Starting out

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by daveze, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Hey Guys,

    I want to make a bass but haven't the foggiest really where to start. I got a book (Make your own Electric Guitar and Bass, by Dennis Waring and David Raymond) but I've still got heaps of questions.

    I'm a little under-prepared, I have no wood-work experience (does 3 months of wood-shop 6 years ago count as experience?), little money (I'm a student, presently unemployed, living off the earnings of the last holidays) and I don't really know anyone who can help me locally.

    However, in my favor, I have a fair bit of patience, time (when I'm on holidays, one of the blessings of being a student) and I'm reasonably smart (studying engineering, does that make me smart?).

    Does anybody have any experience with Australian Natives? We have some really hard woods (eg Ironbark), so would using one of them as a replacement for rock maple in a neck work?

    I was hoping to make it a 6 string fretless, and at least 36" scale, maybe 38". Is there anything really important that I need to consider? Does anybody know any luthiers in the Brisbane area, so that I can get help, in person?

    I'm new here, give me some credit.

    Josh D
  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden

    If you have the patience to let it take a year or two, you'll probably be well off. Then you can buy what you need as you need it, and don't have to get everything at once.

    As I usually do, I state that
    NECK should be made out of stiff material, but not heavy
    BODY can be made out of whatever

    I don't know anything about Ironbark, but from the name I'd guess that it might be a little too heavy.

    Oh, and GOOD LUCK!

    PS Some background to the above is availabe at my home site DS
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It might be worth not going too experimental with your first bass if having a playable instrument is the main desired end result. For example, if you go with a 38" scale you might find problems getting strings that fit (especially a six string set) or that playing in tune becomes virtually impossible towards the nut (unless you hold the bass more like an upright instrument).

    It's not to say that experimentation is a bad thing but you might find it better to proove that you can build a fairly standard instrument first and then start experimenting with pushing the boundaries.

  4. I would try making an axe or two out of parts - warmoth etc. - first. Or maybe getting some old basses from op-shops etc and experimenting. The way I started was with a neck from an old Yamaha, and I made a body for it.

    Try lurking around for a while and also check out their library (you'll need to register).

    I've used a few Aussie natives and unusual timbers from our neighbours. I've been thrilled with the results. Grey Ironbark, Cooktown ironwood, Silver ash, Taun, New Guinea Rosewood and more... They all have uses. Check out Bootle's "Wood in Australia". (The state library in Sth Bris, has a copy or two).

    There are a few great luithiers in Bris. Gary Alrecht and Chris Melville spring to mind, but I think they are both usually very busy, and I'd caution against phoning them with elementry questions. And Gary doesn't do small jobs anymore.