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Too Much for a First Build?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DerHoggz, May 4, 2010.


  1. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Now that I finally have a job I'm thinking about doing a build, something I've always wanted to do, over summer break.

    of3fs2e2t.

    Tentative Specs:
    -wenge Neck
    -ziricte or ebony FB
    -mahogany or maple body
    -bocote top
    -something cool as a back laminate (not sure what)
    -1 humbucker in a wooden cover
    -straight to jack, or maybe a series/parallel/single coil switch
    -Kahler trem
    -Sperzel tuners

    So, is that too much to try on a first build? I will most likely do some practice pieces on pine or whatnot. Any suggestions?
     
  2. I wouldn't use expensive woods on my first build.
     
  3. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Yes.

    It is a common misconception that one's first build will be playable.
     
  4. Tylerrr51

    Tylerrr51

    Nov 28, 2009
    Milford, CT
    I agree with hollywars. Keep the wood, practice a little on cheap wood and when your ready use the expensive.
     
  5. Dream Weaver

    Dream Weaver

    Jul 11, 2009
    OH
    Definitely go cheap for the first one. The mistakes you make will be much cheaper and easier to swallow.

    My second build I cut every corner and used cheapo eBay generic parts and it sounded better than my first build which had a good 700 in harware alone. Such a waste. Wish I had gone cheap to begin with. Coulda made several basses for the cost of one. =/
     
  6. FanOfAlice

    FanOfAlice

    Nov 8, 2006
    Wisconsin
    how much woodworking experiance do you have? wenge is really hard to work, you need sharp tools and experiance helps
     
  7. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    I have a fair amount of woodworking ability, however no "fine" woodworking skills.

    I might make a simple fretless first now that I have thought about it.

    However, I really want to use wenge.
     
  8. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    That'll do, that'll do ;)

    Or................ Get a piece of ash big enough to do that shape, or enough lumber to piece together..
     
  9. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    With a fretless I could do a floating bridge I figure. Would save ~$300. But I kinda want a fretless six rather than a fretless four, kinda throws a wrench in simple.

    How about this http://www.soulmateguitars.com/Necks.htm? I could get one of those, then do the body around it.
     
  10. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    You were planning on buying a $300 bridge? I wouldn't spend that much on a bridge for a bass made by Leo Fender himself, much less a first build.
     
  11. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Its a Kahler, pretty much no other trems around that do as well as it.
     
  12. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Hipshots have a list of $250 and are much better from my experience.
     
  13. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    Have you used both? Most people seem to have the Kahler, and it seems like a much more robust system to me. It also looks stupid easy to install.
     
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    The Kahler is super easy. Perhaps that is one reason that I prefer the Hipshot.
     
  15. bassy7

    bassy7

    Jan 29, 2010
    I built my first back bass in 2003, using the wood shop in college. I easily spent $700 on wood, pickups, preamp, headless ABM hardware, MOP dots, truss, fret stuff etc... It was quite playable, in fact I stopped playing my other basses- Warwicks. It was certainly much less of a bass than my Warwicks- but my pride and confidence in designing and building my own bass overshadowed that at the time. I was very happy with it- it got me a job building basses, and again it just felt like a huge accomplishment.

    >>>> But OTOH I could have spent a lot less money and the results that really matter would have been the same-- the neck would have still been a bit bumpy, the pickup covers and elect. cavity and lids would have still looked freehand, the control knobs would have still been crooked, some of the glue joints would still be questionably uneven......

    These days some of the hardware, and eventually all of it, has been stripped from that bass for re-use. I wish it wasn't so- but if the stuff on it were cheaper it would still be there. it would be nice if my "first" was still together enough to play- for sentimental reasons.

    Now the expensive hardware and woods on the 1st definitely helped with it impact value- the most important thing I got from it was the experience to build better basses in the future.

    You need to decide how much money you are able and willing to invest in your first instrument- which despite how proud it makes you feel- will have some issues that will bother you.
     
  16. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    I think I should be able to do it. I am a very good problem solver, and I can understand things very easily. Any advice as to trouble areas that are most likely.
     
  17. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    What is your current tooling?
     
  18. DerHoggz

    DerHoggz I like cats :| Banned

    Feb 13, 2009
    Western Pennsylvania
    I will be using my uncle's shop and tools.

    Quick list of what I can remember.
    -Miter saw
    -Table saw
    -Band saw
    -Scroll saw
    -Router table
    -Router
    -Surface planer

    Thats just the big stuff I can think of off the top of my head, he has pretty much everything you could need.

    I also forgot to mention he will probably be helping me and has lots of experience.
     
  19. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Scenic carpentry is when something needs to look good from fifty feet. Cabinetry is when something needs to look good from five feet. Fine woodworking is when something needs to look good to the touch. Luthiery is when something needs to feel good.

    Very few "woodworkers" are able to work in more than one of these disciplines and can lead you into dangerous habits, techniques, and errors.

    You will learn from your first build. If you and your uncle are at the cabinetry level it is fair to hope to attain the fine woodworker tolerances. You will not start with luthier tolerances and may not attain them through your first ten builds.
     
  20. gyancey

    gyancey Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Ziricote - very oily wood, hard to glue and sand. Quite brittle. I'd look into something more forgiving for your first fingerboard, such as pau ferro, which machines and glues wonderfully. You can get fretboards with a radius and fretslots cut already from LMI or Stew-Mac for a very reasonable price.

    "1 humbucker in a wooden cover" - unless you are making your own pickup or acquiring one that can be removed from its cover (i.e. Nordstrand, AERO) you'll be adding a wooden cover to an existing pickup, which means a non-standard route. For your first build consider using a standard shape like the EMG-35, Bartolini BC, etc. This will give you more flexibility down the line.

    Kahler trem - as others have mentioned it's expensive.

    In general for your first bass it might be wise to model critical measurements from a bass you are familiar with and like. By critical I mean things like nut width, width at last fret, step height (from bottom of fingerboard to top of body - ties in with bridge selection), upper bout/lower bout/waist widths, etc. Randomly moving the lower waist curve for instance will make it sit differently on your leg when sitting for example.

    There's nothing wrong with starting off with nice woods if you're careful, do your research, and practice critical steps (truss rod routing, routing in general) on scrap. There's something to be said for adopting a failure-is-not-an-option mentality. It discourages recklessness.

    mikeyswood - I don't understand what you are adding to the discussion here with your discouraging and elitist attitude. Luckily when I started building the internet was in it's infancy and it was much more difficult to encounter this type of negativity when seeking advice.
     

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