SBO22 - Sceptre II

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by smart51, Aug 11, 2022.

  1. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    I couldn't resist a new entry to the summer build off. I was disappointed with the inharmonicity of the 25.5" scale Screptre, so I'm going to take it apart, re use the hardware and make this - Sceptre II.

    People ask if you can make a bass out of a single piece of wood. Here is a quarter sawn piece of sapele and I'm going to do just that.

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  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Cool :thumbsup:

    More builds = more good :D
     
    smart51 likes this.
  3. Crawforde

    Crawforde Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2016
    South Florida
    Cool. This will be fun to watch.
    what scale length this time?
     
  4. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    I've gone for 30.5". I don't know if it was the short scale, the thick strings, the soft spalted body or what caused the inharmonicity. This time I'm taking no chances.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
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  5. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    We now have a body / neck blank and a fretboard blank. I cut the body at a slight angle to the board so that the grain was parallel to the centre line. With a 1 piece neck I guess you've got to get everything just right. I struggled with the bandsaw to get a straight and square cut on the fretboard, as you can see in the top right. The rest of the board I cut by hand. I have blisters for my trouble. Still, all is good so far.

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  6. Crawforde

    Crawforde Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2016
    South Florida
    Good start.
    Enjoy the hand work!
    I always find hand work satisfying, and the mistakes tend to be smaller and easier to fix.
     
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  7. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    My fret sawing jig in action. A simple tool but one of the most useful

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  8. Does it have a provision to find the correct place for cutting?
     
  9. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    No, you need a ruler for that. It holds the saw square in two planes and it's worth it just for that.
     
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  10. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    The body is sanded to 80 grit. The neck just has bevels for now. This is the point where I handle it and look at it to see what can be improved.

    The pickups will be rear mounted to give a cleaner look at the front.

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  11. Interesting. I have never had to deal with inharmonicity before, since I have only ever owned long or extra long scale basses, but if you had any recordings of the original [very] short scale original Sceptre I would be curious to hear what it sounded like.

    My gut says it was probably the low string tension causing the issue, since body wood tend to have a minimal effect on tone, but I guess it could be anything.
     
  12. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    I didn't make a recording before I took it apart for its components. The best description of the tone is bell like.

    I had a set of strings made to custom gauges so that the tension was even. Tuned EADG, the gauges were (from memory) 130, 100, 77 and 65 or close to that. The idea was that the 130 gauge string would be like a 34" B string stopped at the 5th fret.

    As a final test, I bought some DR Hi-Beams which have a round core. I've read that round core strings are less stiff than hex core. I'd hoped that the less stiff string would help but it was no different.
     
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  13. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    The fatter the string and shorter the scale, the more inharmonicity you get as you play higher up the neck.
     
  14. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    Sanding sealer to bring out the final colour. This is the lightest piece of sapele I've seen.

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  15. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    I'm trying a new finish. Melamine Lacquer from Chestnut. It dries almost as soon as you put it on but takes a week to harden. It will need a lot of sanding by the look of it.

    There were lots of offcuts from the sapele board, but none wide enough to make the two central covers. I had to "bookmatch" two pieces to make a cover wide enough. Not that you can tell on a plain wood like sapele.

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  16. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    It lives! There's a bit of fettling needed here and there. First impressions are that the tone is bright and clear. There's little need for the bridge pickup. It is comfortable to hold and to wear. I think it's going to be a good one.

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  17. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    Oh, and it's thin too.

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  18. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    OK, I'm declaring it done, And I'm pleased with the result. It is quite nice to play. The tone is clear and bright. It even looks quite nice.

    The eagle eyed among you will notice the extra hole in the control cavity cover. I made a design change mid build and didn't double check against the drawings. The body is 1mm thinner than a jack plug is long. I suspect no-one will ever know unless I tell them.

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  19. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    I've played it for a few weeks now and have a few observations.

    The first is that it is very light so it moves about easily. That's not a problem when playing root and fifth stuff but anything fast that jumps about and it doesn't stay still like a heavier bass would. It's made worse by...

    Second, the body of the bass is very small and doesn't have much contact with your ribs. The back edge is radiused too. I didn't realise how much an upper bout pressing against your ribs resists movement, especially body roll.

    Third, I haven't missed having 24 frets. Who ever plays up there anyway?

    Lastly, it is a great sounding bass. Proof that you don't need a guitar shaped body either for tone or sustain.
     
  20. smart51

    smart51

    Dec 11, 2019
    UK
    This is my submission for the summer build off 2022 - Sceptre II

    Aims

    I wanted to make a travel bass styled a little like an EUB. I've also always wanted to make a bass from a single piece of wood.

    Specification

    30.5" scale, 21 frets
    One piece sapele through neck / body
    Two mini humbuckers
    custom headless tuners and headpiece
    Turned wooden control knobs, strap buttons and tuner buttons

    Lessons learned

    Basses don't need bodies for tone, for sustain or for tuning stability. You just need an upper horn to hang a strap from. The rest is just counter balance for a headstock full of machine heads.

    But super light weight basses without much contact with the player can move about a bit when playing fast parts.

    Result

    The bass is light at 1682g (3lbs 11.25oz) and comfortable to play. It's tone is bright with long sustain - something I was concerned about because of the thinness of the body. It's stable too, it never seems to need tuning.


    front.jpg

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    back end.jpg

    body.jpg

    back.jpg

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    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2022
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