Making a bass for school, help!!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by kirbywrx, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I know ive posted this in the misc forum, but i only just discovered this place existed after being here for nearly 4 years :rolleyes:

    For my final piece in woodshop this year, im making a bass. 6 strings, 24 frets. Now before i actually start making anything, i have to design everything on paper. but the main thing that is holding me back, is the fact that i cant decide weather or not to make a thru neck or bolt on. there is no way i can actually make a fretboard, so i might have to get someone to do that for me. If i make a neck thru, im not sure if i should stain it with the colros i have chosen, or just put a clear stain on. I suppose the only thing that dictates taht is the sort of wood i use to make the instrument.

    But here is what i have got so far:

    Body Shape: Ibanez BTB or Warmoth Gecko
    Pickups: Not sure weather it will be passive or active yet. Passive pups: One EMG-HZ45, Active: I cant decide yet, little help?
    Bodywoods: Ash/Alder/Anything i can get with decent tonal qualities with a Flamed Maple Veneer.
    Fretboard: Maple
    Neck Type: I still cannot decide between a thru-neck or bolt-on. Help!
    HeadstockSimilar to MTD 635 or Tobias. Favouring the Tobias.
    Finish Similar to the Lakland in the attached picture, almost black around the edges, fading to a lighter blue/green color in thecenter. Does anyone know how i create this sort of affect?

    Other stuff: Control cavity cover will be bad of the same body wood, Matching Headstock. I cannot decide if the strings should go thru the body, what sort of bridge to use, what sort of machine heads, weather or not to have fret dots, and if so, what.

    I know ive got a lot more to make up my mind on before i actually start, but im just not sure what i have to decide on! how do you all think im going so far? anythnig else i should know? Throw some more ideas at me!

    Im hoping to make this the best thing i have ever made, because it counts as 23% of my end-of-year mark :D

    Thanks again!
  2. Woodboy


    Jun 9, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    Make your first bass as easy to build as you can. To that end, I would say bolt-on with natural finish. You can't get more simple than Fender basses. Leo designed them that way; for ease of manufacture. Check out Maton Guitar's website. They are using lots of Australian timbers to great advantage. By the time you got swamp ash or alder to Australia it would cost a good bit more than using woods you have right there. Good luck. I hope your teacher enjoys music!
  3. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    I'd simplify the project as much as possible for your first (of course run it past your teacher to ensure it'll make the grade, but I suspect you've got a leg up on the guy next to you making a coffee table.)

    Bolt-on neck - more adjustable for angle after the fact.
    Passive electronics - simple and cheap.
    fretless - fretwork is time consuming and will probably mean diddly to a woodshop teacher. A long smooth expanse of radiused ebony or maple, on the other hand will be appreciated.

    As for the finish - how much finishing experience do you have? If not much, I'd go with a simple wipe on finish. You really can mess up an otherwise beautiful project with a bad finish. Just take my word on that one. ;)
  4. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    well i spoke to my luthier mate who gave me some brilliant ideas.

    instead of having a 6 string, ill have a 5 string tuned EADGC compared to my current 5 tuned BEADG. It will be a bold on neck, and he mention a company in the US that sells neck all ready frettted with a truss rod, all they need is finishing and headstock shaping. If i can find a 5 string bass for sale second hand, then i will buy it, use the hardware off it, use the pickups, and re-do the body. if this isnt possible, ill make everything from scratch, using Hoop Pine as the body. Hoop Pine is pretty much the australian version of alder. Ill also use to pieces laminated. As for the neck, ill get a blank neck off this company, and so forth. If i have to make it, Rock maple for the neck, and perhaps Good ol' Australian Jarrah as the fretboard. A gotoh bridge perhaps, and decent machine heads, and 1xEMG Select passive pickup, right in the sweet spot. Ill be lucky to get change out of $500, thats the only downside :(

    Anyway what do you think about these ideas? Pros, Cons, any input is greatly appreciated.

  5. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    If it were me, I would make everything from scratch, but that's just because I crave the pride and attention I get from my own hand-made stuff. Not to mention, this IS woodshop. Aren't you supposed to make stuff from scratch? Then again, it would be more simple and cheaper to find a second-hand bass, do some cutting, shaving, etc. Not to mention, you would have all the elctronics, bridge, tuners, neck, etc. already there!
  6. I can't remember if you continued this thread in another form but what did you end up doing in the end, and hows it going?

    Josh D
  7. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Yeah, I've posted several threads regarding the step that I was at, at that time.

    OK, here's the progress, so far.

    • BODY: I'm just now finishing my design. I bought a big slab of Korina from eBay, today, which I'll use for the body. There will be no pickguard, so I'll have to make a rear-access. I would like an extra long scale -- maybe 36" or 38" -- for a deeper sound. Also, with more string mass, I should get a bit more sustain. I may make the body string-thru.
    • NECK: I plan on using a replacement 4-string neck from a Washburn "Lyon" or "Bantam" bass. It's the same as a Warmoth-style 2+2 neck, except the headstock is painted. I may remove the finish and sealer so I can stain the neck to match the Korina body. I may also remove the frets and fill in the grooves so that they are still visible. I'm going to add an extension to the heel of the neck so that it extends past the heel of the fretboard. This way, the heel of the fretboard will sit at the edge of the body for maximum fret access.
    • FINISH: I may stain the body for a darker color. I've been looking at rosewood and ebony stains. I'm going to gloss the whole body and neck (but not the fretboard) to try and cover any seams.
      • (Black) Passive EMG-HZ bass humbuckers
      • Black tuners
      • Black independent bridges
      • Black dome knobs
      • Black nylon tapewound strings
    It may be hard to find a black input jack. I've seen black strat-style jacks, which I may use if I can't find a regular black one.

    So... any suggestions? Change in concept? Should I get different pickups (BTW, I don't want exposed poles.)?
  8. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Does Washburn make a 36" or 38" scale neck? The scale you use will be determined by the neck/fretboard you use and I assume Washburn would only have 34", maybe 35". Even a lined fretless would be weird to play if the scale was incorrect for the slotting.

    Allparts will have black OUTPUT jacks. ;) (there's nothing going into an instrument, only signal coming out)
  9. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Just as I thought. So adding the neck heel extension and elongating the body won't work, eh? The washburn neck is made for 34" scale. Oh well... 34" it is, then. I don't actually have the neck yet, so I'll look around on eBay a bit more. Also, I don't think anyone makes single-string string-thru bridges. Back to the drawing board...

    Output.... You'll have to excuse me on that one. *thinks "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid, T.J.!"*

    (Time to check out AllParts' selection!)