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Project bass (My first one) Need help!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Greg Johnsen, Jul 2, 2005.

  1. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    Hey, I have decided to start work on a project bass because I've always loved to draw them, and I have one designed that I love, and I would really like it make it. I'm planning on using a mahogony body with a koa or ebony top, a hard rock maple neck, and an ebony fret board (ouch).

    I have alot of the tools I need (Jigsaw, dremel, clamps, sand paper, etc) and my dad is a chemical/electrical engineer major, so I can learn the electronics from him. I have about 600 dollars to spend, and I've picked out alot of higher priced items such as Bartolini soapbar pickups with a bartolini pre-amp, a curbow bridge (please correct me on the brand, but I want the one he uses, and the tuners he uses). I'm planning on Ken Smith strings, and I need knobs...

    Any advice would be great, I need all the help I can get. I'm planning on making a 4 string, and I know that this will be hard, maybe I should just make a lined fretless so I don't have to put in frets.... or would it be easier to buy a pre made neck with an uncarved head? I'll try and get some concept pictures up soon. I love advice!

  2. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    that's the design I want, it's about 19-20 inches long, and about 10 inches wide at it's widest. It's going to be about1.25 inches deep around the edge, and probably 1.5-1.7 at it's highest.

    I'm just going to build the body now, because that will take me quite a while to do because of the fact that I'm a 9th grader and I'm involved with alot of things.

    I'm planning on using a 1 piece mahogony slab for the body (from larry I hope, I like his prices) because I'm a beginner and I'm probably going to have trouble with the carved part of the body I'm planning.

    help is needed, I want to make this a good bass.

  3. billio

    billio Bass Head

    G'day Greg,
    I've made my own bass and it was a lot of work. It's a through neck and I made the body and the neck. I originally bought plans for the guitar but the finished item doesn't look much like the plans! I bought the ebony finger board already radiused and slotted but put the frets in myself. You can buy the fret wire and the tool to fit the frets from Stewart MacDonald (www.stewmac.com I think) I think I also bought the machine heads from them too but I bought the knobs elsewhere. I bought the bridge from Hipshot as it's a Hipshot 5 string tremelo bridge. I made the nut, truss rod cover and the electronics and tremelo cavity covers. Once I'd finished making it, I took it back to Australia with me and had a mate paint it. It's an automotive paint that changes from purple to green and every shade in between, depending on the light and the angle you view it. The name "badge" and the finger board marker dots are made from white gold (I work in Saudi Arabia, so it's cheap!).

    I actually only made the guitar because I liked the idea of a bass trem bridge and bought it but when it arrived in the post, I realised I wouldn't be able to fit it to the 5 string I already owned!!

    Anyway, it's a huge job and one that I'm not in a hurry to repeat. It's a nice feeling though when someone says "cool guitar, what is it" and you can say "I made it!!!" If you want more exact details of what I bought where etc, just lemme know and I'll dig out the addresses.

    Good luck mate.

    Attached Files:

  4. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    Wow. That's cool. I personally would have gone with a Kahler 2415, but hey, to each his own.

    Greg, I see one major problem with the design - the top half (when folded like a book, and not like a hot dog bun) is wider than the bottom. That may cause you a few problems with balance, and frankly, it just doesn't look very comfortable. I'm also worried about the controls being able to fit. Other than that, just remember to have the top (when folded like a hot dog bun, this time) horn reach the twelfth fret equivalent (fretted or fretless, on a 34" scale bass, it's 17" from the nut and 17" from the point of contact between strings and bridge), and you've struck gold. And, fretted or not, have you considered a Kahler 2400 or 2410 (no difference performance-wise, but the 2410 is for basses who have a limited amount of space for the bridge; a Fender Jazz Bass is an example) tremolo for a bridge (and I know I'm plugging Kahler a lot, but their products are well made, and they're extremely supportive; that, and their bass trems are easier to install than Hipshot's)?
  5. billio

    billio Bass Head

    I forgot to say that I put M45C-T and M45CX-B Bartolini pickups and a Bartolini NTMB-918F harness in my beasty and it sounds fantastic. I can get a brilliant range of tones from the guitar and the sustain is ridiculous (to do with the through neck design and the wood type too I guess). I can get some MONSTER feedback too, if I want to :D

    The Hipshot bridge wasn't too hard to install. Once I routed the cavity, it was only a matter of positioning the 2 bolts/studs that the bridge sits against (and pivots on) and putting the spring attachment point on at the front wall of the cavity.
  6. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    The neck pocket you have on that thing is huge, unless the rest of it is supposed to be really small.
    When making your plans, I'd reccomend you first trace an existing bass you have, just for the proportions. Important things to note are where the body ends, where the neck pocket begins, and where the upper horn ends. The upper horn is your key to balance. Then, knowing where those are in respect to eachother, put in your own body design with those proportions. Also, design it with the neck, even if you aren't starting it right away. The scale is a crucial thing, even for the body. If you want it to have 24 frets, you don't want the lower cutout to be too shallow to reach them. Hope this helps, good luck!
  7. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    Oh, and don't make it a lined fretless because you think it'll be easier. You'll still have to cut the holes for frets, but you'll fill them with markers instead. You'll have to make those markers one at a time to fit the holes precisely then sand it down so everything's a perfect seamless fit. Is that really much easier than having frets ready to be put in and then just levelling them?
  8. billio

    billio Bass Head