pups. Any opinions on string configuration guys?
    I have a couple of days until I cut the neck perimeter so I will take as many suggestions as I can until then. At that point the majority will rule on the string number.
  7. that binding looks neat!! the accent line is the wood from the fretboard, right?

    I don't really care how many strings as long as we get a build thread!
    thezerech likes this.
  8. dremy2006

    dremy2006 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    Miami Gardens, Fl
    I would love to see a pictorial on how you do ur binding... I'm doing my first on a up coming build.
  9. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Jmorbita is correct, the dark accent line is just the Ebony from the fret board under the binding.

    I do have some figured Maple binding in stock so I will post some detailed photos on my binding technique.

    The bass may end up being a 4 string as I have a set of EMG P4 and J4 pickups and a BTS system in stock. Plus the FB is just barely wide enough to do a 5. I don't like cutting it too close.
  10. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    Subbed! very nice - I love Claro!

    Only, I wouldn't do the maple FB binding on that combo. IMHO, it adds too much contrast to an otherwise consistently dark/very dark face. In the picture of your other bass it looks great because the body is white.

    .....Just my crocked eye telling me this.... ;)
  11. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    After several emails and opinions of some people passing through the shop, I have been convinced that this bass will be a 4 string and she will not get binding. She will also have face dot inlays where as I was going to have a clean FB before.

    Anyway this time I have some pics of the neck construction.

    Here is the Claro Walnut peghead veneer that I cut from the top wood. I like the peghead to match the top color wise at least. This piece has some orange, brown, and a darker almost pruple color in it. The back peghead veneer will match.
    Next we have the truss rod slot completed. Before I glue the fret board on I make a cap to fill the area over the adjustment area of the truss. I make it out of softer wood as I have to shave it off with a chisel to make it flush with the rest of the neck.
    I got the carbon fiber inlaid as well. I will use some epoxy to fill any areas at the ends of the carbon rods.
    Here I have the fret board prepared for glue up. I use my toothpick trick to keep everything aligned during the glue up. I trim my fret board and neck at the same time.
    After the glue is dry I bandsaw out the rough shape and then use a template and my router to cut the perimeter.

    Here is a birdseye view of what the basic shape will be.
    I have the FB radiused, inlaid, and fretted which I will show next time.
    thezerech likes this.
  12. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    I am back today to finish out the neck assembly. I have been busy with other builds so I haven't been able to post in a while.

    First up we have the neck with the FB radiused and now, as you can see, the inlays are glued in. I need to sand off the inlays flush and re-buff the FB.
    In this picture you can see that the inlays are completed and the frets are in. The light is really bad for photos so the FB looks kind of gray but it is black with a little brown in it. I don't try to dye a FB black as I like the natural look of woods. The glare also seems to not let my camera focus to well. I won't waste your time with showing how I fret my necks as I have done so in past posts. If you want to check them out, they are still up and the pictures still work.
    I like to laminate the backs of my pegheads. I do this for the looks of it as well as I believe it to add some strength to the joint.
    Here she is out of the clamps.
    And here I have drilled the tuner holes, done some carving, and have sanded the peghead a bit.
    The front.
    I also decided at the last minute to add what I call a heel cap onto the heel of the neck. This is usually for decoration but I have had to do this in the past due to going too deep with the pocket. (We were going to use a certian type of bridge but used a different bridge that was higher.) Here you can also see that I have carved the neck to shape.

    Thanks for looking at my build.
    thezerech likes this.
  13. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I love how you put that neck together! The matching "plate" where it will sit in the pocket is a great idea, and looks awesome!
  14. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Thanks Abarson. I do like the effect of the heel cap myself.

    Some progress shots on the body work.

    Here I have the body with the neck pocket cut. I showed how I did this step in my last build for those who don't remember. Nothing fancy, just a template made out of two pieces of wood.
    In this shot you can see that I have ran a bead around the exterior of the body. This is so that my rasp will not catch an edge and tear out huge chunks of wood when carving the shape. The bottom edge behing the bridge ususally is not much more rounded than my bead so I have less work to do in that area.
    I have also used my electronics cavity templates to route out the cavity and recess for the cover plate. I used the pilot holes for the controls (drilled all of the way through the body) to make sure that the pocket is aligned correctly and that there is enough room for the pots and battery.

    After some more carving I have joined the neck and body together to blend the heel of the neck and pocket of the body. I use neck screws with ferrules to attach my necks and acheive a solid neck joint.
    In the next pictures you can see some shots of the carving progress.







    This is how she stands now. I am waiting to see what electronics I will use for her. I am still planning on EMG 35P and 35J pickups with a two band EQ but may change my mind depending on resources.

    Thanks for looking at my build.
    thezerech likes this.
  15. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Sorry guys, I got side tracked a bit the last week or so. I had to finish up some custom builds to go out so this project got pushed aside.

    Anyway, I did manage to route out the pickup cavities and do the final shaping. Below are some shots after the routing and sanding.



    More progress soon, I hope.
    thezerech likes this.
  16. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking

    Feb 28, 2007
    Fontana, California
    That walnut is gorgeous! Do want.
  17. Duplo42


    Jan 23, 2007
    Extremely pleasing shape, organic, warm, wants to be hold and played. And the craftsmanship is purfect.

    Sitting and waiting for it to be finished!
  18. Drake Custom

    Drake Custom Commercial User

    Aug 24, 2010
    Builder/Owner:Drake Custom Bass Guitars
    Well after some frustrating issues with some waterbased urethane finish and some custom work on other projects...I am back to this bass.

    I have been told for a while now that soon the oil based or solvent based products will be phased out. So I figured I would try some waterbased urethane to finish this bass. Since I have never really used WB finish before I tried it first on a piece of the Claro Walnut top and it looked very nice after three coats. A little bit pale but Ok. So then I applied the WB finish to the bass body. The sheen was great, the hardness was great (due to the crosslinker element in the finish), and dry time was superb. The color of the Walnut on the back looked way too pale. Instead of the dark brown of the Walnut I got a yellowish brown looking color. I spoke to someone at the company (that made the finish) and they suggested another of their products, the General Finishes brand Enduro Var Oil Enhanced urethane, which I bought. The sales rep stated that it would look like an oil based finish and it already comes with the crosslinking element in the finish. Well the color was still not so great, but it was better.

    After I thought about it, I figured that I could use my oil based varnish as a soak coat to get the darker more true color tone of the wood. I sanded the body back removing the WB finish and applied my usual oil based varnish. The color was much better as you will see in the photos. I let the finish set up for this whole weekend and on Monday I will be applying the waterbased urethane over the varnish. The sample boards I have tried this on worked out really well. I have checked into it and I can apply waterbase over the oil based finish as long as the oil based has cured completely. The only issue I had on my sample boards was with the occasional smear mark in the finish. The WB dries so fast that my wiping technique leaves some smears here and there. I realize that WB finishes are not intended to be used like wiping varnish but I have a small shop so I do not have a spray booth as of yet. I have used hand rubbed finishes for years and was thinking I could adapt the WB to a hand rubbed finish. So today I have purchased some General Finishes finish extender that slows the drying time and increases flow out so that I can use the WB much like I did with my wiping varnish. The sample boards I tried today worked out better but we will see. I will post some pictures when I get some coats onto the body.

    Anyway here is what the base coat of varnish looks like. I have two thin coats on the body. I will lightly scuff sand with 1800 grit micro mesh before I blow the dust off and apply some WB finish.




    The peg head only has one coat in the pictures. I will add another and let dry for a couple days before trying the waterbase finish.

    thezerech likes this.
  19. gorgeous bass as usual Drake.
    Extremely useful info sharing too (as usual)
  20. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Yes Mr. Drake, looks great. Don't get too worked up about oil and solvent based finishes being phased out. This has been bandied about for years, the people I have spoken with at Parks and Behlens have told me that more likely the solvents and oils will become much more environmentally friendly before they ever phase them out completely. Acrylics and engineered chem bases are already in these finishes and will be for a while. Keep up the great work A.D.

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