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ROUTING a BASS for Weight?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lowbrow, Mar 16, 2013.


  1. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Bad-back guys, perhaps you can relate. You like a given bass, but it's to freakin' heavy, and you can't locate a lighter one.

    When value is of no concern, like for instance with a mass-produced Squier or even non-collectible Fender, have you ever considered routing chambers into the body in strategic areas under the pickguard for the single purpose of weight relief?

    I'd wonder if there are any makers/players who have done this, and, more importantly, if it makes a significant difference (to the negative) in how the bass sounds or to its physical integrity.
     
  2. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    Roger Sadowsky chambers many of his bodies.

    Check out this video around the 1:20 mark...

     
  3. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Wow - thanks. If RS says it has yielded actual sonic benefits, you have to believe it. And clearly the pattern of his routings indicate a tested methodology of some sort. Yet he's speaking of bodies that are capped with a veneer. Wonder what open routs might do?

    I've been lucky at times and have been able to get my hands on a 7.8 lb. Road Worn P, and have a few great-sounding Dano P clones that are around 7 lbs or less. But the Danos are really pretty s***tty when you get right down to it, like a $199 plywood bass generally is. Fragile, unstable vs. weather changes.

    But I digress - I know someone has just winged this rout route (;)) and I'd be interested to hear about it.
     
  4. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
  5. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Or maybe it did, Eastwood Guitars sells one. Two actually, there is a fretless version too.

    Ken

    [​IMG]
     
  6. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Yup, big open holes have a long history, from classic Ampegs to current ESP signature models.

    [​IMG]

    100_6498.

    metalbird.

    I remember some late 80s BC Rich guitars with circular holes, too, but not sure if there ever was a bass version.

    It's an option, but remember that lowering the weight will affect the balance, so the bass might end up with neck dive unless you also make the headstock lighter.
     
  7. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    John Stoneman originally built this bass as a 4-string. The body is cherry and wasn't light to begin with. When I decided I wanted a 5 and added the huge pickup, it got too heavy so I had him get out the router and go to town. I love it.
     

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  8. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Sorry that I may have given the wrong impression. What I meant is larger routs hidden beneath the pick guard. Nothing that will alter the original look of the design.
     
  9. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Well, not a bass, but here's an example of some under-pickguard routing.

    [​IMG]

    So, it's doable.
     
  10. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Bud LeCompte also chambers bodies on some models. Mahogany is usually pretty heavy. It reduced the overall weight on my old CB-SC4 to 8 lbs.

    cbsc4uploadjj4_zpsf93bcb98.

    It's easier when you're building the body because you can chamber it and then glue the top on. IME, chambering doesn't have that much of an effect on tone. One of my Dingwalls is chambered and the other isn't. If someone guessed which was which from a recording, it would be just that - a lucky guess. If I were routing under a precision bass pick guard, I wouldn't get too close to the neck pocket.
     
  11. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    That's a pretty instrument, thanks for for posting it and for your input.
     
  12. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Thank you, and you are welcome. I hope you can work something out that your back and shoulders can deal with. :cool:

    A few years ago I was checking out the Ebay auction of a Precision bass that had been chambered for George Biondo (Steppenwolf). He said it "cleared up" the mid-range, IIRC. I guess he played it when he wasn't playing his Ampeg...
     
  13. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    This slightly-modified P-Bass belonged to a good friend of mine, Drew Daniels, who sadly passed away in 2010. Drew was the best Audio Engineer and bass player that I've ever known. I learned a lot from him.

    This bass dates back to a time when he was recovering from some shoulder surgery. He had somebody chop away everything that wasn't needed from the body. Yes, it was very neck heavy! But for his particular condition, he was willing to support it with his left hand. He mostly needed the pressure reduced on the strap.

    I did some minor work on it for Drew around 2009. It played and sounded fine. I don't know what's happened to it.
     

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  14. FourBanger

    FourBanger

    Sep 2, 2012
    SE Como
    Gibson chambers a lot of their Les Pauls and folks are still happy to pays a small fortune for them, so it must not be that bad for tone.
     
  15. kcole4001

    kcole4001

    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Our guitar player had a chambered Les Paul for a while.
    Very deceptive: when you go to pick it up you almost throw it because it was so light!

    Tone was a tad brighter than most LPs I've heard, but I don't know how much of that was due to chambering (if at all) or the woods themselves.
     
  16. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Just remembered one more: the Godin Radiator guitars had a huge pickguard covering the entire front of the body, and a lot of the body was routed out underneath. Here's one disassembled.

    7.

    So, the bigger the pickguard the more weight you can remove. A 51-style P-bass might be a good one to do this kind of operation on, maybe a Squier Mike Dirnt...
     
  17. kcole4001

    kcole4001

    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Just for variation, RIC routs from the back and covers it with a maple cap on their semi-hollow guitars.

    Apply that to a bass body and it's easier to hide the joint, and you can easily go 'guardless.
     
  18. Smallmouth_Bass

    Smallmouth_Bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    Canada
    More and more makers are routing their bodies these days as sourcing light weight woods seems to be getting more difficult and players are not willing to accept 12 lb boat anchors anymore. I don't know if I have seen any chambers specifically beneath pickguards, but chambered and capped is fairly common.

    Another option is making the body thinner like on my Dingwall Super P5. It is surprisingly light and comfortable and sounds great. I think the Fender Road Worn basses are thinner bodied too and they sound good as well.

    I have heard people say that chambered bodies have a bit more punch. Some prefer the sound.
     
  19. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    I had Jack Read create a custom body with sound chambers for my Modulus Quantum 5. Worked great! Lessened the weight considerably.
     
  20. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I dig it!
     

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