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epoxy bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by dingfelder, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. dingfelder


    Feb 27, 2008
    Has anyone every made a clear bass entirely out of epoxy?

    Im thinking it would look wicked with the electronics showing through if you put LEDs inside etc.

    The limitations I can think of would be:

    1. The sound quality might suck (lack of resonance?)
    2. It would be bloody heavy.
    3. It would not be an inexpensive material.
    4. Would it be rigid enough?
  2. There were clear acrylic guitars in the 80's. Bleh.
  3. Well I think you've hit on the 4 biggest reasons why this hasn't been done! :D
  4. Mmmm, a design classic from the '60s, the Dan Armstrong acrylic. 30" scale, 24 frets. They had a sound 'all of their own'.
  5. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    They did all right. I had one for a short while. Nice to play, but heavy and the sound was completely lifeless. It's easy to see why they never made it big.
  6. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Check out/Google? Crimson Guitars, he builds guitars for Robert Fripp and has built quite a few guitars and basses out of this, even necks! He adds sparkles to the clear resin mix and it looks really cool when hit by lights of different directions.
  7. Hi.

    Even though the four pointers You have all about sums it up, it has been done. Remember that the wooden neck isn't usually strong enough alone to keep the neck from changing shape so You shouldn't worry too much about the rigidity IMHO, that can be helped.

    WOW, how about this as the naked bass:


    Kinda want one, allthough the cost of the materials and production might be prohibitive ;). Not to mention some rather harmful chemicals and fumes.

  8. dingfelder


    Feb 27, 2008
    I am not worried about the chemicals and fumes as I work at a company that does epoxy moulding of GPS hardware so we have all the mixing equipment and fume cabinets etc in place if I were to do it on a weekend.

    I just wanted to find out if it was practical before even thinking about doing it.

    If I was going to do it, I would want to do the entire thing (including the neck) from epoxy, not just the body.

    So for me, the big question is: would the sound suck if you used a material like this? I'm thinking that it would not resonate like wood does.

    But after seeing this one http://www.crimsonguitars.com/CharlieJonesBass.html Im thinking perhaps it is not an issue?

    The other big question is how rigid the neck would be? I would hate to have to screw up the clear look by adding an ugly graphite rod or a truss rod
  9. Hi.

    In that case I'd say go for it, what can you lose, really? You already know the requirements of the molds and the properties of the chemicals and the mechanical properties of the different epoxies.

    For a person that hasn't got Your resources, the answer from anyone even closely familiar with plastics would most probably be that It's not practical, but in your case it just might be. If You go through it and post the progress pics, I can guarantee quite a lot respect out of the TBers ;).

    Answered, at least partly, in the follow-up link on that page:


    And the sound maybe in this ;)

    Not my kind of music, so I can't really separate the bass line from the two (or more) synths. And not necessarily the same instrument in the video and on the track. But if You dig enough around the internet, you'll find some more accurate samples I'm sure.

  10. dingfelder


    Feb 27, 2008
    a couple of thoughts:

    It sounds like the sound quality may be a non-issue. But I could be sadly dissapointed when I finish and the sound may suck :)

    He made his out of acrylic, I would be using epoxy.
    I looked into it and both have a similar density 1.1 - 1.2 g/cm³
    some tropical hardwoods have around .9 density so this would be 20% heavier than that, or 40% heavier than oak.

    He used truss rod(s) in his construction. I could as well so neck strength may not be an issue.

    To calculate the weight and or cost, I need to know the volume of a 6 string bass.
    Anyone care to estimate the volume of their bass? :p
    Or better yet, anyone have their plans in 1 3D Cad package? if so, the software should be able to calculate the exact volume

    I think going fretless with LEDs and/or perhaps mother of pearl or paua shell inlay strips to mark the fret lines would be cool.
  11. jonpopu


    Nov 3, 2006
    The second model weighed 9lbs! I don't belive it.
  12. dingfelder


    Feb 27, 2008
    how much does a generic bass made of wood weigh?

    From the looks, he made the body thinner in some spots to reduce the weight a lot.
  13. BigRedX


    May 1, 2006
    I've actually played the Charlie Jones Crimson Guitars Bass, so here are some first-hand opinions.

    Sound: it was at a trade show so I was competing with several hundred shredding guitarists but it didn't seem to sound worse than any of the other basses I tried that day.

    Feel: It weighs a ton. I wold want to wear it for more than a short set. The neck was far too chunky for my liking and overall it felt a bit clumsy.

    Looks: From a distance absolutely stunning. Close up not so good. Personally I didn't think the finish was too hot. If this had been made of wood and didn't have the sparkly see-thru factor to wow you, you'd dismiss this instrument as a school wood shop project and not a serious bass with a price tag to match.

    Having said that don't let my comments put you off. I believe that it would be possible to build a good see-thru bass, this one isn't it. Things to watch out for: Find a way of polishing the insides. I think all the opaque wiring tunnels look terrible and amateurish. Make the body shape small and elegant to keep the weight sensible. Wesley Guitars offer a cheap range of acrylic-bodies instruments that to me feel far more elegant that the Crimson Guitars model.
  14. Jonsbasses


    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    Figure the average weight of Hard Maple. My 6'er (which consists of nearly all hard maple) weighs 10.5ish pounds. Give or take a small amount.

    I think your bass might end up weighing around 15-18 pounds. :meh:
  15. dingfelder


    Feb 27, 2008
    I can get 20 litres of Polyplex Acrylic gel for 220 NZ$

    hard to know how much I need until I get an volume estimage but I would have to guess it would only be 5-10 litres, so you could make 2-4 basses with that quantity

    The big question for me is how to make the neck.

    When I make the reverse cast, I want to ensure the neck is thick enough to make it stable but yet thin enough to make it ergonomic.

    And I would need to make the truss rod adjustable. Perhaps I could insert the truss rod inside a tube of some sort (stainless steel perhaps or even flexible clear plastic or rubber)? That way it could move if you need to tighten it?

    I think I can give it a good finish. And if done well, the electronics could be added during the layering process, so there would not need to be any routing out of cavities etc. If I absolutely need a cavity, I would build that into the cast so that when I pour it, it would not need polishing.

    I think the wiring can be done well so that it does not detract from the looks. This one for example is routed pretty well. http://images.marketworks.com/hi/56/56410/meg30wh_02.jpg It just means enclosing the wires in a plastic or metal tube
  16. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    I can see shielding being a problem. You won't be able to shield the bass properly if you want a really see-through look, and you wont be able to see thru the control cavity if you shield it well. Unless you spend a LOT of time individually shielding each component and then connecting them, this might be a problem. Don't worry about the resonance, non-wood basses can and do sound fine, if not slightly different.
  17. Hi.

    My cheapo Chinese 6er weighs 4,6kg and assuming the materials are "normal" to that region the overall density is around 0.5, that translates roughly to 10 liters. You can substract a litre for the cavities and additional weight reducing contours. The 20l will give You a bass and a half weighing around 10 kg. Even bigger weight/material savings can be made if the bass is made headless and You can make the tuning block then too so the DIY parts percentage rises.

    That's where Your experience of the material in question comes in IMHO. You'll calculate it or make an educated guess. And if it doesn't work You'll revise the mold and try again.

    With a traditional one, a thin wall silicone rubber tube might work, easy to put in place with compressed air. Or You can cover it with the release spray, wax, whatever You're using for the molds. With the box type, IMHO You'll need to attach the fingerboard separately to have a correct space for the rod to move.

    I'd suggest that You make a separate neck first (a P- or a JAZZ is a logical choice IMHO) to avoid loosing valuable material if only the neck doesn't work as planned/calculated. That still leaves You with enough material to do an entire bass.

  18. asad137


    Jan 18, 2007
    Good point. You could use active pickups, as they are low impedance and less susceptible to picking up noise.


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