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Questions from a first timer

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Porkbun, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Porkbun


    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    Schools out and I decided to take my bass modifications to the next level. Ive got access to a ton of curly maple and plan on making a bass out of it, but ran into a ton of problems in the brainstorming stage :rolleyes:

    A. I want to build a neck through 4 string, and would like it if I could do a laminated neck. The only problem is lmii seems to be the only place that sells them and for their prices, I could buy a several board feet of the wood. Where can I find cheaper neck laminations? Should I go one piece neck? Or should I buy the actual wood and just cut the pieces off

    B. It seems people use either epoxy or titebond to bond the neck laminations together. The problem with using wood glue is, that it requires a more clamping pressure from a lot of clamps that I dont have. Im very familiar with Envirotex Lite Epoxy for gluing and finishing and from what I read, it requires fewer clamps. If/when I stumble upon some laminations, should I opt for wood glue or epoxy? If epoxy, which should I use if not envirotex lite? Around how many clamps should I get, and what style+size (quickgrip, C, bar, etc.)?

    C. My lack of clamping power prevents me from attaching the body wings also :rollno:. If I made the connecting part of the wings H's, would putting dowels through both the neck and the wing "overhangs" be strong enough?. Paint illustration:
    The overhang would be much longer and deeper. I could glue/epoxy the contact points, or just use the dowels to hold the body on and just hammer them out if I want to change the wings.
  2. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA

    I frequently find them for $2.99/ea at my local harbor freight. I have about 20 of those, and about 6 of 24" ones too (http://www.harborfreight.com/24-inch-bar-clamp-96213.html).

    If you have the capability to resaw and thickness your own lumber, it will be cheaper than buying LMI's pre-shaped strips. As it says in the product description on LMI's site, they started carrying them to acommodate builders who don't have access to surfacing equpment.

    As far as titebond vs epoxy...I don't know. I've only ever used titebond and LMI's vinyl glue. Of those two, I prefer titebond, as it is more forgiving. The LMI glue sets too fast for me.
  3. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    If you dont have the tools to make your own laminates and you dont want to spend too much on them I would go for a one piece. It might be a good idea for a first build anyway, keeping it simple(r).

    I would stick with Titebond for the gluing up personally, its not going to matter about strength, either will be stronger than the wood iteself and Titebond is easier to use (IMO). Whatever you use, you will want a bunch of clamps. Which seeing as how cheap they are over there I would just buy! Over here similar clamps would be £7-£10 each. You'll want bigger than 12" clamps for gluing your wings up too.
  4. Porkbun


    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    Do most people make their own? I was thinking of using my router, hand plane, or buying a portable planer to make my own laminates.

    I saw those clamps earlier, but I was put off by those reviews. Looks like ill be buying a bunch of those soon. Im still leaning towards epoxy for the heavy duty bonding.

    With a one piece neck should I go double truss, or am I just worried about nothing? I want to make this bass an inch thick and tapered at the edges
  5. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    Yeah, I imagine most people make their own laminates. I love using hand planes, but with a 5 or more piece neck (for me) its hard work to get them all good. But maybe your skill with them is higher than mine (I have been using them for around 2 years). Quite a few people use their router for jointing, but if your doing a neck through it can be difficult to joint the full depth accurately on the body section. A portable planer is a good idea, just take light passes.

    Not sure why you would lean towards epoxy for heavey duty bonding? Ordinary wood glue will be stronger than the wood iteslf.

    You wont need two truss rods for a four string....there probably wouldnt be room anyway. If you meant double action, then yeah, I would on any build. You could re-enforce with carbon fibre if your worried. But think of all the old Fenders you see with one piece necks. There a plenty of high end stuff out there with one piece necks too, like Ritter and CT.

    Do you mean you want to make your body 1" thick? If so make sure you can find some pickups which dont require deeper routs. Also keep balance in mind, a 1" thick bass is going to be quite light, so you may get neck dive.

    Hope this helps a bit!
  6. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    My first bass build used a one-piece neck (wenge), and it hasn't required adjustment since I completed it, a little less than a year ago.

    I also used just regular Titebond II because it was what I had available, and it seems to be fairly commonly used by other luthiers. For my second build, I used LMI's luthier glue, which I didn't care for. It set up too fast for my skills at the time. For my current builds in progress, I'm back to Titebond II. The resin in most modern wood glues is stronger than the wood's natural lignin polymers. Epoxy is favored by some for various reasons, but I'm not sure the hassle in dealing with it is worth the perceived advantages.

    I have not used many laminates for my builds, but for what I have used, I have made my own. More accurately, I have made friends with a very talented cabinet maker, and he has been willing to plane things for me (as I lack the fairly expensive tools) and rip things that are too big for my little table saw. He does good work and he works cheap, and he has a real interest in instrument building, so it has been a mutually beneficial friendship. I suggest looking around for cabinet builders near you to attempt to establish a similar working relationship.

    Those harbor freight clamps aren't the very best ever, but I have yet to have one fail on me after about a year and a half of use and abuse. At this point, even if they do start failing, they are cheap enough to make it a worthwhile investment.

    Dual truss rods or even carbon fiber reinforcements would be wasted on a 4-string bass neck. I know people who use carbon in every neck, but it's not absolutely necessary, unless you are using something like balsa for your neck material.
  7. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I know nothing about being a luthier, but know a bit about glue from building drums. Titebond III has some advantages over I and II in that it has a longer open time, is more impact resistant (although as others have stated any of those are stronger than the wood itself) and has better moisture resistance. I can't speak for epoxy.
    Also, you can make some clamps yourself with two pieces of metal or hard wood, with holes drilled in each end and a threaded dowel running through them and wing nuts to tighten down. It requires time to position the wing nuts in place so make sure if you go that route you have a long open time and have practiced a dry run.
    For more info on glues from a lot of different experienced woodworkers:
  8. Porkbun


    Mar 10, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    I had wanted to use epoxy for the reasons in the link above. Its stronger than the titebonds (though I dont plan on putting it under a lot of stress), doesnt require clamping power, and minimal expansion.

    Looks like I was getting worried over nothing regarding the neck strength. If im going to use a one piece neck, and implement my idea, all I would need to join would be the fretboard and the headstock.

    Im going to try to place the pickups through the back of the bass and have a bit of a raised midsection like on Thunderbirds. Looking forward to seeing how a bass thinner than an Ibanez feels and plays!
  9. pnut166


    Jun 5, 2008
    I`ve got a bunch of those HF clamps - they`ve worked fine for everything I`ve used them for.

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