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Anyone hollow out behind their jazz pickguard to lose some weight?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by boristhespider7, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    I'm interested, how much weight did you save?

    BTW, I realise that changing hardware will save much more weight first eg, tuners, bridge etc. But to lose as much weight as possible how much could you save my chiselling/routing out the wood behind the pickguard?
    I also realise that all wood is a different density so the figures would be different for every bass, but i'd still be interested to see how much you saved with your bass.
  2. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Guesstimate how much wood you are going to remove. Like 3" x 3" x 1" (sorry metric countries) or whatever and then find a piece of scrap wood and cut it to the approximate size of what you're gonna remove...............and weigh it on some accurate digital post scales.

    It'll give a general idea.

    Keep in mind that once we've "butchered" our Jazz Bass in order to save a few ounces..............we've pretty much ruined it for resale.

    Also, an overly light weight body tends to "neck dive".

    Gotoh Res O Lite tuners drop 5 ounces off a bass' weight and no neck dive.

    96tbird likes this.
  3. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks, but I am well aware of Res o lites. As mentioned above hardware is the 1st go to, i'm wondering how much more i can save on top.
    Resale is not an issue...its a cheap bass. Re sale with /without some amateur carpentry will not be great either way. No chance of neck dive...body is a boat anchor of solid ash
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Using the example above:

    3x3x1=9 cubic inches
    9/1728=.005208 cubic feet

    Ash weighs roughly 41 pounds per cubic foot.

    .005127x4=.21 pounds or 3.4 ounces.

    An alder body would be roughly 2.3 ounce weight savings.

    Doing the job neatly, starting with taking off the strings and gathering tools and ending with putting the tools back into storage and restringing to play would take a pro approximately an hour.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
  5. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I wonder if you can take out the whole left side of the body and everything above the control paste and end up with something close to this.
  6. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier


    Just in case you were wondering how much of a P-bass body you can cut away to save weight. This is about the limit.

    This bass is/was fully functional and playable. No, I didn't do the cutaway work. It was owned by a dear friend of mine, Drew Daniels. He was one of the top Audio Engineers in the business, as well as an expert bassist and baritone singer. We worked together in Disney's R & D lab in the early '90's and stayed friends for years. Sadly, he died of cancer in 2010.

    At one point in his life, he was recovering from a shoulder/collarbone injury, and had some steady bass-playing gig. He chopped up this P-bass to get him through that time. It worked. It obviously was very neck heavy, and he had to hold it up with his left hand while playing. But it took most of the weight off of the strap.

    He brought it over to my shop around 2008 for some minor work to the fingerboard. It was a fully playable bass, and actually sounded nice. The extensive "chambering" did make it warmer and somewhat muddier than a typical P-bass, but it fit right with the fretless/flats sound.

    I don't know what became of it after he died.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
  7. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Sorry to hear about your friend.

    Are those bar magnets tying the pole pieces together?
  8. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    This being the case, dive in and lighten that puppy up. Cover the top with tape, mount the pickguard and outline it on the tape, then remove the guard and just stay inside the lines with your router.
  9. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    My SX has a huge swimming pool route under the PG from the factory. Not sure what it weighed before, but it's not a terribly heavy body. I'd say go nuts. Use a router and carefully work your way down to the depth of the pickup cavity.
    I can post a photo later.
  10. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    I'd be happy with 3-4oz. I've found I can really notice the difference in my back. Take off replacement hardware too, should be quite significant (hopefully >1lbs).
  11. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    Way to radical for me, but that bass deserves a prize for design. I've seen some quite nasty looky efforts in shaving off wood, this doesn't look bad at all. Wonder what the controls do? Also has integrated DI by the look of it :cool:
  12. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The knob is a Volume control. The two push-on push-off switches were two different values of capacitors. You could click one or both or neither. Basically four different tone settings. The XLR was a balanced direct out that he used in the studio. This bass wasn't Drew's main instrument, but he kept it around and still used it occasionally.

    Drew was one of the best audio and recording engineers in the business. He built a beautiful recording studio in his home in Granada Hills. I helped him with a lot of speaker cabinets, consoles, racks for it. In his later years, he recorded and produced many of LA's fine small jazz combos there in his house. I went to many parties at his house where some serious musicians were jamming in his living room.

    We worked together on many audio equipment projects over about 20 years. At Disney, and then afterwards his own stuff. He did the audio and electronics; I did the mechanical stuff. Before Disney, he was one of the top engineers at JBL. After Disney, he was at Aura for a few years. As a musician, he was the bassist/singer in the New Christy Minstrels for a while. Later, he was in the Lobo Rangers, a great western/cowboy band.

    We were all shocked when Drew came down with cancer and died barely a year later in 2010. He was one of my main technical resources. I still miss him.
  13. BD Jones

    BD Jones

    Jul 22, 2016
    In high school I had a Ventura P-bass clone. I wanted to put active pickups in it, but the control cavity was not big enough for the battery. I decided to carve out a space for the battery under the pick guard. Unfortunately, I didn't have a plunge router so I used a hand held belt sander. It made a shallow cavity just deep enough for the battery (though a bit wide). It was nicely covered by the pick guard. I don't recall it being any lighter, just a PITA to change the battery.
  14. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    Cool design!
    Sounds like Drew was a great guy...great legacy too
  15. I still have a letter Drew Daniels wrote to me in 1987, when he was applications engineer at JBL. I had asked about a speaker cabinet design for an E140, and if the E145 might be better choice. For bass guitar, he recommended the E140 over the E145 and added: "As a bass player, I use an E130 in a 40Hz tuned enclosure to get the maximum brightness and snap I can get, and then augment the E130 with a subwoofer when playing larger rooms or when using a 5-string Alembic fretless bass." I was blown away to get such a detailed personal letter (four paragraphs) from a JBL expert who was also a bass player.

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