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Homebuilt EUB build thread

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Videojunkie, Jan 19, 2021.


  1. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Greetings, longtime reader, finally bothered to get an account to post a build thread. I built several guitars years ago in highschool, and have always wanted to build a bass. This year I finally set my sights not only on building a new bass for me, but building an EUB. I play 5 string electric (low B) for church band, and there are a number of times I am kicking myself because I can't get that nice acoustic sound for songs from Rend Collective or a bowed sound for some hymns.

    After thinking it through, and doing a lot of hunting, I decided that I wanted to build a 5 string EUB with the same scale length as a long scale bass (34") so that my fingerings will all transfer. I also want to stick with the 5 string for the same reason, also we play enough stuff in Eb and that low D is so handy so it makes sense to me.

    I would appreciate any feedback or encouragement you have to offer through the process. As an electric player there are likely some mechanics of playing an upright that I am frankly ignorant of so if there are glaring problems that you see with the design please speak out!

    It will take a few months to build, and I will try to take pictures of the process as I go and post regularly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
    Beersurgeon likes this.
  2. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    How did I start down this road? I did some quick sketches to get my ideas out of my head, and onto paper. Here are a couple of paper sketches that I did early on in the design process to figure out what I wanted to build.

    2020-12-10 10.19.58.jpg 2020-12-07 11.22.02.jpg

    Early inspiration was a semi hollow body electric. I wanted something that was relatively easy to build (limited curves) but still emulated the classic shape of a double bass.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
    Beersurgeon likes this.
  3. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Coming together. taking the paper sketches, and using autocad I did some more detailed draft work to pull together some of the fiddly bits and line some things up. This is pretty close to a final design as I will probably do.

    Some early design decisions that I had to make:
    1 Bridges. I decided to use single string bridges, this would allow me to control the string spacing to better accommodate the strings. I have some concerns that I may limit my string choices in the future, but I also plan on drilling through the support under the bridge so that longer strings can be accommodated through the body of the bass but that limits me to an upper string diameter of ~.130" (the hole through the bridge) and about 7.5" of wrapped string end. I may wind up regretting this decision, but it seemed like a good way to start. It didn't hurt that I found them on Amazon for <$20.

    2 Tuners. I plan on using electric bass tuners on this using a 2/3 arrangement for the headstock as it gave me the straightest string travel. I left room to upgrade to 'elephant ears' if I need to, but I really like the Gotoh tuners on my Spector NS-2005, and these will be identical. This will likely be one of the most expensive parts of the bass ($70).

    3. Pickups. I plan on using individual pizeo pickups under each bridge, and I am of a mind to get an acoustic piezo preamp (they are cheap on ebay) that also has a microphone to use inside the main chamber, blending with the piezos for hopefully a warmer sound. I have no idea how far the rabbit hole I might go on this, but I am also evaluating building some breadboards with individual string volume / tone controls / mixing. but those are decisions I don't have to make right now. it's enough to know I need to fit a piezo under each saddle, and have a wire come out somewhere accessible.

    4 Woods. in the interest of cost, I am building this out of easily accessible maple and mahogany board stock from my local hardware store. No fancy grained woods, no quartersawn pieces, just trying to keep it within a modest budget. The neck will be straight through the length of the bass, but have some cutouts to allow for better resonance in the body cavity. The front, back and sides will be mahogany. My current plan is to bookmatch a 1x8x8 (.75"x7.5"x8') to .25" and use that as the panels to build the sides using maple stringers to provide structure and a framework.


    upload_2021-1-19_9-52-11.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
    Matt Liebenau, Beej and Beersurgeon like this.
  4. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Some details of the headstock.

    Front View:
    upload_2021-1-19_10-18-27.png

    Side View:
    upload_2021-1-19_10-17-46.png
     
    Matt Liebenau and Beersurgeon like this.
  5. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Neck through plan design: This shows the cutout plan for the neck through the body.

    upload_2021-1-19_10-25-18.png
     
    Matt Liebenau and Beersurgeon like this.
  6. Interesting concept!
    I'm subscribing this thread to follow your work!
     
    Videojunkie likes this.
  7. Building a 34“-scale EUB will give you some problems. If you use BG strings the sound will be close to a BG, not a DB. There are short scale DB strings, but they are for children and not very good compared to regular 3/4 or 4/4 DB strings. BG strings are harder to bow and much too bright.
    I once got strings made for DB from a BG string maker, mounted them on my Stagg EUB and they sounded like a BG. After telling this the manufacturer I asked if they were made like flatwound BG strings, only longer, and they told me this was the case.

    So you might rethink if you really want such a short scale.

    DB technique is different also because the holding of the hand is different. You won‘t be able to transfer BG technique 1:1 to an EUB anyway, so don‘t build a trap if you want to bow.
     
    Beej and Videojunkie like this.
  8. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    @DoubleMIDI so you would recommend going 38 - 40" or so? I was thinking (initially) to use the NS 5 string set.
     
  9. The NS EUB string set is for 41.5“ as far as I know. The same pitch with the same string on a much shorter sc as le gives you a very low tension. Probably too low to be useable.
    you might want to consult my „formulas.html“ that could be found in my DropBox (link in my signature or one of the DB string stickies). Enable JavaScript to use it.

    Don‘t limit your instrument to only one possible string set. What if you don‘t like it or it gets discontinued?
     
    Videojunkie likes this.
  10. jthisdell

    jthisdell

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    +1 to the idea of a longer scale to get closer to the thump of a DB
     
    Videojunkie likes this.
  11. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    A thought. 34" is pretty close to the 4th - 5th fret of 4/4 scale length. In theory, using an E - C set Tuned B - G, the string tension should be similar?
     
    Max Bogosity likes this.
  12. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Here's how it would look if I stretched the neck to 41.5" scale length.

    upload_2021-1-19_21-4-59.png
     
    Beersurgeon likes this.
  13. Amano

    Amano

    May 5, 2015
    Planet earth
    About the tuners. Think you should make them 90 towards the strings. To prevent the strings to roll of when tuning or putting strings. Instead of angled. I’ m no upright player but noticed this.

    Also would go for a long scale as well. Otherwise you might end up with a fretless bassguitar in upright position.
     
    Videojunkie likes this.
  14. Then you get a fourth tuned cello.

    DB strings are more delicate than BG strings. Several layers of windings including softer metals like brass and copper.

    Shorter strings are harder to bow and thicker lower ones sound less good. There is not much use beyond the minor seventh or octave on the E on a 3/4 scale, so subtract a fourth or fifth from it and you stay in first and half position only on the E string.

    If you want it a bit shorter you can go 39 or 40“ but I won‘t go shorter than that or you might run into the problems mentioned before.
     
    Videojunkie likes this.
  15. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    I can do this, the woodworking for it will be a little fiddly, but I have some ideas. basically, I will have to carve some flats on the slope for the tuners to sit, I am thinking that they will wind up slightly recessed from the front view. The trickiest part will be on the inside of the 'well' between the tuner sets. I'll probably have to fit the tuners before I add the bottom piece to the headstock so I can reach where the tuners are.
     
  16. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    I think this falls under information that I didn't know that I didn't know. I figured BG strings = thick guitar strings = thin DB strings. instead, BG strings are more delicate and finicky. The fact that my sister has had the same strings on her double bass for decades somewhat mollifies my shock at their price tag ( o_O ) and I thought decent BG strings were expensive!

    Honestly, I rarely play above the 7th fret on the B or E strings, as the notes get 'flabby' and I much prefer a nice tight bass sound from my BG.

    I will re-visit the body dimensions with the new scale length in mind, as I now think it is too small and short for the neck.
     
  17. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    @Amano more like this?

    upload_2021-1-20_9-16-10.png
     
    Amano likes this.
  18. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    Updated body shape/size.

    upload_2021-1-20_9-45-36.png
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
    Beersurgeon likes this.
  19. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    If you will be playing with a bow, what fingerboard radius are you planning on ? In order for the bow to clear the next string , you'll need a radius probably 7" or less. But you will also need an overall saddle shape to the board, with some relief in the middle. Good fingerboards are essential to play and difficult to make. Go measure sis's fingerboard very carefully , the compound radius and the varying clearance along the length of the string and think of how you'd do it, then take a bow and play open strings for a while and see why it has to be that way. Look through the recent threads on FB geometry and shaping, then go ask the expert luthiers here how many they had to make to get the first one right. @1st Bass , got any comments?

    Also, if you have decided on DB strings, not EB , you'll need tuners with much bigger posts , i.e. for the DB .

    @james condino or @KUNGfuSHERIFF what about a used neck and FB from a busted heel replacement ? Might it be easier to graft an otherwise-working Chubby Jackson onto a new box , than actually try to get a fingerboard right ? I'd think then you have "only" axial alignment and neck offset + angle .

    good luck !
     
  20. Videojunkie

    Videojunkie

    Jan 19, 2021
    Omaha, NE USA
    My sisters is in Virginia, so that's a little complicated.

    My original plan was to buy a replacement 3/4 fingerboard from overseas. That's become complicated for 2 reasons, a) the relief carving on the back, while necessary for a fingerboard hanging over the body of an acoustic bass complicates the joinery to attach it in a manner to avoid odd sounds from the hole in the middle of the fretboard. and b) I am not sure that with the extra size that it would work anyways, in the original plan, I was going to leave the free end alone, and cut the nut end to get the additional width for the 5th string.

    Carving a multi-radius fretboard doesn't worry me too much, there are a number of simple jigs out there to help manage it (I like the one from the aussie that built a fingerboard out of poly cutting board material) I think the standard taper is from 7-8 inches at the nut to 18-24 inches at the bridge end. The part that worries me a bit is the scalloping in the middle to accommodate the string vibrations, but AFAIK that is very much a trial and error fiddly bit even for professional luthiers (which I am not). I found this article to be particularly enlightening. Fingerboard Geometry | Looking at the radius - Joey Naeger Basses

    Ebony is going to be right out of my budget for this project (a 3/4"x5"x36" piece of ebony can cost well north of $100) So I am looking for something available off the shelf from Woodcraft or another hardwood supplier, maybe a piece of Paduak, Purpleheart, or Wenge as they tend to be MUCH cheaper ($30-$50).

    This is exactly why I chose the bridge that I did, because I knew that I was going to have to radius the bridges to match the fingerboard. Each pair of bridges out from center will be at a different height (heck, I may find that every bridge is at a different height!) to accomodate string height, and neck angle.
     
    oldNewbie likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    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.

     
    Mar 4, 2021

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