Refinishing/Adding a pickguard to my Yamaha BBN-5

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by gitarrenhai, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. No. 1 - kinda classic J-bass style

  2. No. 2 - J-style with dimension-ish lower horn

    0 vote(s)
  3. No. 3 - Dimension-ish

  4. No. 4 - Dimension-ish merged with the classic upper horn

    0 vote(s)
  5. No. 5 - divide into parts, adding metal

    0 vote(s)
  6. keep it as is

  7. got an own idea?

  1. gitarrenhai


    Aug 19, 2019
    Hi there!
    I have this 1995 Yamaha BBN-5 (v I, with the J-style pickups) which is a cool bass, but I don't dig the looks that much. The body wood looks really plain and boring to me. I'm thinking about adding a custom pickguard to it and maybe a refinish. I started planning some pickguard ideas which I wanted to share and maybe get some opinions and advice on. Here we go!

    I'm going to laser cut the pickguard material and I use vCarve Pro to design it. I used the schematic drawing of the BBN-5 II from its manual as a reference and guesstimated the locations of the J-pups by overlaying the Nathan East model, which works out quite well.

    But first, the bass I'm talking about:
    nice, solid, sounds good, but looks... kinda boring!
    Here's what I came up with.
    First design, reminiscent of the good ol' J-Bass without a control plate
    (Ignore those big humbuckers, I forgot to edit them out and just rolled with it)

    So, that was my first idea and I lasered a paper template, put it on the bass and... well, yeah. It's a J-bass kinda pickguard. Boring. Not very custom-y.
    I kept looking for inspiration. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Fender Dimension bass... Thought it might differ enough from the well known J-bass shape and might make it a little more interesting. I merged the lower horn part into my first design:


    Better, closer, warmer.. But still not quite there. I re-designed it completely, with the Dimension Bass in mind. I added a control plate for this and realligned the pots on the control plate to keep 'em in line with the body contour:


    I kinda like it. What I don't love is the upper horn section. So I merged this design with the first ones again.


    Nice. But I still kept searching for inspiration and found some interesting designs by Alpher Instruments. So, dividing the guard into multiple parts and adding some parts, maybe even made from metal. Like that Jaguar control plate by the upper horn.


    So, those are my ideas. I'm gravitating towards no. 4, the classic upper horn with the Dimension-ish lower horn and maybe an added control plate (not sure about that).

    What do you think of those designs? Any advice, any favourites, or do you dislike them all (which is fine, too)? Looking forward for some feedback and maybe some more ideas/inspiration!

    Oh yeah, the refinish I'm debating. I'd like some "dusky pink". In Germany we have the standardised RAL-colors - it would be RAL 3014. The pickguard would be some kind of aged white then, or maybe aged pearl.


    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  2. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Keep the current shape / wood work. Swap the knobs for metal domes. I would disassemble it and take it to a car re-finisher and her a nice vibrant colour flek finish. I wouldn't worry about the pick guard...i'd go custom colour route.
    gitarrenhai likes this.
  3. gitarrenhai


    Aug 19, 2019
    Alright, thanks for the feedback! I agree, the knobs need to go, that's a rather quick and easy fix.
    What do you think about my designs? Do you just like it better plain and simple without a guard or is it the shapes by themselves? I must admit, I'm not sure if either of those "work" on that bass.. I just love pickguards, especially when the body isn't that spectacular by itself. I think I'm gonna cut each one from a piece of paper and put them on the bass so I can visualize it better.

    I'll use this post as a good morning bump :D totally forgot about the timezones... Any further input from the other side of the big pond?
  4. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    I like all the pick guard designs except for the last one with all the separate pieces. It's different, and I like different, but it's too busy and doesn't flow with the relative simplicity of the bass itself.
    gitarrenhai likes this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Dual Coils in those humbucker shapes with single/series/parallel switches would take that bass to a whole "nuther" level.

    But I dig your aesthetic ideas. One-piece guard is my favorite.
    gitarrenhai likes this.
  6. gitarrenhai


    Aug 19, 2019
    Thanks for the feedback, guys!

    Yea, I get you. It looks cool on those Alphers where I got the idea from. But it might a little over the top for this one!

    Actually, I‘m considering a set of Nordy Big Singles. I‘m not crazy about too many switching options. I also dislike active preamps on my basses. The simpler, the better! For me, at least..

    I think I‘m gonna cut my designs from paper and see how they look an the actual bass. I‘ll post some pics here hopefully tomorrow.
    two fingers likes this.
  7. gitarrenhai


    Aug 19, 2019
    Alright guys, dunno if anybody's still reading this, but I made a few paper pickguards for visual reference!
    Bonus, I also made a ramp which I might make from acrylic:

    Okay, here we go.
    No. 1 - Good ol' J-bass
    photo1637874402 (3).jpeg

    No. 2 - J-bass with modified lower horn

    photo1637874402 (4).jpeg

    No. 3 - Dimension inspired - with and without added control plate

    photo1637874402 (1).jpeg photo1637874402 (2).jpeg

    No. 4 - merged together with more classic upper horn part - with or without control plate

    photo1637874402 (6).jpeg photo1637874402 (5).jpeg

    No. 5 - I didn't bother making a template for the actual No. 5 I made in the first place. Instead I expanded on Idea No. 4 which now looks like a Fender Roscoe Beck V to me - with or without control plate and for the fun of it, just the control plate!

    photo1637874402 (7).jpeg photo1637874402 (9).jpeg photo1637874402 (8).jpeg

    Okay, that's what I got. I must say, I really like the Roscoe Beck-ish combination. I'll have to think about this for a little more.
    What do you guys say? :) Really appreciate any feedback!
    egomin, MPU and Beej like this.
  8. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    I like the ones that have pickguard under knobs too. I'm having similar desing ahead this weekend when I Walify my Sterling Stingray.
    Beej likes this.
  9. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    If it's a pink body with black knobs, I like this one.
    If it's a pink body with chrome knobs, I like these 2.

  10. gitarrenhai


    Aug 19, 2019
    I think I made up my mind. I will leave the natural finish alone. It's not that bad after all...
    I modded the bass a little already. Got some new Warwick compact tuners, because the stock ones were pretty worn out. The nut on the bass was horrible, cut a new Graph Tech nut. I was also experimenting with string trees... which in the end led to the observation that this bass doesn't need a string tree at all! For none of the strings, even the A. I tested all the strings extensively and I will leave the string trees off for now.

    Anyway, I picked a favourite pickguard shape and cut it from a nice piece of plywood. Oiled it up, put it on the bass... yea, I like it!

    photo5339407200000521604.jpg photo5339407200000521605.jpg
    photo5339407200000521606.jpg photo5339407200000521607.jpg photo5339407200000521608.jpg

    still needs a little sanding around the truss rod access. And I need to drill some holes into the bass... I'm still debating with myself if I should do it. I love the look of the guard! What do you think?