Practice build: 5-string multi-scale, HD woods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pilotjones, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Thumpin_P


    Nov 26, 2006
    Limestone, TN
    Tell me about it!!! Great job, Pilot!!!!
  2. JavaTiggy


    Jul 11, 2011
    Buffalo, NY

  3. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Again, thanks for the comps.

    I'm enjoying learning the photo manipulations. When I think of it, a lot of what I enjoy is located at some intersection of art with science or technology.

    I rated a "most interesting man i the world"! Awesome! :)

    So, nearly done with the photos. At this point I'm narrowing them down, and applying lessons learned from later retouching to the earlier ones.

    Meanwhile, here's another detail pic, this one of the jack and switch cavity. At this point the light was getting somewhat amber towards the end of the day, which shows in the wood tones.

    If anyone has any photo criticism or tips, I'm all ears.
  4. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    I have a photo criticism...There is only 1 Green string ball end :p:D

    Nice job
  5. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    Your photos look good. Nice use of shallow depth of field and a neutral colored background. :) What kind of camera/lens are you using? And how is Aperature?
  6. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001

    I'm using a Sony NEX-7. One of the reasons I got it is that it good features for using manual lenses - it has focus peaking as well as a good system for quick zooms for focus check, all combined with a stunning EVF. So, I'm mounting a lens adapter, and then using my ancient Konica Hexanon 50mm/f1.7 and 28mm/f2.8 (or f/3.5, I forget), both of which are very nice chunks of glass. The APS-C sensor gives a 1.5 crop factor, so I end up with a portrait/mild tele and a mild wide angle.

    A photo tip I ran across previously pointed out that to capture the shimmer of figured woods, you need to stop down to small apertures. I found this to be completely true. So for all the shots there was a choice to be made between closing down for the pretty wood, or opening up to get the pretty bokeh. In the latter case it helped having the 1/4000 shutter speed available, since this was in full sun and I don't have a neutral density filter. I ended up taking most of the shots at largest aperture, f/6.3 or so, and again at f/16.
  7. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    Interesting, I didn't know that about using smaller apertures for seeing the wood figure. My camera has a cropped sensor too (1.6x) and I mostly use a 50mm 1.8 for the bass pictures, so it's pretty similar as far as that goes. I do tend to leave it close to 1.8 most of the time though, I need to learn not to always do that.

    I am planning on buying a circular polarizer filter soon, so maybe I'll try that on the bass if there's a glare on the finish or something and see if it cuts through the glare to show more of the wood grain.

    That's a good idea with taking the photos with both apertures. It'd be interesting to see them side by side.
  8. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    C'mon Pete, show us something bad about this bass :D, lets see you take that on as a challenge :p

    Seriously one of the most detailed, well thought out and inspiring builds on TB. Hats off. That thing is beautiful..!!

    Now there's only one more thing you're gonna HAVE TO DO, Sound clips..!! I'm sure we all want it..!!
  9. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    Better yet, video clip from that gig?
  10. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    I'll do sound clips soon. First I want to play it for a bit to figure out the usefulness of the series/parallel switching and the preamp. Wednesday I used it mostly in the louder (assume series) position. So far I've found that between the frequency center and the amount, the treble control is not enough by itself to get me a mellow or boomy sound - I had to add a bit of bass boost also. I didn't have to do that on the Lakland. So if I end up not using the s/p switching, maybe I'll replace it with a passive treble down in the lower jack cavity.

    There's a guy who videos himself who comes down on Wednesdays pretty often. He wasn't there this week, but if he's there next week I'll post a YouTube link to his video.

    If anyone local wants to check out the bass, I'm at Neirs in Woodhaven every Wednesday. I'll also be at Maggie's in West Babylon on Saturday from 4-8.
  11. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    I'm putting together a "final" post with the full specs of the instrument, and the final photos. But meantime, I came across my hand drawings of the body, and thought it might be interesting to somebody.

    So, working backwards in time, here's the final cad printout:
    That's the 8-1/2 x 11" printouts pasted onto MDF, before cutting it to be the template.

    Before that, here was a CAD rendering:
    I think the shape was the same then, but it looks way different to me from the actual bass, since it has only a plain roundover and is missing a bunch of the features that were figured out along the way on the build. And it has magic invisible bridges.

    But before I went to CAD, this was the last full scale hand drawing:
    Similar shape, but different. And I was still going to use purchased finger bridges then. Less of a multiscale fan, too. Also the horns were too much like Bud LeCompte's (whose designs I love) so I changed them after, when I went to CAD.

    And a month before that, it looked like this:
    Kind of like a rounded Warmoth Gecko with Lecompte horns.

    This was preceded by a series of evolving full scale drawings, and those by some half-scale drawings.

    Before that, this was the last notebook sketch:
    You can see all the PITA calculations from when I measured it to try and scale it up.

    And...way back in the depths of time...was the first "bored in a meeting" doodle that led towards this bass.
    It was the first bass I drew that I thought was half decent, at the time. Today I'd say the proportions all suck, and worse. It was meant to be a creative redo of a Rickenbacker. It looks like a Ric that crashed into a Lefay.
  12. Clydesauce


    May 12, 2012
    As I am currently in the process of design and what not, I look to your builds for inspirations. It is really beautiful work you have here. This bass is really one of those basses I would love to have just hanging on my wall and when I have friends over and we am jamming, we stare at and are in awe.

    Again, really nice work and such a lovely bass.
  13. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Nice freakin job on a freakin beautiful instrument.

  14. facepalmmaster


    Jan 4, 2012
    I love to draw basses, but i could never come up with something like that, and even if i did, i wouldn't know what to do with it. I have a couple sketched, but i currently have no means of building a bass and no knowledge of how to do it. I think its awesome seeing that kind of design go from a drawing to an actual bass, a great looking one at that!
  15. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Thanks. I hope this shows that well, maybe some people can come up with a great design right off the bat -- but it's totally legitimate, and possibly the norm, to keep on working at it, refining.

    I didn't have a good shot of the headstock, and none of the control cavity, so I rushed out to the backyard to take a few shots after work while there was still some sunlight. I think I may get the big photo post done tonight.
  16. facepalmmaster


    Jan 4, 2012
    I may actually get to design my own bass this year actually, my friend is taking woodshop and is making a guitar now, and he said maybe he can work on a bass for me if I by some parts. This wouldnt be to play, but im a senior, so the more memories the better. If anyone cares, i might post it if it happens :p
  17. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    OK, here we go. First, the

    Final Specs:
    • 5-string, multiscale fretted, BEADG. Scale lengths 36 to 33.5. Perpendicular fret at 1/3 point (roughly 7th fret). 24 frets.
    • Graduated string spacing, roughly 3/8 "at nut" to a little narrower than the Fender 3/4 at the bridges
    • Headed, with Gotoh GB350 tuners - AFAIK, the lightest tuners you can buy
    • Zero fret. String separation and support by fretboard extension rather that by anything like a nut.
    • Tiltback headstock, with compound angle tilt per multiscale board
    • Flat fretboard, fully finished. Fretwire is nickel silver, small in size - similar to Dunlop 6230, it might be Jescar 43080. Thin, low vintage Fender size, which I think is not quite as small as what Dingwall uses. Fret ends highly rounded.
    • Fairly elliptical neck profile, with some curve back towards the center at the fretboard for comfort. This was 7 degrees when rough shaped, not sure final.
    • Through neck of padauk front (fretboard) and back, curly (likely soft) maple core. Additional layers of maple and padauk to thicken for heel and body portion. Neck is non-tiltback. Fret markers of original design, through fretboard and neck core, grain aligned per neck body.
    • Straight double-action truss rod. One of the blue-wrapped ones that can be gotten from Martin Keith. Adjustment at headstock, sans truss rod cover.
    • Extra sculpting at both ends of fretboard, top of headstock, and "swoosh" in volute
    • Body wings of (probably hard) maple front, multicolor yellow poplar (liriodendron tulipifera) rear. Walnut veneer between.
    • Basswood and cherry veneers between body and wings. Cherry veneer lining the recessed lower jack-and-switch cavity. Roundovers varying from 1/4" to a full bullnose on the roughly 1-3/4" thick body.
    • Double dovetailed control cavity cover of poplar, with magnetic retention
    • Bridges of original design. Padauk saddles with SST riser screws and CS magnet plugs. Frets inlaid into body as saddle guides. Neo magnets inlaid into body. String anchors of padauk.
    • Two pickups, JP by Aaron Armstrong, sidewinders. Bridge pup in equivalent of pre-CBS J-bridge position, and neck pup put slightly closer to the bridge than J-neck position - roughly at P E-A coil position.
    • Kent Armstrong 3-band preamp, including supplied tone pots
    • Bourns sealed black 500k audio taper volume pot. Bourns open 500/500k M/N blend pot. Blend pot currently wired the "ungrounded" way.
    • Series/parallel switch for both pickups simultaneously. Preamp bypass switch. All grounds brought back to single point at jack.
    • Adhesive copper cavity shielding. Integrated battery sub-cavity with leather lining and ejection strap.
    • Wooden knobs to match neck with its fret marker inlays
    • Waterlox finish
    • Dunlop non-recessed but straplock-ready strap lugs. Leather separator washers to match battery strap.

    I think I got most of the design elements in there.

    And now, the photos.

    Starting with the "cover photo", then some details mixed with a few more body and full shots.














  18. Codymb


    Mar 26, 2007
    Burlington, NC
  19. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Simply, wow.

  20. IntrepidCellist


    Sep 10, 2009
    Is it...

    Is it finally FINISHED?!?