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Custom Bass Build with Cliff Bordwell

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mflatau, Jun 7, 2016.


  1. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Hey everyone out there in TB land! I finally decided (read: I convinced my wife) that it was time for me to have a custom bass built. I had been really interested in Cliff Bordwell's CB Basses for some time, but it wasn't until I got to see and hear one in person that I made up my mind (thanks to my buddy Bob from the amazing band Captain Green).

    I have been working with Cliff Bordwell, luthier and owner of CB Basses over the past several months to design my custom bass. He recently started the build process and I wanted to track and document it all here.

    A little background info on how Cliff and I came up with this design: Right after I put my deposit down for my custom build, I found a 5 string CB Bass at a local GC for a really good price. I decided (read: I somehow convinced my wife again) that it would be a good idea to purchase that bass and play the heck out of it for the next several months in order to really decide what I wanted in my custom bass. My goal was to blend the aspects of the CB that I liked with my other main bass, a Lakland 55-94. Here are my resulting specs:

    5 String Custom Body Shape (my tweaks to the CB SC shape)
    Classic Maple Neck with 16" radius Birdseye Maple Fretboard and Headstock "B" shape
    35" Scale with 22 frets and 19mm spacing (similar to my Lakland 55-94)
    Lightweight Ash body with full faced Cottonwood Burl top and Purple Heart accents
    Nordstrand BigSplit neck pickup
    Nordstrand BigMan bridge pickup (with 3-way coil select switch front/both/rear)
    Audere ProZ preamp with Vol/Pan/Treb/Mid/Bass pots and Z switch
    Luminlay Blue side dots
    Black hardware

    This shows the adjustments to the CB SC shape for my custom body shape (ironically, I used the image of my other CB bass, which happens to be on the CB Basses website under Featured Basses).
    Custom Bass Shape Comparison.PNG

    Here is a 3D Rendering that I made using SolidWorks CAD. I used an image of the actual Cottonwood Burl top, with the contrast increased to emulate the final oiled wood grain.
    Final New Custom Bass Picture 04.JPG

    Here are a couple pics of the Cottonwood Burl top piece.
    Custom Bass Wood.JPG Cottonwood Burl Cut.JPG

    Here are a couple detailed pics of the pattern in the burl. You can see the difference in the grain when oil is applied to the surface! This is going to be way more beautiful than I could've imagined!
    Cottonwood Burl Plain.JPG Cottonwood Burl Oiled.JPG

    More to come as Cliff continues the build!!!
     
    mark beem, ethikz and mikezimmerman like this.
  2. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    I just got some new pics of my bass build in progress with Cliff Bordwell of CB Basses!

    Here are the headstock caps for the basses he is currently building. He builds 4 basses at a time, so it's pretty cool to watch them all come together. Mine is the one on the left.
    Custom Bass Headstock Caps.JPG

    Here are the neck blanks. Mine is one of the two in the middle, all Maple!
    Custom Bass Necks.JPG

    Here the caps come together with the neck blanks. Mine is the one on the right.
    Custom Bass Headstock 01.

    Holes! We have HOLES! Obviously, mine on the left... I really like the figuring in the headstock cap. It's going to be super nice once it is cleaned up!
    Custom Bass Headstock 02.
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  3. Remyd

    Remyd

    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    That figuring on the cottonwood is really, really cool. I don't like glowing things on my bass, so you can keep those, but I want to see this one come together!
     
    mikezimmerman and mflatau like this.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Beautiful!
     
    mflatau likes this.
  5. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Thanks! I am excited to see how the figuring ends up on the bass. I really like the two-tone look of that wood.

    I know what you mean by the "glowing things"... I went back and forth on that one for a little while. It's more out of necessity. More than once I have been caught off guard on stage with an elaborate lighting rig when the lights go from blazing-strobe-super-bright to completely dark. Then we have to start the next song (in a different key) with the stage still blacked out and I have my eyes about a quarter inch away from the neck to make sure I come in on the right note! LOL! I haven't fudged that first note yet, but it was worth the extra security. The last time it happened, I was like "Yup, I'm going for the Luminlays!" :)
     
  6. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    I'm sure you saw that pic with your bass headstock... looking GOOD!

    Here is another interesting pic... It's Cliff's stash of Hipshot Tuners for his builds! Mine are gonna be BLACK!
    Custom Bass Hipshot Tuner Lot.
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Have you seen the Instagram page? There's a photo of your rough cut body back on there...
     
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  8. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Yes! Cliff sent me a couple pictures of the progress. Really pleased with everything so far. I've been out of town in the NY countryside, so I haven't been able to check my emails until today.

    Here are the Nordstrand Pickups (BigSplit ant BigMan) and the Hipshot Bridge:
    zz28-pbp5.JPG

    Here's a group shot of the body blanks with my big hunk of ash on top!
    Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 5.45.55 PM.

    Here's that hunk of ash rough cut to the custom body shape that Cliff and I designed.
    P1010023.JPG

    Here's the group of fingerboards. Mine is the Birdseye Maple in the middle. :)
    Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 5.42.23 PM.

    I'm really impressed with this whole process so far. It's like watching your ideas take shape right before your eyes!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  9. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Nice! I hope my two BigMan 5 pickups came in too--they were custom 20mm spacing, so required a special build from Nordstrand.

    My Makore body blank is second from the bottom, and the Macassar ebony board next to yours is mine...
     
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  10. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Two BigMan pups is gonna be SERIOUS! I was close to doing the same thing, but decided on the BigSplit in the neck position. It's a similar configuration to my Lakland 55-94, and I really like it's tone.

    Really nice wood selections on your part! Again, I based the body woods and neck woods for mine on my Lakland. I absolutely love playing my CB SC and can't wait to see what happens when my two favorite basses collide in this build! Specs for my pre-owned CB: Quilted Maple top, Butternut Core, Figured Maple back, Modern Neck (maple/wenge), Bloodwood fretboard/accents/knobs, 2 Nordstrand Dual Coil pups, and Aguilar preamp.
     
  11. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The Lakland 55-94/55-02's are great basses! I've owned a couple, plus two Curbows with the same J/MM pickup configuration, but I always kinda missed having a humbucker in the neck spot when I was soloing the neck pickup.

    Your specs definitely sound like an excellent blend of the Lakland primary woods and pickup arrangement with the CB style, craftsmanship, and playability, with a stunning top to boot!

     
    mflatau likes this.
  12. bassman74

    bassman74 Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Montreal
    I really like your custom single cut shape. Can't wait to see the finish products. It makes me want to get another CB bass.
     
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  13. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Thanks! I spent a LOT of time sketching various versions of it, then even MORE time modeling it up in 3D CAD. It's pretty wild watching it come together for REAL in front of my eyes.

    Here is a really cool example of that... This picture is a detail that I rendered in my 3D CAD software showing the fretboard and luminlay side dots:
    13116485_10107628211779293_6936103080264095747_o.

    And here is a picture that Cliff just sent me of the luminlay side dots in the in-work neck:
    s-zaaaz.JPG

    I can't wait to see more of this fretboard!!! I absolutely love Birdseye Maple. I can't wait to really see the detail in the figuring... soon enough, soon enough...
     
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  14. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    **UPDATE! UPDATE! WE HAVE AN UPDATE!**

    I just got some new photos from Cliff! He has just attached the body to the neck. This is prior to the top being added to the stack. I have the full top, so the neck is flush with the bass body. When I first saw the pictures I was like, "that doesn't look like ash... OOOOHHHHH! That's the PURPLE HEART accent! DUH!"

    In these pics you can really start to see some of the figuring in the Birdseye Maple fretboard. I can't wait to see more!

    Here is the neck pocket coming together. You can see the truss rod end for adjustment. I'm really pleased at the contrast between the Purple Heart wood and the rest of the lighter colored wood the bass is constructed out of. It will make a nice accent line when completed!
    s-ut (1).JPG

    .490 written lightly in pencil on the Purple Heart Wood accent. That denotes the depth of the neck pocket such that the neck fits flush with the top. Cliff does this on every bass. There are some pretty cool color variations in the grain of the Purple Heart Wood. Hopefully that will be visible in the finished bass.
    s-ut (2).JPG

    Another shot of the neck coming together with the body. The Cottonwood Burl top will go on next. The Purple Heart Wood will be visible as an accent line between the top and the Ash body. Again, you can see some nice figuring in the Birdseye Maple fretboard!
    s-ut (3).JPG
     
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  15. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Nice! I'm excited to see yours coming together! :hyper: Hopefully I'll get some more pics as well...
     
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  16. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Cliff just posted this SWEET pic showing some more detail of the Birdseye Maple fretboard. He has it wiped with oil to show off the figuring in the grain... HOLY COW!!! I am in LOVE!

    zz28-xfba52.JPG
     
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  17. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Oh man! First time seeing the body with top cut to shape and attached to the neck! I can't believe how great the bass is turning out. Pics of shaping and pickup routs should be coming soon!

    All I can say right now is "WOW!"
    s-btpcf.JPG
     
  18. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    :hyper:

    It will be even more amazing when you can see the purpleheart, but it definitely looks like a bass now!
     
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  19. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
    That Maple Fingerboard looks awesome! Cliff's choice of wood species is always superb.
     
    mikezimmerman and mflatau like this.
  20. Man I really dig the SC shape. Definitely pumped to see how this turns out.
     
    mflatau likes this.

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