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Super ambitious First Build, no woodworking experience..!!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by suraj, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    I've been spending a lot of time on tb over the last two or so years and been watching the luthiers corner, and boy have you guys inspired me to build a bass..!! so onto my first build :hyper:

    Now I have zero woodworking experience and obviously i should be making the simplest bass possible out of guitar kits or pre planed wood, BUT all this isn't even available in my country..!!
    So I decided I have to somehow use raw lumber without useful, expensive machines like a table saw, jointer or planer..!! :bawl:

    After a lot of research, I formed an opinion that a drum sander is the most useful tool to build a guitar. I had a spare motor, and away I started building one :D

    Specs of my over ambitious first build -

    Multi scale, 37"-34", 5 string neck through
    7 peice wenge, maple neck, with wenge heel block, and wenge headstock
    bookmatched wenge fingerboard
    ash body wings
    2 homemade humbuckers
    fiber optic, LED lit side markers
    Aguilar OBP-3
    Single string bridges

    :bag: :bag:

    I have no clue if i'm even capable of building a bass, and i'm putting too much money in for something that may or may not work.. But I get very little time from education, and a plywood bass would still take the same amount of effort to build, so I rather use good woods and good everything :smug:

    Onto the pictures (which i have no clue how to upload) :bag:
  2. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Pic 1 shows the drum sander and Jointing jig I built in action. Both the sander and the jig use flat granite slabs for true surfaces.

    Pic 2 is a mockup of the bass essentially. Nothing is glued at this point.

    Attached Files:

  3. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Pic 1 - Plan

    Pic 2 - Raw wenge to the left, and the bookmatched fingerboard blank to the right :bassist:

    Attached Files:

  4. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    I am a NOOB..!! please comment, criticize, advice or abuse :p all is welcome here..;)

    Attached Files:

  5. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    At least you're trying. You're still miles ahead of me. ;)
  6. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    well a good 6 months went into the drum sander, I get very little time from college work n stuff, and i've reached this point a month after that. So far Im loving it :D

    The Compound angle scarf joint jig..

    Attached Files:

  7. Great work with a proper plan there. You want to print that out full size if you can manage it. Also good work getting some tools that will help you do it properly. Just take your time and ask lots of qus.
  8. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    why thank you :D. I will be printing an A0 plan and also the fretboard layout. Also I will use laser cut mdf templates for precise routing...

    Onto the Noob questions :bassist:

    neck blank - 18mm
    fingerboard blank - 10mm
    body wings - 45mm
    Heel block - 29mm

    I fear the neck blank is too thin for a 37" scale length fanned fret. Is it ?? My fretboard is gonna be a little thicker than usual to accommodate the fiber optics. It will get a 16" radius.

    In the plan, the smaller body is what I initially made, but i recently realized the body might be a little small. So I made a slightly scaled up body, and a larger cutaway for fret access, with no change to the neck.
    Which one of the two look right, when compared to a j bass and a dingwall ?

    Any comments on design ?? I love my design :bag:

    Random info - The string spacing is equal spaces at the nut and the bridge. Im thinking of going the zero fret route. That just takes the filing the right depth of the nut out of the equation, Plus it would give better action and tonal balance. thoughts ??
    Im only worried about the zero fret wearing out fast. I will use stainless steel frets, but the strings will be ss too. Doesnt the zero fret wear out just by tuning..? with those strings scraping the surface..:eek:

    Attached Files:

  9. Nice work! I dig your design, but would indeed choose the bigger version for it will balance better. Keep up the ambitious plans, they make you learn and improve, as I see it. :smug:
  10. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Im leaning towards the bigger design too. For balance and added control cavity space. Planning to add some hundred knobs and switches there along with an OBP-3 :bassist:

    I definitely am learning as go. The bookmacthed wenge fingerboard was my first glue up ever. :eek: and even though I do not own a jointer, i could get the edges straight with .5 mm gaps here and there. The glue and clamps took care of that, well hopefully nothing will go wrong later. The glue line is invisible even to me. Even if I stick my face to the fretboard blank I can't see it :D

    Even my neck lams weren't the straightest things ever, but they glued together really well and turned out pretty straight. A little thickness sanding to remove excess glue and level the little slips in the lams and I have a flat straight 7 piece blank \m/...I know you guys really perfect your stuff and even if somethings out by .5mm you'll correct it before proceeding. I didn't do that. I think a 0.5 - 1.0 mm bend over 4 feet in length is pretty forgivable.

    So far so good :hyper:

    I've not done any of the real work yet :rollno: so only time will tell if building a bass is in me or no..

    Im using cheapo chinese/korean ebay hardware. Any experience with these ?? If my bass turns out good, i'll replace the hardware with better stuff.
  11. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Today I finished the compound angle scarf joint. :hyper::D



    I was actually scared this wouldn't come out right. But I think its perfect. Probably came out better than I expected.

    How I did it -

    Step 1. Cut the compound angle on the neck blank. Using a Jig.



    Step 2. The Headstock blank


    thickness a headstock blank from a 29mm block of wenge to ~18mm, first by cutting off a slice with a hand saw(to prevent making too much saw dust with the sander).
    Then thickness sand till all saw marks are gone. The headstock blank ended up being 17mm.

    Step 3. Glueing

    I used white glue



    Step 4. Remove clamps and clean up.



    Step 5. Cut off excess



    Step 6. Level the excess flush with the neck blank face.

    I did this with the thickness sander and some blocks under the neck blank to get the headstock off the sander table. Sand till the sand paper barely scrapes the perfectly level neck blank surface. Mine came to ~0.2 mm close to the neck surface. I did the rest by hand.


    The glue line -

    This didn't come out well when I inspected it first. After I clicked the picture, I hand sanded the glue line a bit and just after 20 seconds of sanding the glue line was perfect :hyper:


    The bass mockup -


    My ash pieces aren't pretty :meh: Im thinking of a top, but for that i'd have to buy a huge 6"x2" x ~10 ft. of some wood and get a slice bandsawn from it. The cost would be too much. Veneers are available in just 0.6mm 6" wide strips, which is way too thin for a top, and they aren't cheap, I'd rather buy a large block and make my own veneer.
    I guess i"ll just use the ash I have. The treble side wing has some ugly blueish colouration, I have some excess ash I can get another blank out of instead of that.
  12. Jordan Green

    Jordan Green

    Feb 10, 2012
    Everyone has to start sometime. The fanned frets kinda threw me off. But frets in general seem like a challenge, idk, I'll be there very soon. Just go slow, don't rush and follow your diagrams. :)
  13. Maybe a stain would be a good fix for the ash. That might cover up any discoloration and you could match it to pretty much anything.
  14. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    i cant think of a stain colour i would be happy with..suggestions ?

    in any case I will use the better ash blank for the treble wing. Well its not that much better, its as good as the bass wing..
  15. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Yesterday I got some parts from Warmoth. And my bridges from ebay.


    I wasn't completely happy with the warmoth truss rod. The misleading name "Double expanding truss rod" made me think its a dual action rod, but its actually a single action.
    Also the instructions mention to use a washer with the TR nut. Hey, its just a washer, could have included it.


    The reinforcement bars seem really nice and straight, well ground and stiff.


    The SS fretwire.

    While the wire looks great, this again was a disappointment. I asked warmoth the length of the wire, as its not mentioned on the website. They said 7 feet. I got only 5.5 !! it seems like its gonna be just under the quantity I require, which sucks. Also I asked them if they could preradius it for me, which they declined, and the wire arrived radiused at ~10.5":meh:



    The Chinese Bridges from ebay arrived well and surprisingly they aren't bad at all..!! I mounted one of the bridges on one of my basses and its perfect :hyper: STEAL..!! 12$ shipped :bassist:..

    I just bought bits for routing the truss rod today, and I routed till maybe half the depth of the rod. And its a snug fit :D Thought i'd have a hard time finding the right bit.

    More pics soon
  16. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Today I routed the truss rod channel..




    quite a time consuming task.. Also my 1/4" bit broke after two shallow passes, scary stuff..!! The rod fit perfect and snugly, but the next bit I bought was a hair larger than the last, so my truss rod fits but it isn't as snug as it was.

    BUT, I can use this to my advantage and always wanted to do a removable truss rod. So I should be able to pull the truss rod out from the peghead and invert it for a dual action, or even replace it without removing the fingerboard.. :cool:


  17. joinercape

    joinercape Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Pretty sophisticated work for someone claiming no woodworking experience! Looks great, have fun!
  18. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Thank you :)

    All this work above is all about preparing, setting up and using power tools. Got a little router experience building the drum sander. Im pretty sure my noobiness will become prominent when i start using hand tools on this for shaping and carving :p

    One thing I hate is that I've probably set the benchmark for laziness..!! I just cant get myself to perfectly set up and practice on scrap (I don't even have scrap) so I directly made my first truss rod route directly on the neck blank..! Im just lucky the bit cut a snug channel :bag:

    Need to improve :rollno:
  19. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    I think you should leave the stiffening rods out of the neck. Wenge is for sure stiff enough for fiver too. It may be a bit too stiff with the rods, and since you have one-way truss rod there's no way you can add relief if needed.
  20. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    Some questions -

    Where exactly should I place my steel reinforcement bars. They are 1/8 by 1/4 from Warmoth.
    What is the minimum distance required between the TR and the reinforcements ?

    Can this be calculated by drawing a section at the first fret and placing the reinforcements by leaving a certain amount of wood from the ends and the truss rod ?

    What do you guys use to glue the reinforcements ?

    Also how would you guys prevent this stuff from rusting ? I live right by the sea and TR and reinforcements are already showing some spotting within 2 Days..! Once the TR is in the guitar, im sure it'll rust very fast.

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