Tips on building a bass.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SirFunk, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Hi there, I was wondering if anyone could point me at or describe some resources for building an electric bass. I've searched the fourm and found a few useful things, but not as much as i was expecting.. I'm really curious about measurements/angles etc...

    I know the easiest way would be to get a good bass and copy some of the measurements, however the bass i have now is a Carvin, and i'm not terribly happy with it, so i'm not sure if it would be a good model for custom bass.

    Also... what is it that makes a $4,000 hand-made bass so much better than a $700 mass produced bass... There must be something more than just measurements that make those high-end basses sound and play so wonderful.

    I'm thinking about something with a nice burl or some other exotic top with a set-neck .... Personally i'm not a great woodworker, but my father is, and i'm sure he would help... We're going to be building an electric upright (waiting for parts to arrive) I'll post pictures and such once that is underway.


    btw.. we should get a luthier forum :)
  2. paz

    paz Banned

    Jun 26, 2001
    Seaton, Devon, England
    there is if u scroll down to the bottom of the forum page, theres a luthier corner
  3. Yeah, we really should, then guys like me, Bud LeCompte, Scott French, Wilser, Bass Kahuna, FBB Customs, Ken Smith, Tom Clement, Pete Skjold, JPJ, and others could "hang out" :D
  4. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Oh wow, now i feel like an idiot :p Can a mod move this thread? Thanks :)
  5. Now to start answering your questions! There are a lot of resources out there, but they can be kind of hard to find. I found this site to be really helpful Plus, has a lot of good free info on wiring etc.

    As far as what makes a custom made bass (regardless of price) better than a mass produced bass (also regardless of price) is that word "custom". It sounds to me like you might be getting too caught up in the science of building an instrument and not focusing on the art.

    A custom made bass and a mass produced bass are going to follow the same mathmatical principals. They'll have the same scale length (or should). The neck pocket/angle can be tricky to get right, but most mass produced basses are going to get this close otherwise no one would pay $10 for them much less $700+

    What makes a custom made bass better is that it's made for you. Just the way you want it. Of course the materials and quality of components makes a difference too. But what really sets it apart is that when you're done you'll have a one of a kind work of art.
  6. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    Make Your Own Electric Guitar by Melvin Hiscock. An excelent book. Buy it and laminate the pages or something, 'cause you're gonna use that mother A LOT.:)
  7. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Thanks for those links.. they look very helpful

    Hmm.. so there would be no differnece in sound between a $700 yamaha and a $3,000 warwick (if they had the same electronics) ... the warwick isn't really "custom".. as built to my specs.

    And there as just something about a friend of mine's sukop compared to my Carvin that made it feel and sound like a far more solid instrument.. it made my carvin feel like a cheap plastic toy... so.. if it's all math, maybe there are "cheap" basses out there that will have the feel i want? Maybe i don't really know what i want. (I live in a rural area, with no music stores, i can probably count the number of basses i've played on my hands... and maybe a few of my toes)
  8. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Most of the more expensive basses have different woods, which are not as easy to get, meaning more cost. How they are built also makes a big difference in price. The only way to get a bass that is within your specs is to play different basses until you find one, or have one built for you.
  9. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Personally I'd say the quality of construction is about the biggest factor to determine the quality of the instrument. Hardware can be replaced, but if it isn't built well even the best hardware available won't make it a good instrument.

    That being said, if I had to choose between a $700 Yamaha and a $3000 Warwick, I'd take the Yamaha any day of the week. While I love the sound of a Warwick (I'm a big Jamiroquai fan) I just can't deal with playing a baseball bat with strings.

  10. One of the best resources on the web is the Musical Instrument Makers Forum and their Archives.

    I just sit and read through the subjects and it's better than an encyclopedia of luthiery. Take a look at the gallery of members instruments and you'll see why it's such a good resource.
  11. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    WOW, that link is GREAT! Thanks!
  12. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Those links are very helpful!

    Yes, there will be differences in sound, and more in feel. In some cases, even in ergonomics.

    The math and physics are indeed the same. Btu the approach to reach perfection is different. As is the ambition, i.e. how close to perfection they want to get. Mass producers want to be as exact as necessary to sell the product; nothing more. While a smaller builder will like to get as close as possible per item!

    Hence, you will find different approaches in construction and design solutions. You will find different materials, not only woods. You will find more emphasis on angles and radii. And you will find more rigid hardware (which is really one major contributor to sound; not heavy, but rigid).

    So, sure there is a difference. If it's worth the money? That's up to you!