Bass + hardware build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Technicality, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Technicality


    Feb 10, 2011
    I've been wanting to build a bass ever since I started playing, as I really like making things. A while back I built an electric ukulele as a sort of test run (which looks like this:, and the parts I most enjoyed working on were the bridge plate and pickups.

    With this in mind I decided I wanted to build a bass and build all the hardware to go with it, and to make matters more complicated if possible I'd like it to disassemble into something that fits into hand luggage (though I may abandon this if it becomes impractical). For the latter I'm thinking a slightly shorter neck, longer body and headless design might get me close to full scale.

    I started with some headless tuner experiments and eventually built this prototype:
    This worked, but was quite hard on the fingers to turn. Thankfully the folks over at the Hardware forum had some advice on how I could improve it (Thread link here: Headless tuner mechanism). In particular many thanks to @Gilmourisgod for sharing some steinberger info

    From there I ordered some super fine pitch screws and experimented with reducing friction. In the end I found that brass was not actually that great in terms of friction on the threads under load, so I made a block that has a big hole in it and fitted a piece of delrin in there, and then threaded the delrin instead of the brass, which made a big difference:

    Next I made a set of four knobs by cutting them out of some brass bar with a little home made CNC mill (link for the curious: Garden Shed CNC). I initially threaded them for a smaller screw so that I could attach them to a drill and smooth and polish them up a bit without damaging the fine pitch screws.

    Then they needed drilling and tapping at the final size, drilling and tapping some set screws, and cutting down a piece of L shaped brass stock for them to attach to (set screws also needed trimming down as this picture shows):


    Next I was dying to see how it all performed under string tension, so this weekend I made a quick test rig:


    Tuned it up to pitch, and everything works very nicely! Since I am so happy about how it has turned out I had to share it!

    I'm going to leave off drilling any mounting holes in it until I know what the body actually looks like. The plan going forward is to make the bridge, clamping block that goes at the other end, and maybe the neck next. From there I'll probably do the pickups and the body. I'm rather a slow worker though so that is still a long way off!

    A question for all you more experienced folks: I have some maple planks lying around (about 1cm thick, and longer than a bass neck), and I was considering if I could just glue some of them together to make a neck to save a bit of money. Is this a terrible idea and should I be ordering a nice solid bit of wood from somewhere, or can I get away with it?
  2. I-Am-The-Slime


    Jan 8, 2010
    SW VA
    Looks great!

    Laminated necks are quite common and, some say, more stable than one-piece necks...
    Technicality likes this.
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Cool! I might suggest you make the tuner knobs a little longer, just for a little more finger grip surface area. The Steinberger knobs are around 1/2" long, which more or less matches the width of the average finger tip pad.
    Will_White likes this.
  4. Technicality


    Feb 10, 2011
    I would like to ideally yes. The reason they are the way they are is firstly because that is the width of the brass bar I had lying around, and secondly because my little CNC mill is quite slow and low powered and takes a really long time to cut something even this thick out of metal. Cutting 1/2" stock with the limited tools I have would be a bit of a nightmare.

    If I get access to a lathe at some point though, I probably will.
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  5. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    This relies on your own ability to position the part, but what if you got round stock and instead of using the the mill to cut the full shape you just have it cut one flute at a time on a long piece you can then cut into knobs however long you want?
    Dadagoboi likes this.
  6. Technicality


    Feb 10, 2011
    I actually tried and failed miserably at doing it this way when I was building an amplifier a few years ago. The main difficulty I had was drilling a nice hole down the exact center of the stock precisely parallel to the sides. If you get it even a little tiny bit off it completely messes up a longer knob and makes it all wibbly wobbly. The stock was too big to fit into the chuck of my drill which was my initial idea to mimic a lathe, and every other way I tried left me with a slightly wonky hole.

    In the end I got totally fed up and put it on the backburner, and that is the sad story of why my amplifier has the potentiometer stalks still showing.

    If anyone has any clever tricks to drill this sort of hole I'd be very interested.
    Reno2 likes this.
  7. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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