Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

My homebrew fretless construction thread...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Ian Hall, Sep 8, 2003.


  1. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    Well, friday I got the Black limba body blank from Larry at gallery hardwoods. I glued the two pices of the blank together friday night, was busy all weekend, and look at what it turned in to:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I asked larry for a nicely striped piece of the Black limba, and the piece that he sent me had some spalting on the edges in addition to the heavy striping, which I was worried about at first, but now I see that it worked very well in to the body design. You can see this by the back of the upper horn, and the heel cut, and down by where the knobs will be. I stood the bass on a piece of scrap so that you can see the color before oiling, and also the amount of material removed from the blank to allow it to become my bass body(it was pretty thick).

    The body as you can see is a bit warwick-esque, and I loosely designed it as a cross between a thumb and corvette. There are certain things I like and dislike about each, but neither makes me completely happy- this is an attempt at that. I also have never owned a fretless, and have absolutely enjoyed every time I've gotten to pick one up. I seem to have a knack for intonation, but I wouldn't say I can play one well yet. I can't afford another warwick in the stable, so I just figured I had no choice but to make one:)

    The whole body is hand sanded because I didn't have fifty bucks to pop on a router bit to do the radiusing. I think it came out quite natural considering.... although I did use the mill to rough cut the body thickness down and save a good amount of time.

    Check back in a few days and I'll be posting a picture series of me using the CNC mill at my shop to do the body routing. Let me know what you think!

    edit: Why is it every bass I come in contact with has a cooler looking back than front?:mad:
     
  2. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Looks great ! Keep the pics coming...


    D
     
  3. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    I'm digging it! Definitely keep the pics coming!

    Aside, why'd you oil it now? Just to see how it'd look?
     
  4. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    Great wood choice! You'll love it!
    What will the neck be made of?

    Waiting for the CNC action pics :D

    Peace,JP
     
  5. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    I'll fess up- I couldn't wait to see how it looked oiled. It also will help protect it in case the CNC decides to drip any oil on it while machining the pockets.

    JP, I think I am going to go ahead and go with the wenge/macassar ebony combo. Wenge just seems to me the correct wood for a fretless neck for some reason. I really have loved the warwick fretlesses that I've played on. After seeing the fretless you did with this same combo, I think that the Black Limba/Macassar/Wenge work really great together for a fretless, or for a fretted.
    If I like this bass when it is done, I may make a fretted twin. This is my first bass project so I'll have to see how the neck goes first:)

    CNC pics coming as soon as my pickups(EMG) come in-
     
  6. great job!
     
  7. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I oiled the first bass i put together. Now I have a booth that I will use to spray lacquer...
     
  8. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    Yeah, I was thinking of lacquer but it's my first bass, I'm lazy, trying to go for the warwick vibe, etc. The limba would have looked great with a gloss laquer though from what I saw when I first applied the oil and it was still wet and glossy. I suppose there will be other basses, and other finishes for me to play with in the future.
     
  9. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Man, hand sanded?!!?!
    Ever heard of rasp and files? Or knives, even!

    Gosh, I wouldn't stand all the dust!! Shaving chips, shure, rasp dust, OK, file dust, well...but sanding dust is dreadful! And it takes so much time to produce it...:meh:
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Ian,

    That's a great pair of pictures - as well as having woodworking skills, it looks like you've got an eye for photography.

    I particularly like the idea of standing it on a cutout from the body blank - I don't think I've seen that done before. Maybe you should stop right there and see if you can sell it to an art gallery to finance future projects ;)

    Wulf
     
  11. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    I used a high HP belt sander with an eighty grit belt to do the roughing, and a flap wheel to do the intermediate sanding, and hand sanded to final finish. I just meant that I didn't use any kind of a bit or anything for shaping the curves and such. There was a ridiculous amount of dust though:)

    CNC pics will be posted today at lunch.
     
  12. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    wow...that looks really cool. i like the shape, and man, that's some pretty stock you got there from larry. can't wait to see the routed body.
     
  13. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    The pics are a bit blurry because my camera was dying so I had to switch it on and snap one and turn it back off quickly, so I didn't have time to do as nice a job as I would have like on the pictures.

    Here they are:

    Setting part position
    [​IMG]


    Second pass on electronics cavity
    [​IMG]


    Mill and Lathe(and trusty shop-vac)
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    All done!
    [​IMG]


    Starting rough cut on bridge pup
    [​IMG]


    Pup routing done
    [​IMG]


    Turning blank for knobs
    [​IMG]
     
  15. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    man...that is sweet...how difficult is it to get access to that type of gear? and...are you routing for the neck pocket as well? or are you going to wait until the neck is finished?
     
  16. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    First bass, huh??? Real nice work!!! That's an impressive shop you've got there too. I've never been a big fan of the Warwicks, but yours looks nice. Beautiful wood too.

    Keep up the good work.
     
  17. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Rialto,CA
    I work at a optical coating system manufacturing company in the fab shop. I guess I call it my shop because I work back there by myself all day. I'm the only one at the company who knows how to run any of it so the owner lets me have the key and door opener and free use of the shop and materials in exchange for me working for less pay than I'm worth(decent amount, but not as much as I'd like). I do pretty well on side jobs in my spare time with that CNC laying around open for use. We also have a really nice miller TIG machine, and being that I am certified fairly well in TIG and get a lot of practice at work, I do pretty well with that also for extra cash. Anyways, I am paying for this bass out of side jobs so it is really gentle on my wallet.... Major plus!

    I guess I really have an advantage in the contouring department since I also do quite a bit of work with fiberglass and carbon fiber, so I have a bit of a headstart on the average do-it-your-selfer building a bass with little shop knowledge. I kinda have more respect for those type of first timers because I'm sorta cheatin' with this fancy equipment and all:)

    I figured you guys may want to see the cutters I used to rout the body. They are made for machining metals and plastics and such but seemed to work pretty well for the wood:


    [​IMG]

    From left(pencil for scale):

    -1.25" Dia x 2"L 6 flute High speed steel
    This was used to rough the body to the correct thickness. I took half inch passes at a pretty high rate of speed with no problem.

    -1/2" Dia x 2" L 2 flute high speed steel
    Used for the electronics cavity- I needed something able to cut deep and plunge cut well. The six fluter wouldn't have plunge cut very cleanly, so I used this one instead.

    -1/4" Dia x 3/4" cut Length 3 flute Carbide
    This was used for the pup routing- I needed a small corner radius for the slots.

    Should be getting more stuff in later next week, so I'm probably at a stand still for a few days at least. Check back for more pictures soon though.

    edit: Oh yeah, and I am going to cut the neck pocket after I finish the neck for saftey puposes.
     
  18. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Bits intended for metal are usually superb for working hardwood. The cut surface is very good, many times sanding is not necessary. Sometimes, sanding roughs up the surface and you can see a lot of work pile up in front of you...:bawl:

    Good thinking about the neck pocket!
     
  19. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    Drool.
     
  20. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    Wait, wait, wait. I'm new to this, so at the risk of asking a stupid question: Did you say that you thinned out the block of wood with the large bit in the pickture above instead of a planer? And then didn't have to sand it?

    If so, that's pretty incredible!

    If not, then I didn't get it.