Homemade Handmade Fretless Bass $30

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jt_productions, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
    I picked up this handmade bass at "Music Go Round" a few years back for $30. The wood and body shape are really beautiful. I rediscovered it last week as it was sitting in my closet for years forgotten. I want to make it into a nice playable instrument. It had a guitar pick-up in it which really had me scratching my head. Why would someone go to all the trouble of making a bass and fit it with a six string guitar pickup? It also has a Neutrik locking 1/4 inch jack for the guitar chord that looks like it belongs on a speaker box not a bass. It also has a wooden bridge and homemade tail piece that I'd like to replace.

    What do you luthiers think? Can I get this bass going pretty cheaply. I already have a bass pickup to put in it with a little extra routing but what parts need replacing and what parts should I keep?

    Lots of pics:









  2. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Bubinga body? Is it heavy?
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    How does it play? is the neck level? does it have any buzzy or dead spots on the neck? The wood bridge is fine, but that tail piece is terrible looking. There are a few companies that make guitar size bass humbuckers, like this one. If the bass plays ok then there is no reason to not throw a pickup in it and play it.
  4. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
    No its not heavy and I have no idea about the wood. I don't know what the balance is like if you were to wear it. It has no strap locks but it's a great bass to just sit on the couch and play.
  5. ejmy


    Nov 30, 2008
    Looks very nice, certanly worth finishing.
  6. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
    It plays great. The neck feels like you're playing upright bass. Here is a picture of the neck next to my thinner 4 string Cort's neck.


    As far as the buzzing goes it sounds natural like the bass in Clapton's "Tears in Heaven."


    The pickup was a PJ Marx. I am almost 100 percent sure this is a guitar pickup. Here is a picture of it next to the one I want to install.


    I looked at tailpieces last night on Amazon and saw a set of 4 individuals tail pieces.
    Would that be an improvement or maybe a conventional one piece tailpiece over that wooden one? I definitely want to replace the pickup.

  7. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
    It doesn't look like it has a truss-rod. Do you think there is just an aluminum rod in the neck like early Danelectros?

    Also should I keep the input jack? I like the fact that it locks but it not very attractive. Even the volume knob doesn't look like standard issue. The shaft is way too tall.

    I want to replace the tailpiece with either a one piece adjustable or four individual ones. The individual ones look really unique.
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I would keep the Jack, it is more attractive than trying to fit a standard jack in its hole. The neck is pretty thick so it is likely fine without a truss rod.

    The MM pickup rout will not completely get rid of the guitar size humbucker rout. You would be better off using a guitar size bass humbucker that already fits.
  9. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
  10. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
  11. Normally locking jacks are a bad idea on basses, as they don't allow the cable to detach under stress, which results in tearing out chunks of wood if you step on your cable. With the top-mount placement, however, it's not going to make very much difference, as the cable cannot detach under stress anyway. As always, with a top-mount jack, be sure you're looping your cable around the strap button to distribute the force, if your cable is yanked on.

    There is nothing wrong with having pickups in a guitar humbucker form factor. Do you mean that it had a pickup with the traditional six pole pieces per coil? Even there, the only thing that matters is getting all of the strings within the sensing area. It certainly looks silly, however, which is why most people resort to rail style pickups.
  12. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Inactive

    Jan 20, 2011
  13. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    ""mono rails" common on ibanez btb series."-
    The Ibanez mono rails bridges are set into routes in the body for the string tension to pull against, as opposed to relying on just the screws.
    Also, the tail piece in the photo seems to be mounted on the radiused/curved edge of the body and to keep scale length the same,
    the replacement bridge(s) would need the saddles to be where the current saddle is- this will leave uncovered holes where the current tail piece is.
  14. jt_productions


    Jul 24, 2012
  15. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    There's at least a couple 'bay sellers that have Warwick- style tailpiece and saddle sections listed, if you want to keep the same style w/o wood.