Luthiery for Dummies

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by absinthe, Mar 26, 2002.

  1. absinthe

    absinthe Guest

    Jan 20, 2002
    Great Britain
    Well, if there isn't a book with that title, there dam* well should be.

    I did it. I defretted and generally overhauled my Westfield Pro....all by myself. (Who's a clever girl, then?) I was in a quandry over whether or not to buy a new fretless (I was given the gift of bass buying for my soon-to-be birthday) but I solved that problem by doing the biz on the Westfield and buying a dream of a fretted (see post entitled "Stingrays for the Poor!"). But I digress...

    A bit of background first. I bought this new on e-bay for not a lot of dosh and it's a luverly sounding P/J. Okay, it needed a bit of truss rod and saddle adjusting - but this was straight-from-the-factory fresh - even had the strings wrapped in wax paper! I'm glad I learned how to set up a bass....I is not a rich wench and certainly couldn't afford the services of a pro.

    Back to bassics... the Westfield came with EMG "AXL's" fitted as standard and a stunning aquamarine metallic finish (which doesn't come out at all well in this pic, thanks to my crappy camera, but you get the idea). The neck was like treacle however (covered in glossy gloop), but a few minutes with some steel wool, 600 grit sandpaper, lemon oil and beeswax and it's now the consistency of highly polished glass. With small hands and short fingers, you need all the speed you can get!

    First of all, off came the truly disgusting red tortoiseshell pickguard (can you imagine red tortoiseshell with metallic blue?! Don't me.) and on went a nice new white pearl replacement I picked up for £20 at Brandoni's.

    I love the retro look of this colour with the pearl pickguard.

    So far so good - as for the defretting - it was a dawdle! I was so concerned about it, I gathered every scrap of information online that I could - and in the end it was all done in an hour and a half. I got the frets out with one of those little kitchen knives, using the edge of the blade nearest the handle. No problem....clean as a whistle. The fret-gaps I filled with "antique pine" coloured wood filler which shows up nice against the rosewood - but not so bright as maple.

    When it was dry, I sanded it all down with 240 grit, 400 grit, 600 grit then lemon oiled it clean and polished it with beeswax. It plays like a dream and sounds wonderful without the frets! I've discovered that I LOVE fretless and my intonation ain't half bad - I've only hit a few bum notes in the few days I've been playing it.

    Anyway, here's the finished product. Not bad for a beginning-bassist-gothwench, eh? :D
  2. Ciaran


    Apr 4, 2001
    Nice work whench :D

    I defretted my first bass at the start of the year which was a fun experience.Can't wait to do it again:)

    Are you using roundwounds or flatwounds?

    Good call on the pickgaurd change.
    Red tortoiseshell? *shudders*
  3. absinthe

    absinthe Guest

    Jan 20, 2002
    Great Britain
    Thankee. :D

    I'm still in therapy over the old pickguard....but I'll get over it in time....

    I'm using roundwounds. I've considered the roundwound/flatwound controversy for a wee while and may experiment with flats in the future - but for now, the rounds sound sweeeeeeeet and my adage is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Unless it needs defretting, that is. ;)
  4. Very nice bass! The thought of that red tortoiseshell pickgard is definitely making me queezy! You should not have said don't think about it!!! :D Lord...I'll be having nightmares about it now. :eek:

  5. silvermaneZ


    Oct 10, 2000
    Houston, TX
    And the latest award for the longest, most amusing sig goes to......


    Is that one about groping a Goth a bumper sticker? It should be.

    Oh, and cool job on the bass!:p
  6. absinthe

    absinthe Guest

    Jan 20, 2002
    Great Britain
    Hey, I did warn you! As for me, I'm still in therapy over it... (twitch, twitch, dribble) :eek:

    (blushes modestly) I accept this award on behalf of the tea lady, my cat, the slug I accidentally stepped on this morning, the postman's nose wart and....and.... (dabs eyes) Sorry. I'm overcome.

    No. It's not a bumper sticker. I made it up ages ago. The only one of the number which is original, I have to say. :rolleyes:
  7. See...therein lies the problem. You went and warned us! :D You know you just have to do it, when you're warned not to! :D

  8. Mmmmmm...I think im in love.

    the bass is nice too.:)