making a bass in woodshop

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Willett, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. Willett


    Dec 30, 2003
    im thinking of making a bass for my next project.
    but im having trouble finding information about it.

    im looking for some internet website, but books are even better.

    im thinking of a fretless (screw coverting or buying) maybe five/six string.

    im looking for resources that offer types of wood, neck reinforcement, and pickups.
  2. there are a few online sources for parts. one is stewart-mcdonald at they sell all the tools and raw materials.

    another is warmoth at they sell parts, mainly. finished or unfinished.

    there are two books that are usually recommended for first-timers:

    make your own electric guitar by melvyn hiscock


    make your own electric guitar and bass by dennis waring

    my local library has both books available. maybe yours does too.

    good luck.


    Dennis Waring

    This practical, illustrated guide to building a standard, solid-body instrument uses everyday tools and materials and emphasises simplicity and logic to produce a personalised, top-quality instrument.

  4. For a first project, I would suggest buying a pre-fabricated neck, and adding your own body and hardware to it. You can buy either a neck-through or a bolt-on from Stew-Mac, as previously mentioned, or from Carvin.

    This saves a considerable amount of time, since the fingerboard, truss rod, and frets will be done for you (and done properly). Yet you still get the artistic input of finishing the headstock, and designing and finishing the body, and selecting components.

    IMHO doing a neck from scratch is a little, make that a lot, more involved than your average workshop project.
  5. Willett


    Dec 30, 2003
    thats a good idea, i was looking at that stew-mac website before reading about neck construction.

    i hope the teacher will let me do this.
    seems like other people are and im the head of the class.
  6. Have you been down to look at the topics and discussions in the TB Luthiers forum? We've got a lot of info regarding every aspect of construction and repair.

    You should also register as a member over on the Musical Instrument Makers Forum. Registering (free) will allow you access to the archived discussions that cover about 5 years of instrument building discussions by some of the worlds most famous luthiers.
  7. Willett


    Dec 30, 2003

    i just found out though that i cant make a bass/guitar until next year.
    but ill read about it and ask questions so by next year i can start right away and have the most amount of time to work on it.

    cant wait.
  8. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    Hey i posted about books a month ago and got 0 replies :( .

    But thats ok i ended up getting those books that that milothicus recommended.

    The books were fine for me. I'm a little confused on some of the woodworking setups and terms and stuff but that's cause i have 0 wood working knowledge. But thats ok because i don't plan on making a nice bass since i expect to lose my fingers.
  9. You sir, are in a perfect position to really create something special for your bass. Look at the situation your in here. You want to build but can't use the school facilities until next year. You have desire and drive to do this right AND you have sitting right on your desk the best tool you could ever have to make this happen - a computer.

    Besides from the veritable fountain of information you can gleen from the web, you can also use your computer to design, and refine your design to perfection before the first bit of sawdust hits the floor. Get a vector based illustration program like CorelDraw (any old version as far back as ver 7) and set about making full size (or at least scaled) drawings of your design. Use centerlines to build from and create a perfectly workable design that is precise and easy to follow when the time comes. Work out all of the details - shape of control cavity, location of knobs, neck and body relationships for good balance, horn shapes - everything. Then print it out to full size and get a better feel for the scale of the work you'll be doing.

    When the design is perfect, you can then cut out templates from your patterns and use them to rout your body. The cool thing about this approach is that you've got a template that can make more if the first one goes good OR you can make another easily if the first one goes bad! Either way you win. And I guarantee that you'll want to build more than one if you finish the first.

    Hope this helps.
  10. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    He speaks the truth. I am not done with my first one yet, but i already want to build another. I'll tell you what i've done. Ok-first off, i think the CAD/vector drawing thing is a great idea. However, i'm more literate in just buying a bunch of plywood than i am at getting our POS computer to work with those programs.

    I did my design full size on a peice of 1/8 plywood at first. This gave me a full size sheet of paper essentially. I traced my stingray5 and altered it till i saw fit. I made ones that where just off the top of my head and then made some that a few hours later i wondered if someone slipped something into my drink. BE PICKY!!

    I then did the same thing [except with a better idea] on 5/8 inch particle board. This to me was a great step-i got to see how the thing would actually feel [i know still a bit thin].

    Next, I glued 2 5/8 inch peices of particle board together to give me a 1 1/4 inch peice. This is where i think i got what i wanted out best. I altered, copied, stole, and borrowed.

    Next, i realized i should have done scale drawings on paper. I thought "wow, yet again TBers are right". I did ideas that combined, stole, and manipulated designs i've seen before. I did lower horns that varied from ES 135 style to Fender. The upper horns varied from ones like JPs to Fodera esque.

    The final body shaped turned out to be a JP borrowed style upper horn [singlecut] with a Fender style lower horn.

    If you have the desire-do it.

    I'm taking a bit different route than what has been suggested as a first in that I'm building my own neck, using my own [stolen, borrowed, and manipulated] body shape, and am doing most of the work with just hand tools. I'm paying someone else to do the nut work. I'm renting and borrowing the tools i don't have as there's a shop here that lets you do that. :)

    In conclusion-RESEARCH and then design and modify things, walk away from it for a few weeks, and come back to it. The walk away is so that you get an objective eye again.

    That's all and Enjoy