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i'm fixing a hole...............

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by johnk_10, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i just finished restoring a vintage p bass for a TB member and i thought that i'd post some pics of what it needed to be put back to stock.

    the bass was sent to me from its owner thinking it was a '62 p bass for the 30+ years that he's owned it. at one point in its life, someone decided to convert it to a PJ (with new fralin p and J pickups), add a side mounted jack, strip it's original 3TS finish and shoot it with a thick fiesta red poly finish. it also had a schaller bridge added to it instead of the original ribbed saddle type. they actually did a nice looking refin, but it was really thick and IMO, just should have never been done in the first place (a big 'NO,NO in my book). the lucky thing was, he also sent me bass's original P pickup with it's brass shield plate. the thing is, the owner wanted it put back to a 3T sunburst, so i knew that i'd have to inlay a piece of matching alder to cover the route completely. fortunately, the original tort pickguard wasn't drilled for an extra hole (pot) with the side mounted jack, and it was in great shape.

    here's a few pics of the body once a diassembled it to get it ready to strip. (i wish i would've taken the complete 'before' pic of the entire bass).





    whatever type of paint it had, even my strongest strippers couldn't even leave a mark or slightly soften it, so i used a heat gun to carefully soften it and scrape it off. here's a few pics of it after i lightly sanded it with 220 grit. BTW, the body was noticeably lighter without the red paint, now weighing in at at 4lbs 3 oz.



    i was pleasantly surprised to see the original date marking in the pickup cavity, making this bass's date 12/59.


    unfortunately, i didn't take pics of the alder block that i made to fill in the jazz bass pickup route, but it was a simple straight forward process. i made an alder block the same size and shape as a jazz bass pickup and glued it in. i then made a template of all of the original bridge mounting and pickguard screw holes so i'd be able to redill them later.

    i then routed a 3 3/4" wide, 1/4" deep channel on the face of the bass from the pickup cavity to the butt end of the body and inlaid a piece of alder matching the color and grain as best i could, block sanded it flush with the body and redrilled the bridge and pickguard holes that were covered up by the new alder inlay. i got lucky and also got the bridge's ground wire hole to line up perfectly with the original one.


    then i took another piece of alder and lined it up with the body to determine the way that the grain would align with the body's grain and made a dowel for the side jack hole. this way it will expand and contract in unison with the body over the coming years.

  2. As always, really outstanding craftsmanship John. Thanks for sharing the pictures.
    Doublesixes likes this.
  3. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    here's the rest of the restoration:

    Once the body was sanded smooth and all of it’s small dings filled, I mixed up some bright yellow toner with a tiny bit of opaque white toner and stained the bare wood yellow. This is how the original’s in the late 50’s – mid 60’s were done. (and this one was done that way originally). Then I shot two coats of fullerplast over it to seal it:



    Next, I shot the nitro burst after looking at a lot of pics of 1959 and 1960 burst p basses. Once I was happy with it, I sealed it with 8 coats of clear nitro. Here it is out of the booth hanging outside to dry in sunny southern California.


    I baked the finish 24/7 at 100 degrees for 10 days and it fully cured so I then buffed it out:

    The owner and I decided that since the neck and pickguard are original we didn’t want the body to look ‘too new’ in contrast, so I barely added a lot of swirl marks to the highly polished body to give it an earthier feel. he didn’t want me to relic it (with dings, checking and wear) so I went for more of the ‘closet classic look.

    After adjusting the neck, leveling recrown and polishing the frets and cleaning re-oiling and polishing the fingerboard, I mounted it back onto the body. I also replaced the Schaller bridge with a new ’62 american reissue fender vintage one.



    The bass’s pots were original fender CTS ones, but dated to ’77, so I cleaned them with caig deoxit and rewired the original pickup to them and the switchraft original output jack. The bass was missing its original aluminum pickguard shield plate so I just used an AV RI one for it.


    As per his request, a new set of Daddario nickel rounds were installed along with the two original chrome barrel knobs.


    And here’s she is fully completed, back to her former glory. I gotta say, this bass is the holy grail of p basses at 8lbs 3oz (it’s light) and rings like a piano!




    IMO, the stock pickup is WAY better than the Fralin and the owner called me to say that he can’t believe that it’s the same bass. When he got it back, he told me that he played for 3 hours straight, and just couldn’t put it down. I told him that it’s not magic that it has become that way, it’s just the way it once was. ;)

    i also told him to just play the heck out of it so that the body will 'catch up' with the rest of the bass's patina, and he said that he wouldn't have any problem with doing that. :D
  4. This is outstanding! Great craftmanship, great to see such a wonderful instrument restored to its original state. Thanks for sharing :)
  5. whodom


    Mar 3, 2006
    Salters, SC
    Very impressive. That body patch in particular is an amazing piece of work.
    Doublesixes and blindrabbit like this.
  6. Thumpin_P


    Nov 26, 2006
    Limestone, TN
    Wow!!! Thanks for sharing this John! Outstanding craftsmanship!
    Doublesixes likes this.
  7. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Great job man!
    Doublesixes likes this.
  8. sailri


    Nov 16, 2007
    Rhode Island
    What a rescue.
    In some of the last photos it looks like there is a light line under the E along/near the patch line. But that isn't there after the Fullerplast shot. Is that a reflection of the string?
    Doublesixes likes this.
  9. Tortve87


    Dec 28, 2009
    Oslo, Norway
    Wow! No one can tell this bass had a J-pickup installed! Awesome!

    It's typical that many old basses have been taken apart an repainted, new hardware emg pickups, active electronics and...uh..:crying: It's should have been illegal! But, when they did that kind of things, a 60's fender Jazz or P-bass where just 20 year old boring stock basses... (of course they aren't) Everyone with an old Fender that have been abused by the 80's should send it over to you! JohnK
    Doublesixes likes this.
  10. Papa Dangerous

    Papa Dangerous

    Feb 1, 2011
    ......where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering

    I am unfamiliar with the process it takes to restore a bass, building a bass, and the such... But I do know this looks great. KUDOS! You have a skill sir, and I am sure you have pleased a TB member with your craftsmanship!
    DJ Bebop and Doublesixes like this.
  11. yeah it is, the line is also visible in the pu cover, has to be string reflection
    Doublesixes likes this.
  12. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    That's just great.

    Tell me, John -- in the past you've said that you rout freehand, without templates. What about that 1/4" pocket for the surface board over the lower body?
    Doublesixes likes this.
  13. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    yep Bill. that's just reflection. the seam is actually in a different place than the reflection. the seam is on center with the two bridge cover mounting screws and is basically invisible.

    yep, i scribed a straight line on each side with an exacto blade and tyhen followed that by hand with the router without a template.

    BTW, thanks to everyone for the kind words.
    Doublesixes and wraub like this.
  14. Barkbuster


    Dec 15, 2007
    Blue mountain
    Awesome. Please keep posting your projects.
    Doublesixes likes this.
  15. Outstanding work!.....thanks for sharing this.
    Doublesixes likes this.
  16. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    What the? How on earth did you fill that pickup route so perfectly, and match the grain. You have some big juju going on! Floored. . .
    Doublesixes likes this.
  17. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    it has a 3 3/4" wide x 1/4" thick alder inlay over the j bass pickup route area. that way it's invisible.
    Doublesixes likes this.
  18. fjadams


    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    Your work is incredible. That is one lucky bass owner.
    Doublesixes likes this.
  19. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon
    As always, beautiful work, John.
    It makes me so happy to see old Fenders restored (instead of parted out on Ebay).

    And yes, please keep sharing your projects!
  20. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I get it now, but you're still a miracle worker!

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