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New Tuxedo Bass (#17)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SurferJoe46, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. I tried something new this time. It's a semi-hollow, clam shell design with standard Jazz p'ups.

    The wood is cherry for the top, fretboard and a cherry vernier over the headstock with binding around the head. Of course the Penguin Trio are on it too.

    The neck is composite white oak, cherry on the fingerboard which is overlaid with polyester resin (think: surfboard).

    The back of the body is scrap wood from a construction site, some sort of pine I guess.

    The string tree is a roller type and I've used a Fender Jazz/Precision bridge with standard barrels.

    Controls are: Master Volume - Master Tone - Blend w/.047uF cap. Strings are Fender 7250 NPS w/red silks. 100_2403.JPG 100_2399.JPG

    Attached Files:

  2. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Not so sure about the "pickguard" around the neck, but overall I think that looks pretty darn sweet. Nice lines, familiar but new, with your usual "creative" use of lumber (missed your posts, always fun.)

    Is the clamshell large pieces you carved out, thin pieces placed on a form and vac clamped, or something else?
    How's it sound?

    More pics?
  3. newyorkiddo

    newyorkiddo I'm actually a cat.

    Jul 10, 2013
    I love everything about it! Nice work!
  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Hey Joe, nice to see you are still building, I haven't seen any of your work lately.
  5. I'm living without access to WIFI or internet at the moment. Kinda in the sticks, so I'm not on very much, and that's why I'm kinda not posting more than I do.

    Some details:
    The body was two pieces of very old cherry that I split and bookended for the top and after the lower half was formed, I left some "pedestals" to support the bridge and p'ups. etc. The two halves were then carefully fitted and the seam was covered with some black binding material.

    The sound is kinda 'burpy' when I go to the bridge p'up, a lot of boom on the neck piece and mixed it's in between. I BELIEVE that I can hear some acoustic quality in it, although I don't honestly think it's likely without a mic or piezzo pickup of some sort.

    I tried something new on the neck profile: I left the thumb side of the back a little more pronounced to give me a thicker area that makes me keep my thumb where it belongs. It also really keeps any cramping away - which I find kinda shows up in a very thin neck.


    The screws holding it together were temporary and were cut out for the p'up and the neck after a while anyway. For some stoo-opid reason I don't have the details for the lower half with the routing that removed most of the weight - which wasn't much anyway in the first place.

    The access panel was a little small - kinda like building a ship in a bottle, but with a soldering iron and wires. If nothing ever fails .................!


    I've yet to decide if I'm gonna modify that heel area with that very square extension. It doesn't get in teh way, but it kinda looks odd. This is a prototype, and if I had my druthers, this may be the last version of this kinda build. It took too long and was an engineering nightmare which required 2AM epiphanies on a twice-weekly basis.

    The sunken neck plate was just an exercise to see it it would work --- it does OK.

  6. As far as what's going on here in Montana, I got a 1938 Martin (I know - a guitar!) from Iowa for repairs. It was busted up pretty bad, and I learned a lot about Martins! They use a "wood-under-tension" design that give them a lot of volume and tone.

    Anyway - I learned how to apply acoustic musical instrument lacquer from Behlens, but I didn't follow the instructions much at all after reading how to open the can.

    For anyone considering using a lacquer - I just shot it at 30/70 lacquer/thinner from a .5MM HVLP gun and it was a race to get it on as it dries almost instantly allowing me to fill the wood very quickly.

    Behlens states that you've gotta use their thinner and sealer - BAH! I used a micrometer to check the thickness I built up and when I got .009", I started to wet sand using mineral spirits as a wetting agent and 800# then 1500# and then finished off with 2000# wet/dry and mineral spirits each time.

    It was too shiny, so I went back to the 1500# wet/dry and mineral spirits. The whole process took only 4 hours for all the coats including the sanding, so I don't feel Behlens is totally truthful with the demands that you gotta use their other products too!

    In the end, the lacquer turned out to be less than .004" thick as I wanted to let the box ring nicely, and it does! It got mailed back to Iowa this early AM - so it's gone now. Ahhhhhhhhh!

    BTW: Now that I've smelled their lacquer, I KNOW what type it is and can reproduce it with a full gallon for what they want for their quarts! Ah! We learn a lot with our noses. But let me offer a caveat here ---- their product is every much as good as they say it is, and if I was working on a Strad - well, I'd be more "on the label" with their suggestions!

    I'll try to find some pixs of the lower half with the pedestals and routed-out patterns for youse guys.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  7. If you were working on a Strad, I would hope you wouldn't use lacquer! :D
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars

    A little trick I learned from spraying lacquer in the middle of a Houston TX summer is to mix it at 2 parts lacquer/1 part thinner/1 part retarder. The retarder keeps it from flashing off so fast and will let it flow out longer. Behlens is full of beans when they say you have to use their own brand of thinner, I have sprayed plenty of their lacquer using regular Crown lacquer thinner and retarder.
  9. Yeah - I wondered if I should use a retarder or not. Any idea for a type/brand? But I guess you answered that already huh?

    I think the "no spray" idea is a California CARB rule, and not to be taken seriously as I am just a propitiatory user anyway, not in business spraying things for a living.

    I was noodling on this bass this AM and all of a sudden it was better sounding than last night. I was worried about it being an oddball sound-wise, but it's just really different from last night.

    Ya got me. Shellac? Elf oil? Ground up luthiers?
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Brand doesn't really matter, I use crown because it is what the closest local supplier sells. Lacquer retarder is lacquer retarder, it all works the same.
  11. Kinda thinking like me - if it's available, then I'll prolly use it except in California where everything is reformulated to make it safe for consumption by furry woodland animals.
  12. When it comes to Stradivari, no one's entirely sure! Violin varnish is an art in itself, it needs to be thin enough for the instrument to vibrate but thick enough to protect the instrument. Many violin makers think that the varnish is the key to why Stradivarius are great, but I disagree. Interestingly enough, in a recent experiment stradivari's instruments weren't the most popular, rather those by luthier Michael Darnton were. I think Strads are so sought after because they're old because he was popular in his era, and because he did a lot to change how violins are made.

    As for what's in the varnish, that varies a lot. Violin makers often experiment with varnish to make something unique, and that varies a lot. Basically, you have the ground (the sealer coat, made of tea bags, egg, shellac or anything else really!) then the colour coats (oil based or spirit based). Oil based dries much, much slower, but I prefer it looks-wise (and I think it has a better effect on tone) and spirit based dries much quicker (but I don't like the looks much).

    Do a search for violin varnish recipes, it's an education for sure! :D
  13. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I saw a video where they explain that Stradivari actually used some sort of chemical treatment on the woods he built his instruments with, which is a major reason why so many have survived.
  14. No that's to do with how Cremonese wood suppliers may have treated their wood, not Stradivari. Of course, Guarneri and Amati would have had access to wood from the same supplier probably, which is why I don't think it's important.

    There's also the idea that the wood was floated down rivers in transport, which changed the moisture content. Then there's ideas about arching styles, thicknesses, tap tuning (the back a half tone more than the top etc), f-hole size and shape, seasoning, blah blah blah blah. Thing is, the instruments would have been made as baroque instruments, with different archings, thicknesses, neck angles etc etc etc. And concert pitch (440) would have been lower then too, so what Stradivari heard is different to what we hear! Especially after all the reworking modern luthiers have done on them.

    I see no reason at all why modern luthiers can't make instruments of the quality of Stradivarius. After all, he built violins to get paid, not unlike any other luthier of the generation!

    Sorry for the ramblings,

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