Dingwall NG2 to NG3 conversion

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jeff Roller, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    For starters, I was completely satisfied with my 2015 NG2 I bought new from Sheldon a little over two years ago. Fantastic bass in every way! I already own a Z2, so I kind of had that base covered, and had previously owned a Z3 and loved it.

    Because of the pickguard, this is an easily reversible mod, so I reasoned if I weren't happy with the results, I could always go back.

    Sheldon offers two versions of the four way rotary switch if you are doing a 3X configuration. I decided to go with the D-bird switch as I've always wanted to be able to use all 3 pickups at once.

    I had to acquire a few parts for the build, here is what I wound up with:

    3X rotary switch (D-bird)
    P-tone Dingwall pickup
    WD Music Pickguard (did not want to modify the existing NG2 PG)
    Qty (6) 6/32 x 1-1/4" socket cap bolt
    Qty (6) 6/32 brass wood insert
    Surgical tubing for bolts
    Router template from BestBassGear
    Painter's tape
    Two-sided tape

    Here we go:
    I removed the PG and made a careful tracing to send off for the new one. I had to extrapolate the placement of the neck pickup using a straightedge and the pickup itself.


    Parts for the build:


    Original screw vs. bolt and insert:


    Ready for the procedure. No dining room tables were harmed during the film:


    New pickguard lines up nicely with the original. I decided on black abalone:


    Notice the body was routed for either NG2 or regular Combustion. I believe the new body version with the rounded shells are already pre-routed for 3X for convenience. I used an extra fine tip sharpie to mark the area to be routed:


    Removing the neck bolts, always with a sense of reverence at this stage of any work:


    The wiring cavity, pre-molestation. Sheldon and crew do such tidy work!


    The volume pot and rotary switch had to be removed, both for clearance of the router and for ease of removing the existing rotary switch:


    Pickups removed, painter's tape applied to protect the finish from the more aggressive double sided tape. Router template firmly pressed into double sided tape. Exacto knife used to score the finish down to the wood prior to routing. Thanks to Thumpin_P for that tip!:


    Scary moment for sure. Had a nice rubber mat between the back of the bass and my work station to prevent scratches and unexpected movement:


    Short work. Sorry for the fuzzy picture, it was a surprising amount of wood shavings for such a narrow route!:


    Brass wood inserts installed with a bolt for clarity. A drill press with a depth stop would have been nice, but I used a cordless drill with a piece of tape to mark the place to stop before I created six new sound holes in the back of the bass:


    Surgical tubing applied to pickup bolts. Anyone who has taken apart a Z has seen these in use, brilliant compared to using springs actually. I collected the tubing from an old nebulizer I remembered we had. I measured and recorded the distance from the pickup to the top of the B and G side with the string fretted at 24 prior to dissassembly, so I set them at the same height they were at from the factory:


    The completed wiring harness. One part I left out was drilling for the neck pickup leads into the cavity. This was pretty tricky, but I did have a twelve inch drill bit the right size on hand for the job. I have to admit, soldering has gotten to be the most scary part for me, my eyes are not what they used to be, and the screw terminals on the rotary switch are much appreciated!:


    That's all folks! I placed the P-tone pickup in the middle, left the bridge where it was, and the neck pickup, well, remained the neck pickup. I played it at church today, I hung out on the P-tone pretty much all day, that will likely be my happy place. I used all 3 pickups for a louder tune at the end and can already see that will be a fun setting for a lot of my rock gigs.

    Total actual build time for this project was likely 3 hours. This was over the course of two days, running back and forth hunting tools, going to the store for a router bit I thought I already owned, and replacing one of the brass inserts that turned out to be the wrong size. Think it through, plan ahead, and go slow. This was a fun project, thanks for tuning in!

    IMG_3857.jpg IMG_3859.jpg
    Nuage420, Slaymus, LawDog and 31 others like this.
  2. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner Commercial User

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner
    Great job, Jeff.
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  3. A-Ro


    Mar 22, 2016
    West Texas
    Nice work!

    I'm so doing this to my Combustion!
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  4. Nice router! Matches the bass.

    Nice clean job!
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  5. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    This arrived today, thanks Payson!
    It might be a week or so before I get time to install and perform the set up.
    Sheldon has a really good YouTube series on performing setups for the DIY crowd.

    To Be Continued..........

    IMG_3901.JPG IMG_3902.JPG
    pravus and Beej like this.
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  7. whirledpeas

    whirledpeas Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Sittin' Here in Limbo
    Nice work. Thanks for the DW setup link!
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  8. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Nice work!

    What's your switching setup? Also, why are you changing out the bridges?
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  9. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    No, but he surfs TB regularly, I'm sure he will see it. Jeff at Dingwall knew what I was up to at any rate! Needless to say, the warranty is voided for sure.
  10. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    Bridge/Bridge+Middle/Bridge solo/All 3
    All wired in series, the wiring instructions I got from Dingwall laid it out that way with the Dbird rotary.

    As for the bridge, I never cared for the uni-bridges on the Combustion series. I always considered them the least appealling feature of an otherwise brilliant creation. Also, I always intended to go with Hipshot tuners, I have detuners on the B on the rest of my Dingwalls, whenever I play the NG I'd reach for it on occasion and have to go "oh, wait". Plus I'm all matchy-matchy, can't have black tuners and leave the smoked chrome bridges....

    I do like the new generation uni-bridges a lot better, that was a smart move IMO.
    A-Ro, TheEmptyCell and Beej like this.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Yeah, that's why I tagged him in the post - figured he'd be interested in seeing it, especially since you did such nice clean work. Its pretty obvious you love the bass and did the work with reverence and respect. As a builder, I can only hope that someone would modify one of my instruments with such care and attention... :)
    Jeff Roller and TheEmptyCell like this.
  12. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Looks great.
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  13. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    I've been a HUGE fan of Dingwall ever since my first one, a 2004 AB1 (the one in my Avatar). There are so many talented builders out there, it's such a great time to be a bass player! Dingwall just "fits" me, I rarely play anything else. And Sheldon never stops evolving and refining, my favorite DW is an older (99 model) Z2, which has the basic DNA structure of everything coming out of the shop currently, but they never rest on their laurels, every month it seems there is a new improvement!

    It's on my retirement bucket list to make a pilgrimage to the shop one day, hopefully to see my "last" Dingwall being made haha....
  14. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Help me to understand. It sounds like four positions, being
    1. Bridge
    2. Bridge+Middle
    3. Bridge solo
    4. All 3
    which would make positions 2 and 4 be the same thing?
  15. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    No there are 3 pickups.
    number 2 is bridge+middle = NG2 sound
    Number 4 is all 3 pickups i series
  16. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Oops, I stated my question wrong.

    It looks like position 1 and 3 are the same. In other words, what's the difference between ""bridge" and "bridge solo"?
  17. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    You caught me i goofed. 3 is middle position solo
  18. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Great mods! Very good looking work. Love Dingwalls as well. I owned a '99 Z2-5, an '03 Prima 6 and a '95 or so Prima 5 (Kahler Saddles and Sperzel Tuners). All were great basses.

    What bridge is that? Is it a Hipshot? The saddles look to be...
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  19. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    The bridge is from Payson:
    Payson Fanned Bridge
    Geoff St. Germaine likes this.
  20. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

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