I'm going to start Luthiering (that is a word, right?)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Brendan, Nov 19, 2001.

  1. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    Well, I was telling my mom I'm headed up to Odo and Bass Central on Wedensday (Hi Gard! :)) And she said, "You're always after some bass. Why not build one."

    It snowballed from there, and starting tomorrow, I'm getting the books, to research it, even though between my knowledge of bass construction, and my stepfathers wood working expertise (not to mention possesion of the right tools), I'm going to build a bass.

    First up is going to be a prototype, to figure out things, made of cheap woods, like pine and oak. it's not going to be played, just figuring it out and making mistakes on cheap woods rather than the expensive ones. If all goes well, I'll start in on a real bass. Heck, if it goes wrong, I'll still keep going till I get it right. And the best part? Because I'm learning a skill/trade, my mom will pay for the woods and if all goes good enough for her, the hardware and electronics. She'd rather pay for me to learn how to, than just go buy one. She as much as I would like to see me make something of this

    I realize it's all easier said than done, but I'd rather figure that out myself, and try to make some good damned basses. Heck, if I can, maybe start a little buisness of repairs/building around town. You know, a little part time job of my own. Sell em or whatever. If not, I'll have a heckuva collection started!

    So, just to let you guys know. Contruction will start on the prototype in about a week or two, depending on how fast I get the woods, and a truss rod....I'm so amped. This is like a big adventure, and I'm seeing dreams of a buisness where I could make things for a living. I'm drooling so much right now, I think the experience will be worth it, and more. Plus, if I take woodshop next year, I'll have a free hour and a half to work on basses in school. Maybe, Maybe if there is interest, start taking orders. IF. Heck, be an fairly acomplished luthier by the time I'm in college. How's that suit'cha? Me? just fine :D

    Actually, I just want to start. Viva La Bass!
  2. As I recently said in another thread:


    Geeze, I hope this doesn't look like advertising. MIMF is just the best resource on the net for pursuits like this. I'm not affiliated with them at all.

    If its too much, mods, please let me know.

  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    Actually...that's the one thing i'm looking up on. What would you all consider to be a good/great/best book on building basses? I'm not talking about a guitar book with a chapter or two on basses, I'm looking for a good, insightful, well informed book on bass construction.

  4. Brendan, I've looked around. There doesn't seem to be any specifically about building basses, but thats because the construction techniques are pretty much identical, except for scale of parts.

    If anyone else finds any bass-building specific books, I'd love to hear about them.

  5. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    At any rate, I'm psyched. Me...building a bass? Am I nuts? well, yes, but that's beside the point. Maybe some pics and things will follow up if I think I do good enough on the real one. Heck, maybe the proto if it turns out presentable. Fortunately, my assistant is a guy who's built boats, cabinets, and houses for years on end. So I go the woodworking teacher to help me, though this is going to about 80% me. More as I get more confident and skilled.
  6. Making instruments usually isn't any cheaper than buying them. If you want cheap stuff, then you're barking up the wrong tree.

    You should make instruments because you want something that the music stores can't provide. Or because you like hacking up bits of wood. :)

    Making a living out of it may be a bit difficult. Make one for fun and see how it goes.
  7. Who said anything about making a living?

    I want a 35" scale fretless neckthru with an emoby fingerboard, walnut body wings and two MM-style pickups with a shelving semi-parametric onboard EQ.

    As far as I can tell, such beast does not yet exist, so I'm building it. I'll post pictures when its more than a pile of wood and a spool of wire :D

  8. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    I'm barking up a just fine tree. My mom's paying for it. She sees it as a learning experience. Little does she realize how much she'll be shelling out (though I will through some money in there too).

    And I want to make one because I want to. And to prove I can. And hopefully, mayeb sell a few and make some people happy. I really don't think I could make a living off of it. More like a weekend/after work buisness. Partime, make some money off of a hobby, you know? If I'm any good, which I hope I am...
  9. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    I'm planning to attempt to make a few basses someday. I probably won't have the resources you have, but I'm going for a more hands-on approach, using nothing more complicated than a power drill, carving and sanding everything by hand, maybe using a template for the routings, but that's all. Good luck, and take some pics when your done, or even of the work in progress!
  10. Good luck! Keep us posted and put pics up as you go along so we can see the progress. :)
  11. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    I have "Make Your Own Electric Guitar" by Melvin Hiscock. It's very good. He goes through making three different types of instruments (one being a neck-thru 8 string bass) and seems to cover about everything from design to wiring. You might check the library and see if they have it so you can "preview" it before you buy.
  12. Brendan, On the MIMF they are advertising the latest online bass building course is due to start in January. Go over there and take a look. You should register with the website so that you can see the examples of the previous bass building courses. It sounds like what you want is very similiar to what they teach in the building course.

    I've gotten into this in a big way so I have some tips for you:

    1. Do a lot of work on your own basses. Improve them, customize them, and make them the best you can. You'll learn tons with them as the basic material.

    2. Learn your shop tools. Aside from the safety aspects, you will be able to identify what is needed for a particular job and not waste time with less effective means.

    3. Get your own tools. Here's a big one - you'll get as crazy about tools as you are about basses. Especially look into older used tools as a good source for high quality you might not be able to acquire new.

    4. Stockpile parts and woods. Use all methods at your disposal for getting the hardware and wood for your instruments. You can do well on ebay - I have -and wood is available there also.

    5. Learn your woods. Much of this is just by reading all you can get your hands on. MIMF is perfect.

    6. Get a workspace. Can't emphasize this enough. This is a very dirty (dusty) hobby. You should get a place away from the living space of the house just to keep the family friction down. Your mom will go ballistic when all of the heirloom nic nacs are covered in a fine maple dust.

    7. Don't assume that power tools are all that is needed. Guitars were built for years without them and learning what's available in the hand tool arena is very helpful. Also get someone to show you how to use things like drawknives, rasps, planes and the like.

    8. Use your computer. The PC sitting on your desk can be a very powerful tool for building basses. Get proficient at CorelDraw and you'll be able to make full size patterns, draw prototypes, experiment with colors, etc. You can also make router files for CAD/CAM work and a host of other things.

    9. Be patient. Since you are absolutely new, you might be tempted to rush. Don't! Do a little here and there with plenty of thought in between. You'll put in between 80 and 120 hours on a bass of the kind you've described so there's plenty of time.

    10. Learn setup. Nothing worse for showing off our creations than having a beautiful instrument that can't be played. The looks will hook'em but your setup will land the occasional commission build.

    If you want to discuss the process and possibilties further, by all means get with me by PM or regular email. I've got a lot to share and your enthusiasm would make doing so a pleasure.
  13. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Kings Bay, GA
    having played a custom jazz built by the hamboner himself, i can't stress heeding his words enough. he built this sweet jazz fretless and brought it to the atlanta get-together before last...you can check out picks of it on the thread...

    oh yeah, hammy...i haven't forgotten about you and your woodpile...most of the stuff in my dad's woodshop i was telling you about was ok for small projects, but really not suited for bass building...i ran across some burls up here in washington if you're interested, though. i think they're redwood...
  14. Toon, I've only seen veneers of redwood burls. I also don't know how such a wood would work for a bass - not good or bad just don't know. The veneers are quite awesome!

    Don't worry about it at all. You, in your position, have much more to worry about than something as trivial as this. We'll see each other when we see each other. Until then, for God's sake, just be careful.
  15. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Kings Bay, GA
    hey, i'm the one standing right next to warhead...:D yeah, man...i hope to bump into you guys again sometime. i wouldn't mind trying out some more of your basses if you have any more built in the future...that jazz fretless was sweet...
  16. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Hey Brendan, good luck! Post pics along the way! Have fun and watch your fingers. I always think of that Emo Phillips guy in weird Al's UHF slicing off a finger on a table saw!!! Don't do that.
  17. Yea - good luck, and post pictures...

    I only have one thing to say: Be careful. As a part-time woodworker it can't be said too often! Some of those machines will take off a part of you body faster than you can realize what happened.

    Having said that - check out hand tools. No joke - they are much more fun, safe, and rewarding for small projects like this.

    Good luck again, and post some pic's -