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Assembling a bass?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Mister Owl, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Hello! First, before I get laughed away for asking anything, an introduction is in order:

    My name is Max, I'm 17, and I have been playing bass for 6 months. A few weeks ago, I decided that at my 1-year mark, I would buy a new bass: something that would last me a while, with a good sound.

    On to the question:

    Is it possible that I, someone with no luthier's experience, can assemble a bass (Fender Jazz?)? What are my chances of assembling a bass, and having it actually work.

    All advice, wisdom, and help is begged for, appreciated, and thanked-for.
  2. Cougmeister


    Oct 1, 2012
    Is say go for it. Check out warmoth. You should be able to order everything you need and to your specifications.
  3. If you assemble a bass from parts, it is perfectly doable. Just do a lot of research to make sure things fit correctly so you're not having to buy parts multiple times.
  4. f64


    Oct 31, 2009
    Yes you can and it will be great! One of the first things you'll want to do is to read many posts here about pickups, necks, ect... You'll begin to get a feel for what will be important for you. Many, many members have opinions about what is good - better - best in each category. Since money is usually a factor determine where you want to put the emphasis in your build. Most importantly - have fun!
  5. Hi Max, no laughs and best wishes for the build. I teach in a school and some pupils, younger than you, doing "resistant materials" technology go about building a guitar or bass. I usually tell them to think hard, especially if they think they can make a neck from scratch, but there have been some good successes.

    Sticking to the Fender standard designs (not necessarily made by them) is a good idea to minimize incompatibility issues. Apart from Warmoth, which is good but pricey, search things like "bass body", "bass neck" etc on ebay and keep getting plenty of advice here before pulling the trigger.

    If you're clear about the style of music and type of sound you're after, then there's plenty of experience to save you buying blind and tailor to your budget. Wiring diags are all over the net and in this forum. Go ahead and have fun, I say.
  6. Thanks for the replies, support, and tips, guys!

    I will be researching different build threads, and always looking for some new knowledge.
    I have until June to decide if I'm going to buy or assemble, so I'll be asking around for more information.

  7. Hey Max, of course you can do it, just take your time and do lots of research, Have you considered building a Kit? It would come with all of the parts you would need, and you would have the satisfaction of knowing you built it, You can even design and apply the particular finish you want. At least with a kit you will know everything is going to fit together correctly.

    Good luck with your build and you have asked the right question in the right place these forums are full of very talented people who are always willing to help:bassist:
  8. clejw


    May 28, 2006
    Phoenix, Arizona
    All good encouragement, and I agree. If your pretty handy and have half a brain (which I'm sure you are or you would not have asked in the first place), you can even set up the action, neck tension and intonation yourself too by watching youtube carefully. Search for things like "bass set up." It's not rocket science. As long as you don't try to start replacing frets or filing the nut, you'll be fine.

    My only advice is not to go too cheap on parts because they may not fit together well. Either stick with Fender/Squire parts or a reputable parts place like AllParts or Warmoth. There's plenty of cheap pieces on ebay. Search for things like "fender bass body" or "jazz neck" or whatever. Fender is nice because everything is interchangeable. It's perfectly acceptable to put a Jazz neck on a Precision body. One more thing, if you end up doing the soldering yourself, practice a bit first so you don't end up making a mess of your instrument. Oh, and don't forget about the ground wire that goes to the bridge. Go for it!
  9. clejw


    May 28, 2006
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Also, if you end up ordering a new body from Warmoth or a similar company, be sure you get it pre-drilled, especially for the bridge placement, that is so critical.
  10. FYI. Doesn't hurt to break a tooth pick off in the holes before you screw things together.
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Not to dissuade you from a fun and rewarding project Max, but what are you playing now and what exactly do you feel will be better on a new bass? Asking yourself this may help you focus on what you feel your current bass is lacking and help determine what to build/assemble that will be better. Depending on what you have, there is even a chance that it could be upgraded/modded to be a better sounding/playing/(even looking!) instrument for not much investment. FYI, building a bass from scratch/parts will most likely end up costing more than a decent playing/sounding/very useable new bass. (somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$700 unless it's one of those generic kits)

    To echo a few others, if you should decide to go for it there is much support here.
  12. Right now, I'm on a Yamaha RBX170 (EW).

    That's a good question. Haven't really thought about it, lol. I'll get back to you on that. I was just caught up in the idea of a new bass, I never really thought of whether or not I should just upgrade my bass.

    Edit: Fret buzz is a pain in the neck, and I can't get much of a range of sound out of it. Either too muddy, or too punchy.
    Edit2: Also, I've got till June to decide what to do (that's the one year mark). I'll still be doing a lot of research, and listening to as many sounds as possible. Thanks for the wake-up call, though. :)
  13. Porkbun


    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    You can never do too much research. I say start by taking apart your yamaha and putting it back together then get familiar with soldering (I still use a cheap start soldering iron and it works just fine). If I were you id go for a cheap Fender, Squire, or at least something pre cut and work from there instead of just pouring money into something youre not familiar and are very likely to mess up. Dont underestimate the difference electronics makes. Swapping out one or both of your pickups can get you that sound you are looking for. I just turned 18 and check out all the work ive done in my signature. The internet is a powerful tool. ;)
  14. mikebpeters


    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    It might be worth checking out the Saga kits. I was happily surprised at their quality. It might pay to buy their basic kit and then put in better hardware. It would still be a a fair bit cheaper than a Warmoth. Of course that assumes you want a solid color body . . .
  15. kpriber2112


    Feb 19, 2013
    Porkbun. Is the white coffin bass case still for sale??
  16. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    If you think you'd like to put together your own bass at some point, a great education towards that would be to use your current bass as a training ground. For much less than the cost of good parts to build a bass, you can get some tools to do upgrades and maintenance on your bass, and also on any bass that you subsequently build or buy.

    Your fret buzz issues are probably due to one of three things: (1) poor set-up; (2) uneven frets; or (3) a warped neck. (3) is least likely and the only one that you can't deal with yourself. Stewart MacDonald (www.stewmac.com) has books and tools for fret work, and it's not all that difficult to level and crown frets, if you have the right tools. You should probably have a copy of Dan Erlewine's Guitar Repair Guide, just as a general reference.

    Your tone issues might be solvable with new pickups. So, get a decent soldering iron, learn to use it, and try swapping the stock pickups in your Yamaha for something else. There are lots of options so, as somebody said above, spend some time digging through posts on pickups to figure out what is likely to work for you. IIRC that bass has standard P/J pickups, so, if you get something good, keep the old pickups---you can always pull the new ones out and put them in another bass later, if you do end up building one.
  17. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    I am 19 and did the same thing when I hit my one year mark.

    It is absolutely doable. You could build one from scratch if you had the tools, motivation, desire and a little skill :)

    But I say go for a parts bass, and I say do something classic. P or J all the way. I build a jazz bass with a heavy hard ash body (kinda got that Marcus Miller tone going on) and I kinda wish I had done a p instead so consider carefully and enjoy :)

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