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First bass project.....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Josh Curry, Jun 7, 2004.


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  1. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I am thinking about trying to build my own bass. I see that there have been several threads about this already, so I will be looking into those also, but I have a simple question for you guys who make guitars/basses all the time.

    Where can I get inexpensive body blanks, neck blanks, finger board blanks, etc... that are ready to use?

    I don't have access to a planer, nor can I afford one. I realize that I am going to need to purchase a band saw and some sort of sander (orbital?). Other than that I already have a really good table saw, plunge router w/ table, electric drill (wish I had a press), jig saw, dremel, and a variety of other woodworking tools.

    I am currently reading the books "Building Electric Guitars" by Martin Koch, and Hiscock's "Make your own Electric Guitar".

    Any other advice you guys could offer would be great, but right now I just want to know where I can get affordable ready to use wood. I'm not too worried about hardware since cheap stuff can be had on ebay any day of the week.

    My first bass will be nothing special, more of a learning experience than anything else so I won't be buying any nice wood or hardware. The things I have decided on so far is this...

    - 34" scale
    - 4 strings
    - fretless (simply so I don't have to buy all the fretting tools yet).
    - single humbucker w/ vol/tone. I don't really care about the electronics in this one since I already know how to do custom electronics and wiring.

    Things I am not sure about...

    - Bolt on or Neck Through (which is easier the first time?)
    - Single or double cut.
    - truss rod (not sure if I care about this since it is just a test project)

    Please don't advise me to start with a kit. Not that they aren't fun, but I already know how all the parts go together, I've reconditioned a few guitars in the past stripping them down to just parts and complete re-assembly.

    I think that's enough info for now....

    Thanks :)
     
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Bolt on. Check out Stewmac.com and Gallery hardwoods. good luck.......tom
     
  3. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I said "affordable" ;)
     
  4. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Actually, Gallery has some "not too expensive",,, NORMAL wood body blanks... I'm coming to realize, building your own,,, is NOT cheap...
     
  5. Just realize, the blanks that Stew Mac sells prolly won't accomodate a bass- sized body. They're more for strats and teles.

    As far as "affordable", you get what you pay for. For a normal alder wood blank, expect a 3 piece for @ 70 bucks. Warmoth, USCG and the like offer them pretty much the same prices, or at least in the ballpark... realize they're buying 8 quarter wood, joining it, levelling it, and all that takes labor and time above the cost of the wood...

    You can get rough dimensional dried stock cheaper, but you need to run the mating parts thru a joiner...then you have to glue it, and get the thickness setup...

    Ron
     
  6. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I had not expected it to be cheap to build a decent bass, but I would like to keep the budget low on my first since it will good for not much more than fire wood when it's done, haha.

    I did take a look at gallery hardwoods, and I think a 2 piece aldur blank will do the job, the price isn't too bad. Still, I think I may use a piece of MDF to prototype the body first.
     
  7. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    That is affordable. As already postedbuilding a bass is not cheap! There are some nice gibson/schaller tuners on e-bay all the time. There are also some in-expensive black bridges on e-bay. This bass uses both. Remember you can always use the hardware for the next one too......t
     
  8. McHack

    McHack

    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    LOL, check THIS out... When I'm done with mine, I will have spent more on THIS one,,, than I did my Lakland Deluxe 55-01.

    I took the plunge today, & went ahead & added a Translucent finish to my Dinky J... I just don't know enough about finishing, to feel comfortable I won't screw it up & I don't want to resort to an oil finish, because that's all I'm capble of. I'll get some scraps from Larry, & go to town on those!
     
  9. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Nothing wrong with an oil finish. I have had several customers request them. Another easy one is wipe on Polyurathane for the body. Qualasole or Tung oil for the neck.......Tom
     
  10. PasdaBeer

    PasdaBeer

    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    i may have a hipshot bridge id be willign to part with for a mid-low price.

    pm if ya intereted, for 2 5 string black , 2 4 string golds
     
  11. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Not necessary, it's rather easy to prep planks to good enough quality.
    Man, you've got a great start!
    Don't bother about band saw and sander! At least not for starters. A DIY jig saw (which you have!) is good enough for the band saw jobs, except for thinning wide planks.
    The plunge router will do as planer, and of course do all the other router things, with some clever jigs.
    A drill press is gold! "Waste" your money there instead!
    I built the LoW with a lot less power tools, but I had to borrow a drill press for some instances...
    Perfect start!

    Other advice?
    - Make templates in MDF or plywood. Simplyfies a lot. I think...
    - A neck pocket may be tidious to do with the needed precision. OTOH, the BO neck is much simpler. Your choice.
    - Truss rod: simple and cheap does the job. I made my own double rod, single acting, from Koch's instructions. Neat, simple and functioning.
    - Just go slow. Low pace, lots of thinking, patience, measure twice or more before cutting, more patience... Get the drift?
     
  12. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    With a good straightedge you can use one as a jointer [if you have to], if you can't use a hand plane.
     
  13. i think you should definitely put in a truss rod, leaving that out is just a bad idea. plus it will give you practice installing one before you do it on your next project.

    go to e-bay and type in "body blank"
    there is an alder one on there for $40 buy it now, and a mahogany one for $50 buy it now

    or you could go even more inexpensive and just go to your local hardware store and get some poplar (or maple if they sell it). if they do sell maple, you could possibly find some nice enough pieces for the neck

    as far as an inexpensive fretless board i would suggest lmii.com, they have very reasonable prices, and very nice stuff

    and i agree that if you have a jigsaw, you don't need a band saw for your first project. last i heard, jp cuts out all of his body blanks with a jigsaw.
     
  14. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Cool guys, thanks for all of the help and info! I'll keep you guys posted on what I actually end up doing.
     
  15. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    A jigsaw that can take that kind of abuse and be accurate enough for instrument building will cost around the same price as a cheap bandsaw. Personally, excluding bosch, I hate the things. If you already have it, use what you have, if you go tool shopping get a bandsaw, they save a lot of time, and frustration.
     
  16. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    watch out on the e-bay body blanks. Sometimes they way over charge on shipping...for that $ you could get a swamp ash from Gallery..Tom
     
  17. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Home depot has a reasonable band saw for $99. My jig saw is OK, but isn't going to be very accurate for cutting a body that's 1 3/4" thick. It will be good for now cutting test shapes out of MDF.

    eBay can be deceptive, i know, you always have to watch what people want for shipping.

    So, I almost definitely am going to need a bandsaw and a drill press.
     
  18. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Picture yourself cutting out a body and the distance between the saw blade and the saw housing. You will find that the very smallest band saw that will work will be a 12" one.....Tom
     
  19. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Ah, I see your point. I didn't think about that. Is it not possible to cut it with the thick side to the right of the blade instead of the left?
     
  20. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    Yes. For most shapes you have to do this on a 14".
     



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