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looking to starting building my own bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by 0175westwood29, Oct 12, 2010.


  1. 0175westwood29

    0175westwood29

    Sep 16, 2007
    hope this in the right place?

    im looking into starting building a bass, i wanna get my head round the electric first tho.

    how did you guys get started, were there courses, books etc or did you just do it on the fly?

    im thinking of getting a cheap bass and just doing lots of work on it to start ie changing the electrics working out how it all works?

    does this sound like a good place to start? i also wanna get into looking at amps as ideally i want to become a band tech

    any advice ?

    andy
     
  2. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Andy, look to books by Melvyn Hiscock and Martin Koch, look to youtube for build videos, there are hundreds, and look to guitarelectronics.com, pick-up manufacturer sites for schematics, and again youtube for guitar wiring. Also Stewart Macdonald and Luthiers Mercantile offer a plethora of books and DVD's/videos for your consumption. beware, it's an addictive hobby.
     
  3. Cosmo420

    Cosmo420

    Sep 10, 2010
    Roanoke, VA
    I have both Melvyn's and Martin's books. Both are packed with tons of useful information. I haven't started actually building anything yet because I'm still getting all the tools together, but armed with those two books I think I have a good foundation to build on.

    There is also a video by Bailey Guitars (I think) called Guitar Magic. While it isn't technically an "instructional" video, it does let you watch step by step as two people take a class and build their own guitars. You can pick up a lot of useful tips from that video.
     
  4. pbagley

    pbagley

    Jun 2, 2008
    Ham Lake, MN
    I'm one of the least experienced builders out here, but here goes anyway.

    The books are a good suggestion. I read one of the books - Hiscock's I think - cover to cover before starting. Plan out your bass based on what you learn, but I recommend going your own way in the design as much as you are able. I never saw any point in making someone else's project.

    There are a lot of options and choices you need to make. You will probably make mistakes. I know I did.

    Instrument #2 (electric guitar) is much better than #1 (bass). I still made mistakes. Experiments in finishes are not a great idea. Stick to automotive finishes for your top coats. I need to go back to instrument #0 (body only) for that - and that was just clear engine enamel. I do not recommend wood working polyurethane (brush, wipe on, or spray) or shellac based on my very limited experience.

    I found fretting to be the most difficult part of the build. I think the Stew-Mac fret press may be a good investment.

    Good luck! Post your finished product here.

    - Paul
     
  5. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Notice a pattern? ;)

    I started with these books over 16ish years ago. They are the best foundations that you will get.

    Buy your own, and buy new. The notes that I have made in the margins years ago serve as a great reference of my own personal progress. Also, when I went back to the book last year I found a design that I had made when I was 15! Win!

    From there you can begin repairing and caring for your friends guitars. That way you can gain plenty of experience without losing the cost of materials.

    For amps you can study solid-state as well as tube circuits. Good luck.

    Where are you?
     
  6. I started off with the same books. While they are great, reading them is no substitute for practice. Check out some of the contest build threads on here, lots of first time builders came out of the woodwork, for lack of better terms. We made a lot of mistakes so maybe you won't have to repeat some of them.

    I'd suggest skipping the 5A flamed ninja soulwood on the first one. I spent $98 on my bass including eBay special pickups and tuners and while I'll keep it forever, it is very nearly unplayable. I made a lot of easy mistakes that I won't be repeating going into build #2.

    The working on a cheap bass idea is good too. I rewired a Squier Mini Strat several times before I got comfortable with what goes where, and I mooched that off my sister.
     
  7. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    I would highly recommend Dan Erlewine's book Fretwork Step-by-Step, even (especially) for your first build.

    The quality of the work done to the fretboard and frets is one of the most important aspects of an instrument, it is a major part of what allows you to get very low action and prevents buzzing and other issues. If you can get these right on your first instrument you are well on the way to making an excellent bass!

    Remember to practice operations you've never done before on pieces of scrap before you try them on the instrument you are building.

    Also remember that it is usually better to walk away from the project for a night if you are getting frustrated or trying to rush, that is when most mistakes occur.

    Good luck on your first builds!
     
  8. top028

    top028

    Dec 14, 1999
    Lancaster, PA
    +1 on martin koch's book. I think there may be more details found in other books, but he really covers it all. Also check used bookstores and freecycle for old wood working magazines. invaluable for tips on jig making and tool usage. They taught me that a sharp plane, chisel, and marking knife really make life easier.

    Amp work....Kevin O'Connor of http://www.londonpower.com/index.html

    A huge resource for mods and design. The books are an investment, but they are invaluable. I have the first three and tonnes of tone. Geofex.com is a great resource for the intro to the world of electronics. PM me for more electronics links (I can go on and on)
     
  9. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Feb 27, 2021

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