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Noob short scale Guild build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by topper, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. Ok, I was really hesitant to start a thread in the luthier's corner. I'm definitely not a luthier. But I'm starting to plan a project and figured I'd go ahead and start a thread to document it.

    Here's the story of my build. About 15 years ago I got a wild hair and tried to build a bass. My mom had just lost her battle with cancer and I was having one of those "if not now, when?" moments in life. I'd always wanted to build a bass and so I decided to try.

    I named the bass "Lola" which was what my mom called herself anytime she put on her red cancer wig. She was fond of saying "what Lola wants, Lola gets."

    The bass didn't come out great, but it did come out. I learned a lot and could say I tried something I'd always wanted to do, even if the end result wasn't an instrument I was going to want to play very often. Lola's spent most of the last 15 years in a gig bag.

    A few weeks ago I decided it was time to do something about it, try again and make a better-ish bass.

    Turns out Lola had a surprise waiting for me. Read more about it here. The TLDR version is that this new bass (Lola II) will have a made in the USA Guild humbucker at her heart.

    I've decided to make a short scale, not sure why. Just 'cause I guess.

    Here are some pics of the Photo-chopped mockup.
    lola-2-body. lola2-headstock. lola-2-photochop.

    The body will mostly be a slab with some chamferred edges. It's influenced by the Supro Huntington and Fender Dimension Deluxe IV.

    I've purchased a bridge that I think is from a reissue of the Guild Starfire basses. So it's not exactly like the one in the photo-chop above. bridge.

    Finally, to compensate for the muddy character of these Guild pickups I'm including an active preamp. I went with the Tone Monster SBK-3AD. It includes active high, low, and mid controls, plus a mid-contour adjustment. That, coupled with putting the pickup in the bridge position, should give me a lot of tonal possibilities.

    I'm taking a chance on an inexpensive no-name short scale neck with block inlays. It's coming by slow boat from China. So it'll probably be a couple weeks before I have much else to post. I'm fully expecting to need to do some fret and finishing work on the neck.

    If I were more confident in my woodworking abilities, I'd invest more in the neck. But for now, I'm really not sure how this is going to turn out and so am hedging my bets. If the body turns out great and the neck is crap, I'll consider something like a replacement from Warmoth.
  2. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    To avoid needing a preamp I would recommend a Guild Darkstar/Bi-Sonic pu in place of the one you have pictured. The profile on your neck will have to be 'narrow' spacing to have the strings align with the pu poles, but with 500k pots it will be plenty flavorful and present w/o being active. I think that bridge would work - you'll just need a narrow Guild/Gibson style neck. (Fender necks will be too wide at the heal)
    Old Blastard likes this.
  3. Thanks. I'm pretty committed to the pickup. I won't be replacing it with a bi-sonic or darkstar. I am considering adding an active/passive switch though.

    The bridge saddles and pickup poles look like they'll work well together. I am a little worried about the neck being too wide though.

    Width at the nut is 38mm. 30" scale, 22 frets.

    It's a bit of a gamble. Going to have to wait and see I guess.

    Update: looks like Fender short scale nuts (at least the Mustang bass) are about 41mm. I'm not sure how much difference 3mm will make. We'll see.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
    JIO likes this.
  4. Got the body blank. It's a single piece of sapele. I don't know if I can pull it off, but I'd love to get something close to the Gibson red mahogany finish.

    71496477_10105235347747956_1847297513120333824_n. 71531006_10105235347872706_5435268996985257984_n.
  5. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    Looking forward to seeing this. @JIO knows a lot and so do the other folks in this corner. I've seen some of their creations. Kill it, T! I look forward to hearing you gig that baby!
    JIO and topper like this.
  6. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    The width is less important at the nut - more at the heal for pu/bridge alignment.
  7. Good to know. Unfortunately my no-name neck provided very little info online. There's no mention of width at the heal. I'm just going to have to keep my fingers crossed.

    Here's all they said about it.

    1pcs New electric Guitar Bass neck Mahogany wood.
    Neck Wood: Maple wood
    Fretboard Wood: Rosewood Fretboard
    Finish: Unfinished
    Inlay: Block Inlaid
    Scale Length:about 30 "
    Nut width: about 38mm
    Frets: 22 Nickel Frets
    Truss Rod Adjust: at Headstock

    It's clearly not Mahogany, so I think all specs are circumspect.

    s-l1600 (4). s-l1600 (3). s-l1600 (2). s-l1600 (1). s-l1600.
  8. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Wouldn't hurt to inquire. It's always annoying when on-line sellers leave out basic needed information. If the heal is too wide, your string pattern will be close at the nut and will leave big fb space at the heal. As long as it's close it's probably ok unless you dwell at the solo frets.
    Old Blastard likes this.
  9. dezisapunk


    Oct 8, 2019
    The pics look beautiful. I can't wait for this bass to be finished!
    Old Blastard likes this.
  10. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    If the body and allmturn out the way you want it, there alwaysngood folks here who can make an awesome neck to fit it.
    topper likes this.
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    True enough, but a custom neck will be north of $400 if it's made by a journeyman luthier. To keep things affordable I always explore ready-made options first. Eden makes (new) paddle-head necks of various configuration, but does not offer every option and they are generally very standardized/generic leaning toward Fender specs. Another option is eBay typing in "electric bass guitar neck" - you get new and old from many different brands, scale length and fret counts. If you're lucky you can find what you need w/o spending a lot of money.
  12. Thank you!! I hope my build lives up to my Photoshop skills.

    Yep, I looked at Eden necks. They make a 30" 21 fret neck with dot inlays. And a full scale 34" 21 fret with block inlays. I really want the block inlays.

    I considered the vinyl block stickers, but instead decided to try my luck on ebay, like your second suggestion. That's where I found the 22 fret 30" inch scale neck mentioned above. It's shipping directly from China.

    I know it's a gamble and am prepared for it to not work out. My only hope is that if the neck is crap, it'll be obvious upon arrival and I can source another before I have to do things like route the neck pocket or mount the bridge.
  13. Neck finally arrived from China!
    It seems pretty good quality. Seems straight and frets aren't sharp. I did a rough fret level check with a credit card and they seem spot on. Inlays are clean and tidy. I'll have to spend a little time with it, but so far so good.

    It's 63mm wide at the heel. Which is a little wider than ideal. But its also 22 frets, so it's a little longer than a typical Fender short scale neck. So I *think* it's going to be just fine.

    So far it appears worth well more than the $75 it cost me.
    NKBassman and Beej like this.
  14. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Nice! How does the scale length compared to advertised?
  15. It seems spot on. 15 inches from nut to 12th fret.

    Here are some more pics of the neck. The heel shape is a little unusual. Any tips? Should I just route the pocket and then chisel out the corners where the bit won't reach?

    A little dusty.
    15715254188794. 15715254189385. 15715254189526. 15715254564937.

    A close up of the frets and inlay work.

    Here's the scarf joint. Looks pretty good.
    15715254027272. 15715254027613. 15715254026751.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
    ctmullins likes this.
  16. Rough cut the head stock and made a test body out of MDF. Generally I'm pretty pleased. The neck is a little wider than I'd ideally want. If I had the skills or could afford a custom neck, I'd want it 3-4mm more narrow on each side. But it's not bad. Very playable.

    73214910_10105295880060716_8697512982915055616_n. 74381931_10105295880320196_1126537310054121472_n. 74612983_10105295880380076_6250248812451856384_n.
    NKBassman and Matt Liebenau like this.
  17. I do have a question about neck pocket depth. I measured the height from the bottom of the bridge saddles to the top of the bass. And I measured the thickness of the neck at the heel from the bottom of the neck to the top of the last fret. I subtracted those numbers and that was the depth of my neck pocket route.

    But I'm really having to crank the saddles to get the strings to clear the frets.

    Neck seems snug in the pocket. It's nice and tight. The neck also seems pretty straight. With the two strings on, it's got the tiniest bit of relief to it.

    I'm guessing this means I need to go a little deeper on my neck pocket route?
  18. I went ahead and tried routing about 2mm more depth in the neck pocket. It made a world of difference. This is where the MDF template really paid off.

    So now it's on to the real deal!

    I've been fortunate enough to meet Virginia master luthier Wayne Henderson a couple times. Every time he's told the same bad joke. He says, "People always ask me how to make a great guitar. I tell them it's easy. You take a piece of wood and cut off all the parts that don't look like a guitar."

    Ok Wayne, now what? No seriously that's not a rhetorical question. Now what??!!


    I had a near catastrophic accident with the neck pocket. I didn't have the depth set quite right and instead of the bearing following my template it started to cut into the template a little. Fortunately I caught it and stopped. I had to repair the template and bump it back a couple mm and continue my route.

    BTW, yep those are my tools. No fancy shmancy bandsaw or workbench for me. Maybe someday, but today I have to make due with what I've got.

    I rough cut the body, then put my MDF template on top and attached it with some double sided tape and a few clamps. Then I made a pass with a trim router, removed the template and continued until I was about a 1/4" from the bottom. Then I flipped it over and switched to a router bit with the bearing on bottom and did one more pass to remove the last of the overhanging wood.

    Still a lot of sanding and shaping to do...
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
    postalflunkie and Beej like this.
  19. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    How to make a great guitar:
    1. Make a few super-crappy ones
    2. Make a few moderately crappy ones
    3. Make a few mediocre ones
    4. Make a few barely decent ones
    5. Make a few almost presentable ones
    6. Make a few above average ones
    7. Make a few pretty good ones
    8. Make a few really good ones
    9. Then you can start making the great ones!
    I’m somewhere around step 5. :cool:
  20. I think I'm somewhere around 1.5. Hoping to jump ahead a little with this one though. ;)

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