Chainsaws, Duct tape & the Doublebass or How to build an EUB!

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Mudfuzz, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Well you asked for it, now here it is:
    Last week I was asked to explain how I “built” a EUB for under $188.37 [minus the pickup and strings] in three weeks. The bass actually took over three months of planning, re-planning, designing and gathering all the information about upright basses I could on the net.
  2. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I had a lot of fun building my bass, and for the price and my time it was a success.
    I don’t think just explaining step by step how I built mine is the best idea, because even though the EUB (Idea) is older than the bass guitar it still is an experimental instrument, and there are too many variations on the theme for one person to say “this is the way.”

    This bass was the 10th electric instrument I have built, I have also built five bass guitars, two guitars, one baritone guitar and a lapsteel. I have a degree in marine carpentry [wooden boat building] so the actual building and woodworking wasn't that much of a challenge compared to getting the design right.

    If you are undaunted and still want to give it a try I’d recommend getting some woodworking training and/or experience [if you don’t already] and some books on solid body guitar building as well as violin and bass violin building. I’ll be happy to answer specific questions if I can. Also the best place to start looking for info is of cource Bob Gollihur’s Double Bass Links Page [ALL HAIL Bob Gollihur], it’s all on his site, you just have to find it.

    I could have gone the easy way and just bought a DB neck and cut down the heel, got a pre-carved FB and tailpiece, and attached them to a hardwood 2x6; but what is the fun in that. I like what I built and I am planning to improve the design as well as the existing bass.

    The look and the type of EUB [solid body full size double bass] that I made is based on two basses: David Gage’s stick bass and one of the first A-Basses Solid Body Upright. One of the ideas behind the design came from one of the luthiers at Hammond Ashley Violins when he was explaining to me how much of a difference changes to the bass bridge can affect the sound of a DB, and that put the idea of basing the design around a traditional upright bass bridge, to transfer the sound to the pickup.

    I had no interest in making a cheap imitation of a double bass, I already own a nice cheap double bass. The sound I was after and actually did [shrugs] achieve was a cross between a double bass, a P-bass and an Ampeg baby bass.

    Except the tuners, bridge blank, neck plate and strings, I fabricated every part of my EUB.
    The bass has a 43 1/8” scale, the top of the solid padauk body is carved so the bridge fits the same way as it would on a double bass; the neck is laminated out of three pieces of Padauk, the Finger board is maple with a 67 mm radius, the tailpiece is rosewood, the endpin is made out of an old cymbal stand and a small pulley wheel, and the tuner plates are koa.

    Body: $65.00
    Neck: $15.00
    Fingerboard: $38.00
    Bridge: $15.00
    Tuners: $36.27 + $9.10 = $45.37
    Other hardware: $10.00
    total: $188.37

    The pickup [which I already had] is a barcus berry. I figured that if I could make the bass sound good through one of the most economical double bass pickups, then it was the bass and NOT the pickup making the sound.

    There are a few things that didn’t go as well as I would have liked, considering that this is the first EUB that I have built. Here is a list of my grips.

    #1 I made the neck a little too thin for a five string, so arco is a challenge; I am at a crossroads right now - what is the best fix for this. My options are: tighten the fingerboard radius, make a new wider FB that over hangs the neck [I am planning to make a new FB any way], or convert it to a four string tuned BEAD [I’m leaning towards this right now].

    #2 the tailpiece needs to have a tighter radius to match the FB better.

    #3 the neck pocket needs to change - right now I am trying to come up with an easily removable system. Also on the next one the head stock will be bigger.

    #4 The bass is heavy, not unmanageable but the next one will be lighter.

    Tools used:
    Power: bandsaw, router, drill press, hand drill and a jigsaw.
    Hand: chisels of various sizes, spokeshave, blockplane, cut-down blockplane, jack plane, bull nose-plane, scrapers, files & rasps and a screwdriver.

    Cheers; Aaron N
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Nice work AMN. Personally, I am not into the EUB but I do admire good work when I see it. It's nice to see someone do all those steps by hand and play it when it's done.

    Maybe you can share some detailed info like time. How much time it was to make and carve the neck, fingerboard, body etc.

    That would be nice as the cost of the parts doesn't tell a fraction of the real story.

    Good luck with you Luthier workings.........Ken......
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Aaron, what you've accomplished within this budget and time frame is pretty amazing. You should post this story over at the MIMF website; I think they would get a kick out of it.
  5. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Gee, Thanks!

    Keep in mind that this was two years[to the month actually] ago. The bass was built and finished over the course of three weeks, but I didn’t work on it every day. I'd say majority of time was spent on sanding, finishing [true oil] and setup.

    The neck took me two to three days, I didn’t have a jointer or planer at the time so I had to make the blank by hand and then carve it to shape. The fingerboard took me around three hours.

    The body took me a while; it was just a lot of little things that added up. I had to add nubs to the sides for the points because the blank wasn’t wide enough. It took me a few hours to cut, route and sand down the sides, and it took around four hours to carve and sand the top to shape.

    The headstock took around a day. The neck pocket was not fun to get it to fit right and be at the right angle [5]; lesson, don’t try to put a fender neck pocket on a EUB, it was a real pain in the *** to get it to work. The endpin was fun, It was an old cymbal stand of my Dads [who is a drummer] and the wheel off a cheap pulley; I smashed apart the pulley and drilled the center out of the wheel with a spade bit ,finishing it up with a rattail file to fit it on to the piece of cymbal stand, then I epoxied [thickened] it in the bass.
  6. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Thanks Marcus, I will. :D
  7. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Nice, and Thanks for the info!!!
  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Way to go, chief. The pics look good, and it looks like you really spent (too) much time thinking about the design. :) How many sleepless nights do you have?
  9. wow! nice job..hey I have been planning to build a EUB for the lates 4 years now..I have a bunch of ideas but haven't followed through yet.. way to busy with other stuff . . check out this cabinet maker side interest. I think you could relate. I'd like to see this guy build a bass.

    How much does the bass weigh? was it the paduak that is so heavy?

    thanks for sharing
  10. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Most likely, a lot of the time was spent in making it easy to build. I didn’t have any sleepless night over the bass though.
  11. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Padauk, is about the same weight as rosewood give or take, what makes the bass heavy is the large size mixed with the moderately heavy wood.
  12. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I thought I add a size perspective shot 'long-side the big girl.
    The scale on both basses is 43".
  13. 59jazz

    59jazz Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma Supporting Member

    Aaron, I too have been gathering info for my first EUB project...just curious, what is the radius of the f-board and how did you carve/shape it?

    Thanks, H2
  14. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I did a essay with illustrations on carving a fingerboard that I posted on The Musical Instrument Makers Forum last summer and it just came up in the Library [which you have to join to get to] this week. If you want the info now that then go there, I will try to post it tomorrow when I have more time.

    The radius on this EUB is 67 mm.

    Aaron N