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P-Bass Build/Rebuild

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Turtle71, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    OK, so I rescued this P-Bass body off of craigslist, it looks like the previous owner was going for the relic thing…but in this case he went past relic, straight to ruined.

    I can’t tell by looking at it whether it’s a Squier, MIM, CIJ etc…for all I know it’s just a cheap “off brand” knock off, either way it’s a suitable foundation for a project.

    My intention is to completely re-do this thing, I’m going to try to combine a classic color combination (more on that later) with some modern “feel” and components.

    This is going to be a slooow project, as it’s winter here (and really friggen cold) so that in itself is going to put a damper on my painting.

    OK, so here’s the body as it was when I got it. (feel free to make guesses on its origin of manufacture or it’s approx.. age).



    There were multiple pickguard screw holes, many were sloppy and “double drilled”, so I busted out the Titebond & toothpicks and got to plugging.



    Here they are rough sanded, I used a little super glue to get the holes a little more flush.


    Here I’m trying to fill the “gouge” that the previous owner put in it during the relic process, presumably to try and make it look like years of “thumb anchor” wear.


    OK, got it filled, it looks rough in the photo, but it’s actually quite smooth….gotta love super glue.


    Here’s a photo of the top, I got most of the “relic” wear removed, still working on the contours…trying to get it smooth & even.


    This bass originally came with a “5 screw” type bridge, I’m going to be going with a Fender string through body bridge, so I’m going to fill 4 of the holes, and keep the center one to help with aligning the new bridge.

    Fortunately I have access to a drill press at my work, it’ll make this particular part of the job much easier.


    I measured the depth of the existing holes, and simply marked my drill bit to that depth (I’m sure there was a way to have the drill press stop at that exact depth, but this method worked just fine).


    I bought a 3 foot long ¼” maple dowel, and cut 4 plugs the appropriate length.


    A little bit of Titebond, and in they went.


    Here they are sanded smooth.


    The bridge has been ordered, and should be here in a few days, I’ll get back at this then.
  2. You should have left the toothpicks sticking out of the body! That would have been so metal!:bassist::D
  3. Interesting project! Subscribed, curious to see how it'll turn out :smug:
  4. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    OK, so the mailman showed up with my new bridge, neck plate & string ferrules, so it looks like I can get a little more done on this project.


    So, I had an old Squier Affinity neck laying around, so I thought I’d toss it on to mock up my bridge placement…boy am I glad I did.

    I drew a line where 34” is on the body, you can clearly see in the picture that if I use the existing center hole to mount the bridge, I’ll have nowhere near enough bridge slot to properly intonate this thing.

    Seems to me I read a thread on TB that addressed this exact situation, as I recall that was a MIM body and he was going to modify it with a MIA bridge with string through. Perhaps this is a MIM body as well??


    Here is the bridge with the G saddle lined up with the 34” mark…I’ve got the saddle adjusted approx.. 80% out, this should give me adequate adjustment in either direction.

    It would appear the existing holes are almost exactly ½” too far down the body. Looks like I’ll have to plug that last bridge hole after all, and drill a new ground hole.


    Making the HUGE assumption that the existing center bridge screw hole is indeed centered, I marked the new bridge center screw location & got to drilling.


    I then put the E & G strings on to further confirm bridge orientation before drilling the last 2 bridge mounting screws. I’m within 1/16” of an inch (probably less that that), I’m going to consider that as pretty darn close.


    All three bridge screws in.


    I found the drill bit that fits the “through body” bridge holes perfectly (in this case it was a 3/16” bit). I then used the bridge as my guide to insure perfect placement of the holes.


    All done!


    There was some “chip out” but I figured it’ll be gone once I countersink the holes for the ferrules, and if any was left, the flange on the ferrule would cover what’s left.


    Going to be a real snug fit, I’m going to have to be sure to keep as much paint out of those holes as I can, otherwise these ferrules are going to have a hard time going in.


    Moving on to the ground hole, I went and bought this bit, it wasn’t a ton of money, and I’m sure I’ll need it again.


    You can see the line I drew on the body, this is my hopefully successful trajectory…


    Success!! It enters the electronic route right near the bottom!!


    Finally I plugged and sanded the old bridge center hole.


    On a “semi-related” note…Here’s a picture of my toolbox (I’m an auto technician by trade), it amazes me how much money & time that has gone into this box in my 20+ years of fixing cars, yet almost none of it is suitable for working with wood…I’m envious of those of you that have full blown wood working shops & the skills to use them.


    Now for the questions portion of this post….

    I’ll be getting ready to prime this thing in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be using Reranch "rattle can" products and they offer it in 4 steps apparently.

    -Sand & Sealer
    -Color Coat
    -Clear Coat

    Their website says that if you’re finishing a “bare wood” body that you should use the “sand & sealer” first, but if you’re finishing over an existing finish that you can just jump right to the primer.

    Well my project has both exposed wood AND existing finish (sanded with 220 to “rough it up” a bit). I can’t feel the wood grain when a run a finger nail across it, and I assume it’s ready to just prime it.

    What do you guys think? Do I need to use the “sand & sealer” first? Or just start with primer?
  5. I would just start with primer as the "grain" seems extremely tight anyway. Do make sure that the dowels and toothpicks don't sink (even though a new pickguard will cover most). Has happened to me over here.
  6. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI

    Yeah, I "bottomed" the dowels & toothpicks pretty well I think, but I have been watching for movement (in either direction).

    And yeah, almost everything will be hidden with the pickguard & bridge. The only potentially visible plugs are the 5 original bridge holes, I'm hoping those disappear well under the primer and color coat....if for some reason they show at all, there's going to be a bridge cover on this bass, and that will certainly cover them.
  7. bjabass


    Jan 10, 2011
    Mountain South
    I'm not an expert or anything but I have seen bare wood soak up an awful lot of primer before it filled the grain...especially the 'end grain' where the dowels and the toothpicks are. I would use the sealer 1st.
  8. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    OK, so the mailman dropped off some more parts, and my schedule allowed me some time to work on this a little.

    Well I decided to start placing & marking the new pickguard holes….and what do I find?? It would appear that this particular pickguard isn’t going to work without a little mod to the body. All of the holes had wood under them, except this one.

    So I used some ½ dowel, and cut it to depth, flattened one side for better adhesion. Looks like I finally found a use for an automotive tool on this build!! It’s a brake pad spreader, and it did an excellent job of holding the dowel in place overnight.

    Here it is sanded smooth and ready to go.

    And here she is!

    For the neck, I ordered a 2012 American Special neck on ebay. I knew I wanted an MIA neck, as I wanted the posi-flex graphite rods, but I chose the Special instead of the Standard because I like the larger font & script on the headstock.

    The neck was NOT a direct bolt on…it needed to be plugged and redrilled…I didn’t do this portion of the build because I was way to freaked out about possibly destroying a new neck, so I took it to my guy at my local repair shop and had him do that.

    As you may have noticed, this body was not routed for truss rod access at the neck heal, and since I don’t have all those fancy woodworking tools, I had to improvise…:p

    I found this handy dandy mini router base for my Dremel tool, and picked up a ¼ router bit to go with it.

    Turned out pretty well considering I “free handed” it.

    Here she is with the first coat of primer.

    I used a piece of PVC pipe flattened on one end as a painting stick (saw that on the telecaster forum).

    I also welded up this painting stand, it allows me to position the bass in multiple positions.

    This first coat of primer certainly revealed a few small flaws that I’ll have to address before proceeding, I’ll post more pics once the color starts going on.
  9. This is quite a project. It's looking good !
  10. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    Thank You!

    Yea, it's been quite the project, seems like every time I turn a corner I find a new challenge. :help:

    But I've learned a ton by watching/reading the threads in this very forum! :D
  11. RadioRob

    RadioRob Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    I am also in the same proses of redoing a Squire PBass.
    But I am lucky to have a Car Auto Body Painter friend to paint mine.
    I am going with a white Pearl.
    Still waiting for him to finish.
    I am not doing a total rebuild just repairing the damage it had.
    I will be updating all electronics and bridge.
    Also adding a new pickguard and covers.
  12. 3rd one re-finishing a pbase :3
  13. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Check out my items for sale in the classifieds! Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2008
  14. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    Sounds like another fun project!! Be sure to start a thread once you get rolling! :bassist:

    Being an auto mechanic by trade, I have many friends in the auto body field...and if I totally botch this paint, I'll certainly be dropping this off with one of them. :p
  15. RadioRob

    RadioRob Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2012
  16. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    That job isn't too bad, plus the bridge will likely hide the plugs, so you won't have to deal with a refinish.

    That turned out great!
  17. Turtle71

    Turtle71 Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2009
    Madison, WI
    OK, so there hasn’t been a ton of interest in this thread, but I HATE build threads that never get finished….so let’s finish this eh? :D

    I’m going to bypass the “sand, sweat, sand, sweat, sand, sweat…polish phase, let’s just jump right close to the end.

    Here is a shot of the shielding (not quite done, and it ended up a lot cleaner looking).

    Here’s a couple with the pickups, pickguard and neck going on.

    And lastly here are some parting shots in various lighting & angles….Oh look, it’s Fiesta Red w/tort…Predictable? Maybe, but it’s what I wanted :spit:, and though I’m not 100% happy with how it turned out, I’m certainly darn close, especially considering this is my first attempt at a true refinishing job.
  18. SamanthaCay


    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    That's one mighty fine looking bass you got there!
  19. Looks pretty sweet to me. Nice job. I do like me some Fiesta Red!
  20. Dave_2000


    Feb 11, 2013
    I'm curious about what it is you didn't like about the finish. It looks great to me, especially the picture of the bass in the case. Great job (even if you're not 100% happy with it)!