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Making my bass lighter

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jbybj, May 21, 2019.

  1. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    i have a G&L parts bass. An SB-2 neck on an L2000 body. They are from 1986 and 1989, but I don’t remember which is which. I love everything about this bass but the weight, approximately 11.5lbs. The only time I’ve ever gigged it was a Battle of The Bands 4 song set. I would love to shed 3 lbs and use this more often.

    Various crazy thoughts that swirl in my head:
    Take a router to the back of it and remove lots of wood, leaving an open mess. Or, Strip it first, then cap the routes making it chambered. (I know, these are stupid ideas, but it’s only stupid if I do it).
    Find someone to build a new body, selling the original one. (I’d love to be able to keep costs down, this is likely the most expensive option).
    Build a body myself. I’m confident I could make something functional, but likely lacking in precision.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or ideas besides what I’ve stated above. Is there something I haven’t thought of?
    EatS1stBassist and Remoman like this.
  2. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    Check out this thread:

    Guitar or bass too heavy? DIY chambering...

    There are lots of options, but it’ll depend on your comfort with each major task.

    Drilling out channels.

    Painting, re-finishing

    If doing like in the link above, routing and capping...
    funkinbottom and jbybj like this.
  3. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    Took a good bit out of my short scale, laminated a new back and refinished. Started out at 8.3 lbs. and ended up at 6.8 lbs.

    Teisco stripped, routed 3. Teisco stripped,routed 4. 20180606_175121. 20180829_153856.
  4. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    These look cool. I think modifying an 80’s G&L body is going to be my last resort.
    I’m ordering a postal scale from Amazon, going to dismantle the bass and see what the body weighs. I’ll take the scale to House Of Hardwoods and explore my options for a fresh build.
    wraub and chinjazz like this.
  5. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    Good to weigh those options ;)
  6. How much does hardware weigh? I can't imagine it's light on an 80's G&L.

    I think a new body is in order, I would hate to cut up an original and it still not be light(due to heavy wood). Maybe something light like basswood, chambered with a nice figured top? Or painted a solid color for that 80's appropriate look? My 2 cents.


    Edit: I believe that @JIO did a jazz that was rear routed/drilled for weight relief and then made into a feature. I'll see if I can find it.
    jbybj likes this.
  7. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    The body is not a complex shape, and looks to be a simple repro to produce.

    Pretty sure that'd be the easiest choice...

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I'd get a new body and lighter hardware, and sell the heavy parts if I reeeeeaaally love the bass. If you're a handy person with tools and do like projects, that's a different story, but I think you'd spend a bunch of time modding it, not to mention you'll loose money if you sell the bass later no matter how amazing your mods are.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  9. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    I want to use all the original hardware and keep the original body intact. I’m gonna build a body from lighter wood, and chamber the new body, if I can reasonably predict a 2.5 - 3 pound reduction. At least that’s how my thinking has turned in the last couple of hours.
    The fine folks at House Of Hardwood really know their stuff, and should be a big help in choosing new wood.
    It will have a hand rubbed oil finish, which will be lighter than the current finish. I may reconsider the tuners, if it comes to that.

    One thing for certain, those MFD pups with old flats are magic. I really want to bring that tone to a three hour gig.
    wraub and RBS_Johnson like this.
  10. In my experience, fairly light wood with heavy chambering like funkinbottom posted will lose a lot of weight. I carved this body down thinner, and chambered where it would be hidden behind the pickguard. Really made a noticeable difference.


    funkinbottom and Beej like this.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I'm curious to see what everything weighs once you get it on a scale. At 11.5 lbs, even if you have a 6 lb body and 3lbs of hardware and electronics, you still have a 2.5 lb neck. I'd probably look at lighter tuners and shaving the neck a bit too.
    dab12ax7ef, chinjazz and RBS_Johnson like this.
  12. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Postal scale arrives Thursday. This thread inspired me, dismantle complete.

    I will not touch the neck, I LOVE THIS NECK. Lighter tuners would be the last thing, if necessary. I will likely lose the control plate that holds the pots and switches, and the neck plate. That might be 1/2 a lb.
    On my digital bathroom scale, the stripped body is 4.5 lbs. if I can make a 2 lb body, I’ll be golden.

    This will not be without it’s challenges. The pickups and battery cover use threaded inserts, which could change to wood screws in the new body, but it would be cool to stay with machine screws.

    The MFDs are freakishly heavy, but they are not negotiable. I don’t see myself installing a micro tilt in the new neck pocket, I won’t miss it.

    I suspect when I’m done, it will have been fun and infuriating.

    Edit: this is why I need a postal scale. Redo on the bathroom has the body at 5.5 lbs. I just need to be patient.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  13. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I'm curious too... are you weighing it directly on the scale, or are you weighing yourself with/without it and subtracting? :D If the body is 5.5lbs, I'd be surprised if the whole thing was over 9.5 lbs...
    CyberSnyder likes this.
  14. It's got two MFD pickups in it, and the hardware on these is pretty heavy duty stuff. Still seems light, but I'm wagering possible.
  15. Juststanley

    Juststanley Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2014
    I have weighed several basses and bodies at the post office...buy some stamps, ask nicely....bam ! accurate weight
  16. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Directly on the bathroom scale wouldn’t register at all. I’m waiting for my postal scale.
  17. What if you contact G&L, explain your situation, and see (after you weigh your unloaded body for a reference) IF they would hand select and sell you a lighter body, the finish work on your nickel. Oiled finish possibly, and replace the factory keys with HipShots, might just get you there.
    blindrabbit, ThinCrappyTone and jbybj like this.
  18. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Here you go. Something that never occurred to me. My first reaction though is that this will be far outside my budget. But since you mentioned it, I wonder if they would, and how much it’d cost.
  19. Remoman


    Mar 14, 2017
    I've been to the G&L factory a few times and have met many of the staff and seen the operations. My guess is that this would not be something they'd be willing to do, unless it's something through the custom shop, but even then doubtful and probably costly. I would say sending your body out to a refinishing shop and having them chamber it would be your best bet. That way you're keeping all your original components too.
  20. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Lubbock, TX
    Just fill the body cavity with helium
    blindrabbit, MYLOWFREQ, dwade and 5 others like this.

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