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The Birth Of A Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Aislinn, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area

    Top to bottom:
    8/4 Koa
    4/4 Birdseye maple (underneath)
    1/4 Macassar ebony (two pieces)
    4/4 Quilted maple
    4/4 Cocobolo
    On the left is 1/4 Cocobolo

    Plans are for a thru-neck with quilted maple, koa body sides, Macassar ebony fretboard (from the long piece). This will be my first bass guitar. Could be interesting...
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Nice colours, those should work beautifully... :)
  3. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    Thank you for that input Beej. One of the things that I sometimes struggle with is getting everything to work. Woods that are beautiful may not work together. I'm just finishing up a guitar that has a red/black burst body and ebony fretboard. I thought the ebony would work well with the body but it just looks off. So it's always nice to get some input, good or bad, to guide you along the way. :)
  4. Fabian_Aryo


    Mar 24, 2014
    Port Of Spain
    Seems a lot of work to do, Good luck mate
  5. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    And on to the build...

    I made the templates from a CAD file I got off the Internet. But I first had to do a lot of work on the drawing before it could be used to make templates.

    I'll be keeping as close to a Ric as I can and that includes a 33.25" scale. Stew Mac doesn't make templates for that scale (only 34" & 35") so I'll be cutting the frets by hand. I started with a 8/4 piece of koa, for the body sides, and resawed it to a bit over 1-1/4". The neck is curly maple and the fretboard Macassar ebony. We found a piece that has brown in it that blends nicely with the koa.

    I'm planning on angling the headstock 4-5 degrees. I'm considering not making a scarf joint. From the side, it looks like the grain from the neck would run through the entire headstock. I'll glue up koa on either side of the maple on the headstock. I have to do some research before I make that call.

    The red pencil marks are for biscuit cuts. The thru-neck is 7/8" thick and I a piece of figured sapele (from the first guitar) to the back to make up the rest of the 1-1/4" thickness needed at the body halves. When I cut the halves, I tried to get the grain to flow in a way that's pleasing to the eye while making sure the upper horn had straight grain running to the tip.

    And I won't be buying any more koa. It's very difficult to dimension and ridiculously expensive.
  6. Splods


    Oct 7, 2012
    Adelaide, SA
  7. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    That's what I did. I had 3 copies plotted of each page I created. My plan is to lay the plotted fret lines over the neck and then cut them in by hand. I got this from StewMac (with the Japanese saw)
    and may be able to create a wood or plastic template like their steel ones. The miter box has a pin in it designed for their steel templates. Maybe I can make one that will work the same way.

    There's going to be lots of firsts on this build.
  8. Dug2

    Dug2 Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    that ebony neck is beautiful. keep us posted on the finish product
  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Sub'd! Looks great so far. I love that koa wood.

    I wish I could keep my work area as clean and organized as yours...
  10. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    You should see the rest of the shop :rollno:
  11. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    I took the maple neck and ripped into thirds. Then I took the remaining koa and ripped (2) 1/4" pieces.

    All the wood is very rough and just clamped together, so I could get an idea what it will look like.


    with the ebony fretboard
  12. I know you are trying to keep the Ric aesthetic, but are you going to do any cutaways for belly/forearm?
  13. Subscribed, love rick copy threads.
  14. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    Wow, almost 6 weeks have passed and that beautiful wood has just been sitting in my shop waiting for me to do something. I should be arrested for negligence! But I do have an excuse. A friend of mine from out of town came to stay for a few days. He took me up on an earlier offer to make him a Tele guitar (not bass) and I figured while he was here we should get the neck done. I wanted him to do all the final shaping and sanding so it would be custom fit. I'm almost done with his guitar so my neglected child can get my full attention soon.

    I ordered JBE R-4000 pickups the other day. I'm still trying to decide if I'll rout the control cavity from the back or not. I'd like to keep as much of that beautiful koa exposed as possible. But in the meantime, I could at least drill holes for wiring chases.
    I drilled to about 1" inside what I think will be the perimeter of the control cavity for both neck and bridge pickups.


    The drill bits show the angles I had to drill to get from the pup cavity to the control cavity. The only cover I'll need will be for the controls. No routing channels to cover up. :)

    Still have to decide on the bridge. I'll wait until the pups arrive before I rout the cavities. Things won't really start moving until I have all the parts.
  15. kzr750r1


    Aug 12, 2011
  16. subbed
  17. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    I ordered a gold tail piece and gold tuning machines, both are Hipshot brand. What I can't find are gold covers for the pickups. Rickenbacker is out of stock. What I may do is make covers (rings) out of ebony. That would blend nicely with the fretboard.
  18. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    They seem to be in stock at Pick of the Ricks.

  19. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    Thanks! I missed that. On the preceding pickups page it shows the cover as chrome. I didn't go any further. But for some reason the items wouldn't load into the cart. I placed them and some items that are OOS on my wishlist. I asked them to contact me when they are all in.
  20. Aislinn


    Feb 14, 2014
    Chicago Area
    I've got the wiring harness, jack and nut on order from Rickenbacker. All that's left now is those covers. POTR website shows they are in stock but still won't load them into the cart ??? The Rickenbacker website has them out of stock. If I can't get them, I'll do the ebony thing.