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Finally gonna start first build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Bett, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Well after some months of hoping to build a bass someday, I finally have a chance to do it. I decided to make this an independent study project for my senior year of high school (I only need a half credit more to graduate so I decided to take some fun classes). I took a construction class last year so I asked the teacher to be my sponsor for this project. He's already ordered the wood and I'm working on the plan. It'll be a maple neck through with walnut wings with a maple core. I sketched a few designs and am in the process of drawing out a rough full size plan. I think I'll put in some jazz pickups if I can find some used ones. The bass'll be a fretless and I'm planning on putting in gold hardware. I have a plan for the pick guard though it depends whether or not I can find some pieces of scrap brass to make the control plate from.
    I guess I'm still in the planning stage right now since I really have none of the parts yet, besides a single piece of figured walnut I may use for the top. Where's a good place to look for used parts such as tuners, bridges, and pickups? Those seem to be the most expensive parts to get new, so I'm hoping to find some used ones. I think I'll be ordering most of the other parts (pots, knobs, truss rod, etc.) from Stew-Mac. I'm also still trying to figure out what finish would be the best. I was thinking tung oil would be nice. Maybe the fretboard should be epoxied since I'll be making a fretless.
    Well, this'll be my first build. I have the whole wood shop at school with all the tools I should need, and I have a lot of tools at home too. I hope this whole thing will go well and that I'll have a nice working bass to present to the independent study committee at the end of the semester.
  2. Jonsbasses


    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    Good luck with the project. Here is a site to go to for affordable bass parts. I may have a 4-string gold bridge laying around that I can donate to the project.

  3. JFace


    Apr 17, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    warmoth.com is a good resource.
  4. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
  5. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Thanks for the links. So far I have the body design down, though I think I may change the pick guard. I may be able to get some brass plates from the metal shop teacher. At first I was thinking about making a wooden pick guard with brass for the control plate, but I think it may just be easier to decrease the size of it and make it completely out of brass. These were some of my sketches last week http://img359.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img024se5.jpg The top right one would be nice but I don't know if I can make the pick guard the way I want. I'm working on a newer sketch with a different pick guard to see how it would look.
  6. kind of reminds me of a Burns without that big oar headstock or something. looks really cool.
  7. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Here's another plan http://img145.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img026bs6.jpg (dunno why it came out so big on imageshack)
    I know I won't need them until the end, but what should I do about the knobs? The bridge and tuners will be gold, and the control plate will be brass, so I'm not sure if it'll look better with gold or chrome knobs. Gold would go with the rest of the hardware, but I don't know if it'll look right with gold knobs on a gold control plate. Chrome would add some contrast (and it's easier to find switches and output jacks in silver too). Or I could just get black knobs (except that it seems there's hazardous substances in them, according to stewmac.com) Yeah, I won't need them for a while, but I was planning on getting most of the stuff ready before starting construction.
  8. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Well, I'm making progress. I found some switches in our basement yesterday, as well as an output jack. I'll use a 2 way on/on toggle switch for each pickup to switch it on and off (I couldn't find any 3 way on/on/ons). I'm still searching for other parts.
    This is the board I may use for the top of one or both wings.
    The wood does look better in real life, but the pictures do show the figuring. I found this piece in my construction class last year and thought I could use it someday. It's a walnut board about 3/4ths of an inch thick. It looked so much different from the rest of the walnut we had in class. I liked the figuring on it so I took it home. Maybe it'll come in handy for this project.
  9. Good luck with the project. I think you'll pass with flying colors when you present your project at the end of the year.
  10. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    really like the look in the sketches. should be sweet. i plan to do my next bass in full tru finish. neck through of purpleheart and bloodwood, singlecut, flamed maple top and mahogonly core with bloodwood and prpleheart accents an d a wooden bridge blending into the neck.
  11. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Well, some of my plans have changed since I first started planning some weeks ago. I'll most likely be making a bloodwood fingerboard now, since I heard maple will not do well with an oil finish.
    I got a set of jazz pickups last week, but I still have to get a bridge, tuning machines, and a few other little parts like pots and knobs. I think I'll be getting a Hot Rod truss rod with a spoke nut from stewmac, as well as the 2 pots and knobs. The rest of the stuff I'm looking for on ebay and the TB classifieds.
    I want to make a practice neck sometime soon. I'm still waiting for the delivery of lumber to arrive at the school though.
    This is just a sketch I've been using for trying to figure out what the upper horn will look like. I keep erasing it and trying out different designs since the original seemed kind of plain. The current one's just something I sketched the other day. I'll probably be changing it though. The pickguard design's pretty much decided now (the one in the picture) though I have yet to find the 3/32 brass sheet I need for it.
  12. kb9wyz


    Sep 8, 2008
    If you go to Warmoth.com you can find a link to some wood descriptions which will tell you if the wood even needs to be finished. I don't think that bloodwood needs to be finished. It will also tell you if the wood is typically used for fingerboards or not.

    Also, www.realmilkpaint.com sells pure tung oil and natural solvents. Prices are good and they have a few different sizes of bottles.
  13. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Well I haven't posted in a while, so here's an update.
    This project's going slower than I expected it to, so I'm not sure I'll get it fully completed by the end of the semester. However, I have made some progress.
    I currently have most of the parts I need. I've now got a bridge, spoke wheel truss rod, knobs, pots, and strap locks. I also got a piece of bloodwood for the fingerboard and the brass I needed for the pickguard.
    Some of my original plans have changed slightly. I will be making the core for the wings out of mahogany instead of maple. I've had a few design changes to the pickguard and body too. I am also currently debating whether to make the bass a lined or unlined fretless.
    My latest accomplishment was getting the neck blank glued up. I still have to carve out the neck, which I hope to get done over winter vacation. I've gotten my routerless truss rod cavity to work out quite well so far. The only problem has been that two pieces of the center laminate that were stacked on top of each other did not meet all the way, though I don't believe that will cause any structural issues. I will probably just plug up the holes it left at the end of the headstock and body later on. I have some pictures here (not all in order) of what I have done so far, though I do have a few more I haven't uploaded yet.
    I have been having some issues with the wings. I have to get the laminates to the correct thickness, but I do not want to risk using the surface planer, for I can't afford to get a snipe in the boards. The boards are all the right length, so if I do get a snipe, I won't be able to cut it off the end. I could plane all the boards down on the jointer, but that will be somewhat time consuming, since I'll only be able to take off 1/32nd or so at a time (also, the jointer's knives aren't all that sharp). I took the pieces home for the weekend, hoping that I may get the chance to use a thickness sander somewhere, possibly at the local Woodcraft. I may also end up just planing and cutting them by hand, then finishing the faces to be glued on the jointer at school.
    Well, that's what's currently going on with my bass. I still have to get tuning machines for it, as well as some little things like string ferrules and pickup height adjustment springs. Maybe I'll get a rough carving of the neck done in the next week or so and get the wings done sometime soon.
  14. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    you had better get some pictures up there, were gettin antsy
  15. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Well, I got a few in my previous post, though most of them are of my neck blank and it's overload of clamps. I did get all the wood for my bass home for winter break, so maybe I'll start carving out the neck soon. I gotta clean off my basement work bench so I can start working.
  16. If I were you (and of course, I'm not) I would glue some of the scrap wood you have left over and make knobs out of that. Matches everything that way.
  17. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    I did get some chrome knobs some time ago. I was thinking of making some wooden ones, but wasn't sure how to.

    I've been working on the neck now for the past several days. I took some pictures of it while working.
    http://s254.photobucket.com/albums/hh108/Bett_174/Bass Project/
    All the pictures are in order now so the newest ones are first (they were mixed up before).
    I found a drawknife the other day, which has made carving the neck quite easy. I've been finishing up with the spokeshave, chisels, and some rasps.

    I decided to use a different piece for the back piece of one wing (the other one I had didn't match well in color). The picture of the wing pieces on the first page are the two pieces that will be the backs. I decided not to use the mahogany I have as a core for the wings. I found that the walnut pieces I have would actually be just the right size if I glued them together as they are without planing them down at all. I may have to run the surfaces to be glued through the jointer however, so I may end up putting a layer of veneer between them. I could also let the body be 1/16 inch thinner. If I can get some veneer, it'll be either something darker than the walnut, or something light like maple. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I did go to woodcraft today, but I didn't find any veneer pieces of the right size. I may just end up not putting anything between the two walnut pieces, but I'm not sure yet about how it'll look.

    I wanted to put a strip of something between the wings and the neck. Since I didn't get anything at woodcraft today, I thought of what I had available at school. I could put in a strip of oak on each side, or if I want to match the stripe down the back of the neck, I could use another piece of cherry. The front stripe on the neck in the body area is mahogany, but I'm not sure I want to use mahogany as the piece between the wings and the neck. One day as I was carving a little piece of the school's mahogany I had, the piece split in two accidentally as though it were balsa wood or something. I don't know if it was just a bad piece, but I'm not sure I would trust the other mahogany boards with holding together two sections of my bass.

    But anyway, hopefully I'll finish the neck soon. I haven't gotten any tuners yet, but I found a 11/16 spade bit today, so I may just drill the tuner holes with that and get some tuning machines that fit later on. I think I'll take my bloodwood board to school tomorrow and run it through the jointer, since the whole board is cupped. I'll probably take my wing pieces back to school this week rough cut them on the band saw so I can get those glued up, after I figure out what to do with them. I don't think this bass will be finished for my planned deadline of the end of first semester, but since it was an independent study project, it shouldn't matter if it's not done. As long as I can show I've done something throughout the year and have something to present to the independent study committee, I should be fine.
  18. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Subscribed! :D
  19. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Ok, I've been making some progress. I finally got me some tuning machines off ebay. They're brand new gold Schallers that I won for $18.
    I've gotten the fingerboard cut out but I still need to make it thinner.
    Today I stayed after school in the woodshop and I got the wings glued and clamped up. I also got the headstock roughly cut out. Right now I'm waiting for the glue to dry on the ears I added to the headstock. I have two pieces clamped up, but I need the same clamp for the last piece.
    Tomorrow I should be staying after school again, so maybe I'll get the wings cut and shaped some more after I take them out of the clamps.
    I have some pictures that I'll put up in a minute.
  20. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    Here's what the bass looked like during class this morning.

    I got both wings clamped up well.

    Got two pieces of the headstock clamped up right now.

    I got more pictures in my photobucket album, http://s254.photobucket.com/albums/hh108/Bett_174/Bass Project/ Everything's in order from newest to oldest.

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