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Dano-style P-bass build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Dominic DeCosa, Mar 9, 2008.


  1. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    After a lot of planning, I've recently started building a bass. I don't have any woodworking experience but I have the help of a few people who do. The bass will be a mixture of Fender and Danelectro, my two favorite basses. It'll basically be a Danelectro in the shape of a P-bass. I'm using same construction as the newer Danos: plywood with masonite hardboard covering the top and bottom. The top and bottom will be cover with a retro boomerang pattern formica. The side will be covered with white vinyl. I'm tracing my dad's '53 P-bass for the body and pickguard. It'll feel more like a '51 P-bass though since it won't have contours. I'm using two Kent Armstrong lipstick pickups in the standard J-bass positions but with the lower ends of the pickups slanted a little torwards the neck (similar to Danelectro does it). I'm using a no name J-bass neck I had lying around which my dad cut a tele headstock out of. The pickguard will be made of masonite with white formica on top, like a Dano. I'm not completely sure what I'm going to do for the electronics. Even though I have two pickups, I don't want to use more than the two holes that are on the 50's control plate. I'm thinking I might use a 4-position rotary switch (rather than a tele-style switch to retain the look of the metal knob) and stacked knobs for the tone and volume. I think will work fine for me since I always use both volumes all the up whenever I use two pickups together anyways. Here's a photoshop mockup I put together. It's pretty close except the headstock should be tele shape, the bridge should have 4 saddles and one of the knobs should be stacked knobs.

    mybass2.

    So far I've done a rough cut of the body with the plywood. I'll upload more pictures as I progress. Feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions.
     
    Mvilmany likes this.
  2. kris pung

    kris pung

    Jul 25, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Very cool, I want one.
     
  3. decuchi2334

    decuchi2334

    Feb 4, 2008
    I love this. More please!!! I need updates, progress pics, the whole nine.
     
  4. Mixing two classic styles would normaly look terrible. But I actually love that.
     
  5. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I've been thinking of doing the same thing, but doing it the way Reverend does. You're giving me inspiration, though! I can't wait to see how it turns out!
     
  6. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    That sounds like it might be an interesting experiment. Myself, I'd be concerned that with the much lighter body the heavy Fender headstock will make it neck dive. Lightweight tuners will help some. It might be worthwhile to try a different bolt on neck. I'm partial to the Carvin's myself. The neck pocket is a different dimension than Fender however.

    I have a Danelectro DC which is a 34" scale with the typical Danelectro construction and their lipstick tube pickups. The pickups are my only complaint with the sound. It's a very light bass and a blast to play.
     
  7. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    I've definitely taken the weight into consideration. I'm making the body a bit more solid than Dano would. Rather than only making it as solid as unnecessary, I'm going to keep it solid from the neck to the bridge and make the frame a bit thicker. This should add a bit more weight and give the bass some more sustain. The wood is also 1/8" thicker than what Dano uses, which should help a little. Here's an idea of what the hollowed body should look like.

    plywood.

    I'm using mostly cheap parts that I have lying around until I see how the bass turns out. If it looks and feels good then I'll most likely replace the parts with good stuff, including Ultralite tuners.

    The Kent Armstrong lipstick pickups I'm using I've had installed in my DC bass for a few years now and they are like night and day to the stock pickups. I got the hot wound pickups (7.9k vs. the standard 4.9k) and they really added a lot more low end and strength to the sound. I also got one reverse wound/polarity to cancel hum. Since I don't use the DC bass much anymore (bad neck) I'm using the Kents in this project.
     
  8. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Reverends have weights in the body near the bridge
     
  9. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    I've taken a few pictures for those interested. They're kind of big so I'll just post the links.

    Here's the plywood body with a rough cut of the P-bass shape. Pretty soon I'll cut and sand it into shape.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0813.jpg)

    Here's an angled view to show the thickness of the body.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0814.jpg)

    Here's the bass with a few parts laid out.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0816.jpg)

    Here's a front shot of neck of questionable origins which my dad cut into a Tele headstock.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0819.jpg)

    Here's the back of the headstock showing off the cheap "Licensed by Schaller" tuners that came on the neck.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0818.jpg)

    Here's a shot of the pickguard traced on a sheet of masonite, ready to be cut out.
    (http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii310/starwa314/102_0821.jpg)

    I'll post this last picture on the board since I'm sure a lot of people will appreciate it. This is the bass I've been using as a reference for the Fender aspects of my project. It's a 1953 Fender P-bass which my grandpa bought brand new back in the day. He doesn't remember the original color since he repainted it as soon as he got it. It was passed on to my dad, who doesn't use it because the neck is too big for him. The first thing I'm going to do when it's eventually passed on to me is turn the bridge cover around. My dad likes it the way it is, but I think it's stupid looking.
    102_0824.
     
  10. kris pung

    kris pung

    Jul 25, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    It's coming along great and keep the photos coming. I'm starting my own retro style bass in a couple weeks (waiting on some materials) and this thread isn't helping my patience.
     
  11. RedemptionBass

    RedemptionBass

    Dec 12, 2007
    Crystal Lake, IL
    Head (and only) Honcho at Redemption Bass
    This is just rad. I've been wanting to try something similar but maybe countersinking the masonite into the body and painting the frame a different color from the masonite. I don't know if I have the skills for that level of precision yet.

    One question for you. Why not just use the formica alone for the pickguard? I'm just thinking that mounting it on the masonite would make it end up being fairly thick. Since the pickguard isn't supporting any pickups or controls, you could just mount the cut formica right onto the body. Just a thought.
     
  12. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    Making the pickguard out of masonite and formica is exactly what Danelectro does. Since I'm trying to mix Fender and Dano, I'm making the Fender-shaped pickguard Dano style. The masonite is only 1/8" thick so it's only a little bit thicker than a standard 3-ply pickguard.
     
  13. RedemptionBass

    RedemptionBass

    Dec 12, 2007
    Crystal Lake, IL
    Head (and only) Honcho at Redemption Bass
    Makes sense, just thought I'd throw that out there. I can't wait to see the finished product. The 50's boomerang formica is going to be awesome. I've always wanted a kitchen table with that design but my wife never seems to agree with my home decor choices.
     
  14. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Hey, that's good to know. Are they a drop in replacement for the DC? That may be the answer for me. Luckily I've had no problems with the neck.

    The stock DC tends to get lost in a full band setting.
     
  15. UncleBalsamic

    UncleBalsamic

    Jul 8, 2007
    UK
    This is going to be great. That's a really cool design and I can't wait to see it finished.
     
  16. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    They a direct replacement, but you may have to remove two copper pieces from the bottom of the pickup if you have a newer Dano (from '90s to now). You just unscrew two nuts and pull them off. They only thing is they're not cheap pickups. I paid about $80 each for them though you could probably do better on eBay. I admit it can be hard putting a lot of money into a cheap bass. I had to retire my DC because the neck needs to be completely redone or replaced, which I don't think is worth the money since I can get another DC bass off of eBay for around $300.

    I was originally going to paint the bass some vintage Fender color, like Sonic Blue, but when I found the boomerang pattern on Formica's website I couldn't resist. There was actually a time when Danelectro covered the bodies with Formica rather than painting them so it still fits into my Dano/Fender theme. I also think it has such an awesome retro vibe to it. Here's a nice close-up shot of it:
    Aqua_Boomerang.
    I'm debating whether to get it in matte or glossy finish. Most, if not all, vintage Danos didn't have clear coat, just paint so the matte might be better. I'll be able to make up my mind once I get the samples from Formica.
     
  17. matrok

    matrok

    Jan 10, 2005
    Ferndale, Michigan
    I'm really interested to see how this turns out. I just missed a DC on Craigslist last week. I love the boomerang/lipstick look.
     
  18. matrok

    matrok

    Jan 10, 2005
    Ferndale, Michigan
    How thick is the body and how will you attach the vinyl on the sides?
     
  19. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Oh my, this is a NICE build. I can't wait to see it finished. Great ideas, I LOVE the Formica!

    :bassist:

    The "Fendelectro".
     
  20. May I suggest this amendment to the pick guard for aesthetic purposes.
    newguard.
    (I love the Formica.)
     

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