How long will a first bass take?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DHclaflin, Apr 13, 2004.

  1. DHclaflin


    Apr 12, 2004
    Hey guys, I have to write up a proposal for my school so that I will be able to use school hours and resources to build a bass. This will be my first (of many more I hope) and I want to do a thorough job on it, as perfect as can be, you know. How many hours do you think it will take? or if it is easier, how many weeks working 7 hours a week?
    Thanks a lto for your help guys.
  2. The trouble with the question is compensating for the wide range of instrument styles and features that you could do. A neck through bass with lots of lamination and carving might take longer than a bolt-on. The other problem is accurately placing a value on your experience. An experienced builder will likely take half the time a newbie would.

    In a nutshell...We need more info!
  3. DHclaflin


    Apr 12, 2004
    I planning a neck thru fretted 4 string. The body is a little fancy but I'm adept at general woodworking. Just a stain, no paint. 2 pickups, active.
    This is my first bass so experience is really low.
  4. Are you planning to do your own fretwork or are you building a fretless?

    I would recommend that you buy a slotted fretboard to use instead of trying to beat the learning curve in that short amount of time. Besides, a screwed up fret location can ruin a decent attempt in no time.

    7 hours a week isn't a lot of time. I would expect you to need the entire semester to complete such an endeavour. 9 weeks at 7 hours a week puts you at 63 hours, which we know won't be all productive time. In my mind, 63 hours should be enough time to do a bass with full functionality and a bit of style. Of course, your attention to detail and general desire will extend this indefinitely. You'll see, as soon as you start making sawdust, how a project like this develops. In all honesty, no matter how well you plan ( and you MUST PLAN!!) things will go differently than expected. Some of this will be accidental and some changes will be on purpose, but I've found that building an instrument is an evolutionary process. As I go along, I'll come up with a technique or feature that I want to incorporate and I'll make the necessary course change to make it happen. That's part of what I find so much fun with building.

    By all means keep us informed of the progress. And, as always, we are here to help. I haven't earned a good grade since last century :)
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I tend to think that my first bass involved more than 60 hours of work. I didn't log my time, so I'm not sure how many hours I sunk into my first bass, but I spent a lot of time figuring things out and working on test pieces, building templates, and so on. This is why I reiterate that you must spend significant time planning and working out issues in your head outside of the shop so that your time at the shop will be well spent.
  6. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I think it will all depend on how much preplanning you do. IMO, i didn't do enough of that. I've been working on the same project in my spare time since last August or so. I have made a bunch of errors. Most notable one is that i attempted to cut a fingerboard while i was tired and without having practiced on scrap wood. Now that originally awesome looking piece of stabilized black limba-is now a reglued waiting to be recut piece of stablized black limba. Experiment a bunch before working on the good stuff.

    Despite all the errors that i've made, I would like to attempt to build another one once this one is finished. Only thing i would do different is to do more of what the people on here said to do. E.g. use more prefab parts when starting off and to plan better. I think it would have been a good idea to buy a prefab neck.

    To answer your question, how long would it take? I'm assuming this would be in a school wood shop where you'd have access to all the appropriate tools vs. a jigsaw, hand sander, and borrowing the rest. As long as you plan your time and stay on task, i think you could finish a bass in a semester if not be really close to it.

    That's all and best of luck.
  7. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    By far the best answer would be to quote the great Yogi Berra, "It ain't over, till it's over."