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NBD- Dumpster find, first build, evilbay, Fender content, w/pics

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Neo1, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. (I think that title covers everything) What you're about to see is the most unscientific creation, but I thought someone may enjoy seeing and hearing about the process. It all started with a simple walk with my wife on trash night, and finding an old acoustic someone had thrown away (you may recall from a previous thread my dumpster find w/bridge made from hinges; must be a lot of frustrated guitarists in my city).

    Garbage find.JPG

    This guitar must have suffered from some nasty buckle rash(?), as repairs were made to the back. There were only four original tuners still attached - a sign it was destined to become a bass. I brought it into my classroom (I’m a high school teacher - students took these pictures) and slowly began my build (sharing each step of the way with some of my students who took an interest).

    Back (1).JPG

    First up was finding a four-string tailpiece. Since I was planning on leaving this bass in my classroom for when I (or students) have the need to noodle, I was thinking cheap. On to evilbay, for a fancy gold tailpiece that set me back about $10 (gold to match the gold frets). I also ordered a nut (the original was missing - I ordered a metal one that was too small shown in the picture, and a $.99 plastic one that just needed some filing down), some strap buttons (also $.99), and a floating bridge (used - another $10). By now you may be thinking I could buy a cheap import acoustic bass for less, but what would be the fun in that?

    Parts (1).JPG

    It took nearly a month for these pieces to come in (that Hong Kong postal service may be inexpensive, but takes the slow boat), and of course they came at separate times. That allowed me to show my classes what came, how it would attach, and to then actually get them to fit.

    I also had to fill the old tailpiece holes and drill new ones.

    Parts (2).JPG

    I learned something about the old tuners, as there were many little parts, and I had to take each side apart to move the four opposite of each other. I had a set of old bass strings, and of course the E didn't fit, so I brought it down to the school shop class to drill (the teacher wound my string through it quite far and bent it with such a kink it ruined the string - luckily I have several old sets).


    Once together, I noticed that the tuning was horrible - the main problem being the length of the strings were too short for the frets.

    Back (2).JPG

    So I improvised by turning part of the tailpiece around, adding many inches to the string length, making it look a little funky, and assuring myself that it would never fit in a case (I have my application in for the patent on this process, so don't even think about copying me).

    Reverse tailpiece.JPG

    Two strap buttons later, and I'm in business - a bass that plays OK that I can leave in my classroom and not worry if someone accidentally wrecks it (until the tailpiece rips off).

    Finished bass.JPG

    Oh, and as for that Fender content in my title? The one item that hasn't arrived yet is my Chinese import strap for $2.33 (notice the “for Fender”) - the shipping window stated it will arrive sometime between January and...March!

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
    ICM likes this.
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Yeah, only the last image is there. I'd really like to see that flipped tail piece.
  3. There - pictures added a different way (hope you can see the fine craftsmanship now).
  4. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    All's well now.
  5. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    So are you going to make a new, shorter tailpiece of leave it as is?
  6. For now it seems to be holding up fine, so I'm going to leave it. Pushing the bridge back really gave me a lot of space (and string length), and I've already seen the tailpiece keeps people from trying to set the bottom on the ground (where it could fall over). I also have changed the strings at the tuners so they sit correctly.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Doesn't compute. The bridge must be the same distance from 12 as 12 is from the nut to intonate. Doesn't matter if it's a conversion. Physics is physics; you sure you took that measurement? Maybe it's the angle in the pic but it looks off to me.
    sissy kathy likes this.
  8. I did the same with an old acoustic guitar, but instead of drilling out the tuners (I had regular peg tuners) I shortened the strings by using an electrical connector (something like this) on the tail end of the string to replace the ball end. That way on the tuner end it was just the inner wrapping of the string.

    ...and I agree if you moved the bridge back like that you must have intonation issues, the length of string beyond the bridge is immaterial.
  9. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    The bridge has been moved almost three inches so you are correct. It didn't register with me as I was looking at the tail piece.
  10. So to sum it up, I believe you either need to move the bridge back to where it was when it was a guitar - or replace/re-fret the fingerboard (or make it a fretless.) The distance between the frets is calculated based on the scale of the instrument. If you lengthen the scale, the frets will need to be further apart. The math is: multiply the length of the scale by 0.944 to get the distance from the bridge to the first fret. Then multiply that number over and over each time to get the next fret. So if you scale were 30 inches. you would do
    Fret 1: 30 x .944 = 28.32
    Fret 2: 28.32 x .944 =26.73
    or go here....
    and here for why it works (and other ways to calculate it)
    Noyce Guitars: Technotes: Equal Temperament & Guitar Tuning

    See, math and physics isn't just for torturing students. It's actually useful.
    Good luck
  11. Agreed - after "setting it up" I moved the bridge back to where the faded spot is (the original location of the bridge). I still needed to reverse the tailpiece (unless I did major surgery to it) because my first attempt blocked that location (see the earlier picture). I have had many students pick it up and noodle around, as well as an administrator, and once a substitute began playing it as I left for a meeting! It stays in tune and has OK volume for my quick needs, so I consider it a success. From now on, though, I'll leave the building to others...

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