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Build 011 - 'slydebyrd' 6 string piccolo bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by reverendrally, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. EDIT; with photobucket banning linking free, you'll need to check this album to see the pics. Sorry.
    Build 11 - Slydebyrd by Pete Wood

    Hoping this might be a quickish build. I've been playing a fair bit of slide guitar recently. Mostly on a Chinese dobro copy. I'm having fun, but I'd like something that doesn't feed back when you turn up the volume. My brother gave me this cast off a while back. It's a nasty, nasty MIJ copy of a LP Jnr. It's neck heavy on a strap and has a whammy neck. I've been messing around on it, but the fingerboard radius makes it a bit miserable. The bridge PU also makes for a pretty snappy tone and I like something warmer. So it's time to come up with something with a flatboard and a PU that doesn't always rip your head off.


    I pulled out my body shape templates and I'm keen for a 'byrd shape. Not sure about the headstock shape yet, but it needs to be 3 aside.


    So this headstock or this one...


    All the parts I'm using are cast offs from a nice Westone I scavenged from some neighbours. It had a broken headstock. Initially I thought I could fix the break but there were radiating cracks all the way down the neck so they let me have it.


    I'm not entirely sure about PUs yet, but it will probably be a neck PU (HB or P90) and maybe some piezos under the bridge for an acoustic sound. I initially wanted to use small frets, but I have some jumbo wire, so I'll just use that. I just need to order a trussrod.

    Not exactly sure about body thickness, timber or whatever, but it will most likely be interesting. Maybe a fitted neck, lots of chambering and possibly even an interesting bridge setup. We'll see, but it's a quick build. Famous last words...
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  2. Neat design. I vote for the headstock template setting on the neck. A buddy of mine has been messing with slide guitar lately, I'll have to keep an eye on this for him.

  3. I went digging around in my woodpile today looking for some stuff to build the guitar with. I came up with the following...

    The first discovery was this piece of pine that used to be part of an old desk.


    Threw the template on top and found this... I love it when a plan comes off. :D


    The idea is to build the body super thin... and chamber the heck out of it too. :smug: Soooo... Then I went looking for a top. I had a few things to choose from, including a piece of spalted maple. In the end, I decided I wanted something that was local. I pulled this, but it was just too busy and not enough contrast.


    I could have used a piece of Cooktown Ironwood for the fingerboard, but werl. Who wants to cut fretslots in the hardest hardwood in Australia? Ummm, no thanks. :thumbsdown:

    So I came up with this...


    Jarrah fingerboard and a bookmatched top Eucalypt that was cut down outside my house a few years back. It's not amazing, but I think it'll do.

    Then it was time for a neck. Liquidambar neck blank. I pulled it out and ran it over the jointer first.


    All was going well enough, accept there were some gnarly tear outs and a few knots too.


    I'm still sorting out exactly what to do about this, but I think it will glue up ok... some how or another. I may yet cut it into strips, flip a few bits round and glue it up as a 3 piece laminate.

    Anyhow, there's some timber. There's some parts. I just need a truss rod and we're good to go. ;)
  4. Some more work this evening after a solid day at work. A couple of clarifications; I'm going with a 25.5" scale ala tele/strat. This will work better with DGDGBD tuning. I also started working on the template for guitar use...


    There'll be a lot of real estate behind the bridge, but that's ok. I should be able to access the top fret. I'm also starting to figure out where to begin chambering.


    I could have just started just hogging stuff out, but I figured it was better to come up with a template first so I held off. I know no one will see it, but I'd rather do it properly.

    I started working on the headstock too. I thinned out a bit of laminated tassie oak on the jointer. It scares the heck out of me, but it's really good for dressing timber. Better than the thicknesser I think.


    I've got a piece of liquidambar that is an offcut from the last build. I was keen to use it for a headstock laminate but it need to be thinner... and flatter. Again, I put it on the thicknesser. The first pass went well. Turning it around the other way... not so much. It ripped chunks out all over the place. Thankfully I was able to rescue it.


    I also had a crack at the hole in the neck. I drilled it out a bit first.


    Then I carved some tassie oak and glued it in.


    That's it for now. Hopefully I'll get to do a little more tomorrow.
    TonH, JIO and Dadagoboi like this.
  5. I'm just about to start a six string piccolo bass as well. I am going to put a Guitar Fetish Bigsby trem on it so I'll need real estate behind the bridge. I like the body shape you've got there.
  6. It's just a 60's bird flipped and slightly extended to balance properly as a bass body. IRCC @JIO sent it to me.
  7. I had a few hours in the shed this afternoon and I have this to show for it...


    The new chambering template on the right shows just how much timber is going to go missing. It looks extreme, but with all that timber there in the centre is more than safe enough. It just helps it be lighter. So tonight after dinner I went back into the shed and started hogging out timber with my favorite tool.



    I got this far and then it was router time. This is all went on long enough to get this done...


    Apparently 9:45PM with the router and dust extractor going is not very neighborly. So, I'm not quite halfway there. The back should be about 7mm thick. I could go thinner yet, but I don't want to over do it at this point. I can always go thinner later if I want.

    The repair to the knot in the neck blank seems to have gone pretty well too...


    It's ready to be machined for the truss rod and have the finger board glued on. In other news I happened to open my parts draw this afternoon and stumbled across this...


    My brother gave me this SD P-rail PU. I'd forgotten it was there. I'm pretty stoked I found it. As I mentioned before, I'm planning for 1 PU and some piezos, so this will really mix up the sounds... and P90s are my fave gui**** PUs.

    I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of building. Unfortunately, this week is looking like a nightmare. A bunch of work things are about to go nuts. I suspect I'm gonna struggle to get more done this week.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  8. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Ooh, nice. Always wanted to try a P-Rail! Looking good. Love the chambering. I've started doing that at every opportunity as well. I can't take any more 12 pound basses!
  9. Thing is, it's just not that hard to do right? Bigger gains can be found elsewhere, but chambering does help. And there's nothing like watching someone pick up your instrument and say, "man, that's so light!" ;)
    Will_White likes this.
  10. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    If you leave the right side the same as the left you could hog out all the way to the tail and lose a little more and still keep it nice and stiff
  11. I've left a substantial block down there for a couple reasons...
    1/ I want plenty of real estate for strap buttons. Including the opportunity to do what Dingwall do and put it on the back if I want to.
    2/ If I wanted to add a bigby or similar later on, it's got enough timber.
    3/ It's only pine, so you need to think about possible consequences down the track. As is, if it's dropped on it's end, it's less likely to crack. Remembering of course it's only 30mm thick, or less.
    Will_White likes this.
  12. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Ok, that makes sense, I didn't realize it was so thin, and being pine your not going to lose a substantial amount of weight. FWIW my favorite sounding bass is made of pine.
    reverendrally likes this.
  13. Stole a few minutes today to finish off the chambering with the router.


    When I put a ruler on it I found it's a little deeper than I first thought. According to this the back is about 6mm thick. That's an extra mm for @Will_White. I could go thinner, but it's probably a good place to stop.


    I was showing it to my 9yo guitar student (who lost interest very fast) and I turned it over to find this...


    Uh oh. I routed out the wrong side. And upside down. I was planning to do the other side coz it's slightly cupped and I thought it'd be a cheap way to get a convex body. As it is I'll have to clamp it down flat when I glue the top on. :rollno:

    I'm such a dufus some times.
    TonH, Will_White and ctmullins like this.
  14. These turned up in the mail yesterday. Took everything to pry them out of my daughter's hands. She thought it was something much more interesting.


    In fact they were so well wrapped you'd have thought it was pass the parcel. In any case, I can make some proper progress with the neck now I guess.

    I spent the morning doing a different sort of wood work for a camp I'm running on the weekend. Let's hope they all come home with all their fingers. ;)


    After dinner tonight, I hit the shed for a few moments and got the top ready for book matching. I'll tell you for free, book matching is the bit I hate the most. It's very easy to glue up, but hard to plane the edges straight enough to avoid gaps and a dirty great line. This is how I do it. Once the two edges are as straight as I can them (without whittling all the timber away).

    You lay the two halves on a piece of dowel and trace out lines along the edges.


    With the lines, you then put in a number of nails along the edge. The outside edges of the two panels will sit along them.


    Then it's time for some glue along the edges. I put baking paper underneath to stop the squeeze out from sticking to the MDF board underneath. The edges go together lined up and then you just push down. The nails push them together hard enough to get a good joint and plenty of squeeze out.


    On top of the edge, I like to put on a straight edge to hold the edges straight. It's not necessary on every joint. However, in the case of so much native hardwood. It moves all over the place and otherwise you'd have weird uneven edges that would require sanding later. No thanks. In this case I used the neck blank. It's straight, extremely stiff and was right on hand. ;)

    I put a couple of extra clamps on one side to make sure it glued straight and didn't move. I'll know if it all worked later.
    TonH and ctmullins like this.
  15. Day off today so between mowing lawns and the like, I got the following done...

    Side edges on.


    Control cavity painted before top goes on.... Hang on. Where's the rout for the PU wire? :red face


    That's better, now for some shielding paint.


    The inside of the top also needed a coat of shielding paint before being glued on. I traced the shape with the routing template and channeled my inner Van Gogh.


    Time for a clamp monsta! :help


    If you look closely, you can see a screw in the middle of the top there. That clamps down the middle of the body and is MUCH easier than trying to get a clamp on it. The screw hole will be under the bridge later on. I'll probably fill it at some stage, so it won't be seen or effect anything else. If I can just make another comment about the joys of chambering. Chambering means you need much less glue to glue the body together. You're also less likely to get a hump the middle of the body, because there's less glue and the squeeze out can go into the chambers a little.
  16. And the cake is out of the oven...


    A little shellite to make the grain pop.


    Mmm, tasty. drool
  17. That's awfully purdy Rev. Wanna make me a bass one?

  18. I've been thinking over the situation with the knot hole in the neck. Even though it's doweled and stable, I'm still not super happy with it. So I think I'm going to rip the neck blank in 2 on the table saw and reglue it into a laminate with some of the fingerboard as a centre stripe. This should prevent warping and make it all a bit more stable... I hope. :nailbiting:
    ctmullins likes this.
  19. ripped the neck blank into the strips today and started measuring up...


    I was planning for a Jarrah centre strip, but in the end, it was the wrong dimensions. So we ended up with all liquidambar.


    Then I managed to cut the angle back for the headstock blank and glue it off. Yes, I know it's angled. I did that on purpose.


    While the glue was drying, I got the router onto the edges.



    I also fixed up these dowel holes left from the back being a desk.


    In the process of all this, I realized I had enough jarrah left over for a headstock face. So what does everyone think? Jarrah or Eucalypt (same as the body cap) for the headstock face?


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