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Coming back to my first project.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Splods, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    Afternoon everyone.

    I was doing advanced woodwork for the first time in 2011, and I was told that as long as you had an idea for a project, you could do whatever you wanted.

    Most of the students in my class made skateboards and shelf's and other boring things, but I wanted to be original. So I made a P bass.

    It was the first of two basses that I build in 2011 (the other being an unfinished 6 string fretless that I'm having issues with).

    Of course, being my first individual project meant that I hadn't done it perfectly. I got an A for it, but I still wan't happy with it.
    I recently came into some extra money, and I decided that I would finish off this bass properly. So I ordered a set of new machine heads, and worked on fixing the roundover of the heel. I should probably find some pictures of that later.

    In regular TB tradiiton before continuing I have to do the Messy hair pic;


    I also have a friend along for the ride. She decided to run at me when I was walking from from the fish and chips shop, so I now have a new pet.


    And finally, here is the bass as it stood this morning.


    I'll continue in a moment, Just making myself some lunch. I fogot to eat all day. :D
  2. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    So these arrived today.


    Some Tb'ers will murder me for not using Hipshots or [insert brand here] But I'm not rich, so Chinese gear it is.

    I had to get new machine heads because I bought the neck pre drilled, and it was drilled for large machine heads. Not the ones I ended up buying originally :meh:


    Here you can see the gaping hole between the headstock and Tuner.
    The original machine heads were held in place by the washer clamping down hard on the wood to stop them from shifting.

    I started taking them off without incident except for this one.

    I had to use some 'gentle persuasion to get it off.

    Once I got the machine heads off I was left with this.


    In an attempt to get the machine heads to fit I had originally filled the holes with wooden dowel, but they didn't hold and eventually fell out. Except for this bit here.

    So after hacking away at the bit of dowel for a while it finally gave way. The headstock was ready to be fitted with new machine heads.

    When I started to try and put the ferrules on the headstock I realized that the sealant had gotten into the hole, and so with just a little bit too small.

    I tried sanding it, put that was going to take far to long, and I didn't have a large enough drill bit to widen it out. Then I remembered something I had for a long time.


    I found this when I was 8 years old and still living on the farm. I thought I had lost it, but I had found it a few weeks ago among the stuff at my dads house.

    By a sheer coincidence it just happened to be the exact diameter I needed to widen the holes properly.
  3. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    After making the holes large enough I needed to hammer in the ferrules. I got a piece of towel and put it over the headstock so the hammer wouldn't scratch anything. I then hammered the ferule in.


    A little piece of blue thread got in the way though, and is now stuck on the headstock. The ferrule won't shift, so I guess it's now a part of the bass.


    I then lined up the machineheads using a ruler, and I used a little pin to mark the areas I needed to drill. I widened the hole with a knife so the drill pit would work there properly.

    The drill bit I used was very small. It was so small that I had to wrap tape around it for the drill to grip it.


    Once the holes were drilled I put the machine heads on and screwed them in.


    I'm happy with them. Nice and beefy.


    Here's a lovely picture of the bass before I moved onto the next stage.

    I was about to start sanding a roundover, but I knew the sander to be very loud, so I went looking for the earmuff which I knew were in dads chainsaw box.


    Do you see the little steel box in the lower left hand corner of that picture? That's the chainsaw box :rolleyes:

    I wanted have a slight roundover at the top of the bass, but I didn't want to have a huge chunk out of the guitar, as I like it's slab design.

    So I got my orbital sander and made a slight angle over the area so it was more comfortable, but still retained more if it's slab look.

    I wanted to be really careful with the sander because my sister got half the skin on her face taken of by a hand held belt sander. They really shouldn't have trigger locks on them.


    The next thing I had to do was drill a hole for the ground wire, so I started taking off the bridge.


    I have never liked the normal screws that come with a bridge. I always think that they won't support it.

    So I get these big wood screws that go deep into the body, that way I know that the bridge is not going to be moving anywhere.


    I have a feeling that the bridge has just been painted black sadly, it seems to be coming off on the bass.

    You can also see the little notch in the wood. I could of flipped it over and hidden it, but I liked it.

    So I started to drill the hole for the ground wire, using some measurements to line it up with two drill holes. But I messed up the measurements, and in my frustration this happened.


    That's the other side of the bass. Whoops.


    I also took a bit of wood from around the cavity off by accident as well. I really shouldn't use drills.


    Most of it is hidden by the pickguard, but a little bit is visible. It's pretty shallow, so it shouldn't be too hard to fix.


    I also burnt a little bit of the wood and the drill in my frustration. Whoops.
    Well you live and learn.

    For now there is just some tape covering the hole in the back, but it will be fixed.


    I now had to solder the ground wire onto the rest of the electronics. I didn't get pictures of it, but I did get a picture of my soldering iron holder.


    :p I don't smoke, but I found it amusing.

    After coming back inside and restringing the bass, I found the cat were it was when I started. On the bed. Asleep.


    I'll record some sound files soon. If anyone want to ask questions/see more pics, just let me know.

    So. What does everyone think of my day project?
  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Well, I think many of us have gone through the back of a bass when drilling, I just wish I was as young as you the first time I did it so I could have chalked it up to inexperience!

    Looks like lots of fun man, enjoy... :)
  5. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    Thanks mate, I guess it's just a part of learning lutherie.
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Just a few things.

    First, I don't think anyone here will give you any grief about using inexpensive parts. Yes some of the name brands are better, but the cheap stuff works well enough. Seeing as though its your first bass, I wouldn't have recommended using expensive stuff anyways, as it can always be upgraded later.

    Secondly the screws that come with the bridge are fine, and are much more aesthetically pleasing than regular wood screws. Most of the force being applied by string tension is lateral. The screws are not being pulled up and out, they are being pulled forward towards the neck. The strings do not have near enough force to pull them out, unless you are using an unsuitably soft wood.

    As far as your drilling mistakes, It looks to me like you started going a bit to fast with the wrong tools. A quick trip to the hardware store and a $5 3/16" by 1 foot drill bit would have saved you a bunch of trouble. Also, I don't know how on earth you managed to drill out your tuner holes cleanly with that auger bit. Those are designed to drill a deep hole fast with maximum clean out. Not really designed to drill a clean hole. A set of forstner bits are money well spent. In the future, if your not predrilling holes for a lag bolt, keep that auger bit in the tool box, and far away from any fine woodworking project.

    All in all you did a good job for a first project though, so don't take any of my message as a negative. I'm just giving you some advice so your next build is better than your first.

    Stick with it, guitar and bass building is a very rewarding hobby, and can turn into some extra money in your pocket if you get good enough at it.
  7. jaxstarke


    Nov 6, 2010
    Seeing builds and mods on TB is probably my most favorite part of the whole site. Keep up the good work everyone. Good job Splods. Stay away from drills. (just kidding)
  8. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
    Thanks Hopkins. I understand what you mean, and you are right.

    I know that drill bit is monstrously huge. I would never use that for actual drilling on my bass. I used it to to get the sealant out of the hole which was already the same diameter,Sort of like a router.

    I wish I had gone and bought the proper drill bits. The Hardware store is pretty close, and it would of saved me a ton of trouble.

    I guess I had it in my mind that it was right for the job, which it wasn't.

    Have a good day.