The HoseDragger - My first custom build

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Engine207, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    This past Independence Day, I officially strung my first custom build. Being that I drag fire hoses around as a day job, I've dubbed my bass The HoseDragger. I started it well over two years ago, taking my time and even laying off sometimes for months, while real-life happened. My original inspiration was a lust for two basses: a Wak Mk-II and a Lakland 44-02.

    My buddy has a Mk-II 5er that he brought over and let me trace. I love the look of a wood finish bass with one wood as a core, with a contrasting color making up the front and back. In the case of the Wal, the woods merge nicely at the gut cut and the forearm contour.

    The Lakland has a very graceful upper horn, and an exaggerated lower horn cut, that allows for easy access to the upper frets (where I never go anyway).

    I started with two pieces of alder I found in my dad-in-law's woodshop, glued them together, then found some pieces of mahogany and koa. I split the koa for the front, to get a bookmatched set, and placed the koa in between them. I wanted to do the same for the back, but the mahogany turned out to be too narrow.
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    Before I cut the body, I routed the pickup and electronics cavities, as well as the neck pocket. I didn't have much confidence that I wouldn't screw up, so I left myself some fudge room to change the body shape a little if need be.

    Gradually, I radiused the edges and sanded, and sanded, and sanded, until I had contours that looked and felt good.

    Then it happened - my first screw-up. While drilling the channel for the bridge ground wire, I didn't have a flat enough angle. I missed the cavity and the drill came out the back. You can see the errant hole right where the mahogany meets the koa. I was so pissed, I didn't touch it for a month! :mad:

    After I filled the hole and my anger receded, I continued, until I messed up again. My dad-in-law kept reminding me not to move the body after drilling, until the bit stopped completely. I was in too big of a hurry to get supper, and gouged the front with a spinning bit as I pre-drilled one of the mounting holes for the J pickup. Dammit! :mad::mad: My first thought was to cover it with pickup rings, but they were so ugly, I just filled the hole and continued, again.

    So, now it's finished, and here are the specs:
    Neck - Mighty-Mite P-Bass (1-5/8" nut) rosewood fretboard with threaded inserts
    Tuners - Schaller M4S
    Pickups - Lindy Fralin P/J set
    Bridge - Babicz FCH
    Strap Locks - Dunlop Dual-Design
    Pots - CTS (wired volume-blend-tone)
    Output - SwitchCraft
    Strings - R. Cocco nickels .045-.105

    Weight - 8 lbs. 11 oz.
    Scale - 34"
    Finish - True-Oil (6 coats)

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  2. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member

    Amazing that you did that from scratch!

    People need to realize that when the boutique guys (even high end coffee table builders) ask thousands for hand made work, it isn't just for wood and parts. The labour is killer.

    Do you know roughly how many hours you put into it?
  3. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Thanks! For the most part it was an enjoyable process watching it all come together. Being that it was my first build, and I had only the most basic woodcraft and guitar-building was many, many hours. Things that should have only taken one hour...sometimes took three, because I had to go so slowly. Especially as I progressed, since I was so worried about screwing up all the work hours that were already behind me.

    I think the most time-consuming part was the sanding and contouring. I'm a little OCD, and if it was something wasn't "perfect" to me...I kept going until it was. My dad-in-law and I also spent a good bunch of time making templates and test-fitting things. Without him...this bass never goes past the dreaming stage.

    I also should give heavy props to my master bass tech, Brian Lewis, of Lewis Bass and Guitar in Chandler, AZ. He helped me with the critical final steps of electronics and fret work. He let me use the tools in his shop and the expertise in his head to finish the build. It was a real struggle for him to watch me do something so clumsily that he could have done in 10 minutes. But he really understood that I wanted to make this "my build".

    I've already started assembling some parts for my next build... "The Ladder Monkey"!
  4. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Very cool man, I dig that body shape a lot!
  5. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    Great job. I'll bet it is really satisfying to play something that you built. Looking forward to your next one.
  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Mucho props!

    Looks great, and after completing the process, you can see that building a solid body is not rocket science, and you'll probably be planning a second build very soon.

    You're now HOOKED!!!!
  7. Silverhorizon


    Mar 8, 2013
    This is fantastic!! Great job.
  8. Fine FINE job....

    Very nice instrument - kudos - may you have many inspiring hours turning into weeks turning into years of playing that handmade beauty.


  9. OldManMusic

    OldManMusic Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Centennial, CO
    Great job. I come from a family of hose draggers and ladder monkeys. All had hobbies or side jobs but you win! Nice going.
  10. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Had my new baby out to rehearsal last night and made some interesting discoveries...

    - The Fralin P/J pickups in this bass are hotter than the outside temperature.
    - The R. Cocco roundwounds I strung this with, are stainless steel, not nickel. They chewed up the first two fingers on my right hand quite successfully.
    - My band mates like it, but not as well as my '66 P-Bass. I think between these two and my fretless, I won't miss the sold/selling ones too badly.

    As I've had a chance to sit with it for awhile, I think I may try to find another neck for this one. I really feel like it needs a 2+2 headstock, maybe with a darker wood. The maple just seems out of place, as does the Fender shape. I dunno...maybe if I don't find anything in the classifieds, I'll try to reshape and stain it to something more unique...
  11. JBFLA

    JBFLA Roscoe FANatic

    Apr 8, 2003
    Jupiter FLA
    "I'm a little OCD..."
    ...fixed that for ya...

    "The Fralin P/J pickups in this bass are hotter than the outside temperature."

    I've got a couple basses with Fralins - they always seem hotter than stock.

    "The R. Cocco roundwounds I strung this with, are stainless steel, not nickel. They chewed up the first two fingers on my right hand quite successfully. "

    Stainless kills me - thank goodness for not having a Nickel allergy...

    Bass looks great - hope you find a neck you really like!!
  12. nagarjuna


    Dec 10, 2006
    The Gunks, NY
    Fantastic! Reminds me of an FBB.
  13. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    I'm not familiar with FBB. Do tell...
  14. nagarjuna


    Dec 10, 2006
    The Gunks, NY
  15. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    Very nice, indeed. I don't guess my humble little HoseDragger should be mentioned in the same breath as those beautiful boutiques...although I can see some similarity in the body shape of their Zephyr bass.

    Thanks for the kind compliments, everyone. I'm just happy that even with no guitar building experience, this bass sounds great and plays quite nicely.
  16. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in call at a time.

    My HoseDragger recently made its gig debut...
  17. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Koa always rocks. I'd love a PJ like that!
  18. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    Nice job!

    Sounds like it's time to make your own neck now...
  19. 2cooltoolz

    2cooltoolz Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Lake Conroe, TX
    That is one beautiful bass! Congratulations on a job well done!
  20. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Good job. I'm with StuartV. Making a neck is way harder to do in your head than it is in real life.

    I'm glad that you're happy with your new bass. It's very satisfying to play something that you made yourself.