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Noob building a J bass, from scratch...Lots of help needed.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Cb4rabid, Jan 21, 2012.


  1. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Hello all. I'm a senior in high school taking on a very big project. I'm trying to build a j bass from scratch. My woodshop instructor is going to be helping me with this, but I have to provide him with information about the bass. I need dimensions, and images and measurements and all that jazz, but I have a ton of questions.

    He's going to be cutting it out Ash and i'm going to need to buy the neck separately on my own time. Here are my concerns:

    1. Where can I get this information? I need to give him the measurements of the body, and how to cut and rout it. I've never even owned a j bass, so how do I get it? It needs to be spot on, or he might mess it up and i'd be very upset.

    2. I want to place a fretless neck on it. Thing is, I want a full 2 octave fretboard on it (24 frets, but no frets obviously). How do I know when a fretless bass has space for 24 stops, and does this change the measurement for the neck pocket?

    3. Does it matter what preamp I buy for the bass? I want a 2 band preamp (Volume, Blend, Bass cut/boost, Treble cut/boost). Where can I get this type of preamp? I know Aggie does a 2 band, but it's boost only. Does it change how I would need to rout it? I also want the standard 4 knobs and control plate that sits on the Fender J basses, would it matter what preamp I use with that?

    4. Bridges. What bridge would be best for this? I was thinking a Gotoh 201 since it's pretty standard and would probably be easier to replace down the line, but any other one I should look at? I also want 19mm spacing, will this affect anything?

    5. Dimensions. Where do I rout the pickups? The front control plate? The bridge, the knobs, etc etc. I know these measurements have to be precise, so how do I get this info? I need to print out designs have specs so I can give them to my instructor. I'm completely new to building a bass, so I need some big help on this.

    6. Pickups. I was thinking SD Q-Pounder pickups, but I don't know what pre-amp i'm going to be using with it. Would it matter what pickups I use, or do their dimensions change?

    All in all, I'm not doing anything fancy as far as electronics go (standard 2 band EQ, JJ pickup set), but i'm just afraid that i'll mess this up somehow and I'm unsure about all this. I need all types of dimensions and mesurements, front and back. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Stilettoprefer

    Stilettoprefer

    Nov 26, 2010
    I would find a jazz bass and just trace the outline of the body on a big piece of paper then give that to him for the initial cutting. For the pickups, I believe that some places sell templates, but you have to know exactly where the bridge will be first.

    Oh and for a 24 'fret' neck, getting to those upper frets will be really difficult unless you make the cutaways deeper.
     
  3. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Problem is, I don't have a J bass or know anyone who does.

    There is no where I can ind actual written dimensions?
     
  4. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    I'm kinda doing the same thing in my school except my woodshop teacher pretty much said "do what you need to do" and from then on I've done it all myself. The build thread is on here :)
     
  5. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
  6. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Does anyone know where else to get more precise measurements? Like where to rout the truss rod cavity? The top rout? Etc etc...?
     
  7. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    You want the exact center of the neck and you want the nut to stick out from under the fretboard aprox 1/8 to a quarter inch, depending on what type of nut you are using. And for size of the cavity, go by the dimensions of the truss rod you are using.
     
  8. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Problem is, I don't have the neck, or anything else that comes with it. I'm just working on making the body and then eventually, I need to buy a neck and everything that comes with it. I've got nothing physical in my hands right now, just paper and pencil.
     
  9. Don't start working on the body without the neck. You need to have all parts at hand when you start building to know exact measurements and get stuff fitting tight and well. I feel you have a very small change your neck is going to fit well if you guess the neck pocket dimensions. There is a certain standard among jazz basses, but dimensions vary slightly between different manufacturers.
     
  10. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    There's no way I can afford the neck right now, that's the thing. Also, I looked up on Warmoth's site and just copied the neck pocket specs from there, it makes sense because i'm gonna buy the neck from Warmoth, so I know it'll fit. Im just having trouble finding precise measurements for everything else.
     
  11. The best advice I can give you is to buy as much parts before you start as possible, read a book about the topic so you understand the reason behind certain measurements etc. (my favourite book is from Martin Koch) and lastly, make a full scale drawing before you start. Those three points will give you the best jump start imo. Good luck!
     
  12. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Thanks, ill do what I can. I just wish there was a sheet with all the measurements, but things just aren't that easy. I hope it doesn't come out too bad, haha.
     
  13. gitlvr

    gitlvr

    Nov 13, 2009
    No. Va., USA
    You can build a Jazz body from the pdf template i posted. Take it down to kinkos and have it printed out actual size. Get two or three copies.
    Get some 3/4" MDF from Lowes or Home Depot, and some spray adhesive. Glue the plans onto the MDF, cut it out on the band saw close to the line, finish up on the spindle sander(you said your shop teacher was helping, so I'm assuming he has the tools needed, or has enough experience to get to the destination with what he has). That's your template. You'll need at least two templates. One for the body and cavity routs, and one for the neck pocket. Use them to rout your body. Check out my P bass build thread for an idea of how to use them. There are other threads here that give the same information, and not that I'm any kind of master builder, but my thread is easier for me to link to.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/100-year-old-pine-p-bass-build-778608/

    The neck pocket is standard Fender size, and should work for what you need. Pocket depth is usually around 5/8''. If the neck you're getting is a standard 34" scale Jazz bass neck from Warmoth, it'll fit just fine. It won't be as precise as a custom fit neck pocket, but it'll be just as good as Fender or any other factory spec bass if you take care with your work.
    Standard body thickness is anywhere from 1 and 10/16" to 1 and 3/4". Most people use a 1/2" roundover bit to round the edges of the body.

    The PDF has all the relevant measurements you need, including depth of the routs, etc. It's all on there.
     
  14. gitlvr

    gitlvr

    Nov 13, 2009
    No. Va., USA
    This is really good advice. Listen to it.
     
  15. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Oh shoot, I didn't even think of that. My dad actually works in a printing shop and he said he can acquire some large sized paper to print out.

    Excuse my ignorance, but how do I actually print out the plans full size? I imagine I email them to the shop, or do I put them on a usb stick or something?...In any case, thanks for your advice, ill see if I can head over to home depot or something to get some of that stuff.
     
  16. gitlvr

    gitlvr

    Nov 13, 2009
    No. Va., USA
    Put them on a usb stick and take the,m down to kinkos. Tell them you want them printed full size.
     
  17. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    All right, will do, thanks.
     
  18. Cb4rabid

    Cb4rabid

    Jul 12, 2011
    South FL
    Sorry for the double post, but is there a reason I need to buy 3/4'' MDF? Wouldn't it be the same if I bought half inch since it's only going to be used as a template anyway?


    ALSO: Ive been looking at different pictures of J bass bodies, and some of the routs are different. Some are routed along the control cavity, and some extend to the pickups. Some are back routed. What's the difference and which should I be looking at?
     
  19. isn't there a website that sells templates for whole bass projects? I think they had a P-bass, J-bass, "modern" bass, and T-bird. I can't remember the site though.
     

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