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! :)

Factorbird Fretless

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Oct 28, 2017.


Tags:
  1. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I get frequent requests to post details about this bass so I decided to create a thread for it so I don't keep high-jacking threads! It does have a story and this is my chance to extrapolate - I'm always welcome to any comments or questions. :)

    I've owned a few Factors over the years and bought this lined fretless neck from Phil in '94 for my '86 Ex-Factor. (since sold with its original fretted neck) The unique Kubicki tuner/bridge was off another 'parts bass' Factor I found on eBay long ago. I've been a T-bird player since the 70's and own a '64 II which I still perform with. As a dyed-in-the-wool T-bird devotee I wanted to make my own bass based on one. So this was my first foray into creating my own bass in the late 90's. (in this case a hybrid) I used exact specs from my '64 making this 3 piece Koa body with help from a skilled woodworker friend. As far as ergonomics - my version is all about that and when I design basses it's a top priority always. It's currently strung BEAD. Needless to say, no neck dive.

    fullsizeoutput_682.

    In this detail you can see the V-joint which mimics my '64 construction. The wings are tapered to match my '64.
    IMG_5297.JPG

    I scalloped/beveled the upper back horn as I ride my birds with the upper part of the body against my body. T-birds were not designed with ergonomics in mind and I've adopted a few ways of comfortably playing them. I scalloped the lower neck area to help getting to the higher frets w/o changing the original outline of the body. T-birds are very restrictive there. I also radically tapered the lower bout as seen in this and the next pics.
    fullsizeoutput_6da.

    IMG_8167.JPG

    The FB started out with EMG J pu's/pre and over time I went to Wilkinson buckers and finally to G&L L-2000 pu's/pre. Had to create a non-recessed control cover that allowed space for the deeper electronics as the body like my '64 is very thin.
    fullsizeoutput_45a.

    IMG_5189.JPG

    fullsizeoutput_4a8.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  2. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Found a couple more pics - it doesn't really have a finish, I seem to recall using Watco oil on it when it was built. Koa is a pretty dense wood and it's also heavy - even w/o a headstock it's 9lbs/10oz

    fullsizeoutput_637.

    I loop the strap over the lower horn playing all my T-birds which pulls the body into my body and grounds it to prevent the dreaded neck-dive. Don't really need it on this (headless) bass, but it works so I incorporate it as well.
    fullsizeoutput_31f.

    fullsizeoutput_78d.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  3. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thank you for the breakdown! I love this bass and the story of how and why it came to be.
     
    JIO likes this.
  4. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    It's about time you had a FactorBird thread, ya malingerer :D
     
    Old Blastard and JIO like this.
  5. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Thanks! I have a few basses that will never leave my possession - my '64 T-bird and this one are in that category.
     
    Fab Superlative, JJR58 and JMacBass65 like this.
  6. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Thanks for lighting a fire under my butt! :D
     
    Old Blastard likes this.
  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Now that I'm summarizing the Factorbird, it brought to mind another early DIY I performed on this bass. The fb is ebony and the lines are thin plastic strips, like binding material. It was new when I purchased it and I played it a lot once it was on my '86 Factor. (using Kubicki round-wound strings) The fb held up pretty well, but the lines started lifting out in little pieces. I read an article in BassPlayer magazine on super-glue finishes for a fretless fb and decided to do it. I used some sort of filler (can't even remember now) that was white and filled in the gaps. Can't really see it in the pic as it blended pretty well. I successfully did the superglue coating and it's been on there ever since. You can see some marking under the B string but nothing that effects it adversely - just looks 'scratched'. The slick surface definitely enhances 'mwah' - Zon and other makers have similar coated fb's. I've used flats on it at various times, but the dense Koa body expresses a dark sound so rounds help keep it more focused. The L-2000 pu's/pre is a favorite of mine because it's very versatile for tone-dialing with a nice passive setting and 2 active settings. (active and active boost) I love the Kubicki pre also, but I find the L-2000 more user friendly.

    fullsizeoutput_da0.

    I also added abalone side markers like on a standard fretted Ex-Factor neck as I was visually familiar with the long horizontal markers. Fretless necks only had side dots (as seen in pic) for obvious reasons. They look a little rough macro-focused on but look pretty good at playing length. I painstakingly did it using only an exacto knife and tiny files and back then I was unaware of the precautions that need to be taken working with abalone ~
    fullsizeoutput_da1.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  8. nbsipics

    nbsipics Gypsy Bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    That is so cool. And you can drop on that low B string too right, with a flip of the lever?
     
  9. I love the way the lower horn is beveled. Looks great and no doubt feels great as well. Overall an amazingly attractive bass!
     
    Fab Superlative and JIO like this.
  10. Nev375

    Nev375

    Nov 2, 2010
    Missouri
    Drool worthy.
     
    JIO likes this.
  11. Beautiful. Koa is a favorite of mine.
     
    JIO likes this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    nice! :thumbsup:
     
    JIO likes this.
  13. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    :) Thanks! yep - to low A (if that is ever really needed!) Normally (EADG) it would be to low D, which is more relevant.

    capo'd - open B
    fullsizeoutput_d7f.

    capo off - low A
    fullsizeoutput_d80.
     
  14. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    :) Thanks all! The smooth ergo scallops/bevels add a lot of comfortable interface - it's a joy to play! My friend who helped me with it had that nice plank of Koa which was pretty old - I didn't know much about wood then and just liked the way it looked. It does have a very specific tone, unlike any bass I own.
     
    Fab Superlative and JRA like this.
  15. REV

    REV Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    You should work for Fender. They could use someone with your imagination. Great job.
     
  16. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    :) Thanks REV, I would love to know how long a leash their R&D guys are allowed. I do think they cautiously wander out from their safety-zone, the road-worn series is an example of big corporation chance-taking. I'm being serious here, I think the Mustang RI's have been good also, especially the signature one coming out soon. And creating the Jaguar Bass (a bass that never existed) was great! So they are capable of fun new product, but I wouldn't expect anything earth-shattering like a RI of the Performer bass, or a new Fender bass design. (other than their tried-and-true models)
     
    Fab Superlative and JMacBass65 like this.
  17. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Might as well show all my T-bird related basses - this is my Saudersbird - Epi T-bird body, Wilkinson buckers, Fender/Kubicki 9v pre, Hipshot Supertone bridge (string-thru) and a late 80's Saunders P-width neck and 80's Fender small-plate big-clovers tuners. The Saunders neck was made at the just began FCS as a commission to get his biz started. Saunders made a couple of basses but I've never seen one. The biz either never went into production or just ran out of steam. I bought it for $80 (I think) NOS on eBay, taking a chance and wow- it's been a great neck! (I cut a brass nut for it) This bass roars like a Factor - it's h-u-g-e :D... a total R&R animal!

    fullsizeoutput_828.

    I carved the back of the upper horn for ergonomics like I did the FB.
    fullsizeoutput_29a.

    fullsizeoutput_161.

    Again, you can see how I adapted my control cover to accommodate the high-rise circuit board. Sort of like when Magnum would drive Robin Masters Ferrari and his head was higher than the roof! (removable roof panels off!) :laugh:
    fullsizeoutput_1fb.

    A friend etched a GEO logo I came up with on the neck-plate
    fullsizeoutput_5b0.

    fullsizeoutput_656.

    fullsizeoutput_479.

    The neck wood is exotically grained - I guess it's maple but I've never seen maple look like this.
    fullsizeoutput_da2.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  18. Soooooo...

    How soon will you have clips up?


    Factorbird... drool
     
  19. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    ...yes, it's something I'm working on...
     
    rwkeating likes this.
  20. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Hmm - so being the isolated trombone-playing hick I am at times, I had seen that Kubicki headless bridge/tuner setup before but never knew what it was. I suspect I though it was a Steinberger, until I looked at Steinbergers and said "But this is not what I remember??"

    With a patent date of 1986, it should be out of patent protection since roughly 2006?
     
    JIO likes this.

Share This Page