Five string fretless build starting

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jisch, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. Thanks.

    My dad makes wooden clocks as a hobby, he hand cuts every gear out of birch plywood, I can't imagine how tedious that is! The clocks work great during the winter (though he's constantly adjusting things and trouble shooting them) in the summer the wood swells and they stop working until the drier weather comes around. All of his clock gears are covered with little pencil marks where the clock stopped and he was trying to figure out which gear has a problem. He has patience, that's for sure.
    gsnad2000, Will_White and Fat Freddy like this.
  2. Doing a check of where things will land. I've got the next two weeks off so I should make some good progress (edit last picture had the fingerboard on upside down):

    Unfortunately I don't know what of my tools I have at my disposal right now. I pulled a bunch of stuff aside before they emptied my garage of all the "saved" stuff, I can't remember what I grabbed, hopefully my shinto rasp at a minimum!
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
    BritFunk and Fat Freddy like this.
  3. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Looking like it's going to be the ultimate 'camo' bass.....

    Hope you find your rasp....:thumbsup:
    Jisch likes this.
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Good to see you back building, sub'd per usual. The wood choices look amazing!
    Jisch likes this.
  5. I got the back of the neck cut - I made crosscut slices at the appropriate depth with the table saw (one each at the bottom of the volute, the end of the neck contour and at the top of the body), used the bandsaw to take off the material in between, then routed it down to thickness. If I trusted myself on the bandsaw more this would have been a quicker operation, but who's going for quick?

    I got the sides of the neck established using a straightedge clamped to the top and a router. I am leaving the sides of the neck parallel in the body, so I had to make two passes - one at the depth of the top and the second one deeper. The camera angle is weird here, but you can see the routes establishing the side of the neck:

    And here you can see where the two levels of routing come in play:

    Next I'll use the bandsaw and oscillating sander to bring the sides of the neck in and then cut the headstock to thickness. Overall a good day in the shop despite being tired!
    BritFunk, ctmullins and Fat Freddy like this.
  6. I'm with Fat Freddy!

  7. Already decided, it's going on the back!
  8. I routed the sides of the neck all the way down:


    A bit of chambering:

    I routed the control cavity from the inside then had my dad cut out the cover using a scroll saw and a very fine blade. I've used that scroll saw before, it takes a while to be proficient - as I said above he uses it to cut clock gears, he's quite proficient.

    You can see where we drilled the hole, I'll have to see what I can do to hide that - maybe it will be an indent to remove the cover. It's my first time doing something like this, it looks great.
    Fat Freddy and Will_White like this.
  9. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    That walnut looks good enough to eat
    Jisch likes this.
  10. I cut the headstock down tonight. I have a love/hate relationship with that bandsaw. I have had it wander mightily, especially when I'm cutting something thick, so I always leave a lot of room, just in case. Many times (like tonight) it works perfectly. I could have cut this pretty close to the line and not had a problem. I haven't decided what I will laminate on this (if anything - that wenge looks pretty awesome), but I'll plane it down with my router before I glue wings on.

    Next I need to finalize the body shape on the top, locate and do the routes for the pickups. I'm surprised how fast this is proceeding, I don't expect to get much done over the next few days, but I think by the end of next week I should have this ready for finishing.
    lbridenstine and Fat Freddy like this.
  11. I got a good couple hours in the shop today.

    First up - pickup routes:
    I'm using Alumitones in this bass, they are not solid, they are shaped like a bench. I don't like that you can see space under them if you route like you would for a regular pickup, so I route a T on one side (to accommodate the wiring) and a line on the other side. I drilled it out then routed this freehand staying just inside the line - I am sure that freehanding is going to catch up to me sometime, but I don't have a bearing bit small enough to fit inside this anyway:

    Then I used a flat file to square up the corners, I undercut the sides a bit so it's nice and tight up top, but room underneath:

    Here the top route is still rough:

    and here it's straightened out:

    It seems like a trivial step, but it took a good half hour per pickup.

    Next I routed for the pickups and wires underneath the top. The top is nice and tight, but underneath the top doesn't need to be as tight (in fact it makes things more difficult if it is tight underneath). I marked out where the pickups would go and freehanded the routes, then routed in some wiring channels. Given the limited route for each pickup, I had to make sure that I could feed the wires through. I clamped it all together and had no problem getting the wires through. I need to make sure the glue doesn't fill them in when I put the top on.


    And finally I started working on the headstock. I need to glue some wings on and figure out what I'm doing for a shape and top laminate.

    Next up I need to trim the fingerboard off flush then install the fretlines. This one will have fretlines on the side of the fingerboard, nothing on the front.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  12. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Oh man....That is going to be one pretty bass...:thumbsup::)
    Jisch likes this.
  13. I put an Alumitone in my six string bass and really like the sound. It's one of those Tobias Toby Pro that is quite nice but weighed a ton. I took the pickup and preamp out and also did some hack job chambering. It now sounds better and is much lighter. I think you'll like tone of them. You're going to have a beautiful looking and sounding bass.
  14. I've used them before in another bass, agreed they sound great. I need to decide on whether to coat the fretboard with CA or Epoxy, it will be fretless. The last one I used Alumitones on I coated in CA and used roundwounds, I am, more or less, duplicating that instrument here.
  15. Another couple hours today.
    I used the router bit with the bearing to trim up the sides of the fingerboard, I also installed register pins (finish nails) so I could take the board and an off:

    One thing about Ziricote - the stuff loads up sandpaper like nobody's business, I can't wait to radius it :vomit:

    The headstock was a bit thick and had some irregularities on the back (I cut it on the bandsaw), so a router plane was in order:


    The top is really thick on this one, I had to route it thinner for the pots to make it through. I traced the control cavity off the back and freehanded it, I'm getting good at freehanding, maybe getting a bit too comfortable.

    It lines up really well:

    ...and finally I glued up the wings to the headstock. I felt like maple was the best way to go here. I haven't drawn out a design yet, but I'll probably copy the one from the wave bass, as closely as I can.

    I need to figure out something for side dots. I had a bunch of different types and sizes "in stock" before the fire, so I totally forgot about it, that might stall my build unless I can find something around here to use (any ideas welcomed - they will be on a white wood, so something dark/black would be best - maybe I'll stop at a craft store and see what they have that I could use.

    Then I guess I'll install some dowels and use the top to flush up the back walnut, then roundover, body and neck carving - this thing is moving fast now.
  16. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Feast thy eyes upon the greatest youtube channel in existence: Making A Large Wheel Skeleton Clock - YouTube
    SLivinghouse likes this.
  17. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
  18. rwkeating


    Oct 1, 2014
    I missed this in previous pictures, but did you add wood over the scarf joint to make a volute? If you added it, was there a trick to get it to fit well (due to the angle?)
  19. There is no scarf joint, it was a 2" thick neck blank and I just cut it at an angle. I haven't ever done a scarf joint, it's on my list of new things to do for sure.
    rwkeating likes this.
  20. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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