Five string fretless build starting

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

  1. I meant to do that. I cut a slot in between the bookmatch and added a piece of wenge. It looks great.

    Then I started on the volute, lots more to do, this is way too big, but getting there:




    I did a bunch of clean up on the body, then I moved over to the wing bass (go look at that thread for updates).
    BritFunk and Fat Freddy like this.
  2. The neck felt ok, but it still felt big. I recalled something @Bruce Johnson said about thick necks usually were just thick shoulders. I spent a lot of time shaving down the shoulders. I left an extra 1/32" behind the truss rod, but I was super paranoid I would go through, so I pretty much left wenge stripe alone. After an hour I got it where I wanted it. I doubt you can tell here, but it's much thinner feeling.


    I drilled out for the tuners and cut the headstock:

    Even though it was too late to do anything about it, I figured I'd do a test fit:

    I cleaned it up a bit more after this picture.

    And finally I cleaned up the volute, it still might be a touch big, but it's close. I hacked a lot of it off freehand on the bandsaw, in retrospect probably a stupid risk at this point in the build (but it worked!).

    Next I need to figure out the control cover, I'm going to hold it on with magnets, I've never done that before.
  3. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    That bass is screaming out for black hardware in my most humble opinion :)
    SLivinghouse likes this.
  4. Yes, I agree. The bridge is black and chrome (I don't think i'll buy a new one of those), but I probably will buy black tuners. The pickups are chrome Alumitones, which have black bars (magnets), again I wouldn't change those out. Maybe I'll order the black tuners and see where I go from there, I can always use tuners.
    SLivinghouse and Fat Freddy like this.
  5. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Maybe black bushings, chrome posts and black tuning keys could work, and keep the black and chrome going.
    BritFunk likes this.
  6. Hey, that's a great idea!
    BritFunk likes this.
  7. Thanks for spending my money @Will_White, just ordered some black tuners. I will mix and match.
    Will_White and mapleglo like this.
  8. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Hey!....I'd like to take some of the blame for that too!.....:D
    Will_White likes this.
  9. absolutely! you started it.
    Fat Freddy likes this.
  10. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
  11. Ok, I came in after the decision was made so deserve no credit, but just want to say "Son, you did the right thing." That bass screams for black hardware. Chrome looks as out of place on that as a nun uniform on a Kardashian.
    Jisch likes this.
  12. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Isn't that what this whole forum is about:D Other people giving you ideas for how to spend your money on an addiction that's never satiated;) I can't really take credit for the idea though I got it from one of @JIOs builds.
    SLivinghouse likes this.
  13. I've never used magnets on a control cover before. The cover itself was too thin to recess the magnets so I had to put some helpers on the cover:

    The other magnets were recessed a bit:

    It worked out perfectly, we'll see how it works with the guts in it (I probably should have planned that before doing this). I wish that drill hole wasn't there, I'll have to see what I can do to hide it a bit.


    I also worked a bit on the fingerboard, that ziricote shines up beautifully, I have to go back to 220 to readdress some scratches, I got a little overexcited with the 600 grit - the non-scratched parts look fantastic, so shiny. I think I'll just run this with flatwounds and no CA or epoxy for now.
    Fat Freddy likes this.
  14. I started back up on this one tonight. It felt good to get the scrapers in my hands. I cleaned up the volute and the neck transition and cleaned up some (a lot) of scratches. I could have it ready for finishing by the weekend.

    ... and check out my cool yoga mat, it was only $13, nice and sticky too.

    Duder, bastav, Reno2 and 2 others like this.
  15. I did the CA thing today. It's not perfect, but it's good enough.


    After a coat of thick CA

    Partially sanded down and drop filled divots

    Getting close

    I put a layer of medium viscosity CA on then decided that i should really be using the radius block to sand and realized that I must not have finished sanding this before I put it away, oops, kind of had to start over

    This is a terrible picture, due to the bad (good?) reflections, but it's pretty smooth
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
    Fat Freddy, Will_White and bastav like this.
  16. I spent the morning sanding:

    And then I applied the first "soaking" coat of finish, front:

    Wow this back is pretty nice:
  17. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Wow that back is pretty nice!
  18. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    That's a pretty nice back :D
    ctmullins likes this.
  19. Yeah, that marbled walnut is pretty, well pretty pretty. The flames on the front are incredibly deep as well, it's going to be a nice looking instrument.

    I did the slurry sanding coat just now. It appears that the ziricote fingerboard is not playing nice with the tung oil finish. I've had this problem with other oily wood (I didn't realize ziricote was oily until now). The tung oil won't dry on those woods. So I have a strip of goo up and down the sides of the finger board. Not a big deal, once the finish is done I'll just wipe it off and condition the sides with lemon oil.

    I'll get a couple more coats today and maybe start putting it together before the weekend. I can't wait to be back on a fretless.
    Fat Freddy likes this.
  20. Minor update - it's looking pretty good. I wiped the non-drying tung oil off the edges of the fingerboard, it was annoying handling the instrument while trying to sand and do additional coats. The goop would stick to my fingers and get all over everything. Mineral spirits took it right off, then I taped it off, I'll decide what to do with it later.

    I sanded down the body with 320 this morning and added two coats of tung oil, unlike yesterday when it was cold damp, today is warm and dry, the coats are drying in less than a half hour. I'll do a couple more coats and see where I'm at by the end of today.
    Duder, mapleglo and Fat Freddy like this.
  21. Primary

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