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NBD- Different kind of flame top

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sundogue, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Sorry, this is long...it's been a labor of love and in the planning for a long time, but wanted to share...

    I made a new bass body for my Yamaha BB415 that I converted into a 6 string a while back. It was a bit on the heavy side and I made a new body out of a piece of old growth Douglas Fir that had been in my garage for over 100 years. My brother is a woodworker and given the size of the piece and the tree it must have come from he estimates that it’s at least 150 years old.

    The Douglas Fir body is very light. The body before being painted, cleared and loaded weighed a little less than 3 lbs. The whole bass weighs about 6.5 lbs. (using my bathroom scale). The upper horn extends a little past the 12th fret and this bass balances quite well given the lightweight tuners and heavy mass Kahler 6 string, fully adjustable bridge.

    For the paint job, being an artist and painting many guitars, I wanted to do a Tru-Flame mural on it, but I knew I didn’t want the flames to stand out too much. I wanted the flames to follow the sculpted body and be more subtle so that it not only looked like flames, but also as if it could be the pattern in some exotic wood. I also painted the bridge plate and pickup covers to match the flames on the body, as well as the volume and tone control knobs. The headstock didn’t really allow room for a noticeable flame job so it was painted to match the colors of the body with an Om symbol painted into the end.

    The painted flame job makes the bass appear to change shape depending on the angle it is viewed at and almost makes the body appear even more sculpted than it really is. The back is just black leading into the edge of the sculpted sides where it goes into a very deep dark red of the top edges before transitioning into the flames.

    The body shape comes from the fact that I like the look of a P-Bass but it is a little too squared off on the end, while a Jazz’s butt end looks a little too droopy (like a Dali clock dripping off a table). I really dig the thinner horns of a Sadowsky, so the shape morphed into this as a blend of all three. I made sure the lower horn cutaway was far back enough to allow easy access to all the frets.

    The top is not quite a full arch-top but it is heavily sculpted all around, tapering away from the center. The Kahler bridge is mounted to the downward angled end of the body as it curves around the bottom. So the bridge plate itself is not mounted to a flat slab top. This lowered the bridge so I could keep the strings lower without having to recess a pocket for the bridge plate. Since the bridge is fully adjustable in all directions this was not an issue aside from having to take a bit more time setting up the action and intonation.

    The Jazz and P-Bass pups are angled to better suit my desire for the thinner D-G-C strings to have an equally full sound like the other three, with the P-Bass pup reversed to have that side for those strings be closer to the neck. All the strings sound very even like this. With the P-Bass pups in their normal layout on my Yamaha, they never sounded as full as they do now.

    The switch on the front of the bass is my on/off switch for my wireless transmitter which is mounted in the body cavity.

    The bass feels fabulous and should help alleviate back, neck and shoulder issues from the weight on gigs. The sound is very warm, yet bright and punchy. I don’t know if body wood makes a huge difference or not in electric basses, but for some reason this bass sounds sweeter and richer than before. Beautiful sustain and a very even sound throughout the strings and frets. Obviously I dig the look.

    I’ve been working on it a little more than two weeks now and just got it done before Christmas. The only cost to me was my time and a little bit of supplies I had already being an artist.

    Here's some pics of my custom "M3-Om" 6 string bass. Hope you enjoy...






  2. That is stunning, without a doubt one of the most beautiful basses I have ever seen. Enjoy it! You and your brother did amazing work.
  3. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    Well I like it. REALLY tight string spacing though NO?
  4. preside


    Aug 7, 2010
    Scottsdale Az
    Nice work, and being a pick player I like tight string spacing. I have the same bridge on my 5 string, sounds great but man is that thing a b-tch to set up!
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks all.

    I did all the sculpting and made the bass body. My brother just helped identify the wood and offered some tips.

    Yes, the string spacing is tight, but I love it that way! It's wide enough nearer the bridge for easy playability with fingers or a pick, but over the neck it is so easy to play chords or runs with the strings tighter. More like playing a guitar in that regard which I am accustomed to. I never cared for wide spacing on 4, 5 or 6 string basses anyway.

    The bridge isn't too hard to setup. Being fully adjustable it does mean you have to do a little more than with, say, a stock Fender bridge. ;)

    Also with the bridge plate being mounted on an angle, adjusting the height also means having to double check the intonation because raising a saddle also means it shifts back slightly and visa versa. But I really love that bridge. Being heavier also helps balance the much lighter body too.
  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine

    Great Job!
  7. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Beautiful! If that was hanging in a music store, I'd wanna try it out.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Geez! Cab builder, now bass builder! What's next? Amp builder?? You would be an asset to the bass community if you picked one and delved into it. I totally dug the speakers you built.
  9. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks. It is so-o-o-o comfortable, lightweight and sounds and plays beautifully.

    Can't wait to gig with it just to see how it feels after 4 hours of wearing it, and of course to hear it live with the bands.

    I need to get a pic of it hanging off of my rig (seen below with my previous Yamaha)...

  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Actually I've delved into all of it but amp building. I'm more of an artist than a builder. I'm a regular Renaissance man. ;)
  11. jbossolo

    jbossolo Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Can't believe nobody's said it yet: that's HOT!
  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks. Good one. I did a tru-flame on an old unplayable violin for a conservatory fundraiser and called the piece "Hot Music". I even burnt the bottom of the violin with a torch and painted red hot coals near the tailpiece.
  13. beautiful work!
  14. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    dang, Sun! That's really cool looking. Props on having a fully unique bass!
  15. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    That thing is gorgeous. I love the body shape, it seems we are of the same mind in that regard. Reading your descriptions of the shape was like reading my own thoughts on the perfect shape.
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI

    Yes, I put those three shapes into Photoshop as layers with less opacity so I could see each shape through the other...and took out the parts of each I didn't care for. It's not quite a Jazz, P-Bass or a Sad...a little of each I find pleasing.

    I extended the upper horn a bit and raised it up a tad higher as well. Fits me like a glove. And with the weight I hardly know it's there as far as feel goes.
  17. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    Love the bass! Fantastic story too and that you and your brother built it together is just too cool.
  18. Wow, very very nice. Love your 'art' cabs too.
  19. bolophonic

    bolophonic SUSPENDED

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Super cool.
  20. That's beautiful. Like a hot rod car and a bass in one.