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Resurrecting a '60's short-scale bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Mar 30, 2018.


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  1. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I started introducing this tagged onto another build thread, but will now continue it under it's own flag. Always ready for a challenge I bought a 60's MIJ short-scale bass in parts. Just received it today and here's what I got so far. Essentially the body is 1.5" thick and of plywood construction. It looks like mahogany ply, a wood many basses then were made of. It's been stripped of it's finish, and the body & neck weigh 6lbs/2oz. The neck (also mahogany) is in good condition and frets are barely worn. It came with parts (some parts missing like pu's/pots etc and various screws) but they aren't worth dealing with so most everything will be replaced. I have many of the parts in my bin and have ordered the few I don't have. I wanted to do this project on the cheap and see what I could do for not much expense.

    fullsizeoutput_edb.
    Thinking about leaving the laminated edge exposed (sanding and staining) and doing the front and back in paint. We'll see once I sand it down. Will also need to plane-down the neck heal - it's way up there! (way too high) Probably original but with all new parts, I'll set it up lower.
    fullsizeoutput_edc.
    A bit on the rough side but I can fix that section - otherwise the rosewood fb has a nice grain pattern
    fullsizeoutput_edf.
    And the neck has a really cool barber-pole wave of grain pattern - I'll sand it to wood and stain it to match.
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    Won't be touching the hs face because I like this detail - I'll re-do the sides and back only and match them to this hs face.
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    This is a cryptic pic of what the bass looked like. I plan to recreate the odd shaped pg (because I like it!) and already got the b/w/b pg blank to do so. Pick-ups will be 2 lipstick sets (= 2 humbuckers) and either 250k or 500k pots (V/T) and 2 vintage rocker switches.
    s-l1600-13.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    ICM, JimmyM, Freekmagnet and 8 others like this.
  2. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Sketched the pg shape on the body and transferred it to vellum which will be transferred to the pg blank. Will rout for the rocker switches on the upper right side of the pg - X marks the spot. I also have a thumb-rest that will fit nicely on this bass. (interestingly enough in the Fender 70's position, above the E string)

    fullsizeoutput_ee4.

    IMG_2186.JPG
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  3. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Neat find! Reminds me of the Tele-Star I had briefly with the chrome pickguard. I'll hazard a guess that venetian blinds were involved in the creation of that barber-pole effect. (or at least that's what I'm reminded of)
     
    JIO likes this.
  4. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Love those rocker switches!
     
  5. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Looks like that doesn't it? It's actually the wood and will look even better once I strip/refinish it.

    It took about a nanosecond to hit the BIN button when I saw it! :)
     
    mapleglo likes this.
  6. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Started work on the neck - used a snap-blade to plane the fb surface which provided me with my fb repair material. (mixed with glue) I polished the frets with those foam (fine) sanding pads cut in small squares.
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    Removing the old thick lacquer is a job - hs face will be left with it's original coating.
    fullsizeoutput_ee6.
    A set of Squier Bronco tuners will replace the mis-matched vintage set with no modifications. They actually look a lot like tuners (boxed back) which were on most MIJ basses then.
    fullsizeoutput_ee7.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  7. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Lovin another JIO thread. I hope you finish it today, I'm stuck in a cabin in the woods with family and I'm bored stiff. There' only so much Risk and Monopoly one can play... :D
     
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  8. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    :laugh:
     
    Beej likes this.
  9. Liking another retro bass. I've got a Teisco bass neck on something I just finished up. You're right, the heel is pretty thick but it works with the original bridge. Intonation, on the other hand, is a little sketchier with the original bridge.:laugh:
     
    JIO likes this.
  10. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I'm just ambitious about your ambition. :D:roflmao:
     
    JIO likes this.
  11. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    I believe that you are supposed to go out and play lumberjack (or at least windfall salvager) when you get bored of the inside games, and then build a bass from what you find...using an axe and a jackknife
     
    Bobro, Beej, design and 1 other person like this.
  12. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Let's see some pics of your recently completed project w/a Teisco neck! I may end up using the original bridge plate due to spacing, but the (pot-metal?) saddles are a chunk - talk about "high mass"! I think I can use some saddles that are more low-profile and lighter.

    fullsizeoutput_ee8.
     
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  13. RobTheRiot

    RobTheRiot

    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Can’t wait to see how this comes out!

    The bass is really interesting - I’m no expert on 60’s Japanese basses, but I have looked at a lot, and I can say I’ve never seen a model like this.

    I see very familiar elements - the p/u covers, the slanted neck p/u, the general pickguard shape/material, but this looks like someone slammed 3 or 4 more common models together, and poof! A new bass design!

    This one def has personality all it’s own too, with that grain on the neck...

    Will be cool to see one of these brought back to life, and I’m sure you’ll add some of your own touches to it, making it that much cooler.

    Thx for sharing!
     
    JIO likes this.
  14. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I've done a bit of research and the body appears to be a Decca (like the pic black & white pic I posted) - but the hs shape is unlike what appeared on Decca basses, which are more rounded. At first I though it could have been a Kawai (first pic) but then I found this product of Suzuki Violin Mfg. (Ena Gakki factory) who exported several different guitars from 1965-1967. The shape is nearly identical and the "Reinforced Steel Neck" graphic seals the deal!

    And yes, I will resurrect it but not 100% as original. I plan to do much altering of it not only to make it a playable, good sounding bass - but to enhance the design elements that I was attracted to while adding my own personal touches.

    fullsizeoutput_ee9.
    You'll have to stand back from the pixilated blow-up from my History of Japanese Guitars book, but it has the same "Reinforced Steel Neck" graphics and no hs badge/brand label.
    fullsizeoutput_eea.
    My bass - the barber-pole grain stripes are subtle but in the hs face
    fullsizeoutput_eeb.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
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  15. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Looks more like plated steel when I zoom in - I see little bits of rust where it appears there's defects in the plating. Pot metal is not all that dense, though I hardly think they are tungsten. Grind 'em down and drill a bunch of "lightening" (oh, wait, perhaps those are "secret tone sauce") holes?

    What does a magnet think?
     
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  16. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    A magnet is very attracted to them! (so not brass) Drilling them out is an interesting thought... (but a lot more work...)
     
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  17. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    I dunno, you replace those saddles it might neck dive like crazy.
     
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  18. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    But secret tone sauce!

    If you posses a drill press and a drill press vise, it should not be a lot of work, assuming you also possess a sharp drill bit and a can of oil (cutting if you have it, whatever if you don't.) Oh - also a center punch...
     
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  19. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Adding this (which I am savvy) is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline... file under [don't get me started] :)
     
    BassHappy likes this.
  20. That would be this. I got the body from a friend. Pretty sure it’s old and Japanese. It’s definitely plywood. I think the friend cut out behind the bridge. The bridge is the standard metal bar with adjusting screws at each end. Still has the foam under the cover! I’ve had the neck for a while. It has a slight twist but still playable and that rosewood is too nice to not play. The neck has been on another body but I got this one and they seems to go together. My wife picked out the color, cut a pickguard and you’re making thumpy notes in no time!

    752B6D24-6686-48C0-B9FE-02026DCC239C. 52D458E0-5EC4-49CA-9CEA-F6071245301D. 8E85512B-ADA2-44E1-B50B-9FC74F67C657.
     
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