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Micro Bass: Pre-Pre-Planning, Rambling, Etc.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TheEmptyCell, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    I'm just brainstorming here, but I'm thinking I may someday make this project happen.

    I want to build a mini bass, between 24" and 26" scale, similar to my Samick Corsair Mini. The Samick can only fit strings that'll allow it to be tuned ADGC, but I had an idea, inspired by some companies short-scale..

    The strings would be the BEAD from a 5-string set and tune them EADG. They would string through the body and be anchored closer to the nut by as many inches as necessary so that the tapered end of the string would wind on the tuning gear, and not the big, fat part of the string.

    Yes, I could simply mod a guitar for this, but the bridge placement would make it just look like a guitar, ya know?

    I figure the routing for the strings on the back wouldn't be too deep... 1/4", maybe a little more, and I could just put a cover on it, recessed around the edges possibly.

    As for pickups, I'm thinking of putting some blade-style Strat pickups under Jazz covers, although I think the string spacing would be pretty close to a 'full-size' bass.

    My main concern is intonation... would using the strings in this manner make intonating them anymore difficult than using heavier or lighter strings on a full-size bass?

    Turns out, you can get a Warmoth guitar neck, 25.5" scale, with a 1-3/4" nut width, so then I could get a P-bass nut and widen the slots.

    This next question is one of personal opinion: should I go for a miniature Jazz, P, etc. OR something completely different? Right now, I'm thinking it would be awesome to make a mini P or J... it might be the perfect 'guitar player's bass.'

    What are your thoughts on this project? Cool idea that'll make a usable instrument, or just total crap?
  2. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    I'd say before putting all the work and money into it, find a cheap guitar and mod it to test the theory.
  3. buy an SX tele.. punch it full of holes to test your theory. fill the holes, and then sell it to me for cheap :D

    i need a new tele
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Somebody did something close to this a year or two ago. With the standard bass strings, wrapped under the body, just like you're suggesting.

    A 34" scale neck has 25.47" remaining at the fifth fret, so your plan seems like a good one.

    If you build this like a typical bass, with the bridge close to the bottom, you'll have to come up with a body design that actually has a deeper cutaway than a typical guitar, since the neck will be mounted further in. This could actually end up being smaller than a guitar, depending on your headstock.
  5. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    Thanks for the input. The bass I'm basing this idea of off, a Samick Corsair MCR-1, does have a much smaller body than any electric guitar I've ever seen. It's like a sharper P-bass, or an Ibanez guitar in terms of body shape.


    I think that the neck used on the Samick IS a guitar neck, just with a different nut and tuner holes. I'm curious as to know if you can get smaller heads for a Gotoh-style tuning machine, because that would help mini'fy the headstock. As you can tell, the Samick has a tilt-back headstock, which still seems a bit large compared to the bass.
  6. LedBelli Bass

    LedBelli Bass Fine, Handmade Custom Bass Guitars

    Dec 25, 2008
    Pasco, WA
    And I thought that I think outside the box! This will be cool to see when you're done.
  7. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    You definitely do, but having owned such an odd little instrument for so long, I think that I'd like to go one step further.

    Also, it's kind of inspired by the BassUke (www.bassuke.com), which uses extremely heavy strings to achieve a tuning to E on instruments between 18" and 23" scale!

    There's a cabinet maker nearby that may be able to spare a few scraps of maple or any other hardwood, and I wouldn't need much, since the body will be so small.
  8. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    A new brainstorm hit me, and I already posted it in the Strings section, but here's the basic idea:

    Take a low B and E, and crimp them off a few inches from where the ball end is, attaching some kind of collar so that they can be used without having to go string through. Is there some way to do this that wouldn't cause the string to unravel?

    I guess I could put a knot in the string, but at .130 gauge, that'd be pretty hard without attaching each end to a car and going separate directions!

    Another thought is to do like some think works to increase tension and use a reverse headstock and adding spacers behind the bridge. Spacers would be a decent experiment to try with my existing mini bass.
  9. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    OMG please. These are myths and untrue. If the tension is higher, the pitch goes up. If the pitch doesn't go up, you didn't raise the tension. One vibrating distance with one weight of string at one tension, produces one pitch.
  10. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    I'm not agreeing! I think it's a load of crap to think that any of that would raise the tension, BUT it would give me more room to put a big, fat string in place without having to cut them down or anything.
  11. deplopcinema


    Jan 26, 2009
    I'm trying to do the same project! I'm planning to buy a guitar neck and body and go from there. I contacted Warmoth about it and they said they WON'T drill bass tuner holes on a guitar neck (LAME!) but WILL make a guitar neck with no tuner holes drilled. So I'd have to do it myself. Aka finding someone with a drill press (LAME!). Unfortunately the thinnest they go is 1 5/8" for guitar neck nut width. Which is okaaaaaaay, but I'd MUCH rather have a standard 1 1/2" jazz bass nut width. Additionally I'd probably end up having to use EMG pickups (they make bass pickups in a standard humbucker size) and/or the single coil sized Bassline pickup. Totally a pain in the bass, I wish there was a custom guitar company willing to make a legit guitar-scale bass.
  12. renniw


    Nov 30, 2004
    Lévis (Québec)
    Here a bass I did for my daughter, one piece mahogany with maple fingerboard.


    I did put some standard bass strings on it, didn't work, too floppy.

    Put BEAD strings to raise tension, neck warped because of excess tension, action was way too high. (there is no truss rod in the neck because no one fitted the very short 21 inches scale I used, maybe I could have brought the action to a reasonnable eight with that... lesson learned : always put a truss rod in a neck...)

    Now I have eadg guitar strings (think of it as a piccolo bass) and it's not that bad.
  13. anechoic


    Oct 31, 2005
    Shirley, MA
    What about doing something akin to an Ashbory? Obviously the biggest hassle would be dealing with the silicone strings (you obviously have to use a piezo, although I wonder if a DIY optical pickup might work as well) I'm pretty sure I've seen some homebuilt instruments based on that design, although Google is failing me at the moment.

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