How can i become a bass guitar luthier in Canada?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tapiodmusic, Apr 19, 2024.

  1. tapiodmusic


    Oct 25, 2023
    Im an 18 yrs old student.
    I always wanted to become a luthier,
    a bass guitar luthier.
    And I've been wondering where i can learn
    how to build electric bass.
    Seems most "guitar" luthiers take semina or couses.
    But "bass" luthiers those who only make bass guitars, i wonder where they learn how to craft/repair.
    From where do i need to start?
    Thank you for reading!
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    You've come to the right place! This forum, Luthier's Corner, part of TalkBass, is the biggest most complete library of knowledge about designing and building electric basses that exists anywhere. This is where you learn, by reading our threads. Pick out a few project threads that look like what you want to try. Then, get started building a project. Join in here, documenting your projects as you work on them. Ask questions when you run into problems. We'll be reading along and offer our advice. Take it at your own pace, gathering the tools and skills, trying out different techniques. It's better than going to some school. And it's basically free.
  3. Yes, TB is a good place to start. Watch build threads here and check in with the Hardware, Setup and Repair forum for repairs and fixes. It’s a good place to learn with helpful people. The first things I tried there was no TB, no YouTube. I ventured into the garage armed with the few books you could find on the subject.

    I will add most of building on an electric guitar will apply to basses also and I believe some of the programs will let you build a bass instead.
  4. rudy4444


    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    As others say, Talkbass is an excellent resource.

    There are a TON of build topics here, and the methodology can be somewhat standard or something outside of that. ;)

    As an example, I have a couple of build topics such a as my Short Scale P Bass topic. I post building topics mostly to highlight my somewhat unorthodox methodology, often leaning to doing things in economical ways to lessen the number of expensive tools that are used by many other builders.

    The fantastic thing about learning from Talkbass build topics is you can read and digest the process in small chunks of time, often multi-tasking your education between all the other stuff that is necessary in our modern everyday lives. You can learn a boat-load simply by reading in place of the time it would require to travel to somewhere that provided a classroom or workshop educational environment.

    There are a couple of books that have bass-specific information that are ideal for the bathroom "reading rack".

    Bottom line, decide on something simple to build, grab a plan, and start building. You'll soon figure out what tooling you need to get the job done. When you complete your first instrument then it's time to do another. Stay with the process long enough and soon enough you'll be a "bass builder". All those interposing instruments can be sold for whatever the market will dictate, or even given to less advantaged folks who can't afford an instrument. Consider that to be the cost of tuition.

    The one thing I caution against is biting off more than you can chew. All the standard cliches apply here, "Don't be so heavenly bound you're no earthly good" etc. etc. :)

    No matter what path you choose DO make sure you enjoy yourself, that's the whole point!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2024
  5. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    What, if any, experience do you have working with tools and wood? What, if any, experience do you have with selling things to the public?

    You can certainly go with a completely self-taught approach - it may not be the most efficient path, given that a few courses in basic woodworking might teach you a lot in a short period of time, with less odds of major body/life altering mistakes, if you have zero experience now. People do sacrifice fingers and eyes and other body parts to bad habits or ignorance of what can go wrong when working with tools that cut wood and metal, and it's worth avoiding that, whether from a course or by making that an early priority in whatever self-teaching you undertake.

    A different way to get there might be to enroll as an apprentice union carpenter, with an eye towards finish carpentry (the most precise end of the trade that overlaps skills well with bass building) where you'd get training and a day job for a while (and to fall back on if needed) to support your eventual aim without being a traditional school student. Also comes with access to plenty of scrap wood, some of it quite decent if you get far in finish carpentry.

    There's not really a hard divide between bass luthierie and guitar luthierie; much of the techniques and tools are the same, just at somewhat different sizes. Most builders end up building both (there's a lot more guitars than basses in the world, and if you are attempting a business to support living, as opposed to a hobby with no aspirations of a useful income, you may need to build some guitars.) So a "guitar-building" course is not as useless as you seem to think it would be.

    Likewise (and you can find some info on that here, as well) there's the entire business of being a business to learn, which is frequently a weak point with artisans wanting to do art (bass-building, in your case) as a business. Again, a class or two might be a fast way to pick up a lot of that information, rather than going to the school of hard knocks and making basses at a loss until you have to close the business and try to get a job.

    Non-bass business example - local bakery was doing pretty well, but yearned for a fancy oven with steam injection (which, mind you, they were doing fine without having.) Bought the thing, taking out a loan to do so. The additional cost of the loan payments was evidently just too much, and they closed within a year or two. If you spend a lot on something that does not make a lot more income come in, (in reality, not in a fantasy when convincing yourself to buy it) it had better be from cash on hand, not a loan.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2024
  6. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL

    ‘While there is a forum here for Luthiers, make sure you post picks of your work here in the general forum so we can root you on! Best wishes.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Why not speak with any local stores who do that kind of work and see if you can get a job, doing anything?

    FWIW, it's similar techniques for building guitars and basses. You don't need a bass-specific business in which to start.
  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Whereabouts are you located? There are lutherie courses across the country. There's a good one here on Vancouver Island, also Edmonton & Saskatoon. I'd be surprised if there weren't courses in Quebec and Ontario or further east. :thumbsup:
    Barticus and Water buffalo like this.
  9. Water buffalo

    Water buffalo

    May 20, 2023
    Welcome! The Luthier's Corner is an excellent place to start. Everyone here is glad to share information.

    I might also add, check around your area, there's a good chance that there is a builder or repair tech near you. If so reach out and connect with them. Networking is so important.

    Also, Lutherie applys to all string instruments, you can apply techniques from violin, mandolin, classical and archtop builders to building basses.

    Good luck!
  10. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Now that I'm a computer and it's easier to type - we also hold a 'build off' 2x a year here in the Luthier's Corner and those build threads are often quite informative as to what's involved, tools, fixtures, jigs, workflow descriptions, problem solving, etc. They are all linked in the TalkBass Wiki: I'd start at the newest and work back.

    To echo others, this community here and the many threads form one of the best repositories of lutherie knowledge out there, and despite being on the internet, this little corner is very helpful, supportive and community-oriented. Trolls are few and far between here and get moderated out pretty quickly. The regulars here read and follow most threads, so a great way to get feedback and support is to just start a thread and begin your build by making plans for what you want. The hive mind here is supportive and will provide much knowledge, guidance and information. I wish I had something like this when I built my first guitar in my teens!

    You can learn a lot from a focused lutherie course, and I did in mine when I was in my late teens. I learned much more over the years through trial and error. One thing I'll mention is that it's not a super cheap hobby. You can definitely build things with a minimum of tools and inexpensive wood and hardware, but generally speaking, you do not save money by building your own instrument. :D

    If I were in your shoes, I'd start by deciding what I want to build and making a full-scale drawing, either on paper or CAD if that's your bag. From there, start gathering wood and parts. For tools, the bare minimums would be a jigsaw, hand drill, chisel, files and sandpaper. A bandsaw is way better, a drill press is better and a router is superior to all the handtools, but it is possible with the minimums. Building jigs and fixtures is another skill that will be good to develop as you can spend your time and energy building a jig that will do a 5 minute job on the instrument, but do it perfectly.

    Anyway, come on in, the water's fine! :thumbsup:
    C Stone, mikewalker, Andre678 and 4 others like this.
  11. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2023
    Young and willing : attaboy !

    I’m an old fart with an old school mentality that likes to learn the hard way so I would suggest starting with a "cheap" project and ask questions here on TB as you move forward.

    That’s what I did lately :

    Bought a used MIM Fender neck, a beat up used Squier body, a good set of pickups and spent many hours removing the paint, drilling new holes and so on………..……..and I really enjoyed on top of learning a lot !

    Below are pictures of before and after. The end result : this is by far my preferred bass and also my cheapest !


    MCF likes this.
  12. N4860


    Mar 28, 2017
    Waterloo, ON Canada
    Where are you located? If you are willing to go to Winnipeg, there is a guy that does courses for building guitars and mandolins and other classes. Not bass specific but I'm sure the knowledge would be transferable to bass. HAMM-TONE I have no affiliation, I just happen to be friends with some people that are related to Jeremy so that's where I heard of him.
  13. red_rhino

    red_rhino Currently on Double Secret Probation Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2001
    Over Macho Grandé
    Heck, I don't even build basses (since I have the mechanical aptitude of a can of Silly String), but I follow these threads because I find them educational and interesting. I think it helps make me a more informed customer when I engage with a luthier for a build or modification.
  14. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    So your transition is finally complete? Congrats! :roflmao: :roflmao: :roflmao:

    Seriously, as others have said, this forum is a wealth of information. I learned everything I know right here, and I am now a thoroughly adequate bass builder!! :cool:
    Beej, mikewalker and Swerve like this.
  15. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    Next, we upload @Beej to the cloud....
    C Stone, Beej, mikewalker and 2 others like this.
  16. KidAmnesia


    Jul 13, 2022
    Buenos Aires
    From a building perspective, a bass guitar is just a longer guitar with fewer strings. Most people that can teach you how to build an electric guitar will also be able to teach you how to build an electric bass. And even if it's something like a school with a clearly defined program that stipulates that your first build has to be a telecaster or somthing like that, building a guitar will give you a all of the basics you'll need to build basses later.

    And you can also start right now on your own. I, like many others, built my first electric guitar at about your age at my parent's home with a few simple tools and wood we already had, and some books and plans I found online. I didn't even knew about talkbass or any other forum yet, which would have made it a lot easyer!

    The most important thing is to start. Build an instrument, see how you like it, find out what could have been done better (take notes!), build another one with those observations, rinse and repeat. Also, repairs and mods are a big part of most luthiers' daily life; get your hands on as many instruments as you can, you learn A LOT observing how other instruments are built, not only basses.
    mikezimmerman and Gervais Cote like this.
  17. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Don't limit your options by only building basses, bad idea indeed.

    Any type of woodworking is a great start, especially non-prismatic designs. (curvy stuff)
    Furniture restoration & refinishing is also a great place to start.

    Getting into guitars is going to be way easier from an educational standpoint and more lucrative just do to the volume of resources and builders in existence. You're more likely to apprentice in that arena than the bass world. The skills will cross over.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2024
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  18. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Maybe think of applying for a job at Long & Mcquade. You may start in shipping and receiving then work you way up meeting people and making connections. ... Plus go into any used store and find a cheap bass for sale and improve it. With an instrument like that you can lean electronics, removing and reapplying finishes, setups, fret filing and crowning. You'll need to make all your mistakes on cheap instruments first.
    mikewalker likes this.
  19. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    Note that when I inquired about experience, I'm not suggesting that you likely already have it at 18 years of age, but that you'll need to acquire it (somehow) if you don't. If you do have some, it helps to know in pointing towards what to do to build off that.
  20. emal

    emal Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2016
    Depending where you're fro., Rosche Custom Bass near Calgary is a very approachable and nice dude, he's made 2 basses for me!
    Beej and hooky_marr like this.