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Unfinished Carved Bass Body and Neck from EBAY (China)

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Dcasali, Nov 13, 2015.

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  1. Dcasali


    Jan 21, 2013
    I met with my trustworthy luthier last week to look at purchasing my first ever carved bass and I happened to mention that I saw carved components for sale from China on EBAY….They are manufactured by a company called SONG near Beijing….see link here….

    Hand carved SONG Brand white/unfinished 3/4 upright bass #4435

    He replied “you should give it a try” and now I think I am a step closer to doing just that.

    But before I did I thought I would check here on TALKBASS to see if anyone else has ever done something like this before. I would basically just buy the body and neck as listed in the EBAY link and add accessories that I can find here stateside. I realize that I am taking a huge risk but the lure of being able to customize a bass is a huge draw for me personally. By the way if anyone out there has a carved bass body and neck they would like to sell, (to save me the step of ordering from China), let me know. I am located in the New York City area.

    I apologize for all these questions since I have never assembled a bass before. I feel I should know the answers but I don’t.

    1) How should one “finish” an upright bass? Is it as simple as buying some stain and then applying some clear coat finish? (Maybe things you could find at your local Home Depot?)….sorry, I just realized that I mentioned Home Depot and China in the same post.

    2) Is the dovetail slot that receives the neck on top of the bass body standard? I am also considering just buying a “body” from China and then adding a US made neck but I would hate to run into compatibility issues where the neck won’t fit.

    3) How does the neck attach to the bass body? On the same note, how does the fingerboard attached to the neck? Is something as simple as wood glue. If these pieces are glued how in the world would you replace the fingerboard or reset the neck to the body?

    4) Is there any recommended type of glue used when assembling bass components?

    5) I think I have enough of a brain to understand how to attach the tuners, bridge,soundpost,and tailpiece assembly but if anyone wants to share insight on those it would be appreciated.

    So thanks for reading this post and any input regarding my questions would be much, much appreciated.

  2. Rebop


    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    No. This is something that takes years to learn.

    Standard? No, nothing is standard and I'd be surprised if the neck that it comes with will fit without a skilled hand.

    Hot hide glue that you made from granules.

    Hot hide glue.

    You're not going to be able to do any of this without previous experience. Sorry to be "that guy" but unless you have absolutely nothing to do for the next few years, and got money to burn, it sounds like a bad idea. All of it.
    LaFaveBass and Eric Hochberg like this.
  3. 1. An adequate response to that query is above my pay grade, so I shall demur.

    2. Not at all standard. In fact, quite the opposite. It's fairly involved woodworking, not Legos.

    3. Typically, a luthier will fit the neck heel to the neck block to a tolerance close enough where it might be possible to slip a piece of paper or razor blade into the joint...at minimum. The neck is then set with hot hide glue and held in place with a series of clamps and straps. After the neck is set, final carving to the neck heel and shaping of the button follows.

    4. See above. Hot hide glue joints can be opened and re-closed with a minimum of fuss. Modern glues generally cannot, and are anathema to most aspects of bass assembly.

    5. Oh, you'd be surprised. Installing tuners is relatively easy, but sometimes you have to gouge channels to avoid binding the cog and leaf if they protrude through the back of the plate. Fitting bridges and soundposts is delicate work that requires extensive and specialized knowledge, and getting the tailpiece mounted correctly requires a working knowledge of physics and relatively high-order math.

    In case I haven't made myself clear yet...I think your luthier is winding you up for a bit of fun. You're in over your head already and you don't even know it. Save yourself a lot of heartbreak and frustration, and just buy a DECENT student bass from a good bass shop.
  4. Dcasali


    Jan 21, 2013
    Thanks soooo much for this feedback!
  5. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    now, i suspect something is wrong with the bass in the photos- but i can't see what.

    to my eye, it looks like the wood on the sides and back is pretty nice. would we all agree the internals, or assembly at least, of this bass are most likely a disaster?

    what if one bought those unfinished parts and dropped them off at a qualified bass luthier and asked for them to do what they can with finishing it?

    i wouldn't dream of it, i've got too many basses and dont need a new project. but i'd be curious to see the result if someone else did.
  6. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    If your "trustworthy" luthier gave you the green light on this project, then it's time for a different luthier, IMO. With all the problems mentioned above, green wood is another to beware of with Asian basses. You can purchase a decent starter bass for around $1500 which will be far less than what it will cost you to put together a parts bass.

    Edit: I see you're looking for a carved bass so my $1500 bass suggestion doesn't apply, but the the rest does. If you are looking for a good carved bass, my first recommendation is to go out and play many. If you can't do that and decide to buy without having hands/ears on, only buy from a reputable bass shop that will give you some kind of warranty on a new instrument.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
    MIKMAN, drurb and Jake deVilliers like this.
  7. Dcasali


    Jan 21, 2013
    I want to thank each and everyone of you for your feedback. You guys probably saved me a lot of pain and heartache. I am pretty handy with woodworking and just thought some of those skills could simply transfer over. My curiosity got the best of me and it would run $1,000 just to get that unfinished neck and body over here. Then the fun begins right? As you guys can tell I am a novice when it comes to how a bass is made and assembled and all of your advice is well heeded. I agree that the front panel does not look at good as the back and sides so that was a red flag from the get go! THANKS GUYS! I have officially given up this endeavor. Now....I am looking for a good carved bass in the $4K-6K range. My hunt begins.
    drurb, Sam Sherry and Eric Hochberg like this.
  8. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    You'll spend $3500 polishing a turd and still wind up with a $300 piece of junk made by 11 year old Chinese kids....!

    Building your own bass is an amazing journey and I highly recommend it, but this is not the way to go about it.
    MIKMAN and drurb like this.
  9. Since you are in NY, try contacting Ideal Music in upstate to see what they still have left in their warehouse. They are shutting down after decades as a mom 'n' pop, but they still list on eBay if you need a contact link.
  10. Last I remember, Ideal was on West 88th in Manhattan, not upstate. If they have any basses in stock, you could do a lot worse than Ideal (Mrs. Loeb is a gem) but their setup work is less than ideal, had har.

    That said, there is a ton of good stuff to be had for $6k or less in the metropolitan area or within a few hours' drive. Feel free to PM me for suggestions.
  11. Dcasali


    Jan 21, 2013

    I visited IDEAL Music back in 2010 when I was looking to purchase my first bass. I do remember Mrs. Loeb and she was a wonderful lady! (More people should be like her in this world!). I was doing to shopping around and ended up at David Gage where I purchased and UPTON made exclusively for DG. I know play old Kay's but still would like to investigate a nice carved bass. I don't know how to IM...(still a greenie on TB)...can you PM me some suggestions on where to look. THANKS!
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think all of the points mentioned and more are good reasons not to do this and since it seems that the OP has accepted that answer, I'm going to close this thread before it goes off the rails. The idea that there are great instruments on eBay or that a first bass is a good DIY project tends to bring out the worst in people around here.

    I think best to call this "asked and answered" and suggest a good read of the sticky in this forum and some talkbass search function to expore another step forward. You can private message anyone by going to their profile and clicking "start a conversation".
    Clark Dark likes this.

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