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Fun with the Breed - New Hambone Custom Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hambone, Oct 4, 2003.

  1. Well, here it is finally!!!

    What we have here is the latest project in an ongoing self directed apprenticeship in the design and building of bass instruments. A chambered, walnut/ash, active, 4 banger:


    The specs:

    - 34" scale
    - Flame maple neck w/abalone inlays and veneered headstock
    - All Gotoh hardware
    - Carvin preamp
    - Bookmatched loopy grain walnut top
    - Fully chambered walnut/ash body
    - 9 coats of Tru-Oil
    - 3 coats of Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane clear
    - VERY light!!

    This bass is a bundle of "first time" attempts at several fab techniques. Most of the design was driven by the Wishnevsky discussions. As sort of a response to Wish's basses, I wanted to make one with common power and hand tools and simple techniques to show it can be done well.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that the neck is not completely mine. I bought this P neck from Magic Dragon nearly 2 years ago. It was a production line take-off that didn't have a finish and had been drilled but never mounted. Using this as a start, I went to work. First, I filled and finished off all of the original screw holes with hardwood dowels. Next, I narrowed the neck with my own jig to be a Jazz width from the original P. Then, I reshaped the back of the neck to be much thinner. The original shape approached a ball bat profile. This involved reshaping the volute and heel profiles. Then, I shaped and redressed the frets. Next, I laminated a Walnut veneer to the face of the headstock and installed a brass nut. Abalone inlays were the next step. This was a REAL learning process. The final step was applying a Tru-Oil finish to the back of the neck and a catalyst hardened polyurethane finish to the fretboard and headstock.

    All in all it's a very nice playing instrument. It's got a brighter tone than I might have expected but that's one reason to have a 3 band EQ on board.

    Look now cuz this things going back under the knife for a refinish. The photos don't show it (on purpose??) but my compressor failed during the 3rd coat of acrylic polyurethane clear coat.
  2. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    pm me with pricing information..... i want one in a 5. seriously
  3. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    A 5 fretless for me!!

    If you take orders of course... Like Jon PM me.
  4. Looks good, HB!! How about some clips of how she sounds non-EQ'ed and EQ'ed?

  5. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    Looks great Hambone!!
  6. nice wood cavity cover.

    also the pickups- did you buy them with the wood covers or veneer them yourself?

    speaking of refinishing I'm considering getting my Warmoth parts P bass refinished professionally, with the neck heel reshaped and steel inserts + bolts + collars fitted to improve top frets access.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    looks great hammy. very impressive. i want to come over and play in your new shop too :D please? this looks fun.
  8. Thanx for the compliments (especially from you Dude, that means alot!).

    MTR, the pups are Gotoh single coils. The covers are made from solid pieces of walnut that are routed from behind leaving a veneer thin top. I've got a coupla other ways to do these but my first try at the billet method worked well enough to do the second one.

    You also reminded my that the neck has steel inserts and brass machine screws. That's the only way I attach bolt-ons.

    The new shop is in the process of being built-out. Since I HAD to finish this baby for the Orlando GTG so there was some work done in the new shop but things are really incomplete. I figure it'll take until the end of October to get it ready for a real move-in.
  9. As one of the first to get "hands on" with the Hambone Custom Jazz, I gotta say the Hammy has done a first-rate job for a first time piece. I can't wait to see the next few editions, as these get better and better - heck this one is good enough to hold it's own with most J's I've played.

    Tonally, this thing is very punchy & clear, nice slap tone with the pickups 1/4 neck & 3/4 bridge, good P-ish tone full-on the neck pickup, and nice Jaco-esque slice & dice full-on the bridge pickup. Playability was excellent, despite Hammy's protestations that it really wasn't fully setup (I think the intonation was a squidge off) yet, good fretwork, and the neck was set with just the perfect amount of relief.

    All in all, get them orders in folks, these are a winner! :D

    Here's the niggles (please don't be upset Hammy, the bass rocks! :D):

    The Carvin preamp is beneath this bass, splurge on something good for the next one (Aguilar OBP-3 or the Demeter pre are my favs). Don't let the electronics sell the bass short!

    Try to get the final sanding/finishing a bit more fine, it looked a bit rough in places on the body, like you didn't fully finish sanding it.

    Check into some of the nicer J-pickups too, the Aeros or the Lindy Fralins, especially the noise-free ones (Gard HATES 60 cycle hum! ;) ).

    That's a short list, and they're nit-pickin' ones at that! Keep at it Hammy, I'm lookin' forward to the next ones! :D
  10. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    Your welcome Hambone...he wanna do a quick mod to my logo for a U-Retro??

    I want to order more T--Shirts from Ultragraphics but want the logo to show www.TheDudePit.com instead of www.Vintagebass.com in teh lower "banner". More people go to that URL than the other.

    Make that mod and I'll send ya a U-Retro!

  11. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    i would say to make the pickups an ala carte item. let the commisioner pick the pickups and the preamp and charge them accordingly. the veneer routes should work right?
    i would go with fralins and an aggie pre (although i have no problem with the carvin pre.
    these would have an excellent market for guys like nino who dont wanna take their 'dowsky's out to a dive. i was gonna start penny savin for a f bass or a used dowsky, but this is a nice medium, and it helps one of the nicest guys in the bass community.
  12. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    or maybe some duncans and a u retro....
  13. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    That is gorgeous!
  14. The pictures don't do it justice and I only saw it before assembly. The woodwork is truly exceptional.

    I have to agree with Gard. You've taken the time to make it as perfect as possible, don't handicap a premium bass with middle of the line electronics. Good enough just ain't good enough. :D
  15. That's a nice looking bass. Tell me something, Hammy, do my eyes deceive me or is that a pretty wide neck? Looking at the pic, it appears as if the strings are pretty far apart.. what's the spec there?

    (Oh, never mind... I just finished reading your first post re: narrowing down a P neck to Jazz width. I guess it's my eyes!)
  16. Dayum...you don't fool around with them jazzes,you go all out:p

    (thats a good thing of course)

    Nice bass:bassist:
  17. By-Tor


    Apr 13, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Hambone, I'm impressed with the pics, and you have some compliments from some great people who know what they're talking about.

    Great job. That bass would also be pretty awesome fretless. I love the walnut with the maple neck.
    Also the gold hardware looks good with the walnut.
    The pu coves really give the bass class.

    Everytime I think I know what I want my next bass to be, something else always grabs my attention.

    Good job Hambone. Keep it up.
  18. Thanx fellas,

    By-Tor, your post perfectly illustrates the quandry I get into when I'm building one of these things. There are soooo many interesting and cool features that could be integrated into a design that it sometimes gets very hard to settle on a look and make it happen. Sure, I make extensive plans on what I want to do, but somewhere in the middle of it all, a wild, hairy idea busts through the wall of my brain, grabs me by the throat and screams "DO IT THIS WAY!!". I, of course, am helpless to resist and I make the changes post haste :D

    This happened with the hardware choice. For most of the first part of the construction, the bass was to have black hardware. But, when I finished some early finish samples of the ash and walnut, it became apparent that this bass HAD to have gold hardware. I'm not a big fan of gold, but sometimes it's called for.

    The finish went this way also. From inception, the body and neck were to have an oil finish. That was the way it was going until I realized how susceptible the walnut with oil was to shop dings and scratches. This pushed me to finally do the poly finish. But even that was decided on 4 days before the GTG! The body was sanded and filled to the level I wanted - just enough grain left to give a slight tactile feel - enough to remind the handler that it was real wood. During spraying, things were going well when the compressor failed during the third coat(first flood coat). I wasn't going to be able to get the compressor back on line before the catalyst hardened the clear coat in the can so I was out of luck after only completing about 1/3 of the clear coat process. IF things had gone correctly, there would have been at least 2 more flood coats of clear followed by some micro-grit sanding and a polish/buff stage to bring the finish to a high gloss.

    I agree about the sound of the Carvin pre-amp in THIS particular bass. I happen to really like Carvin pre-amps and have used them in other projects with stellar success. They are well engineered, beautifully assembled, easy to install and aren't expensive. That is in strict contrast to my other fave electronics - Seymour Duncan. I'm looking at an MM preamp right now that is just a pile of parts. You even have to figure out how to mount the PCB on your own. Carvin preamps have surface mounted pots so this is taken care of. The one thing I don't agree with is putting high end electronics in what is essentially a $500-$600 bass. After all, Carvin uses these in nearly all of their basses and folks like them well enough. While it's been pointed out that the Carvin is underselling the instrument, a high-end preamp like Aguilar would be overkill for this bass. Sure it may sound better but the cost issue kills it for me. I want to take a practical approach to my building in the same way I approach buying instruments. But your input has not been lost to deaf ears. When I build a $1500 - $3000 instrument, I will put in electronics to match.;)

    There's lots more in store from my shop in the future. I've got plans on the computer right now for a neck-thru, hollow body, fretless, 5'er with spruce top. Not trying to make an acoustic bass, just use some of the properties of a hollow body to color the tone.

    I've also been working on a process for covering a fretless neck with a polyester micro-film. Different from laying down a pressure sensitive adhesive film, this is done by using special techniques and heat to apply the film. And probably the best feature of all is that this will be available in just about any color you want. More on this later.

    I should also thank Michael Burke, guitarist for our praise band in church. His commissioning of a Telecaster body (2 piece ash, flame ash top, binding - beautiful) paid for the construction of the thickness sander used extensively to make this bass. Saaaaaaalute!
  19. What is the actual weight of this bass?

    thinking. Treena
  20. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Oooo, thickness sander (drools on keyboard). I want one of those really bad .

    The bass looks great, Hambone! Is the top bookmatched or one piece? I couldn't tell from the photo. Only thing I don't like is the control knob placement doesn't really follow the body shape, but that's a minor nitpick.

    Speaking of praise bands, my practice starts in half an hour so I better get off the 'puter;)

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