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Building a bass from parts

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Terry Dodd, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Terry Dodd

    Terry Dodd

    Sep 13, 2019
    Hi there
    So I've been seeing alot of beautiful builds on here and have decided to build my own bass
    Now I'm no handy man (I struggle to put up shelves) but if I have a guide to go from I'm not too bad (plus side I have alot if friends who are handy with power tools etc.)
    I came across a hand carved p bass body with a leaf design carved into it (imagine Lemmy's Rickenbacker but it's a p bass) that I fell in love with so I will be building a p bass With 1 split pick up (more on that later)
    Anyway a couple questions

    1: could anyone put me in the right direction of a step by step how to, for some reason finding one is proving to be tricky and the ones I do find the person is hand making the parts and I just get lost in it all
    A list of everything I'll need part wise will be useful aswell, I have a good idea of what's needed but I'm the type of guy to forget something half way into the build and will have to wait for the part haha

    2: where can I find pre wired pickguards that has a good quality pick up and pots, the only ones I've found are very cheap (cheaper then a set of fender original pick ups) and don't see them sounding good
    If unable to find what I'm looking for I will probably buy what I need wiring wise and pay the owner of my local guitar shop who has done great work for my friends in the past to wire everything up for me (pick up I'm considering is a F1 From epic custom shop, they are hand wound by a aeronautics engineer in the states, has the brightness of fender originals and the punch of Duncan quarter pounders)

    3: is grounding the bridge a must?
    I'll be honest I'd never heard of people grounding before looking into the built
    It is something the previous mentioned owner of guitar shop can do just want to make sure it's worth doing

    That's all the questions I have for now
    I am a novice to building so please be kind haha
    Thanks in advance for any help given

    Kind regards
    Hachimitsu Pie likes this.
  2. Hi, Terry. There is no project that can be more rewarding than building your own instrument. Good for you for attempting this feat. Do you have a bass already? If so, look at it closely and take an inventory of its parts.
    String tree
    Neck plate
    Strap buttons
    Switches (if so equipped)
    Control plate (if so equipped)
    Output jack
    Battery compartment (for active basses)
    Rear control panel (for basses without pickguards, rear loaded controls)
    Miscellaneous screws (for mounting all of the above)

    A P bass is one of the simplest designs there is, so the chances of a successful build are greater than if you chose a seven string, fanned fret hippie sandwich for a first go. There are certain steps that may be done in a different order, but this system works well.

    Measure to determine the scale length. Where you plot the bridge and what size neck you use will be crucial. If you're using a standard 34" scale neck make sure the neck and pocket fit. Attach neck. Attach tuners and string tree if not already assembled. Plot the bridge where the 17" mark is from the twelfth fret, making sure the bridge saddles have enough travel to properly adjust intonation. Ground bridge. <DO NOT FORGET THIS. Get some shielding tape (paint works well, too) and line the control cavity. Install the P pickup. Prewired harnesses are available. All you have to do is solder the pickup leads. This allows you to choose the pickup you want as well as the type of pots (CTS is a good choice) and capacitor. Wiring diagrams are available online. Put on pickguard, strap buttons and knobs. String it up and intonate it. Hope this helps, let us know how you make out.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
    Terry Dodd and Hachimitsu Pie like this.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I can answer #3...grounding to the bridge is necessary if you use passive pickups, but not if you use actives.
  4. If you are in no hurry, you may find everything you need here in the classifieds.
    One example that you can look for is to wait until someone buys a Squier
    planning to upgrade everything as soon as they get it.
    It is not unheard of to find a complete, prewired picguard, for instance.
    Terry Dodd and jamro217 like this.
  5. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member

    Although not from scratch, here are the "assembly manuals" for 2 different DIY bass kits.

    Harley Benton P Bass Kit

    Kiessel/Carvin B4/5 Bass Kit

    The pre-wired pickguards you see on eBay "for cheap" are perfectly adequate, and comparable to what you'd find in a bottom dollar Squier Affinity, or any other of the myriad of other "beginner"/"low end" instruments.

    Preloaded Tort Pickguard

    I would have no issues using this in a parts build.

    I also see loaded pickguards from Squiers - which are the almost the same as shown above - in the want ads fairly often.

    Terry Dodd likes this.
  6. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    Get an Obsidianwire kit and any pickup you want, it's really easy because you don't have to solder anything.
  7. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I slowly gathered parts for over 2 years to build my last one. Ended up costing me about $250 and is currently one of my favs. Patience is the key! :D
    Terry Dodd and jamro217 like this.
  8. Terry Dodd

    Terry Dodd

    Sep 13, 2019
    Just looked at these and they look great for the price, will definitely be getting one, one less job to out source, thank you
  9. Terry Dodd

    Terry Dodd

    Sep 13, 2019
    Thanks for the kind words and information, all is very helpful, I shall keep the thread updated, the body is on the way from Poland as we speak, purchasing neck, pick ups and an obsidianwire kit in the next couple days then just need to source the other pieces and let the fun begin
  10. Terry Dodd

    Terry Dodd

    Sep 13, 2019
    Hope this reaches everyone who gave me the info I needed
    Last week I got the last parts I needed to put together my first bass build and last night I put it all together

    Now the build still needs some work and there were some issues but for the moment the bass works and play pretty damn good

    First issue I arrived at was the combination of a flipped headstock, machine heads that were larger than expectex and a hipshot d tuner
    With the E being at the top rather than bottom of the headstock I didn't have the room for the leaver on the d tuner to be pulled so had to place it reversed since I purchased a left handed d tuner and then had to mount the other machine heads upside for then to fit
    I will hopefully resolve this issue in the near future

    That's the only "major but not so major" issue
    The rest it just problems personal to me like the pick ups I'd like to be higher which I will fix in the next day or two
    Also my string tree was misplaced while waiting for parts to arrive but one is on its way
    The volume knobs are also a bit too big and don't grip the pot but Abit of glue will solve that

    So that's it for now
    I will post some more pictures on here of the bass in the next few days
    Thank you again for all the help

    Kind regards & Merry Christmas

    Attached Files:

    JRA and JvJazz83 like this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    your ax looks really nice! i can't tell from the pic (me, not the pic) what 'adjustments' you had to make when installing the tuning machines --- ? i look forward to seeing some more pics of your new ax. congrats! :thumbsup:
  12. Terry Dodd

    Terry Dodd

    Sep 13, 2019
    So I bought 4 left handed tuners and a left handed hipshot d tuner but when I've come to fit them I found there was not enough room and they over laped each other so I reversed the machine heads to right handed ones and mounted them upside down
    I couldn't flip the d tuner so had to mount it upside down as if I mounted it the correct way wouldn't of fitted plus to the neck and the leaver would not of been able to be pulled
    I think I can resolve this by getting smaller played that screw into the headstock the. Hopefully have the room to fit the d tuner the correct way
    Think for future builds I will definitely avoid doing flipped headstocks
    Looks cool but didn't work out as I liked
    But it's not the end of the world I still have a nice bass that works
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

  14. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Proper shielding makes grounding the bridge less necessary. I can use nylon tapes on my fully shielded P bass without noise issues.

    If your bass is noisier as soon as you take your hands off the strings then shielding is the answer.
  15. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Grounding the bridge is absolutely not necessary, no matter what pickups you use. The bass will work perfectly fine without it.

    Grounding the bridge is a cheap and easy way for manufacturers to suppress excess EMI noise, by using your body as an electrical conductor. This can, in very rare cases, be dangerous.

    It’s more trouble to instead to a proper and thorough shielding job, but this is a feasible alternative.
  16. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 16, 2021

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