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First Build: 4string through-neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Zwieke, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    So, let me start by introducing myself. My name is Joey, 26yo and from the Netherlands. I have been playing the bass for about 10 years, and have been occasionally passively browsing talkbass since 2006. My primary instument currently is a Fender Aerodyne Jazz which I love to bits.
    I am currently starting up my first build, and as I have gotten so much valuable information from the luthier's corner here at talkbass, I figured I should share my progress with you guys.

    First of all, let me say that I have very very little woodworking experience. (I once hung a picture frame, does that count?) So please stand by for some major mistakes from my end, and facepalming on yours. ;)

    So to introduce my first plans, of which the design will most probably change during the build:
    jazz-inspired 4-string
    through neck
    single string bridges (for no other reason than the s00per cust0m lookzZz)
    24 fret
    Seymour Duncan J-pickups which I salvaged from another bass I hardly play anymore.
    MOP block inlays (not sure about that yet)

    Woods to be used:
    Maple neck with Padouk tapered laminate (for an idea on my plans see pic below)
    Bubinga body
    Wenge fretboard


    The current status is that I have made but still am refining my MDF routing templates:
    Here they are on top of the slab of Bubinga which will become the body. (the picture does not do it justice)

    Besides this I am working on sawing the pieces of the neck laminate. The naive and unexperienced woodworker in me, thought that with some patience and slow going, I would be able to do this without a bandsaw, using my Jigsaw instead:

    Which ofcourse, or so I found out, is a great way to mess up some beautiful pieces of wood. It turned out that the blades would catch and follow the grain, resulting in cuts like these (the second cut which diverts to the rightside is an 'exitwound' from a cut made from the other side of the wood :rollno:):

    So I kind of had to conclude that I have to have a bandsaw for this work. Which I don't, and don't plan on getting one anytime soon; mainly because of the limited room available in my shop. Did I say shop? I meant bicycle-shed. But, after some inquiries, I'm glad to have found a friend of a friend who owns a woodworking shop sporting a decent bandsaw, which I can use the coming weekend.

    So... that's it for now. Not so much progress (stupid jigsaw), but perhaps you have some pointers or remarks on the design already?
  2. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    Yeah, jigsaws aren't fun.

    This looks like it'll be really nice when it's done! The only thing I would change is to spread the knobs apart a little bit, they look really close to each other. That's a very minor thing though.
  3. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    Good point! I haven't really put that much attention towards knob placement yet, I will have a closer look at that once I get to designing the control cavity.

    I'm also not sure whether to use black or chrome knobs yet. I do have a set of both which I can borrow from other basses to try out. So I will just try what looks best and order a set accordingly.
  4. CarbonTom


    Aug 23, 2013
    Looks like a great build. Subbed!
  5. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    Small update.

    So I had the Maple and Padouk which is to become the neck sawed at the woodshop, in a slightly straigther fashion than I was able to manage with my jigsaw :hyper:

    Next up is the process of glueing the neckpieces, then to shape the tapered laminate, and then to glue the neck into one piece.

    First thing I have to do is glue on a piece on the Padouk lengthwise, since the only padouk I could find was a bit too short for this neckthrough build. Visually this will not be a problem, as the glueline will be at the spot where the bridge-pickup will be in the end.. The neckpieces are only about an inch thick, so I need to glue in another piece on the bottom to make it run through the body. I chose this method because it's a bit less wasteful than using one 2" thick beam for the entire neck.

    A diagram that show how the pieces will be glued (sideview):

    The bottom piece comes from the same piece of wood as the 'tailpiece', and is essentially bookmatched so that the endgrains visually match:


    So, the necklaminates layed out:

    I decided to first glue on the tailpieces for the padouk. Had to get a bit creative with regards to clamping, since I dont have any 4 foot / 1.2 meter clamps:

    And the heelpieces for the maple parts are glued on as well:

    Good thing about this construction, is that the 'scraps' should yield another bolt/glue-on bass or guitar neck for a next build (Yes, I know I just started with my first build):

    I also started rough-ing out the bodyshape on the bandsaw in the woodshop... Check out that lovely Bubinga :) (I wet the wood for this picture)

    As you can tell by the extremely burned sides, the bandsaw was not really sharp, and the blade was not really suitable for this kind of work. :crying: So I decided to quit that effort. Still thinking for ways on how to do this with the little tools I have. ...

    Anyway, the coming week I will be glueing all the necklaminates, and hopefully also start to cut the padouk taper.
  6. Puavo


    Mar 19, 2011
    Looking good! Are you planning to drill out the body wings or weight relieve them in any way? My experience with bubinga bodied basses suggests that might be a good idea..
  7. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    I have not decided yet... Mainly because I am also not really sure what would be a good way to go about that. Since the bodywings are solid pieces, there is no top or backplate which would be able to hide chamber holes.... Perhaps I could drill in with a forstnerbit from the sides which will attach to the neck... Not sure if that is a good idea, or whether this would present problems wrt stability of the glued connection?

    Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to chamber these wings?
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Going neckthru for a first build is a delicate choice.
    The main mistakes are underestimating the size of the heel and installing the fretboard parallel to the body.
    Over time the hell WILL move and leave the bass impossible to adjust if a proper angle isn't given. Because you know, you can't shim a neckthru.
  9. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    Jazz Ad, thanks for your pointers!

    I was actually planning to slightly recess the bridge(s) into the body, so the saddles line up with the height of the fretboard. If I understand correctly, this should also solve the angleproblem am I right?
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    No actually it could make it worse.
    You want to do the opposite. Give a slight angle to the board, a bit like on an URB but less pronounced. Roughly 2°.
    It can't be seen but this way you will have room to adjust string height.
    If over time the neck is pulled back by strings, which happens very often, you won't have to dig into the top.
  11. JonDark


    May 21, 2013
    Detroit MI
    Very cool looking concept. Looking forward to your progress. :bassist:

    One thing you could look into as far as being limited with tools etc.
    Look into some of your local/area custom wood working shops and ask if they ever do small blocks of space rental/shop use. I've done that on a handful of occasions over the years for certain projects where i didn't have the tools/space needed. That way for very delicate cuts or use of proper tools where it is integral, you could have a way to due so when needed. Prices were always good and well worth it for me.
  12. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    @ JonDark - That is a good suggestion. Like said earlier in this thread I already have been to a shop in the neighbourhood, which allowed me to precisely cut the necklaminates. I guess beyond this, I can do most things in my small shed... Some things just might take a bit more time and elbow grease by doing them by hand... And if I can't figure out how to do them by hand, I could always revisit the wood shop.

    @ Jazz Ad... I think I'm too thick to understand the difference :confused:
    As far as I can figure, there are 3 things that are of concern here: saddle, nut and the 24th fret. Tuning the relative heights of these three should give me ideal stringplacement (/action). Wether one acchieves these relative heights by putting the neck/body at an angle, or by lowering/heightening the saddle should not matter at all, or so I would think? Or am I missing something here? :eyebrow: Please help me understand.

    As far as the result of the tension of the strings on the shape of the neck... I was intending to keep this managable by installing Carbon stiffening rods and a two-way adjustable trussrod.
  13. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    To come back to this some more, I've tried to illustrate what I am saying:


    My point is, that as long as the thee red squares (nut, 24th fret, saddle) are tuned well so that the string (green) is parallel to the fingerboard; it should be irrellevant how this is acchieved? Be it by lowering the bridge, or putting the neck at an angle?

    am I right? I would love to hear your views.
  14. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    You are correct. A neck angle is not necessary at all, unless you are bent on using a tall bridge, like a bass TOM, and you don't want to recess it.

    Causally, I think it's the other way around. Some players find an angled neck more comfortable, and they describe it as wrapping around them. So with an angled neck, you need a tall bridge, so the TOM was developed as an adjustable solution to that. That's my theory anyway.

    The causal order doesn't matter that much though. The point is: Unless you want to angle your neck, or you want to use a non-flat-mount bridge, you don't need an angle. You just need your neck pocket to be deep enough to bring the surface of the fingerboard to the correct height, which depends mostly on the height of your bridge.
  15. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The issue with drawing A is that over time, if the neck folds a bit toward the body, you have no solution to fix it but to dig even deeper. It also leaves you with little room between strings and top.
    With drawing B, all you have to do is set the saddles lower.
    Necks don't ever tend to unfold so you'd better start with as much room as possible.
  16. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    That's what the truss rod is for.
  17. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    But could I not 'dig deep enough' in the first place, so that there is room left to lower the saddles?
    Besides, the bowing of the neck is to be compensated with the trussrod; to provide a counterforce to the working of the strings. I kind of expect to have enough room for adjustment though setting the trussrod for it to have a negligable effect beyond initial calculations wrt the saddleheights... I get the feeling that you are trying to tell me that this is a wrongful expectation?

    edit: HaMMerHeD beat me to it :p
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    The issue isn't with neck bow. It is with the hell assembly rotating over time. You can't fix this with a trussrod, just like a trussrod can't replace a shim.
    You can dig deep in the first place indeed, or make the neck so that the fretboard sits higher than the top, at least 1cm.
    Putting an angle between fretboard and top is a good solution because the angle just becomes smaller as the instrument ages.
  19. What are you talking about? The angle becomes smaller as the instrument ages? That's utter nonsense! That would make all vintage instruments unplayable unless fixed...
  20. Zwieke


    Oct 21, 2005
    Neckangle considerations aside, I would like to bump the question above.

    Does anybody have any tips on chambering / reducing weight on the 'one-piece' bodywings?