Light Body Without Neck Dive

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by The Ryantist, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. In my upcoming build thread (I'm currently pulling the triggers on parts) I will be making a PJ shaped bass body for a 5 string EBMM Stingray Neck. I'd like to keep the final weight under 10 lb. Hopefully closer to 9 lb.

    I don't want to modify the neck or the heel. So probably my only option for weight reduction is in the body. I'll be using a Warmoth alder blank which starts out at 1.75" thick (typical for P basses), but I'm wondering if I can plane this down to 1.5" or 1.625", and that might save 0.5 lb or so. I can also do a large swimming pool route under the pickguard.

    The upper horn on the body will go a little past the 12th fret, and with strap locks it'll be almost to the 11th fret. I would hate to thin out the body and then induce a neck dive. I'm paranoid because I have one 9 lb bass that dives and it's annoying, but the upper horn only goes to the 13th fret. I'm hoping that is the main culprit.

    Also I don't own a planer, so this might turn into another tangential project of building a router sled!
  2. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    Hipshot ultra light tuners help in the neck dive department
  3. As mentioned above, Hipshot Ultralites are key. Particularly if you are thinning the body and using a 5 string neck. Also, position the bridge as close as you can to the edge of the body and have the strap button at the 11th fret. My 7lb Fender P balances perfectly with a home made strap button extender (which takes it out level with halfway between frets 10 & 11. The body is thin for a fender (just over 40mm). Shifting the bridge may mean you'll need to re-work the lower horn to maintain access to the upper frets, but if you're drawing out the body yourself, it's definitely worth doing if balance is important to you.
    astack and franksidebottom like this.
  4. Thanks. I'd prefer to not replace the tuners b/c they aren't direct replacements and the extra holes will bug me. But I'll keep this in mind as a last resort, tuners can always be replaced down the road. :)
  5. Thanks. Good tip about the bridge placement. Yes this body shape is already a P/Stingray hybrid because the neck is 22 frets. I think I can tweak the curves and it'll still look good.
  6. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Tuner weight is overstated as the solution to balance, there's not much weight that can be removed from a tuner to keep it functional. The effect is small. Alternative strap button placement will help, for example move the rear button towards the neck as far as you can.
    However, an old-fashioned body design that is also lightweight and has a big-headstock 5 string neck will be near-impossible to balance, something radical is necessary.
  7. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Light weight, proper balance and comfortable ergonomics are three things I strive for in my builds. Using an existing neck - I'd lay out paper large enough to draw a body shape (with center line) and mark the scale length. (below nut to center bridge saddles) This shows you how much space below whichever bridge you choose you have to the butt of the body. (which will determine overall length of the bass) Second - I make sure the higher fret access is clear/open (lower horn), and that the upper horn is at the 12th fret. The body shape then can be drawn in any design you choose. I introduce a substantial forearm scallop, and a deep rear body bevel for ergonomics. (and wood removal- lightness) I also make sure the bass sits well on your knee when playing seated - it's a part of functional design that many basses overlook or ignore in favor of aesthetics.

    Thickness-wise, I have been making bodies 1-1/4" lately, or 1.5" if the slab is light in weight. 1-1/4" will still leave enough space to rout pu's/neck pocket and control cavity, lays flatter against your body and will make your blank as light as it can be to start with. Body wood choice is critical for weight - basswood is generally light, works and finishes well and sounds good. Alder can be reasonably light, but can also be heavy. Roasted swamp ash can be as light as basswood, but not always - you need to work with whoever you're using as a source making it clear you want a very light-weight blank. Many times they will plane what they have (generally 1.5" or over) at a slight up-charge. Finally, the lower strap peg needs to shift from center toward the forearm bevel side. This addresses two issues if designed correctly; one, it will help keep the heavy neck from diving (along with the 12th fret upper horn peg) and two, with an offset body - you can position it so that the bass stands upright with a strap attached. (as in, standing against an amp on stage) There are other ways to address this, all based on your design. (whether or not it has an off-set body)

    A well designed bass starts from the needed functional features and harmonizes aesthetically, conforming to those features.
    The Ryantist likes this.
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