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! :)

Build Thread: Cliff Bordwell (CB) Ball Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by echoSE7EN, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Approximately a year ago I took possession of my first custom built bass, a Cliff Bordwell singlecut 5 string fretless. The bass was replacing a Stambaugh, I'd purchased used, that had been stolen during a break-in at our home.

    Cliff and I communicated back and forth more times than anyone can possibly remember, whittling down the specs, crossing Ts, dotting Is, and getting each and every duck in its proper place within the row. Once the bass arrived, I was blown away by the playability, tone, and overall craftsmanship of the instrument. I placed an order for a fretted instrument about a month later.

    This thread is for my soon to be delivered CB 5-string Ball Bass. More of Cliff's work can be seen at: www.cbbasses.com

    The Specs:

    Scale Length: 34"
    Neck shape: Thin Oval
    Thickness at 1st fret: .810"
    Width at the nut: 1.750"
    String Spacing at Bridge: 18mm
    Body Thickness: 1.625"

    Neck: Maple & Wenge
    Fingerboard: Pau Ferro
    Fingerboard Radius: 16"
    Nut: Stabilized Ebony

    Top: Amboyna Burl
    Body: Figured Walnut
    Headstock: Amboyna Burl
    Body Accent: Maple
    Cavity Cover: Walnut

    Bridge: Black (brass) Hipshot "A" Style .708"
    Tuners: Black Hipshot Ultralites w/ a Dbl. Stop X-Tender for the E-string; dropping to D & C.
    Strap Locks: Black Dunlop Dual Design
    Knobs: David King crafted Pau Ferro w/ Maple accents

    PUPs: Dual Bartolini Quad Coil MV52CBJD(3)
    Pre: ACG EQ-01-5K 5-Knob ver., w/ Passive Tone
    Switching: 2 three-way switches

    DR Sunbeams .105 E - .30 C

    The top:

    One of the Barts:

    The Pre:
  2. Jazzguy

    Jazzguy Banned

    May 3, 2004
    That top is sick!
    Can't wait to hear what you think of that preamp and pickup combo.
  3. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Here's a diagram detailing the Quad Coil/Pre switching schema. The pickup placement has changed, no longer trying for the Stringray's bridge PUP placement.

  4. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    The figured walnut body being glued up. A careful look shows the basic trace pattern of the body shape. I'm digging the grain pattern:

    The body sanded to thickness:
  5. Jazzguy

    Jazzguy Banned

    May 3, 2004
    Amazing how the glue line can't be seen... this threads needs daily updates.
  6. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD

    Diagram of the PUP spacing. The original thought was to have the bridge PUP in the Stingray-ish sweet spot. However, do to the size of the quad coils and the available real estate in the body, a more Wal-like spacing was chosen. This spacing should provide a more versatile tonal palette.

  7. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    The body profile cut:

  8. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    That is some nice looking Walnut.
  9. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    It reminds me of a candy bar; Milky Way maybe?
  10. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    Charleston, SC
    I was wondering if you we're going for a Wal vibe with the filter preamp and the pickup placement. then I saw your diagram. this bass is going to be brutal. I don't think I would've spec'd it out much different if I'd ordered it myself.
  11. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Originally, it was going to be a P/J with a Nordstrand NP5 and a Big Split in the bridge. Then I started looking into MM/P combinations; similar to a Sandberg (which I'd owned in the past). Adrian at Nordstrand had helped me on the first CB bass, and I looked to him again. He said the NP5 and Big Split combo was killer, but the NP5/MM idea wasn't ideal.

    Around that time I started to think about some other PUP makers. I also decided to move away from the P/J idea in favor of a MM/MM size; thinking Stingray. That changed too, to the final quad/quad choice.

    I settled on Bartolini for a couple reasons: I've owned them and dug the tone in the past...Delano PUPs were simply too pricey for an unknown factor (and I honestly never liked the tone of the Sandberg I used to own).

    I wanted this bass to be something unique. Why have a bass commissioned if the same thing is massed produced and available at your local shop? So, if a P/J is ever in my future, I'll probably just pickup a Fender or something similar. Cliff, Adrian, Alan at ACG and Max at Best Bass Gear have been great sources of information on each component. The end result should thump.
  12. Dean N

    Dean N Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I want to build a 5 string pretty much exactly like this. I'm really looking forward to seeing it progress. This build looks incredible. It's going to be a popular thread.

    (And you're going to be pestered to DEATH for sound clips... you've been warned...)
  13. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Amboyna burl headstock cap in place (the one on the left).

  14. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Here's a pic showing the front of the body (the amboyna burl isn't in place yet), showing the cavity for the deep-set neck, and the maple accent veneer. The full-faced amboyna will cover the vast majority of the cavity.

  15. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    Is the neck set deeper into the body of this bass compared to Cliff's standard deep set-neck?
  16. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Should be the standard size. Nothing special was ordered. It looked a bit deep to me as well, but then I can't recall ever seeing this type of picture in the updates; usually the neck is in, or the top is already on --- showing the differences between the full-face vs., non full-face.
  17. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Some pictures of the progress:

    My board is the fourth from the left. Looks like a few other Pau Ferro fans out there too.


    Neck fit to the body. The dust is covering the deep-set neck cavity shown in the posting above. The full-faced amboyna top will cover it all regardless.


    A closer look at the neck and body. Abalone position markers.


    A closer look at the amboyna burl top. Nice patterns.


    Another look at the full-faced amboyna burl top. I believe the coloration in this picture is closer to the end product vs., the one above

  18. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Here's a profile of the body: walnut, maple accent, and amboyna top. I'm digging the color combo.

  19. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    That wood combination looks great together. The thin layer of Maple really adds something special.
  20. echoSE7EN


    Jul 1, 2010
    Balto., MD
    Some updates of the progress:

    The body pre pup holes drilled:

    Drill holes for the Hipshot A-style bridge:

    With the pups in, and the control holes driiled:

    A nice shot showing the figuring of the Amboyna, the maple accent line, and the walnut. This is pre-sanding. The finished edge will have a nice contrast between the three colors/woods, and is very comfortable on my SCB 5-er; should be on this bass as well: