1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Compact J-style Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by CH Design, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking a lot about Jazz basses lately. I've never really liked them because the bodies just feel too big and bulky. I decided to draw something up to see if I could combine a J style body with some of the other features I've added to my other designs. This is what I came up with...
  2. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON

    Nothing too surprising there. It looks pretty much like the shape I was referencing.


    That's a pic of a bass I found using Google Images. I actually prefer the look of the older Jazz basses. The horns are a little thicker and more rounded at the ends compared to some newer copies.


    I was surprised at how similar I could make the body shape given that mine is so much smaller (only 12-1/2" wide). The basses in the pics were scaled to get the desired body width (they aren't anywhere close to full scale compared to my drawing). That's why thinks like the feats and pickups might look out of position.

    I don't know if I'll make this a complete build or not. I have some time off coming up and I think I have a few old pieces of northern ash (swamp ash would be way too light) that my father gave me around the shop. I might just make a body and see how I feel about it then.
  3. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Looks cool. Personally I prefer the more modern touch of sleeker horns.

    To me, the original fender horns look like they were designed so that toddlers wouldn't hurt themselves on it. Like "Baby's First Bass". I think the narrower, more pointed ones look more...mature, I guess is the word.
  4. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    To each their own I guess. I don't dislike the modern take on the J shape. I guess I just wanted to do something a little different.
  5. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    So here is the piece of Ash I wanted to use.


    Unfortunately some rather large splits in the end made it too short to fit both halves.


    Luckily this came from a larger board and I had the piece that was cut from the bottom.


    Both of these boards are a little rougher than I am used to using, so I needed to add a few extra steps before I could glue them together.


    First I cut both pieces to length (about 4" longer than I really need).


    Next I drew a straight line down the edges I want to joint that was in just far enough to cut off the bark. I was careful to make sure the lines followed the grain to help hide the glue line later on.



    If I had a decent table saw I would have used it to make the cuts. I don't, so I had to cut them on my band saw.


    Next up is a few trips through the thickness sander to make the faces flat and parallel.


    Front sanded.


    Back sanded.


    To finish off for the night I ran the edges across the jointer to clean them up. They will need a little sanding before I glue them together, but the glue line should be hard to see from the front.


    That's all for now. Thanks for following along.
  6. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    My jointer didn't get the edges as flat as I would like so I'm trying this setup to see if I can get them a little better. It's working but man it's slow!


    I think a higher quality jointer just got added to my tool wish list.
  7. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Warmoth has done a Dinky J for years, almost exactly what you have described:

    The pickups are probably a little too far "north" to retain the vintage placement and tone, if that's what you're after. A P pickup is slightly to the bridge side of the J neck pickup, proportionally.

    Remember that with less mass in the body, ultralight tuners, like Hipshot, Schaller, or Gotoh are a must to prevent terminal neck dive. In that regard, even though the rest of the body will be slightly smaller, take a lesson from Warmoth and leave the length of the upper horn as it is for better balance with a strap.

    Another idea is to make the neck 33" scale to match the slightly smaller body. This can be done on a regular neck blank if inset into the body more, which would give the opportunity for a longer, more secure joint, say with five screws instead of four.
  8. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Thanks for the tips. I am aware of Warmoth's Dinky J bodies. Although I've never held one, I'm pretty sure mine will be a lot smaller than their based on the illustration in the link you provided. I'll try and rescale the pic of the Sadowsky to give a better visualization of the size difference.

    I'm still trying to nail down the pickup placement. I've been looking for exact measurements for 60's and 70's Jazz basses as well as Precision basses, but everywhere I look someone says something different. I'm not sure if there was really that much variation or if people just measure differently.

    The body is also currently designed for a headless bridge (that's what the little cut out at the end is for) so balance shouldn't be a problem. I'm also using Northern Ash instead of Swamp Ash to add a little weight to the small body.

    It's also currently designed to be a 33" scale. The lines on the neck in the drawing are for the 12th fret, 21st fret and the end of the fingerboard (going right to left). The upper horn is almost in line with the 12th fret. Even if I increase the scale length a little I don't think it would have any balance issues.
  9. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Sadowsky scaled to full size.


    Ok, so there isn't as much difference as I thought there would be. Maybe I'll have to go back and see if I can't scale mine down a little more.
  10. bumperbass


    Jun 19, 2012
    Make a jig and mount the pickups UPSIDE DOWN. Hook them up and slide them back and forth on the TOP of the strings to find your sweet spot. I'll be checkin' in on ya. Nice.
  11. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    If I wasn't going for something more traditional for this bass I would consider it. I'll probably end up just sticking them in standard locations. I may even switch out the P for a J.
  12. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    My experience is that a few mm here and there can make all the difference in the world. Also, a flat slab or drawing tends to look considerably larger than a contoured 3D object, even if the overall dimensions are the same.
  13. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I want to see how this turns out. Sub'd.
  14. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    I noticed this on the project I am currently working on. The initial body that came out of the wood blank looked and felt huge until I carved the contours and roundovers into it. After the shaping was done did it feel like it was the right size.
  15. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Thanks for the comments guys. The body blank does look big. Tracing the shape on it doesn't make it look any smaller. But like a few of you have mentioned, once it gets trimmed and shaped I'm sure that will change.

    I went back and looked at the scaling that I was using for the Sadowsky. It was a little off, so I fixed it and proceeded to make a few very minor changes.

    - added another fret (21 now)
    - lengthened the upper horn
    - cut 1/4" off of the body width
    - adjusted pickup locations (checked against a Sadowsky and Fodera PJ basses and adjusted for the shorter scale)


    With the change in scaling to the original pic the changes are hardly noticeable. I'll probably leave it as is now.
  16. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Got some paper templates cut out and now I'm wondering if its too small... Lol. Sigh.
  17. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    There's only one way to find out ...


    One of the up sides to building this myself is that if I don't like it, I can always build another! :)
  18. subscribing!
  19. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    deviated prevert
    +1 on the concept, definitely watching.

  20. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Finally rough cut the body. It's about 1/8" bigger all the way around than it will be when it's routed to the final shape.


    I think after it's routed and the edges are rounded over its going to be on par with (or just slightly larger than) my SC5 shape.


    Stay tuned. I should have a routing template cut later in the week.