Surfin'bird Fenderbird Build-Now With Poll

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by NathOBX, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. Seafoam Green Nitro, matching headstock

    17 vote(s)
  2. Natural/Burst

    8 vote(s)
  3. Two Tone SFG center with natural wings

    4 vote(s)
  4. Carrot Orange

    4 vote(s)
  5. Two Tone SFG wings, natural center

    6 vote(s)
  1. So I got the building bug after I completed my first kit build last year. I decided that for my next build I would build a body and buy a neck, seemed like the next logical step. After I finish this one I’m going to build a neck but that’s a later post.
    So I got deal on a Squier CV 51 Precision neck off eBay with a stripped truss rod nut. I was able to back the stripped nut out and replace it, Yay!!! 3A9E1829-F8B1-4B95-A2D5-E9EFF581FBFA.jpeg I also made a template off of this neck for my next build. Unfortunately I accidentally kissed the neck with the router, I’m guessing there was some sawdust build up on my router table that caused the damage. So I did a quick repair with maple sawdust and CA glue. The repair is solid and functional but ugly AF. 6B276D15-2B72-4530-9750-1EFC52084E2E.jpeg 7F9A8FA2-2395-439F-AFD2-B2D09BD148FF.jpeg But I got a decent template after a few tries. I may actually do a proper repair some day with a mortising jig but for now ain’t nobody got time for that.
    The next decision was what body to build. I entertained making a 51 P body, but I already have 7 FSOs. I have always wanted to build a Fenderbird and I don’t have a bass with two humbuckers so that settled that. Since I already buggered up the neck I decided it would be cool to make it a relic project. My concept is a seafoam green thunderbird with a mashup of Fender and Gibson hardware and a tbird style pick guard made from a North Carolina OBX license plate, thus the Surfin’bird. I have gotten a Kluson bridge with the threaded saddles, I’m going to mount the pots on a ‘51 p control plate and use stack pots a la ‘62 Jazz. I got these pickups Thunderbird Bass Pickup Vintage Style for Gibson,Chrome/Nick. They came well recommended from the guys in the Thunderbird club. I still need to decide on tuners and jack mount. I’m leaning towards 50s style reverse wind tuners but lollipops may be cool as well. I welcome any input. Not sure if I wanna do an electrosocket or a football jack plate. Input also welcome. All hardware is nickel.
    Enough about hardware, lets talk about the star of the show, Wood!!! Since thunderbirds are made of mahogany that was my obvious answer. I talked to my buddy Sims who does quite a bit of woodworking and he steered me to YUKON LUMBER COMPANY in Norfolk, Virginia, about an hour from where I live. I had to pick up a suit for a wedding near their shop so I made a day of it. I also squeezed in a stop at a cool little music store, Russell's Music World. Its a legit independent music store, Russell is a drummer and does repairs and restorations of vintage drums. The place was packed to the ceiling with vintage kits, as well as any piece of hardware you may ever want. He had a 1970 Jazz Bass on the wall that he actually let me try out even after stating I had absolutely no intention of buying it. Stop by and say hi to him if you're ever in Norfolk.
    E2B53CDB-E0BC-4B72-989A-5D18EF73BEB3.jpeg 6FCAAF54-4BC3-4650-8ACF-B11970547C83.jpeg
    I got a 7ft 7"wide by 8/4 African Mahogany board for about $70.
    Previous to my Norfolk adventure I had borrowed a friends Epiphone Tbird and prepped it with tape around the edges and took a template. The neck heel on the template pinched in a little narower than my Pbass neck so had to make a 2.0 version attaching a template of the pbass neck to the first body template. I also made the neck pocket template and pickup cavity template. 5A24633D-EC18-43A0-96EA-6AF2B3C9167D.jpeg DA69810F-4896-4883-8B58-763F4F527552.jpeg 2E59BE18-842F-41E1-8F74-EB01AECF5388.jpeg BD1CFAA1-381D-4F2F-A329-6551828EAEC3.jpeg
    Now to build a body blank. I hit up my buddy Sims, who has a killer home woodshop, to help me with milling and gluing up my blank. The rough board had a bit of bow down the length perpendicular to wide face so we cut it into three 2 foot lengths. We then ran them across the joiner and and then through the planer, and took them down to 1.75". at that point we were out of time for the day and he advised that we should let the boards rest for a few weeks to see if they warped at all.
    After waiting two weeks I checked the boards using a level and feeler gauges and they were no more that .01" off. Next session in the shop we cut the center piece of the blank to width (4 and1/8") and planed them to final thickness, 1 5/8" for the center and 1 5/16" for the wings. I opted not to taper the wings like on a real tbird because ain't nobody got time for that. Then we drilled holes for dowels and got it glued and clamped up. B2F0D529-4E4F-4AEF-BF3B-9335F8CC30E4.jpeg
    Next session a few weeks later I was solo in my garage. I addressed the blank and got all my marks drawn on and then cut out the rough outline with a jigsaw. Then I carefully attached the template to the blank using both double sided tape and two screws into the pickup cavity wastage. Then it was router table time. It came out really well with only a wee bit of chip-out that will easy be remedied with wood filler. I then routed out the neck pocket and pickup cavities. 6332D1F9-96F5-4172-B53B-4EE3C99DB22C.jpeg 52208F40-05CB-4318-85D5-E072EFA372A0.jpeg 55D25286-AD87-4933-B0DF-762FA6F2611B.jpeg The neck fit beautifully in the neck pocket (YES!!!). Next step was drilling holes for the neck screws. To line it all up I used took screws of the same size and thread as the neck screws and cut about 3/4" of the tips off. I then cleaned up the cut ends with a file so as not to bugger up the threads in the neck. I then carefully threaded the cut ends of the screws into the neck leaving the pointy ends sticking out about 1/4". After a little tweaking to get the points equidistant from the plane of the heel, I carefully pressed the heel into the pocket making four perfectly spaced tiny dents as my marks for the drill press. I got the holes drilled and fitted the neck. the holes on the back of the body weren't absolutly perfectly spaced but were close enough to get the neck plate on. With the neck attached I was then able to get it ready to drill bridge holes measuring from the last fret. Drilled them out, got the bridge mounted, threw a spare set of tuners on the headstock and strung it up. Everything lines up, it set up beautifully, and feels rock solid!!! EBA9D8BB-53E3-4664-AC7E-22D3D7F37BEE.jpeg
    As far as the build goes I still need to route out the control cavity and wire access route under the pick guard. I'm going to do a side mount for the jack as well. Also need to do the round over routes all around and do the belly cut.
    Having gotten this far in and looking at this beautiful mahogany I'm having second thoughts on painting it a solid color. The original concept as I've said previously was a medium to heavy relic seafoam green nitro finish, and while I really want to stick to that, dang is that wood ever pretty. Option B would be a natural or burst finish. Option C would be to do some kind of two tone natural/SFG, maybe the center SFG with natural wings and SFG sides. I'm looking for input on the finish question, the tuners, and the jack mount. Thanks for looking.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2021
  2. Crawforde


    Dec 30, 2016
    The wood looks nice. Especially the grain in the wings. It would be a shame to cover that up. My vote would be all clear or SFG in the middle, and clear on the sides. I’m trying to see how that would look in my head, but I think my brain isn’t in the mood.
    T_Bone_TL, Tanner5382 and NathOBX like this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I can see how that would be a tough call. That bass would make a great "surf bass". And that requires one of those cool 50s car colors. But, you're absolutely correct. That's some gorgeous grain. What to do.... What to do...

    My only gut reaction is that I wouldn't relic first. You may wind up changing the neck, or doing a better repair. I wouldn't let that one mark on the back of the neck guide the whole project. You can always relic it later.

    Hard to believe that's your first body. Everything looks great so far!
    Tanner5382 and NathOBX like this.
  4. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    You could always go for a woody -- paint on the wings, wood grain on the center.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
    Rôckhewer, JIO, Max Bogosity and 6 others like this.
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Well, I'm going to go against the grain ( :smug: ) here and just state that for mahogany, although that stuff is nice, it's pretty average IMHO, and I wouldn't hesitate to paint it. :D
    SlingBlader, NathOBX and 2saddleslab like this.
  6. I was thinking the opposite, paint on the center, just because the grain on the wings is better and not broken up by a bunch of hardware, but I like where your head is
    Jon Clegg likes this.
  7. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    I may have done an automotive themed bird in the past... 20200921_050609 (2).jpg
    JIO, rwkeating, NathOBX and 1 other person like this.
  8. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    Definitely do one of the two seafoam options. Don't go for burst.
    kentiki and NathOBX like this.
  9. Since I voted for Surf Green, something along these lines would be cool. I'm just always in favor of colors over woodgrain. Great work btw! :thumbsup:
    NathOBX likes this.
  10. Added a poll, please vote!
  11. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    Well, taste is a matter of taste. In my opinion, it's nice looking wood, but wouldn't look good mixed with SF green. So I vote all wood or all paint.
    This looks pretty damn great, so if you're painting, I'd go for this look.
    Jon Clegg and NathOBX like this.
  12. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'd paint the whole thing minus the fretboard - body, neck, and headstock. Get silver decals, and a chrome/mirror pickguard to match the hardware. It'd be over the top, but that's kind of the idea, right?
    Max Bogosity and NathOBX like this.
  13. Crawforde


    Dec 30, 2016
    It seems the question should be
    Does he want a woody surf machine?
    Or a shiny chrome sunset strip cruiser?
    I am not sure, but I believe there is only one possible correct answer.
    One of each
    And then maybe some variations on the theme.
    Jon Clegg and NathOBX like this.
  14. NathOBX likes this.
  15. Its a pretty small sample group at this point, but 7/10 are saying Seafoam green and I feel like I agree, but we'll see, I'm not going to be spraying for quite a while.
  16. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Nice project! Definitely go with Ultralite tuners.

    Is it possible to do some kind of a transparent sea foam green, so you get the color but also the grain underneath?
    NathOBX likes this.
  17. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Transparent Seafoam Green could probably be done using Createx Transparent Aqua and Transparent White. Not a lacquer, but that's probably how I would approach it.
    NathOBX and ctmullins like this.
  18. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Orange (depending) could be cool, but I could see either Burgundy Mist Metallic/Heather Poly or Oly White w/matching hs face. Wouldn't break up the body w/2 different finishes.

    Could be "carrot orange", but more glitter creamsicle orange
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2021
  19. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    7ender colours? Zzzzzzzzzzz.
    It needs pink. Really hot pink.

    Pink Keisel.jpg
    NathOBX likes this.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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