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Strat style shortscale bass build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by FatStrings, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Hi all,

    Thanks to the TB luthiers forum and several other great sites, I got the urge to build!

    This story starts back in '85 when I bought a '78 Fender Musicmaster bass from a friend for short money, basically as a favor. I didn't like the bass, and really had no use for it at the time, but the price was right. $40 if IIRC.

    Since that time the bass was taken apart and re-assembled with a DIY body (made in high school shop class) modeled after an Alembic that I saw JPJ playing with Zeppelin. It didn't get much playing time and stayed that way until a couple months ago.

    Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the original body got lost or thrown away, but I did manage to hang onto some of the key parts that made this project possible.

    Here's a drawing I spent lots of time messing with in CAD software trying to get it right. I used bits and pieces of drawings found on the net and info from books and articles. I really wanted this to be as close to a real Strat as possible.
  2. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    I had planned on using a piece of ash I got on Ebay, but it's MC was just too high and it needs to dry for a while before it's used.

    I went to my local hardwood supplier and picked through the short bins and came up with this nice piece of American cherry for $13. I did a little research and found most people think cherry is a great body wood and now I absolutely agree!


    Hacked in two, then milled the edges on my milling machine(yes, building a bass in a machine shop) because I don't have a jointer :)

  3. tdogg


    Jan 17, 2001
    Brooklyn Park, MN
    cool so far!
  4. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Here, I flycut the blanks backside to have a smooth starting point. Would it have been easier if i had a surface planner? I'm not sure.

    Then I've flipped to the frontside, skimmed the surface to 1.75" thick and traced the body outline just to be sure. That double sided tape is amazing. I actually had to pry the body off the machine table when it was done.
  5. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    I've screwed a piece of aluminum to the blank just where the center of my program will be and drilled a hole. Because my machine travel is around 12" and I need around 13", this will enable me to slide the head of the machine out and re-find my program center accurately.

    Then I've completed the first half of the programmed profile. Cherry mills very nicely! I'll be using it again I'm sure :)

    Profile complete.
  6. refuge4


    Jan 23, 2009
    Houston, TX, USA
    dude. this is going to be epic! keep us updated!
  7. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Control cavity pockets and all the holes. I did add four nail holes to paint just like Leo did, but I decided against using them later on.

    Neck pocket and corner rounding. I used a hand held router for the corners and made a few boo boos:( The horn ends will need some touchup. It's been a while since I've routed anything and I should have practised on scrap. And I lost some material at the end of the neck pocket. It just crumbled while I was milling. Doesn't seem to matter though, neck fits great.
  8. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Thanks guys! The project is finished, so I'll just keep posting pics! I'm not the type to post as I build. I like to see the finished result first;)
  9. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    I want one!!!

    I've contemplated using a Strat hardtail body with a short scale neck. Something like the Landing basses.
  10. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Luckily I had some marine grade plastic filler from a recent unreleted project. This stuff worked perfectly to fill the routing mistakes and machines like butter. While I was at it I decide to recut the neck pocket profile. It seemed a little loose to me by about .020".

    Here is the body, sanded to 320 grit and sprayed with three coats of BIN white shellac primer. I used Reranch nitro lacquer for the color and clear coats later on, and that's the primer the site suggests using. Please excuse the messy shop in the background:eek:
  11. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    How do you know? Maybe it comes out like crap!:D
  12. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Oops, I got ahead of myself with that primer pic.

    Working on the belly contour. This proved to be tricky for me. I skimmed the arc on the back with my machine, then penciled the edge. Working with a coarse rasp and then a file, and finally coarse sand paper.

    Belly contour finished.
  13. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    This was basically the point where I decided I wanted the whole bass to look like it was made this way in '78. Maybe a light relic on the body, pickguard and any new hardware to match the original neck and hardware.

    I had a hard time deciding the color for the pickguard. I settled on white, but I may eventually change it to black if I don't like it. I think either color says 1978!

  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Awesome! I have been wanting to do a Jimi style bass and this is perfect. Can't wait to see how yours turns out!
  15. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    I had decided early on that this bass really only needed to have one pickup, basically a shortscale P bass. But how to keep the Strat looks? One real '51 re-issue P pickup (bought here from a fellow TBer!) and two faux pickups.

    I made two '51 P pickup replicas and added a dumby tone pot and 5 way switch.


  16. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Before paint.

    I had a blast making the faux pickups. After machining, I painted them with a dark gray primer that darkens nicely when dipped in potting wax. Added the fake magnet poles, wrapped with black string to match the real pickup. Sorry, I don't have any pics of the faux pickups complete by themselves. But you will see them installed in the pickguard when I show the finished control cavity pics.
  17. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Looking great!:bassist:
  18. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    The Reranch colors I picked, and a test piece. This shows the color that really says "1970's" to me. Vintage cream. It's supposed to look like aged Olympic white, but I think it's a little too yellow. Not Reranches fault, they recreate the original Fender color to a T IMO. Oh, and my favorite coffee cup, used year round;)

    I intended to do a light coat of neck amber to add a little more aged look, but it just looked way too yellow for me. I'm glad I tested first.
  19. FatStrings


    Nov 16, 2001
    Southern NH
    Gotta go and do some work. I'll post more tonight. Thanks for checking out my project, enjoy!

  20. Skit1

    Skit1 Guest

    Jul 2, 2004
    Can't wait to see the finished bass!