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Building your own bass....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by GordonSummers, May 2, 2002.

  1. I'd like an Idea of how feasable this actually is...

    If i for example bought a good quality neck, and got my dad to make a body for it (hes fantastic at woodwork; used to do it for a living so that side of things wouldnt be a problem).

    So lets say all thats done, and I buy a bridge for the body, and get wiring diagrams for a particular pickup config, and get all the electronics for it, is it feasable that Ill be avle to build one? Or will it need so much fine tuning that I would have to take it to a professional?

    Any input from anyone appreciated.
  2. Chambers


    Apr 9, 2002
    Vancouver, WA
    Making your own instrument is very feasable, especially if your father is experienced at woodwork and has a good shop. Check out Melvyn Hiscock's book "making your own electric guitar." It covers all the basic simple stuff. Making a neck isn't that complicated, compared to much of the other work involved.

    The biggest peice of advice I can offer is to draw full size scale plans for the bass before you start building. Make sure you have all the hardware when drawing the plans so everything is correct. Planning is essencial to doing the job well!
  3. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I agree with Chambers. It is definitely feasable to build youir own bass. I strongly recommend the planning that Chambers suggested as well. If you don't plan thoroughly you will likely run into problems where you will realize you should of completed one step before another.

    I am starting on my second bass, third instrument (yes I made one of those guitar things). Planning will save you an immense amount of time and frustration and you will wind up with a better instrument in the end.

  4. Hmm, so do you mean find out the size of the 'insides' to be used (ie the electronics, and then work from that when planning the actual physical body? - makes sense...

    Ill check that book out Chambers, thanks.

    Make sure to let us know how you get on with building the bass that your currently working on, Geoff.

    Are there any sites out there which document the various stages in building a bass? And not in a theoretical sense, what I mean is a dairy of sorts of someone who's actually done it...

    Thanks for all the help so far.
  5. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    Having the details laid out before you start is very important. Gather all the materials before hand, that way you are sure everything will work with your design.

    You can try www.mimf.com or That Melvyn Hiscock book for more step by step help.
  6. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

  7. Thanks a bunch everyone. Ill check the sites out...I sort of have an idea what I want but I want to see what other people have done.
  8. bcarll


    Oct 16, 2001
    I've been thinking about building a bass also and thought about buying a CARVIN Kit first for around $350.00. This would give you an idea of what's needed to build a bass and how it's all assembled. When you are done you have a quality instrument to keep or sell and you have gained a lot of knowledge of what it takes to build one. Just a thought but right now it seems to be the path that I am going to take. Anyone have a comment on CARVIN BASSES + or -. Also any other kits out there that anyone is familiar with?

  9. Chambers


    Apr 9, 2002
    Vancouver, WA
    I personaly haven't had the best experience with Carvin, but everyone else I talk to says good things... Personally, if I were going to buy a kit bass, it would be the warmoth gecko. Warmoth has a reputation as doing great work, and using good materials as well.
  10. I take it theres a good amount of money to be saved in buying a kit bass?

    ie you get a better bass for your money than if you bought a pre built one....
  11. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I would say that in general, you probably won't save a lot of money on a kit bass over a production instrument. If you are very experienced in setting up, wiring and the likes then it is possible. If you intend to get a better instrument first time out, you are probably going to disappoint yourself. You could also surprise yourself, it is hard to guess. I am not sure what the kit comes with, but it will probably require finishing, soldering and a setup from scratch. These things will either take time and cost money.

    I'm not trying to get you down, building your own instrument is very rewarding. It just isn't usually a way to save yourself money.

  12. Master P

    Master P

    Mar 26, 2002
    I built one of the Carvin 5 kits. It was fun and I learned a lot. As to the bass itself, it provides a variety of tones and is comfortable to play. The only problem I have with it is that it is a 34" scale and the B is too loose. Carvin doesn't offer a 35" version.
    I agree that the Warmoth kit would be the ideal choice. The only problem I have with that is the cost. We're talking about a difference of 700 bones! Also, if I had never built up a bass before and screwed something up I would feel less bad about pissing away 400 bucks rather than 1200!!
    Master P
  13. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    whats the best epoxy to use when filling holes in spalt or buckeye, etc.?

    Also what is the best for satin finish's. ex. fodera?
    Foder'a seem to have a real smoth and almost thick like finish yet its not a thick laquer or poly finish.
  14. Chambers


    Apr 9, 2002
    Vancouver, WA
    According to a reprint of a bass player article found here: http://www.mtdbass.com/html/fodera.html states that Fodera uses a waterborn based Laquer. The article has more details.

    Yeah, the Warmouth kits are fairly pricey. That's why I say if you have access to the tools, and the ability/patience to do it right, build your own. It's not terribly difficult if you understand how the instrument works and is put together, you just have to take your time.
  15. I just finished my first bass about 3 weeks ago and am working on the neck for my second. It was a lot of fun and nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. I was given a beautiful piece of Cuban Mahogany by a friend and I didn't buy the most expensive parts, except possibly for the neck, which I got from Warmoth, but this bass turned out to be much more than I expected.

    I have quite a bit of woodworking experience and a fair amount of hand tools with a carpenter's shop at my disposal, I could have done it all without access to this shop but it did speed things up.

    One technique that worked well for me was stopping anytime I was unsure how to proceed, and I did this quite often. I used MIMF.com for much of my information and a few guys at another forum I spend way too much time at.

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