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Build update (ongoing)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Basschair, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Well, a lot of folks around here seem to appreciate it when novice builders such as myself post updates on our projects (probably because we're using so much of your knowledge, blood, sweat, and tears ;) ). So, here's the first one...

    Update #1

    I haven't been able to guild a darn thing yet, as it's taking a while to get the necessary parts, woods, and tools together. The neck will be the first part to be worked on: wenge-purpleheart-wenge-p.h.-wenge. Haven't decided on bolt-on or set neck (or, heck, neck thru, though I doubt that one on the first build). Oh yeah, pau ferro fingerboard. I was thinking a pre-slotted one from Warmoth and either fretting on my own, or putting in fret markers...again, undecided...

    Hipshot Ultralites in satin (arrived), Hipshot style A bridge (arrived: super nice, lightweight)....and just today I ordered my pups: a pair of Nordstrand NJ5st's, from a really good guy out in Chicago. Aguilar OBP-3 has also been ordered: vol/vol stack, a mid control, a treble/bass stack, active/passive switch, passive tone pot.

    Still to decide upon: nut material (either graphite or Corian).

    It'll be a bubinga body with a figured bubinga top and a wenge lam in between.

    Still need advice on: truss-rod type...I found on TB the other day that a certain shop in Healdsburg, Ca. had a pretty good one, but am open to suggestions. Bolts and inserts (?) if I go with b/o neck. Electronics knobs. Electronics compartment cover...wood or plastic?

    Once I get my "workshop" a little more set up and I get my purpleheart back from being planed (hopefully this weekend) I'll take some preliminary pics. Thanks for the help so far!
  2. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Update #2

    Slow going, as the school year is winding down and I've been busy prepping my band students to play Pomp and Circumstance at the school's first 8th grade graduation. Anyway, below is a pic of the design which is an amalgamation of others' designs which I ripped off :bag:

    This is my process for transferring the full-scale drawing to the compressed board material I'm using for routing templates. The next step is to do one of these with just the neck to have a template for it (just in case) and one with just the body. Converting a section of my garage into a propper shop is coming along well too. Good lighting, good benches, ventillation...
  3. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    Very nice design. I especially like the headstock. The only spot that I'd be a bit worried about would be the upper horn. It doesn't seem to come out too far over the neck and may cause some balance problems. Make sure you use a nice heavy bridge and light tuners to compensate for some of the balance issue.
  4. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Well, the bridge isn't too heavy: Hipshot A...but the tuners are ultralites. When I cut out the template, I'm going to leave some extra space outside the lines and do the final shaping by hand with a coping saw and a sanding block, so ultimately I can make some modest adjustments.

    Thanks for the comments!
  5. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Just out of curiosity, do you already have the tuners? I ask because on my own project, I'm debating whether to get the tuners before I have the neck, or to do the neck first. Minor nit-picking, I know, but I thought I'd ask.
  6. teej: Something I keep learning on my slow-moving projects is to plan EVERYTHING out before doing ANYTHING. W/regard to tuners, you might build a neck, then buy tuners & find out they won't fit. This has happened to me in other details. Have a plan- it can change of course, but failing to plan is planning to fail. :rolleyes:

    Edit:After reading this, it looks confusing- bottom line, I advise having tuners in hand before designing neck & headstock.
  7. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I've got Gotoh tuners on my Pedulla and my Warwick, and like them on both. However, because the neck will be wenge/purpleheart, I thought I'd go with the lighter Hipshots. I ordered them first, as well as the bridge. I did some bass body sketches, and transferred scale-sized to butcher paper, always estimating the bridge size and tuner size. I did this knowing that I could make those adjustments in the drawing a lot easier than after cutting wood. I also did the drawings based entirely on the 34" distance from the string break at the nut to the center saddle at the bridge. So, everything was done based on a 34" line on the butcher paper, and was adjusted to that.

    I'll start working the neck laminate next weekend if all goes well. Still, I absolutely will not make any definitive cuts in the body wood until I have all the parts laid out on my drawing so that I know they will fit. The last thing I need is to blow it because I took shortcuts.
  8. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    Very nice design! and it sounds like you are going about it very carefully... a good idea that i have so far learned the hard way. :rolleyes: I agree with Cerb that the upper bought looks a bit short. One thing I would recomend is to make abosolute sure that your design is funcional before you finalize it. on my first guitar I made the mistake of deciding what kind of wood to use and what design to use despite the practical diffuculties with my choices... by the end of the building process I was wishing I had spent a lot more time on the design stages.

    Bottom line: don't rush the design stage! keep reworking your design until it is PERFECT. (its very close already.) then the little mistakes you'll make in building (we all make them) won't matter because your design is solid.

    Keep up the good work! :)
  9. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Can I just ask, why not neck through on the first bass? After reading up lots of info, I don't see why neck-through should be harder?
  10. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I have been considering it. It'd take a lot longer, as I'd have to do some more milling on the wood (which should be here by Wednesday, thanks Larry! :D )...pics to come. I'd also have to revise my drawings and do some more measuring. Not a big deal, but it'd cost more money in terms of a new table saw blade or a new bandsaw blade for fine, fine rip cuts.

    Your opinion needed here!

    The Hipshot bridge and tuners are satin (matte) chrome, so mostly satin, with a touch of shiney chrome here and there. I now need to buy knobs and straplocks. Should I go regular chrome for both, satin chrome (if so, where? I can't find them at the normal spots), or black? I'll have a couple stacked pots, so I'll need upper/lower sets for those. Suggestions?

    By the way, I'm not absolutely certain, but the figured top may well be coming from one of the bubinga planks from the "bubinga" thread in the Gallery Hardwood forum.
  11. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Slotted ebony fingerboard came from Warmoth yesterday with a pleasant surprise: 25 fret slots, not counting the extra slot they cut for a nut...hmmm, I hope that's not a sign of problems to come. Also, a few different types of nut blanks, and files. I couldn't decide, and wanted to try out my skills on cutting the string slots on the nuts: corian(?), graphite, and brass.

    I've got to say that the fingerboard is definitely nice and clean. I'm a little concerned about one thing though, and need to do some more searches here, as well as some more reading. I'm wondering about narrowing down the fingerboard to fit the neck's dimensions. I'm thinking about doing the following: transferring my measurements to the first and last fret slots, drawing the lines, and then securing the fingerboard to my bench and using a low-angle plane to slowly slice off strips from each side until the correct width is achieved. Does this approach sound kosher to you all?

    Or, should I get the neck blank down to the width of the fingerboard, route the truss rod channel, install, fix the fingerboard to the blank, and then plane down the sides until the whole thing is the correct width? It seems like there would be more difficulties with this approach, but perhaps I'm not considering something?
  12. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    On the less recent post, I say satin, to match the tuners. That's just my preference, anyway -- that everything matches.

    As for the FB/neck shaping... I'll have to go with my instinct here and say shape the neck, rout the truss channel, install the rod, etc. then glue on the FB and shape it to match the neck
  13. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I go the other way!
    Make the neck blank (thickness and stuff, but not taper)
    Rout the truss channel
    Taper the neck
    Install truss
    Glue on the ready-made fingerboard
    Sand off the excess glue (this will also take away all the tiny misfits!)
    Shape the neck back
  14. I use the same method too, I use the fingerboard already tapered and ready (apart from radiusing) and use that as a template to shape the neck (rough cut at this point).
  15. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    The problem for me is that the fingerboard is tapered, just not to the taper which I'd like...2 3/4" at the last fret, 1 3/4" at the nut. Currently the width at the last fret is right, but the width at the nut is something like 2 1/4". I was considering either attaching the fingerboard and getting taper right in one fell swoop, but it might just be easier to re-taper the fingerboard, attach, and then slowly taper the neck to suit...I've just got to choose the proper tools and the proper approach.
  16. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    It seems I'm a bit late :eek:

    Do you already have the bubinga for the body?
    If not, then think twice about it.
    My Corvette, even though it has a small body, is quite heavy because of bubinga. Bubinga is very dense and heavy!
    In my project (soon to start) I'm going with a relatively thick figured bubinga top (5/8 - 3/4"), then a wenge veneer, and a swamp ash body. It will also have a bit of chambering..

    One more. If you are going with a heavy neck, make sure the upper horn goes up at least to the 13th fret to balance properly.

    Good luck!
  17. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I'm stikin' with the bubinga for the body, but have thinned down the blank a bit. I will contour (and perhaps chamber) according to weight of the semi-finished product.

    As for the fingerboard taper issue, here's what I'm doing: once the neck lam is finished curing (I glued Saturday at about 4:00pm, but the weather is forcing extra setting time), bandsawed to near thickness, and planed down to a flat surface, I am going to transfer my neck design drawing to the neck based on the center line. I will cut/glue the scarf joint, rout the rod channels, install/glue rods, etc.

    Once it's all done, I will glue down the fingerboard before re-tapering, gluing based on the bisecting centerline of the neck and of the fingerboard. I've measured, remeasured, and drawn the centerline on the fingerboard, and it should line up well. Because of this, I'm waiting to install the fretline veneers: doing so would require sanding down the fingerboard surface to cut excess off, inevitably erasing the lines drawn on the f-board top.

    I took a few pics of the mess I made gluing the neck lams together, but I've got to resize them before posting.

    As for finishing, here's the semi-final decision: Danish oil and then rub-on polyurethane, both from Watco and made to complement eachother (this is for the body). For the neck, I picked up a bottle of Birchwood Casey's tru oil gunstock finish. I know a few others here have used it, and it sounded like it would top off the neck woods well.

    Nordstrand NJ5st pups and Aguilar OBP-3 arrived last Friday. All Parts' knobs seem a little bit "stock" for my taste, but they are the only ones I've found that match well enough. Anyone know where to get knobs (single and stacked) that have a matte silver finish?

    As per Frank's suggestions above, I've got to lay out the design again with the fingerboard on top to check where the horn ends up.
  18. No problem! mark the center line at both ends and then mark the width at the nut and cut to taper! no biggie.

    really looking forward to getting pics of your progress, your design looks great!

    are you standing on that chair in the pick? careful if you fall!
  19. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Yup, that's me on the chair :D

    I was doing my best not to get my big feet in the pic, which took some leaning.
  20. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Neck lam., glued and clamped for over two days (50+) hours due to humidity...just had to be sure. Turned out pretty nice, though I've got to do some more planing to make up for the sloppy glue-job. Discovered that my bandsaw blade doesn't like hardwoods. I've got to get a good 1/2 ripping blade. Anyway, here's a pic, sitting on top of the body blank.

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