1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Black Limba, Rosewood 4-String Bass 1st Build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by StarbardGuitar, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Hey everyone,

    Over the past week I have been ordering parts to start my first ever complete bass build! I have built guitars from parts before, and made bodies, but this time it is going to be a complete build from scratch (this will be my first ever attempt at making a neck).

    As of now, these are the specs:
    Black Limba body (3-piece)
    Rosewood neck, 22 frets (fretted)
    Mac ebony board, a veneer in between
    Seymour Duncan SMB-4A (bridge pup)
    SD STK-J1 (neck pup)
    Hipshot "A" style bridge
    Gotoh tuners

    I plan to wire it with 4 controls - a volume and tone for each pickup, along with a series/parallel switch for the SMB-4A. The body shape is based off a yamaha fretless my brother had, but slightly bigger (still smaller than a jazz bass). This build is going to be fairly simple, as it is my first.

    So, I started working on it today. I had to join the 3 pieces of B. Limba, and since I don't have a jointer or planer or anything, I did it by hand. It was fairly close anyway so it didn't take much work.


    Here, you can see some of the wax had dripped over onto the sides, so I first scraped that off as best I could, then hand sanded the sides.

    I did the same process until all sides to be glued looked something like this:

    And here's what the blank looked like up to this point, pretty good:

    Here's the current state - glue-up. I have to get better with my glue application/spreading because that's a lot of squeeze out...

    Thanks for looking!
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Holy cow, that's some beautiful black limba! I'd love to have a slab like that….

    Got a drawing of your body shape yet?
  3. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Thanks! Isn't it? I found it on ebay! And yes I do, I will post a picture tomorrow of my drawing.
  4. Watching this one.
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Beautiful limba body blank. I'm interested to see how the mac ebony looks with it.
  6. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    After a long day of school and teaching guitar, I came home and the first thing I did was unclamp the body blank. Here it is freshly unclamped:


    I will need to scrape the glue and wax that is still on the blank, and plane it as each piece of the blank was not exactly the same thickness. Then I will work on making a template for the body and go from there!

    Also, I was greeted by some of my stuff having got here today - it feels like Christmas again! haha :hyper:


    Pups, bridge, knobs, and my control cavity template got here (going to use a LP style control route or something similar).

    Also, as promised here are pics of my design, as it will most likely be.



    Fairly simple. Familiar body shape (only drew neck pup because I don't have a MM template yet and hadn't had dimensions.) The headstock is tele-ish, but bigger. It is essentially a rounded off Fender headstock. The nut will be j-width. I will probably make some changes to the neck pocket and the heel of the neck so it doesn't quite look so Fender-y.

    Sorry some of these pictures are sideways and the quality is bad, they're just cell phone pics!
  7. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    The Indian Rosewood neck blank got here today! Wow is it pretty or what? :smug:


  8. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Nice! Is it heavy?
  9. Sweet! Looking good, although now I want to know about the wood in front of the cabinet in the 4th pic of your first post! (bottom left hand corner). Wavy and beautiful from here. Would make a killer top I think, or is that not wood?
  10. CustomTech


    Aug 25, 2010
    nice piece of black limba bro......

    i just used some of my special flame black limba stash ive been hiding for 25 years on a neck. good luck with the build!

  11. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    I'm not sure I understand haha. The 4th picture of my first post in the bottom left hand corner I see the uncovered insulation on the wall. The picture is sideways.

    It doesn't strike me as being super heavy for its size but I imagine I may experience neck dive if I'm not careful as I. Rosewood is usually very heavy. So I will most likely extend the top horn, which doesn't seem like it will look bad looking at my current drawing.
    That's some beautiful wood right there! And thank you! :)
  12. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Happy Friday everyone! ;)

    More progress for me today! I got in touch with a family friend who does woodwork and had the proper tools I needed to get this body blank prepped. First we scraped the excess glue off:


    Then we proceeded to scrape the wax off as best as we could. We got the majority off, but some grain was tearing out so we went right to thickness sanding. I forgot to take pictures until I was all done so here it is:

    The front:

    The back:

    That's it completely wax free (except for the endgrain and edges), completely flat and sanded to 220 grit. I'm very happy with how the lines came out. You really can't tell it's a 3-piece when you look at it. These pictures don't even do it justice. Can't wait to get going soon!
  13. JayGunn

    JayGunn Supporting Member

    Any suggestions why I can't see the pictures? I see them in all the other threads. Is it something to do with me being a Facebook/LinkedIn/PhotoBucket non-member (so far anyway)?
  14. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Hey, I'm sorry about that, I'm not sure why you can't see them. They are tinypic images specific for forums, and I don't have an account on tinypic so they shouldn't be private.

    Also, today I went to home depot and got myself some stuff to make one of these: http://www.projectguitar.com/topic/14027-jay5s-15-home-depot-fret-bender/?hl=fretbender - because paying 70-80 dollars or whatever a stewmac one costs is ridiculous in my opinion. I also grabbed some mdf so I can make a body template so the build shall progress soon!
  15. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Here's my homemade fret bender. Just made it earlier today, it was kind of a pain in the ass but it should work like its supposed to! - we will find out soon...


    I started working on the template today. In this pic you'll see I used spray adhesive to get my drawing onto mdf... Also I changed the body shape a little. I decided I'll go with 21 frets instead of 22, because my drawing only had 20 (traced a jazz bass template) and I would have to redesign it to fit 22 and be able to access those frets. To make 21 playable, I pulled the bottom horn in a little bit, and also added just a liiiiittle bit of an offset bottom like a jazz bass, but much more subtle. I thought that made it look more symmetrical now that the bottom horn was changed.


    Then I rough cut it with my jigsaw, because I don't have a bandsaw haha.


    I then used a drum sanding bit in my drill press and got it all very close to the lines and started hand sanding. To get the neck pocket shape and the neck pup route, I used a jazz bass body template with both of those. I screwed up the first template because the jazz bass template moved while I was routing so the neck pocket got a little messed up. So, then I figured I should just make a new one. I started doing that and as I was cutting the neck pup out, the bearing on my bit slid up and the bit cut a much bigger neck pup hole.

    I was still too excited though and my template was really close so I decided to go all out and cut the body out.



    Since the router and I couldn't seem to get along today, I decided I'd stop at the rough cut and not try and get the sides routed down. Ill try and fix my template tomorrow and do all that next. Also, I think I will just do an ebony fingerboard instead of mac ebony. I just feel like the mac ebony may distract the eye from the beautiful black limba, where as plain old ebony will just enhance it. Any thoughts? (haven't ordered the fingerboard yet.) This is going to be one beautiful bass though!
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  16. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Yay! Progress! You were wise to stop where you did, and not try to do any routing while the router is acting up. No need to tempt fate. :)

    Mac ebony comes in more stripey and less stripey boards. I think a moderately stripey one would do just fine. But if you can get plain black ebony, that'll work too.
  17. JayGunn

    JayGunn Supporting Member

    Don't know why but the pictures are are all there now. Worth the wait!
  18. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Yeah, I'm still trying to decide ebony or mac ebony. Lmii sells both and will slot and radius it for me (since I don't have the tools to do either). I'm going through pros and cons like mac ebony is cheaper, lmii claims it's more stable and less prone to cracking, and they will get me a less grainy piece if I ask... I will decide soon because I will order it this week sometime.

    And thank you guys for taking interest! I'll be doing more work today
  19. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    Small amounts of progress today. I was able to make a template for the MM style pickup, after screwing the first attempt up (again with me and the router :scowl: )... and the pickup fits! It's not the tightest fit, but it looks pretty good. I made it bigger than it needed to be because the corners on the pup were much tighter than any router bit I have.


    I also got the body template close enough, the mistake on the neck pocket was still there. So, I used my template for most of the shape, and then used the jazz bass template for the neck pocket. I only did one pass and decided I shouldn't rush this and I also have a busy week ahead of me so I need to stop for the day. But here is one pass:


    I probably won't be able to do any work until Friday, so until then, thanks for looking! :)
  20. StarbardGuitar


    Feb 18, 2013
    I wasn't planning on doing more work until Friday, but I had a day off from school and work because of snow. So, of course I spent the day working on the bass!

    First I finished routing it down to size:


    One of my favorite things about this bass is the endgrain:


    Here's where it was at around noon, neck pup routed, holes drilled.


    Soon after, neck pocket routed, and bridge pickup as well:


    And after a bunch of measurements to make sure all my electronics would fit and finding knob placement blah blah blah:



    I used a Les Paul control cavity template. That's where I decided to stop for the day. I think I made sufficient progress! :)