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most difficult part for a noob with this idea?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SirPoonga, Mar 17, 2005.


  1. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    I've been hanging out reading luthier forums/sites. My dad happen to come by while I was looking at one. Being a builder/tinkerer he want to help me make one for the fun of making one. Being that after reading about building a bass it seems like the neck would be the most difficult part. I was thinking of just getting a warmoth deck and making my own body then. My dad has knurled chestnut for wood that would look pretty cool. Would that wood be a good choice? What characteristics would it have?

    If going with a prebuilt fender neck from warmoth, what owuld probably be the most difficult part? I'd think it would be creating the neck pocket. I take it the body should be in parallel with the neck, at least the pickups should.

    So far from reading this is what I have come up with
    Assuming prebuilt neck, to create the rest of the bass, at least bassics so it plays, would require/consider:
    Creating body shape. Being that my dad works at a door manufacturer and after looking at pictures of many basses it would seem we can take two pieces of the chestnut and biscuit/glue them togther in a simular fashion cabinet doors are created to create a strong solid body.
    body thickness
    Creating neck pocket.
    Placing bridge (centering bridge, measure from neck pocket to make 34" scale?)
    Placing pickups (I'm thinking of doing a P and J pickup, involve centering like bridge)
    Electronics cavity and mount holes (pots, jack, etc)
    A bore hole for ground wire to bridge (how does one do this?)
    Strap button placement
    finishing/staining/painting (should the entire bass be primered?)

    Am I missing something?

    I don't know what quality this will produce but it might be fun to try.
     
  2. At the top of your list should be a complete set of full scale working plans make from measurements taken directly from your parts. While this isn't necessary for most parts basses, you are creating the body and fiitting parts to it so there are some critical measurements to keep straight.

    The first thing I would point out is that the heel of the neck has absolutely no relation to the scale of the bass. If the bass you want to build is to have a 34" scale, the fretboard could theoretically be 33.9" long and still function. Of course, it couldn't on a practical level but for the sake of discussion it's possible. The real critical portion of the neck is the first 12 frets and the location of that 12th fret in space in relation to the nominal location of the end of the scale - the string saddles. You can't change the distance from the nut to the 12th fret but the distance from the 12th to the bridge saddles IS variable and that's where you can go wrong. You should make your measurements from the 12th fret OR from the nut - never from any other point on the neck or body unless you've specifically designated such a point as a benchmark point for the purpose of measurement.

    Here's some other general tips for building...

    - Good balance on the strap can be achieved by designing the body to have the upper horn come even or close to lining up with the 12th fret.
    - Biscuits aren't needed for joining body halves. Just use a good grade of wood glue and you'll be fine. That's what the pros do.
    - When positioning the bridge, run the saddles out to full practical extension and then place the bridge on the body with the saddles aligned with the point where the scale ends. When you intonate the instrument, the fretted note will most likely be sharp requiring lengthening the string (moving the saddle back). Proper intonation is usually achieved with the saddles at about 2/3's of their total available travel.
    - Wireways are drilled using long bits you can find at the hardware store. Usually they are 12" long. I use a ¼" dia. to do most of this type of drilling.
    - Instead of hogging out all of the wood from your pickup routes with the router bit, try removing most of it with a forstner bit and then coming back with the router and cleaning up the cavity. It saves time and might prevent some tearout.
    - Speaking of tearout - get a spiral router bit to minimize the possibility of tearout in woods that are susceptible like walnut.
    - It's ALWAYS best to use carbide or carbide tipped tools instead of HSS tools for this type of work.
    - MDF is the perfect template material. Use it religiously. If you can't draw a straight line, you can't rout a straight line either. If you perfect your shape in MDF, the actual body will be perfect.
    - Use an X-acto knife and score your marks for cutting or measuring. They are thinner and more precise than a pencil line and won't rub off. They will however sand out when finishing begins.
    - It's often helpful to make a model of the heel of your neck with a centerline permanently affixed. That way you can use it to do measurements or layouts no matter what condition the neck is in or what stage of finish it's in.
    - The best way to center a bridge with a neck is to mount the neck and use a pair of straight edges socked along side the neck. The diverging lines formed by the straight edges should center on both sided of the previously established centerline of the body.
    - The best and most precise tool you own is right under your eyeballs as you read this. Get and use a drawing program for the cutting patterns and run them out full size on your printer. Glue them onto the wood with spray adhesive for near CNC accurate cutting and drilling.
    - Think you've got the body design just right? Wanna bet? ;) Use this old artists trick to check your work - Simply flip it over and see if it looks as good mirrored as it did oriented the other way. When we work on a shape in one orientation for a long time, our perception dulls to various incongruities like poor symmetry. Flipping over the shape forces our brains to reorganize the information and look closer to get it back in order and it's only then that we see these small problems.
    - When sanding walnut, and it gets too "white" from the surface scratching that the paper makes to where you can't see what needs to be sanded further, just put a little denatured alcohol on the body and the deeper scratches will reappear for you to locate.

    I'm sure some of the other guys like TJclem, ScottFrench, the Budman, Wilser or Pilot will chime in here in a minute with their great ideas. They build some of the coolest stuff I've ever seen and they do it a lot better than I do.
     
  3. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    "- Good balance on the strap can be achieved by designing the body to have the upper horn come even or close to lining up with the 12th fret."

    Yep, this is the problem I have with my pbass right now.

    "- MDF is the perfect template material. Use it religiously. If you can't draw a straight line, you can't rout a straight line either. If you perfect your shape in MDF, the actual body will be perfect."

    i was asking myself the other day "what am I going to do with this full sheet of MDF".


    As for tools, I have access to th right tools :)

    "- Think you've got the body design just right? Wanna bet? Use this old artists trick to check your work - Simply flip it over and see if it looks as good mirrored as it did oriented the other way. When we work on a shape in one orientation for a long time, our perception dulls to various incongruities like poor symmetry. Flipping over the shape forces our brains to reorganize the information and look closer to get it back in order and it's only then that we see these small problems."

    I was thinking carvin like, or jazz bass line but with a larger horn to keep balance.

    Also for balance, I might put the buttom strap button up more. I tried that out on my pbass and that balances much better than having the button on the centerline.
     
  4. ditto on taking advantage of the power of your computer. TurboCAD makes a free version of their 2D program you can download. You can flip your design there and see what it looks like. It really does open your eyes at a whole new level.

    There's this guy down in florida called Ronny Trigo (guitarbuildingtemplates.com or something close to that). He will take your CAD drawing and laser cut it in 1/4" masonite for a very reasonable price. It's very precise for doing your templates and stuff like neck pockets/outlines, control cavities with matching cover, etc.

    There is only one piece of advise that has really come to be like a hymn for me:
    SING ALONG IF YOU KNOW IT
    :bassist: ALWAYS PRACTICE ON SCRAP and MEASURE TWICE AND THRICE BEFORE CUTTING :bassist:
     
  5. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    The contemporary template looks cool.

    Thinking templates, what do you guys think about stewmac's routing templates?
     
  6. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
  7. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    There's not much to add to the posts above.
    But to spill something of my own:
    In my honest opinion and truest experience, it's the opposite.
    The neck is straightforward (though I made a great effort to change that on my gear...) while the body is the home and origin of all kinds of trapdoors :eek:
    :eek:
    :eek:





    Back up again...
    I encourage everybody to do their necks, too.
     
  8. Well, I've got a cot and a hotplate ready for you to come on over here and spend about a week in the shop to help me with my necks. I've found them to be a real pain to get right - totally right, every time. I've made 6 now and only one is perfect - because it's only been glued up and had the TR slot routed out. One other is going on my newest but it is so full of flaws that it should be thrown away but I MUST put something on the body to hold the strings so... The rest are mounted on the "Wall of Shame" where I put my lessons learned for constant reminding. There's nothing consistent about the problems. It will be one thing here and another there.

    I think most of my problem was designing and developing my neck jig system while building the necks on it at the same time. That didn't work :rolleyes: The result was that I discovered that a technique or attachment to the jig didn't work by screwing up the neck it was being tried out on. Such is the life of the incurably impatient. Now that I've got the jig's form and function pretty much stabilized, perhaps the results of it's use will improve too. I refuse to put IT up on the wall of shame.

    The rest of the trouble was that I didn't want to just purchase OTC trussrods and drop 'em in like everyone else. That's just not the Hambone way (yep, it's part of the "curse" - well known to the females of my family :) ) I had to do something different. I suppose I should expect a certain amount of trial and error in that situation also but I don't have to like it.

    Sorry for the hijack... :bag:
     
  9. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    What the name of that program? I'm at the site now and all I find are trials for CAD Pro 11.
     
  10. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Ham, great list of things you don't find in a build-your-guitar book. Time to resurrect and sticky the tips+tricks thread!
     
  12. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    Another thing. I'm looking for sites about wiring pickups. Seymour Duncan has nice pdfs for their recommended wiring of their products.

    Any general wiring sites? Any onboard preamp schematics?
     
  13. Try www.guitarelectronics.com