Need advice for building a custom bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by funkdaddy, Oct 15, 2001.

  1. funkdaddy


    Aug 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I'm thinking about building a custom bass and would appreciate any advice from those who have experience with this sort of thing. My thought is to build a J-style bass with some modern features and some nice tone-shaping capability. I already have a stock MIA Jazz bass, so this one needs to sound different. ( I primarily play funk/jazz/groove-oriented music, just in case that helps.)

    I will probably buy the body from Warmoth, as I've heard good things about their quality. As far as the neck is concerned, I'm thinking about going with a Status Graphite Retro-fit neck. Does anyone know much about these necks? Do they have phenolic or wood fingerboards? Are they comfortable to play? I've heard some folks say that they think graphite-neck instruments sound sterile, but I'm guessing the choice of wood for the body will have a big effect on this. What about pickups and preamps - any recommendations? I used to have EMG-J pickups in a Jazz bass and thought they sounded pretty good. And last of all, any recommendations for hardware?

    I don't have any experience in assembling a bass or installing pickups, but I'd like to learn - the only I do have experience with is doing my own setups. My concern is that I end up screwing up the assembly of my new bass after spending $1000 or so on parts! How easy or difficult is it to put this thing together?

    Many thanks for any advice you can provide!
  2. In case you're really interested, Musical Instrument Makers Forum,, is taking enrollments in Bill Moll's (Bill Molls Customs) upcoming bass building course. I don't know the cost and it requires you have some specific tools.
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    it seems to me that you're talking assembly of readymade parts. Don't fear that.
    If you let Warmoth and Status do the hard work (they are known for close tolerances and high quality - and cost), the rest will be pretty easy. Just two points:
    1 Slowly
    2 Carefully (like petting a rattler:D )

    Most of the assembly can be accomplished using standard tools, perhaps completed with a drill press (in a nearby school?).

    It also sounds like you are into making a F..... clone. If so, I suggest you look at Bartolini or DiMarzio pups and a J-retro preamp. I would go for humbuckers and coil taps, but that's just me, the superversatility monster:D

    Go for it! What do you have to loose (except a major bunch of money)?
  4. One question I would encourage you to think hard about is why are YOU building the bass? With the type of music you are playing, you need an instrument that very well constructed with no dead spots (I assume you actually play above the 5th fret :)) and low action. I would also consider that although it's nice to have an instrument that does many things, it may be better to do a couple of things exceptionally well. My Sadowsky isn't the "Swiss Army Knife of Tone", but what it does, it does exceptionally well. As a result, it gets most of the work.

    Building a bass is fun. It's also much more difficult to do very well than you may imagine. I built a 4 string fretless from scratch and while I learned a lot and the bass looks good and plays well, I think I'll leave the building of great basses to the hands of the masters from now on. I may build one from Warmoth just for kicks, but I wouldn't go into it thinking I'm saving a bunch of money and building a better instrument than a great luthier.

    If you are set on building it yourself, think about having a pro that you can turn to along the way for advise and consultation and to do the setups, electronics and fretwork.

    Good luck!!