making my first homemade bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jonki, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    i need tips and input for my project, how to build my first bass! i want to build a bass with :
    -Active EMG pickups
    -black metallic or red metallic finish
    -4 string
    -Black or silver hardware (depends on finish)

    i am a newbie, but what is the difference between fretless and fretted? 34" and 35" scale? what type of wood can i use to get a groovy and fat sound? how can i carve out body, neck, head and electronic placement? :confused:

    regards Jonki :bassist:
  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Well, the difference between fretted and fretless is som 20-25 metal crossbars on the fingerboard.
    Some will say it is harder to play a fretless, I would not. I would say, it's quicker to get to a point where you can play, but given some extra time to train ear and finger coordination, fretless is a easy. You will, however, develop a good technique, while the frets will encourage a sloppy technique (been there, done that, lost all precision...bla:spit: )

    Sound is not so dependent on wood species. Strings, pickups and their position, and other electronics have much more impact. And the player!!

    Carving...use what you have, and a lot of patience and precicion. A drill press, a router and a bandsaw will be a great help.
  3. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    Based on your questions, I wonder whether you're ready. I don't mean that to be a jerk - I just wouldn't want you to invest in some tools and get bored with it or cut your fingers off. You really oughtta have a decent understanding of the instrument first, and some reasonable woodworking skills before embarking on a build. It's not rocket science, but you can go through some expensive wood (or, as mentioned, irreplaceable appendages) if you don't have the prerequisite skills.

    If you want to see what's involved, get a copy of Melvyn Hiscock's book, "Make Your Own Electric Guitar." It's pretty well written, discusses some of the reasons for doing things certain ways, and will help you decide whether this is something you really want to set out on.
  4. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    I agree with mslatter. Get the Hiscock book and see if this is some thing you really want to do. I haven't started yet, but I'm half way through my second guitar building book. When i get my power tools, you'll be sure I'm going to work on getting good with them before I start building anything. I tend to like my fingers.
  5. I'm with these guys. When you say first bass, you're talking about the first bass you make, as opposed to making the bass that will be your first?

    There's a heck of a lot that I'm not sure you've considered, fingerboard radius, neck shape, NT or BO. I was in a similar place to you a little while ago, I got a reasonably sweet book (I want Hiscock's but I think I have to order it in) last christmas and I've read it through at least 4-5 times since then. Gone through nearly the entire backlog of threads from here, and also most of the archives from MIMF. And I still doubt I know enough to do a decent job (we'll find out in a few months hopefully).

    Do as much research as you can, there's a fair bit of info out there that'll put you on the straight and narrow.

    Josh D
  6. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    if i make a homebass it isnt my first, i have played bass a few months now. i want to make a bass because i want something different, like nice finish/design and groovy sound, i cant stand a bass with fretbuzz (even that i raised the string height), low end sound and so on. i agree with you guys, but as i said, i want something different, making/having my _own_ bass guitar will be one of the biggest joyment i can have :bassist:

    regards Jonki
  7. Eliminating fretbuzz isn't just about raising the strings, you also gotta get your relief and that sorta thing sorted. Gary Willis' website has a pretty good step-by-step process.

    If you're looking for somthing a little different sooner rather than later you have a few options: 1. A good setup will have it feel a lot better than most initial setups that a bass is issued with. 2. To change the sound a bit you could look at changing the pups or even the whole set of electrics. What you may want to change to is your own preference, and possibly a bit of luck. 3. Stick a new bridge on, depending on your bass, a Badass should possibly bolt straight in, though if you're looking to make a bass, screwing a couple of holes into your current bass shouldn't scare you too much. Depending on what bridge you have now you may change a fair bit of how the bass feels. 4. Aesthetically, stickers are good. I put a stack of them on my first bass, I saw some pics of it when I first got it a while ago and it definitely needed the stickers. If it doesn't have a pickguard already (or even if it does) make your own up. Some guy in basses made one out of that rubber tile kinda stuff, kinda looked okay but if you try hard enough and use something cool it will change the look and some of the feel of the bass, depending where you put it.

    I'm not trying to talk you out of making one yourself, just giving you a few options to work with while you get your drawings, woods and all the other fun things that you need to have organised before you start your making own bass.

    Josh D
  8. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Read all that you can. I've read a fair amount but not nearly enough. I've bought a fair amount of parts: SD MM5 circuit, black limba body blank from Larry @ GalleryHardwoods, warmoth maple neck blank, batter compartment, steel stiffening rods, truss rod, etc.

    I'm still trying to figure out exactly what i will do and the various options. I think it'd be easier to do something with a pickguard on it w/top routes yet i think from a looks standpoint a rear route would be best. Body shape i'm not as concerned about. I've got about 13-14 different particle board cutouts of shapes that i thought would work.

    The parts that i'm currently researching again: Neck shape, peghead shape/angle, and mainly all parts regarding the neck. This part is what has me nervous and i've considered just selling the maple blank that i do have [or not-probably couldn't get much as i paid $18] and buying a prefab neck from warmoth-this would help eliminate some of the guess work. But this project is on hold for a bit. The neck is the part i'm most worried about so who knows what i'll end up doing. I don't want to waste the parts that i have bought [truss rod, steel bars], yet i don't want to just be cheap.

    Well that's all