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Saga P-Bass saga (long post)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim Ingraham, Jan 5, 2005.


  1. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    Ive been wanting a vintage Oly white, tort gaurd, rosewood necked P for a while now and just haven't been able to justify spending the kind of money they're commanding. So i decided to go another route. Somewhere buried deep in the Basses or Luthiers forum i read about these Saga kits and decided to take a chance. Its not much of a chance because they're only a hundred bucks.
    A couple weeks before Christmas the box arrived and heres what you get:
    [​IMG]
    The kit includes a pre-drilled basswood body, maple/rosewood neck with a paddle shaped uncut headstock and all the hardware, pups etc. they even throw in a cord and set of strings. Now, frankly i wasnt expecting much from this kit but first thing i did was assemble the whole thing un- finished and damn if it didnt sound and play half bad. In fact it sounded pretty good, the body was light had a real nice vibrant ring to it unplugged, the neck was nice and straight, with good fret work and no buzzes or dead spots. When i plugged in it sounded just like....... a P-bass :bassist:
    A little more excited about the project now, i took her apart and started the finishing process. Now i havent really done guitar finishing from scratch before but i had recently refinshed my Deluxe P and i do have a decent shop with spray booth facilities, so i wasnt too worried. First step was to cut the head stock shape. I just freehand drew the classic fender shape on and cut it out on the bandsaw and sanded the cut edge with a drum sander. I was after a vintage look and wanted to stain the neck to make it look aged as it comes very white. Heres where i ran into my first problem... the neck was sanded so smooth it wouldnt take any stain... i tried a number of different colors with varying wait times but each one completly wiped off at the wipe down stage. So i tried spraying on stain but that just coagulated into little lumps and looked awful. Finally i mixed my own stain out of my artists oil colors and that took pretty good. A couple of coats and i had a nice aged looking patina.
    For the body I decided to do a nitro laquer finish. I had some white primer laying around so i mixed some yellow into it to give it some age and sprayed it. Then over the next several days I sprayed on many topcoats of gloss lacquer and heres how it looked before final sanding and buffing:
    [​IMG]
    I let it set for a week or so and then got a bunch of 400 to 2000 grit paper at the auto parts store and spent a day sanding. This is the fun part as more and more of the shine starts coming out as you work your way thru consectively finer grits. The last step is polishing and you end up with a nice deep glossy shine. :hyper:
    Originally my plan was to relicize (sp?) the paint job after i finished but i just couldnt bring myself to bang up this finish so ill just let that happen on its own. At any rate , the tort gaurd i ordered last month came in today so i added the last piece and ..... wallah... The Saga P-Bass:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Nice job, Jim! The painting work looks beautiful. I do a lot of restoration work on old 1970's P&J knockoff's and have similar problems with the necks taking the stain after I've stripped them down.

    Again, really nice job ... does it play as nice as it looks?
     
  3. Hi Jim,

    I followed this thread in from another one. And I think you're right that building basses from kits is indeed a good copy of discussion.

    My first bass...P-bass knockoff was build from a "kit" that I made myself...I had little ideas about anything when I started...so I began with a couple of books on the subject.

    I then purchased (I think from veneman's music emporium...it was 15+ years ago so bear with me)

    - A maple neck with a rosewood board and a walnut skunk stripe (nice neck). Head stock already shaped.

    - An alder P-body...all ready to go except for finish and fine sanding

    - Schaller black chrome tuners
    - LQ Badass II bridge (black chrome)
    - Black chrome dome knobs
    - EMG active pickup complete with knobs and preamp.
    - A black 3-ply pickguard
    - A brass nut
    (all up I think the parts cost me around $450.00)

    I sanded the body meticulously and then stained it with a dark brown walnut colour stain. Then my dad took it to a friend's cabinet maker shop where he sprayed 3 coats of polyurethane on it. (I haven't yet done a gloss polish on it, but it has a satin like finish which is pretty nice on its own).

    I put the thing together...lining everything up...and setting up the action and intonation and strung it with a set of flats (can't recall exactly what they were, I think they were D'Ads)

    And you know what...it came out PRETTY sweet...I learned to play bass on that thing and haven't touched it in about 10 years (haven't seen it in 4) it's in America.

    I recently had it sent to a friend who's a part-time guitar tech and he's cleaning her up and tweaking the action. I am then having it shipped to me here in Australia.

    I can't wait to see her again :hyper:

    I learned a LOT about the instrument by putting it together and I can't wait to have her again.
     
  4. The finish on that bass is gorgeous. You did a damn fine job. Personally, i would relicize it for that added vibe, but it certainly doesn't detract from the look the way it is now.

    My one question: did you have to radius/carve the neck where it meets the headstock to get that flowing cut or did it come that way?
     
  5. Yes, it is a fine finish. Jim looks like a man who pays careful attention to detail. This is critical for getting a good result.

    That's a good question about the headstock. My guess is that the back IS radiused and all that must be done is the basic shape cut.

    I'd love to see a kit like this in an early '50s P-bass style. I really dig '51 and '52 P-basses with their less-countoured bodies, cool headstocks, and amoeba pickguards.
     
  6. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington

    Awesome story dude... post pics when you get her back... you know theres something special about playing a bass you built yourself, even if it is just put together from premade parts... that's... well different. Its more a part of you and it plays different than a store bought. This particular bass is my attempt at satisfying my GAS for 65 P in this this color scheme, but i just cant afford a real one. And guess what? it worked!!! i figure i saved about 2-3 grand and ive stopped reading the Ebay P listings every day!! :bassist: :bassist:
     
  7. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    What you get with this head stock is a paddle shape, the left side where the tuners stick out from is cut for you, then you cut whatever shape you want in the right side...i thought about the tele shape but theres somehting just so perfect about the classic shape...
     
  8. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I have the very same kit hiding in my closet. I am not sure I will ever have the facilities to construct it, but I am happy that it is not a total POS.
     
  9. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    OK, I googled, I can't find it, anyone care to help a brother out?

    Ray
     
  10. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington

    Try this... maybe you did already.. but just put the pieces together and play it...dont worry about finishing it...dont worry about the square headstock...just put it together and if it sounds like a P-Bass and the necks relatively straight :hyper: :bassist: ...then screw around with it... look at it this way... you cant hurt it....
     
  11. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
  12. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Ahhh, cool. I'll have to see if I can find a dealer for them. Though I have a KILLER P/J bass. Oh well, not like it's expensive.

    Ray
     
  13. truckin88

    truckin88

    Oct 18, 2001
    Newburgh, NY
    I like this a lot, can you just leave the body as is, I want a natural p bass with a black pickguard, this would be perfect, especially with some 1/4 pounders. Or should you put another coat of stain or sealer on it? also when you sprayed the paint, did u use an air compressor gun or a can?