Four string fretted bolt on, home made plywood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jisch, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. I have a maple neck and a ton of thin (0.30") pieces of soft maple. I was thinking it would be cool to laminate together a bunch of the maple to make a body blank. The laminates are not very flat, but I tried putting them in the vacuum bag with some mdf on the bottom, the pressure of the bag makes them pretty flat. I figure the moisture of the glue will help to release the warp as well.

    I've got most of the pieces cut and sanded. I sanded them with an orbital sander as I think by the time it got done through the sanding planer would be both cracked in half and way too thin to use.

    I'll post up some pics of the wood later. I think I need to find one more piece of wood to get to 1.5" thickness.
  2. William Shafer

    William Shafer

    Apr 25, 2017
    Jisch, you'll have to show us pic's when you've glued it up! Sounds similar to my last and current build. The lamination's are a lot of fun but a lot of extra work too. :p
  3. I will get some pics, this is just as likely to end up a piece of weird plywood as becoming a bass. I don't think so, but at this point it's a distinct possibility. All the laminations will be maple, although I'm considering putting some black think laminate between some of the layers. The thing is all the layers are different thicknesses so putting black in there might accentuate that in a bad way. I'll have to look at things tomorrow.
  4. Here's most of the stack of wood that will be laminated together (still have one set gluing up). The vacuum bag squeezed all this flat yesterday. Hoping for the best. I'll get to glue up tonight maybe. I think I'm going to glue up all of it except on piece, that way I can cut the control cavity out and do chambering, then I'll glue up the last piece after that's done. I need to pick the order of these so that cool parts end up in cool places - there are knots, figuring and ambrosia throughout.

    Duder likes this.
  5. I glued it up this morning. I put a black veneer just before the last piece on the back, I'll put another one right before the front. The thickness is quite variable, I don't know how this is going to work out. I'll have to see how things look once they come out of the bag.

    Frederiek and Duder like this.
  6. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
  7. It will definitely be unique! I'm thinking I'll have to do some kind of "carved" top to accommodate the variations in thickness. I just noticed the piece I have for the front is wedge shaped, so that's going to add to the weirdness.
  8. Glue up looks amazing. this might actually work!

    This is the back:

    Not glued on, but this is the front (I think):
    BritFunk, reverendrally and mapleglo like this.
  9. I got the chambering and the control cavity drilled/routed today. I'll try to get the pickup hole (going to be a single EMG pickup) done tomorrow. This one's going to be a tiny body and a long thin upper arm. I built a short scale not long ago and I like the look of that body, adapting a bit for this one.
  10. A few pics of progress
    Laying things out:


    pickup route with wiring channel and basic shape cut:

    A few side shots, no gaps anywhere and nice contrast between the different layers. There will be two more layers on this, a cap piece and another black laminate:

    The top has a bit of a high wave/ridge in the middle, I'll run it through the planer a few times and it should be good to go.
    chinjazz, William Shafer and cdlynch like this.
  11. I was away on business this week (San Francisco is a fun town!). I got back this morning after a no sleep red-eye, why I continue to book red eye flights is beyond me. In any event not a great day to do anything on basses, but I did cut out the control cavity cover. I use a scroll saw my dad has, he's much more proficient with it than I am, so I usually have him do the cut. I figured since this is a spec build, I'd do it myself and get some practice. It's a bit oddly shaped, but it came out decent:
    chinjazz, Duder and William Shafer like this.
  12. I got the veneer cut and did the glue up this morning. after getting all the glue applied and placing it in the bag I realized I forgot to route for the pickup on the top. I normally do this before I glue the top on, that way I can work it from both sides, it makes it easier to use files and whatnot and get things perfect. Oh well, it's a minor thing, I'll just have to do it the traditional way.
    TwinDad likes this.
  13. So nice to get a couple of solid hours in the shop. I know I was pushing it with the glue, it was probably only drying for four hours inside the bag and an hour or two outside. At first I was just going to trim off the edges, then just a fill holes to find the pickup routes I did before, then before I know it I'm down there for 3 hours.

    I didn't have my phone with me so I didn't take any intermediate steps.
    Sides look so good, it's like I planned this or something


    Since the top isn't flat, I had to shim up the template, I wonder if you're going to be able to tell it's not flat or level?



    The last thing I did was clean the laminate out of the control cavity when disaster struck. The bit slipped out of the router, I was trying to extend the reach of the bit, I must not have had enough of it in the colette. I actually didn't notice that it went through the front until when I was vacuuming out the dust:
    20170722_181840_zpsakac1goh.jpg \

    The hole is bigger than I would have drilled for a pot and closer to the edge of the control cavity, but I can fill it in a bit and, with a knob on it, no one except you and me will know about it.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
    JIO, scourgeofgod, bastav and 2 others like this.
  14. I got the neck mounted and the body roundover done today. I guess this neck and the last one I routed (they both came from Guitar Fetish) have a slightly different profile. I tried it in the template and it seemed exactly the same, but there's a bit of a gap. I'll fill it in with some wood. With the grain going straight up it should be invisible once I'm done.


    I will likely do a bit more carving on the front, but here's the body carve, it looks cool with that black stripe, but the layers don't stick out like I thought they would, I suspect after the finish goes on it will pop a bit more.

    And my patch to cover up where the router bit went through. It doesn't look great, but most of this will be drilled out and none of it will be visible under the knob.
    JIO, Duder and bastav like this.
  15. Just looking at these pics, the shape of this thing is funky for sure!
    William Shafer likes this.
  16. William Shafer

    William Shafer

    Apr 25, 2017
    Maybe a funky shape, but I tell ya I like the slim waist you did! I did something similar on my first, love the smaller bodies.
    Jisch likes this.
  17. I've been sneaking into the shop for short periods of time and working on shaping the body. I'm trying to add more flow to the body, it's looking great.
  18. I think I have the basic shape done now, some of this will be hard to see in pics.

    I put in contours on both the upper and lower bouts that add a little swoop to the front and expose the layers a bit:

    And of course a belly cut:

    In my mind this build was a bit of a throw away/prototype considering I'm using wood scraps. I really didn't expect to even have a functioning body at the end here. Now as I work on it I'm starting to really dig it. I might even add a second pickup (which would take some tricky drill work!). I didn't really vet out the shape and it turns out that lower horn was too tight to the neck for me to get my hand in there comfortably. I reshaped the back of the horn, by taking off a bit there is no more interference. It's probably hard to see, but it looks cool - another "not a mistake, a feature":

    The lams look cool. I can't wait to see what happens when the finish hits it. The middle lams are similar color, but the grain is very different, should be cool:

    and I used magnets to hold the control cavity cover on, it came out nicely. I did put one magnet in backwards so I had to pull the support out before the glue dried, sand it down and flip it over. Good thing I noticed before the CA glue dried. I have to clean it up a bit - the spot where I drilled is easily seen so I need to fill that in.

    BritFunk, JIO, Duder and 1 other person like this.
  19. I ordered a second EMG pickup and an Audere Preamp for this build. I hope it all fits in the control cavity! I guess it's not a budget build anymore. I have a bunch of sanding to do, however I'll have to wait for the pickup to make a lot more progress.
  20. The way it worked out the top of the bass is convex with the high spot being right in front of where I put the bridge pickup (there will be a neck pickup on Friday). So I used that high spot for the depth of the neck. The back of the body (toward the bridge) also slopes down. I checked it today and it makes enough of a difference that the string saddles would be maxed out, or close to it:

    I built a ramp out of more scrap wood (actually just cut off the end of one of these boards that was cut at an angle). I made it exactly the size of the bridge so I had to position it correctly:

    I doweled it in place and clamped it:

    It probably could have been even thicker than this, but I didn't want it to be noticeable. I can also route the neck pocket deeper, if necessary.
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