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Building a parts bass - tips or lessons learned?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by phillipkregg, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. phillipkregg

    phillipkregg Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I'm considering taking a shot at building my very first "custom" bass using parts that are already manufactured.

    For those of you who have gone down this path before, what were some questions that you had to answer or lessons that you learned during the process?

    Were there certain suppliers that you found offered better quality and/or bang for your buck?

    Did you require any special tools that you had to purchase, or were they fairly simple to come by?

    Are there certain skills that you felt you needed to acquire in order to finish your bass properly? (Any sanding, refinishing, or other wood work? Maybe soldering and electrical skills?)

    And the big questions...

    Was it worth it, and would you do it again?
  2. This is a fun project and yes I would do it again. I`ve built a bass using a Carvin kit and several basses using Warmoth parts. I`d recommend either company, although Warmoth offers more options as far as wood choices.

    If you`re planning on finishing the bass yourself, consider a tung oil finish. It`s not hard for a beginner to do and can be redone or touched up if you like. I found instructions for wet sanding an oil finish and this gives a nice smooth feel. You might also consider a neck wood that doesn`t need to be finished e.g. wenge.

    The nut: Warmoth will install and pre-slot a nut for you and I feel this is worth the extra money. You could also get a Tusq nut (which are pre-slotted). This saves a lot of work, although you may need to file the slots a bit lower for optimum playability. Stewmac sells nut files.

    Electronics: You`ll need a soldering iron. However, some pickup systems come pre-soldered or with solderless connections. I`ve used the Seymour Duncan Basslines active PJ set. They sound fantastic but there`s no active/passive switching. If I had to do it over again I would want this option. If you`re doing a Jazz bass, Sadowsky sells his preamp already wired up and ready for installation.

    One other tip: I prefer a body that is rear-routed for the electronics. This way you have the option of installing a preamp if you so desire.

    Hope this helps and if I think of more stuff I`ll let you know!
    phillipkregg and Zoobiedood like this.
  3. Whil57


    Aug 7, 2013
    Long Island
    If you decide to do lacquer, make sure you have an outside or garage type work area, the fumes are killer.Also the weather for it.
    phillipkregg likes this.
  4. jongor

    jongor Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2003
    It’s all in the final setup. Of course good parts and preferred wood combinations are in the mix, but get a pro setup done and it will make all the difference between an okay build and a fantastic one.
    This guy is in Nash and does great work,
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
    phillipkregg likes this.

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