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I'm going to make my own bass ;)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Luke73, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. Well, I just ordered "Make Your Own Guitar and Bass" from stewmac.com to get started with some light reading on the subject, and I'm going to start researching the how to's and how to not's of bass construction.

    The plan is to begin building a bass sometime early next year.

    I'd like to do it all from scratch, although building a neck looks like it may be a little ambitous...after some research we shall see. I've got a fairly well equipped workshop, and good woodworking skills.

    At the moment I'm planning on it being some type of fretless four. Haven't really given much thought to body shape, electronics, or timber choice.

    I'm in Australia, so I would like to find out if anyone has any experience with any of our native, or locally available timbers for bass construction.

    One timber I'm particularly fond of is the River Redgum (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis) - although I'm not sure if it's at all suited to bass construction.

    Anyway, looks like fun - I can't wait!

    ...just thought I'd let you know :D
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
  3. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    My first was a fretless four as well. Cool thing about basses, is that they don't have to have frets! :p
    Sounds like your on your way. This site is great for tips. The hardest part is the neck. I'd pay close attention to it, and read up on trussrod installation. Pick a nice piece of quartered wood for the neck, and look into putting together a neck by laminating or layering 3 pieces together in a vertical fashion if you can't find a nice quartered whole piece.
    Check out some of Scott French's basses! He posts here quite a bit lately and has used gum eucalyptus for tops on some of his basses, which look absolutely beautiful! I'm not sure how that wood would pan out for a whole body, but if properly dried, would probly serve just fine. I'm not sure what woods are available in Australia (never been there). I think lacewood?? is readily avail??........maybe a lacewood body with a gum Euc. top???
    that'd be interesting.
    Good luck.........sounds like you have the right tools........planer, jointer, thickness sander, bandsaw.......
    have fun! and take it slow!
    let us see it when it's done, and make me a didgeridoo while your at it. Or just send me a piece of hollowed eucalyptus and I'll make my own. That is by far my favorite instrument! Circular breathing rocks!
  4. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Yep, JSP is on point. I use a lot of local California grown red gum for tops. I don't know if it is the same thing you are talking about but the stuff I use makes a nice top. The problem with this wood is the curing, it tends to check along the grain and figure lines even if it is properly dried. Once the wood is dried it is very stable though.

    Here's some red gum pics from my site:

    If you have the chance let us know what other types of wood are available locally down under. I am talking to a friend about making a trip down next year and it would be great to either bring or ship back some wood.
  5. Thanks very much for the pointers.

    The pictures of your basses look great Scott. ;)

    That certainly looks like Red Gum - so I'd say we're talking about the same timber.

    My family has ties to a Red Gum Saw Mill here, and they have a great Kiln drying operation which they use for supplying High grade Red Gum to the hand crafted/custom built furniture industry, so if it is a suitable timber for a body wood - availability shouldn't be a problem.

    If your friend is coming down next year, I'm sure I could get him up to the mill for a tour of the operations and we could investigate some timber. They only mill Red Gum there, but we do have lots of timbers here - Jarrah, Blue Gum, Spotted Gum, Tasmanian Oak etc etc ... Not sure on the appropriateness of them for bass building though.

    Is it necessary to build a laminated neck or body - or are solid pieces satisfactory. Are laminates usually done just for aesthetics - or do they improve the structural integrity of a bass?

    I'm thinking that my first bass will be a bolt on. Haven't thought of neck or fingerboard timber yet though.

    As far as my workshop, I have a planer, a table saw, a 4" jointer, etc. Don't have a bandsaw or thinckneser ATM. Could easily get a bandsaw - is a thickneser necessary?

    I think a fretless four is the way to go for a first bass. As well as (I guess) being the easiest to tackle for a beginner builder, I like that configuration too.

    JSPGuitars - I'm not sure on the Didgeridoo! LOL Although you can buy them everywhere here from souvenier / nature shops etc ;)



  6. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Thanks. My friend is coming down for sure but I was talking to see what it would take for me to tag along. I've always wanted to get down there and check things out so getting some money together for the adventure is the only road block now. The wood I have heard most about that looks great is Tasmanian Blackwood. It's used for acoustic guitar back and sides so I know it's cool for instrument making. I bet the others you mentioned could have some great looking pieces as well. I would like to get down there and check out as much as possible.

    Solid is fine. For necks I have better luck finding nice flatsawn wood so I laminate it and cut blanks from the side making it quarted neck stock. You can get away with just a planer if the snipe isn't super bad or you buy longer wood and trim it down after thicknessing. A lot of people buy wood pre thicknessed so they can get away without a planer or thickness sander. Personally I like doing that stuff myself so I use both.
  7. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I'm having a NT built with Qld Walnut wings. Not done yet so no comment re sonics. Looks great though as my bit has a great fiddleback figure.

    Something else that might be worth taking a look at is Tassy Blackwood. I love the look of the stuff, and there's a guy on ebay in Vic that sell it quite cheaply.
    http://www.noyceguitars.com/Technotes/Articles/T1.html and I'd like to try one of these.
  8. All sounds great!

    Tassie Blackwood is a lovely timber, my parents had a beaut kitchen benchtop made out of it. Very lovely.

    If you make it down here I'd be happy to organise a visit to the mill Scott.

    I'm in Melbourne, and the mill is in a country town about 3 hrs from here up on the Murray River. Lovely spot, very historic, and much beautiful Redgum to see.

    Redgum can be a source of wonderful fiddleback specimens.

    Dharmabass: I'm not familiar with Queensland Walnut, it sounds great - thanks for the tip, I'll look it up!
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    A bass is a neck with some extra material on the side, for convenient addition of electronic features, and aestetic purposes. :bag:
    And considering your "fairly well equipped workshop, and good woodworking skills", there is zero reason for you not to make the backbone.
    You just find some good='stiff, not very heavy' wood, and make the lot! It's rewarding...
  10. Cheers to a fellow Aussie. I too am planning to make a bass in the future, I've drawn up plans for a 6er but I'm gonna make a body for my old 4stringer first to get some woodwork and electronic chops going. I've got a job with regular hours thats in the same suburb as a lot of timberyards and stuff, so I'm hoping to be able to cruise around a bit easier and actually do some purchasing.

    The great thing about a lot of Australian natives is that generally they're stiff as but unfortuneatly heavy as too. I'd be careful with how much you use but you'll be able to find your 'standard' bass woods (maple, ash, etc) but odds are you'll pay a little more than our northern hemisphere counterparts. Depends how and where you shop I spose though.

    Josh D
  11. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    not seeing any on e-bay :scowl:
  12. You're right - I'd like to make the whole bass from scratch very much.

    Sure, I've got reasonable woodworking skills, but zero instrument building experience, so before I commit to the decision to build the neck from scratch also, I'll do some research on how it's done.

    If I feel that it's something I'm able to undertake at a first attempt, I'll do it.

    If not - I may leave that component of construction for subsequent basses that I make.

    ...something tells me this one won't be the last ;)


  13. Thanks for the welcome ;)

    Yeah, we've got some great native timbers here, that's why I'd like to use them if I can, but you're right - many of the sure are heavy!

    :D ;)
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Well, considering the result of my first attempt, on a kitchen table with scarcely any tools (in the beginning), and with all my carpentry experiense from building houses, I say "never mind, it's not more difficult than any other part".

    I did my research "hands-on", combining my results with some schooling from another century. Reults are on my site... ;)

    And the neck was the fun part. Making it stiff, light and comfortable... Took me about 30 hours, working time, and 120 h planning!
  15. It's great to see so many of us Southerners (hemisphere) on here. :cool: I am in the Hunter Valley (NSW). I am also about to build a new bass and guess what, I am also planning on using River Gum from the Murray area. I obtained a few excellent looking slabs of burl from a friend.

    I am going for the 5 string Fretless variety. :oops:

    I am yet to decide on the neck timber but I am pretty sure it will be a purpleheart fingerboard.

    Let us know how your bass works out!
  16. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    im currently building 2 necks with Euco necks (euco plantation grown type thats getting popular for its oak like looks and maple like stiffness)

    im using 2 3/8 strings of purpleheart and a 3/8 strip of eppa to stiffen it more, along with the 2 3/4 strips of euco for the nice open grain, hopefully very "woody" tone.

    its nice to work with though, very easy on the tools,
  17. Hey, good stuff.

    Red Gum burl is cool ;) sounds like you've got some nice timber there.

    My book should arrive soon :D and after some light reading I'll start thinking about getting in the workshop in the new year.

    I'll be sure to post progress

  18. Well, I've got my book:


    I've read it over once, and I'm feeling pretty confident :D

    It's a great book, very step by step - and I can implement some of my own ideas along the way.

    I may even decide to make this bass a fretted bass rather than fretless after reading the fretting section. It doesn't seem as intimidating as I thought it might be... I'm still tossing up on that one.

    Next step is to start to have a look around and find some timber.

    I'm thinking Redgum body, Ebony Fingerboard......not sure on neck yet.

    It'll be passive, either J+J, P+J or 2x soapbar pickup configuration, wired with volume, volume, and one master tone.

    I'm researching hardware options. Haven't decided on bridge, or tuners etc yet.

    Exciting stuff!