building first bass -- suggestions?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by schuyler, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    hi there everyone! i'm about to begin building my first bass and thought i'd ask for some suggestions for the body. here's the plan so far:

    4 string fretless
    wenge neck-through (2 part laminated, quartersawn orientation)
    cocobolo fingerboard, 16" radius
    bartolini j-bass pickup set, wired like a j-bass (2 vol, 1 tone)
    schaller clover tuners, 2 on a side

    the big undecided is what to use for the body wings. i set aside some bubinga i have, but am also considering jatoba or goncalo alves. i want something rather dense and heavy, and i don't mind working difficult woods (i'm a woodworker by trade), but i don't want to stain the wood (i like the natural colors).

    also, any guidance on the merits of bone vs. delrin for the nut would help me out a lot. i'm starting the work as soon as all the hardware arrives, so i will post some progress pics if anyone is interested.

    thank you!
  2. I would love to see the progress pics.

    As for the body wings, bubinga seems like a good choice, but as always, it is up to you.

  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I have done bubinga and goncalo wings. Goncalo is maybe a little more distinctive. Never have I used delrin, but of course bone is pretty much the industry standard.
  4. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!

    If you would like Jami and I could come over from time to time and snap shots for you, post for this thread... Just give me a buzz and we would love to help where we can.

    Is it gonna be a Jazz Bass shape? Based on the Black JB Plus?
  5. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    j-raj and hambone both requested these, so...

    here's some pics of the bass so far. i ended up using a lovely padauk board i had laying around for the body wings. i don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but it has some nice tiger stripe, which i'd never seen in padauk before. tomorrow starts work on the fingerboard... wait till you see this cocobolo board!
  6. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    here's the front...
  7. RyanHelms


    Sep 20, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    I'ld say you're off to a beautiful start. As an aspiring builder whose 98% musician, 2% woodworker, I must say I'm mesmerized. Just curious, did you improvise your body shape design? The s-curve on the lower horn is a subtle touch! Did you bandsaw or jigsaw the rough cut? Very smooth.
  8. ejsagun


    Jan 20, 2003
    That is some piece of wood man. your work is superb.

    BTW, what tools are you using?

    once again, VERY nice
  9. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Wenge and padauk!!!

    me likey ;)

    Peace, JP
  10. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    Wow! Promising stuff. Keep posting progress pics!
  11. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    Nice job. Keep them coming.
  12. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    thank you for all the kind words. i'm very happy with the progress so far, but i suppose the real test will be to see how it plays when it's all finished!

    the body shape came from tracing the shape of my musicman and then modifying it for access to the upper register, better balance on a strap, and aesthetics. i like following organic forms so i suppose the s-horn came from that. the body shape was easy compared with drawing the headstock last night. i went through eight designs before i finally found one that worked.

    the body was cut with a festool jigsaw i have on loan at the moment. i have to say, it's the best jigsaw i've ever used. beats the bosch hands down. and it should for what they charge for those things! after cutting it out, i refined the curves with a spindle sander, spokeshaves, and files for the narrow spots.

    again, thanks for the compliments and suggestions! more to come soon!
  13. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    That is a most excellent looking bass so far. I really like the shape and the wood you used. The project i'm working on now [my first one too] started off initially as a tracing of my Ray5. I am enjoying seeing your progress pictures. All i have done so far is a 3D mockup of a body that i've refined [thanks MSlatter], a neck [screwed on and sanded], and just hand sanded in 5/8 inch Particle Board that i also cut out with a jig saw and used it to do some extremely rough contouring. My jig saw was a $15 special from HDC. Keep the pics coming and i look forward to seeing the finished bass. That's all
  14. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!

    The bass looks good... Are you going to put up some more recent pix? Like ones of the Volute (sp.?), Headstock and back of the neck?

    Can't wait to see them!

  15. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    here's some more pics... thanks to j-raj for the use of his entryway and camera!

    more pics to come shortly... the routing, fitting, and sanding is all done, just need to decide how to put my name on the headstock. soon as i have that sorted out, the finishing begins. my posts are about a week behind the work since i get so caught up in the building that i tend to forget to do much else, like sleep. :) i plan to get the camera out later today to remedy this!

    i trial fit everything the other night, and hooked it up to an amp... the cocobolo seems like a very promising fingerboard wood. i'm going to reserve my final opinion till it's done, but i think i may like it better than indian rosewood.
  16. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    closer view of the front...
  17. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    and finally, the volute!
  18. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!
    Very good!!!

    The coco bolo is amazing, real stunning figure in the wood... Sorry that my camera's quality and my photographic skills couldn't show them better.

    Let me know when we need to take more shots... I'll host'em if you need for next time.

  19. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    here are some pics of the finished bass! well, except for the tinkering... which i'm sure will continue for a good while longer!