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bass making photos

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Jeff Bollbach, Jul 23, 2004.

  1. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  2. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    That is way cool. I have always thought of building a bass. I have built several guitars and basses, all electric, but that looks like a huge undertaking. I never have really worked out all of the compoung curve carving in my head enough to take it on. Someday...

  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Wow, that's incredible! I knew that the carved top/back is a lot of work, but it's amazing to actually see some of it. I imagine it takes the longest. I didn't notice any photos of the top being carved, but it's probably not too different from the back. How do you guys cut the F-Holes? Jigsaw?

    Anyways, thanks Jeff.
  4. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    That's great. Very informative to see how it's done from start to finish.

  5. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    For those of you who were not aware -- the forum's own Arnold Schnitzer also has terrific bass-making pics available on his website: http://www.aesbass.com/handmadebasses.htm ... Scroll down a bit to get to the slide shows.
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I liked Arnold's too, but there's something else that's really neat seeing the innate details to carving... the drilled holes, the frames that hold the top/back down, the scraping, the shavings, the dirt and dust.... that all just makes it less mysterious and more 'real'. Not to mention that that guy had pics of the hunk of tree that everything came from. Neatoriffic!
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Zoiks, that's impressive!
  8. Jeff,

    I'm pretty familiar with the bass building process, but drilling holes to gauge the graduation is a new one on me. Is it common? How is the drill press configured to get a hole the precise in depth? I assume some sort of flat ended bit (like a forstner) is used?
  9. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    This process is very common. Large builders in the slab industry (Warmoth, Fender, et al) use graduation holes on the edges of their necks when shaping. It really does not matter what type of bit is used, it is a depth guage and not much more. It is really just a rough guide.

  10. I have a radial arm drill press that I use for roughing out the graduation. Basically, I have an adjustable height wood sphere mounted on the extended table so that it is in alignment with the drill bit center. Flat ended forstner drill bits are risky to use since the top and back are only approximately flat on the edges and in the center. When you are working with thicknesses of only 5-10mm there is a high probablility that you will make the area near the ff holes way too thin with a forstner bit. The ideal drill bit would have a perfectly round cutting edge. Some makers use cove router bits for this process. The next best thing is a conventional "V" bottom drill bit so that the thinnest area is directly in line with the sphere on the underside. The pointed end of the "V" is set so that the thickness is a mm or two greater than the desired final graduation thickness. As for how you get the precise depth, I have a set of home made gauges that are in 1/10mm steps. I have a weight that approximates that weight of the top or back I use along with the gauges to calibrate the drill press for the desired thickness. The drill holes just allow you to quickly remove much of the excess wood by leaving a visual mark at the desired thickness. I use an arbor tech blade on a 4 1/2" electric angle grinder. It works just like a small chainsaw blade. I can rough out a top in an hour or so with the arbor tech blade after I have drilled all the spotter holes. Warning: it takes a lot of practice so that you don't sneeze and accidentally cut a big hole through your very expensive tonewood. Even with all of this, there is still a lot of wood that has to be removed with palm and finger planes to get the final graduation of the plates.
  11. I love this forum; where else can you find such awesome people willing to share what they know and do with complete strangers? Thanks Bob!
  12. T Sony

    T Sony

    Mar 5, 2004
    Thanks! Was very interesting!
  13. mpm


    May 10, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I did sneeze and ruined a lovely piece(s) of flame maple with a cocobolo center stripe. Not a happy thing, but they (Arbortech, Lancelot) are great for carving en masse. And as Bob says, there is still a LOT of hand work after the 'gross' carving.
  14. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    My favorite tool for rough arching/graduating is a little box of Veritas Amazonian Termites. I've trained them to leave the soundpost area a little thick, and get the re-curve of the top arch just below the purfling depth. They are expensive, but a damp cloth and sunlight can go a long way...

    Lex Luthiers- I had a Tewksbery bass in a while back, and the inside of the top had forstner bit marks all over it. Have you seen other Prescott-school basses with these marks? Wonderin' if the top was re-graduated at some time.... it was 5 mm everywhere.