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Franken-Fender Assembly

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by oceanoasis, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    This is more of a refinish and parts assembly than a actual build:smug: but it was a great learning process and it should sound really good when it's done.

    Started with a Squire p bass special body that I scored off ebay for 60 bucks. Great deal. Came with pickups, guard, bridge, strap holders, neckplate and screws.
    View attachment 122154

    It was in pretty good shape when I got it but I had other plans. A few things I noticed though. The neck pocket was heavily coated in black paint, and even worse the bottom of the pocket was super rough, like think 20 grit sandpaper. The tone transfer must not have been much out of the factory.

    Anyway, on to the stripping. Holy crap batman, can you say thick?? The finish was minimum 3/16 inch thick. I used an industrial strength paint stripper bath over a weekend to get most of it off. I just had to bast it and flip it every few hours. Just like turkey!!

    View attachment 122155
    Once I managed to get it all scraped and stripped down to bare wood, then it was time for sanding. I didn't take any pics during this process cause it's just really boring wood. I started the process with 120 grit and worked my way up to 400.

    Don't get me wrong, it's agathis, so not much in the way of wood grain goodness, but it is nice and tightly grained and glued together properly at least. While it was in that state I had a few things to do before I did the finish. I routed out the control cavity a little bigger, routed out the output jack hole on the edge of the bass and sharpened up the back angle on the top front of the bass. I thinned out the waist just a smidge as well. Then I sanded the snot out of it again and prepped for stain.
  2. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    View attachment 122156

    Here's the sanded and prepped version. You can see the enlarged control cavity and if you look close where the wire comes out you'll see the output cavity in the edge.
  3. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    So now on to staining. What I was going for was a bright orange transparent with a fade to brown/black on the edges. Tobacco burst or whatever. So I get on down to the paint store and got 1 oz of bright orange paint pigment and 1 oz of black pigment and a little can of clear stain.

    I started by mixing the pigment and little stain together to kind of thin it out a bit. Did this with both colours, each in separate sealable jars.

    I started with the orange and brushed it on. Not thick but not thin either. Good coverage. After about 20 mins it started to get tacky. At this point i started working the stain and orange pigment into the wood by rubbing. Keep on rubbing until it's pretty much all off and the wood is now stained orange.

    Repeat this process with the black on edges and while rubbing the stain out I also tried to create the blend between the orange and black. It came out kind of cool the orange fades to brown and then to black. It's not perfect and it took a few more sessions of light sanding to lighten up certain areas for restaining or to help the blending, but I'm really pleased with how it came out. Sprayed it with a semi gloss finish.

    After I finished with the stain, I sprayed on a few coats of varathane, sanding lightly in between and presto, that part is over.

    View attachment 122157

    View attachment 122158
  4. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    Keep posted for more!!
  5. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    Looks good so far.
  6. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

  7. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    Well, it's just about done now. I've lined the pickup and control cavities with copper shielding tape I acquired at a local electronics store. I purchased five feet of it and it's just about gone. I spent the better part of a day just cutting and sticking the copper tape down. It takes a little patience but it wasn't too hard. I even managed to snake a thin strip of copper down the jazz pickup wiring hole! I checked it with a meter and I get conductivity everywhere. From any point to any point it is all connected.

    So with that done, it was time to mount the bridge and strings and set the neck. I got the neck off ebay and it was the most expensive part of the project. The neck is a Fender, made in Japan, 1970 re-issue precision bass neck with rosewood fret board. One of the first things I noticed was that the neck pocket was a bit too big and the screw holes in the body didn't line up with the screw holes in the neck. Bummer.

    Problem number one. Tighten up the neck pocket. I found a piece of counter top laminate kicking around and it was the perfect thickness to use as a shim. I cut a small piece and glued it into the neck pocket on the bottom edge and it worked perfectly. Now when the neck is positioned in the pocket it sits nice and snug up against the walls and back of the neck pocket.

    Next up is to plug and re drill the mounting holes in the neck. I set the neck into the pocket and clamped it down. I used a drill bit the same size as the holes in the body to "spot" the locations of the holes in the neck. Just run the drill bit in until it touches the neck and creates a dimple. Then I removed the neck and drilled the pilot holes for the screws into the back of the neck. Scary stuff. I drilled down 3/4" of an inch and I was super careful. I didn't want to drill through the fret board or anything.

    Once I got the holes in it was time to mount the bridge and neck to the body and check the setup.

    For the bridge, I've upgraded it to a Badass bridge. I got it in black, which I thought would be anodized black but is just painted black. Oh well. Before I put the bridge on, I used a piece of 200 grit sandpaper resting on a sheet of glass to remove the paint from the bottom of the bridge. Just put the sandpaper on the glass, put the bridge on the sandpaper and start sliding the bridge around on the sandpaper. This will remove any paint from the bottom of the bridge and also take the high spots down so that maximum contact can be made with the wood..

    I've decided to string this bass BEAD so I broke out a new set of strings and threaded them onto the bass. I did have to slightly open one of the loading holes in the bridge to accomodate the B string. I also need to open the slots in the nut to accomodate the wider strings.

    I messed around with the setup for a bit and it's now set up roughly where I want it.

    Next up...pickups and electronics installation.

    I'd like to upload more pics for you all to see, but my limit has been reached:rollno: I'll try to figure out something so I can get some more pics up here.

    Stay tuned.
  8. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
  9. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
  10. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    Wow, I really like the shielding work. Where do you get the copper?
  11. Really nice work. Forgive me if you've already mentioned, but what kind of pickguard are you gonna put on there?
  12. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Can't wait to see how this turns out.
  13. oceanoasis


    Feb 16, 2009
    Well it's just about finished now. Over the weekend, a friend and I got the final setup done on the bass. It plays like a dream now but it took a bit of work.

    I ended up doing a bit of machining on the neck due to several issues. I noticed that the back of the neck where it sits in the pocket was not flat at all. There was a convex bow of about .025 thousanths running the width of the neck. This meant that the neck was not sitting flat in it's pocket and not making good contact with the bottom of the neck pocket. The solution was to throw it up on the mill and very carefully machine the back of the neck so it was flat again. I then used a tapered shim made of cedar to raise and tilt the neck so the strings ran straight along the neck. :hyper: THat took a bit of trial and error and lots of sanding.

    THe nut needed filing as well. I have set the bass up in BEAD tuning, so the nut was filed to accomodate the bigger strings. By using a feeler guage I filed the nut until all the strings were sitting about .018 above the first fret. THat made a huge difference in how the strings sat and the rest of the setup was easy. Minor adjustment on the truss rod and some string height adjustments at the bridge and WOW it played like magic and felt really good in my hands.

    I have a set of nordstrand pups that I'll be installing. I'll be using a telecaster harness with a four way switch to get series/parallel capability. Right now, I just have the p bass pup installed cause the jazz pick up does not fit in the pocket just yet.

    Anyway, the pick guard is aluminum check plate sprayed with bedliner. It's a beauty and really sets the orange off nicely.

    So thats it. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I'm gonna enjoy rocking out with the new bass.

  14. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    Neat. Needs a better picture though.

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