Built your own?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by playerdelabass, Oct 17, 2001.

  1. Hey there.

    Is anyone here an aspiring (or indeed accomplished) luthier? Have you built your own bass?

    What did you think? Was it worth it? Let's hear what you did...

    For some interresting reading (and to see where my inspiration came from) go to: http://www.billsbest.com/thbass.html

    Pretty cool huh?

    I have built my own guitar (6 String), last year as a college project. It is one of the nicest guitars I've ever played (it beats Strats and SG's IMHO) It's got a solid mahogany body, maple through neck and chrome plated brass scratchplate. The killer point of this guitar is the internal effects unit, taken directly from a Boss DS-2, turbo distortion.
    Anyway, I've been kinda thinking of building my own bass for a while now... just wanted to chat over some stuff...

  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I have buiult one bass form scratch to date. I have significant plans of getting into building once I am finished university (and have some free time). I built a 4 string fretless bass with an alder body, maple set neck and a honduran rosewood fingerboard. I built it in building construction with my buddy, who built a six string at the same time. It turned out quite well, though some things didn't work out as well as others. Being 16 and being in a bit over my head things like the truss rod (which is almost impossible to adjust) and the nut (which I was totallu ignorant of, giving it the highest action ever and requiring way too much pressure to fret in the first fret position. But I must say that it was an incredible learing experience. I really can't say enough for how much I learned about what to do and what not to do from that bass. I started a second one, but due to my buddy moving I lost use of his dad's shop. It would have been (and will be in the future) a neck-thru maple/walnut 5 piece neck with a walnut body and wenge top and fingerboard. I cut the majority of the wood to the glue up phase already, so hopefully I will be able to finish it in a couple of years time.

    Whew, this is getting long, I'll leave it here unless you have other questions. Oh, make sure you get some guitar/bass construction books and read them before you start.

  3. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    what is it with English people and calling the pickguard a scratchplate? thats so annoying! :p

    I plan on making my own Warmoth bass someday. Maybe Ill study to be a luthier and build basses for a living... ohhh yeah... :)
  4. What is with Americans calling the scratchplate a pickguard, it's soooo annoying!

    How much did the project cost you guys? I went kinda second rate/second hand on my guitar, most noticeably on the pickups (humbuckers - £10 each) but I don't play it through a decent amp or anything, and can't really play guitar anyways. If I ever do get to a point that I play it regularly I can always switch 'em over. I used some decent wood, but that's about it. The hardware's pretty good considering it's just mail order budget price stuff.

    Also what sort of workshop space did you have? I had the college shop. which was wicked! I love milling machines, can't get more accurate than that! If I go into another project now I'll probably be using second rate equipment, in my shed or something. I'd have to go out into random places for machine jobs, it'd be a pain. Ho hum...
  5. grooveguru


    Sep 14, 2000
    Central PA
    Because it is a "Pickguard" and it's vacation not Holiday too!;)
  6. Don't patronise me pal, guitars (and scratchplates) have been around longer than your country! So I quess you can't be saying it right!

    But we are digressing. I've just been doing some reading on tone woods, they're pretty expensive aren't they? I mean the really good ones.

    What did anyone use? Would you reccomend / advise against?
  7. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I had a second rate shop, judging by the shop you used, no milling machines. Used pretty much just a table saw, bandsaw, jointer, planer, router table, router, hand plane, some chisels, a drill press and some sandpaper and a bit of tung oil.

    I put an EMG P/J pickup set in it with tone, volume and blend pots. Used Gotoh tuning machines and a schaller roller bridge.

    The whole bass cost around $500 to build.

  8. Hey! Just be happy you're not speaking German!
    Anyway, I confuse guys whenever I go to the parts store for car bits and pieces because basically all of my automotive knowledge is related to British cars and what the Brit car manual calls something is often different from what the American parts catalog calls it.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    *drawing breath*
    OK, here we go again:D :
    Every chunk of wood is "tone wood".
    Two pieces from the same log will not have the same tonal properties.
    Two pieces from different logs, of very different spieces may have very similar tonal properties.

    So, what do you want form the wood?
    The neck wood shall be stiff. Very stiff.
    It may also be nice with a hard neck wood, but it doesn't have to be so hard. At least not the back of the neck, while hardness of the front (to the strings) can have some impact on the attack. But only on a neck that is longer than the fingerboard!It should also be light weight, for balance reasons.

    Fingerboard must be hard to withstand abrasion, and stiff to help keeping the neck straight.

    Body....well, that's your call.
    Hard top yields more attack
    Softer woods give more mellow tone, more fundamental.
    Heavier woods give more sustain (specially bolt-ons).

    Quarter sawn, stright grained wood for neck and board.
    Crack free wood for all the instrument.

    Suggestions? OK, just remeber: you asked!
    Neck: birch/pau rosa/birch, horisontal lamination
    Fingerboard: Swedish lilac (not expensive, but rare
    Body: well, how about elm? Or chestnut, with a hickory top?

    Or just like everybody else::rolleyes:
    Maple/walnut neck w. ebony or rosewood board.
    Swamp ash body with some flamed maple or zebrano on top.

    Both will work well.
    It really is up to you.

    *letting residual air out*
    "Now awaiting Rickbass, who will undoubtedly tell everybody I was right and wrong..." ;)
  10. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Swedish lilac? I've never heard of that being used, or ever even heard of that. Can I use hungarian aswell? :D
  11. I've completed one and have 2 others currently in various stages of planning/parts assemblage/construction. I designed the body on the computer using CorelDraw 10 along with the blank registration system. All of the initial cutting was done on a multi-axis computer controlled router. Detail contours were done by hand. It's a Jazz style with a 2 piece flame maple body, birdseye maple/ebony neck, and Seymour Duncan pups. Tons of tone and sustain and a mwah that'll make you cry.

    I'd post a pic but currently have no image server available to use. Sorry.
  12. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    Is that still considered "hand-made"?

    I'm in the process of building my first. (I did make a body for a Musicmaster neck [short scale] for my son. It was a learning experience. I used Oak on top of poplar for the body. I now know why you don't see any oak guitars out there.) This one is a 6 string bass. Actually a local luthier is making the neck for me. (very reasonable) It's 5 piece maple/mahogany/maple/mahogany/maple bolt on. (I figured if I screw up the body I can bolt it to another.) Probably just gonna go with an ash body though I'm still looking. I've been reading up on neck construction and will probably start trying my hand at it as soon as I finish the current project. I have made quite a few pieced together guitars and basses (kits or just picked up parts) which really helped with understanding construction.
  13. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    Actually, they used to be called finger guards because back in the day, guitarists who used picks would rest 3 fingers on the body when strumming. These fingers would brush against the body of the guitar and cause the finish to wear off, and eventually wear a hole in the body. They put that finger guard on there to protect the body of the guitar. In fact, if you ever look at Willie Nelson's acoustic guitar, there is a big part under the soundhole where a pickguard would normally be put that was worn away by his fingers brushing it over and over again.

    So they weren't called scratchplates! And in fact, the pickguard wasn't invented until after "our country" was formed. People played classical guitars back then, so there would be no need for people to have "scratchplates" :rolleyes:

    And besides, Leo Fender called it a pickguard and he invented the solidbody electric spanish guitar, the Fender Telecaster.
  14. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Call them whatever you want, no need to fight about what to call a pickguard.:D :p