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Wenge Short Scale 4-string

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SDB Guitars, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    So, I had all these wenge scraps lurking around the shop, just waiting to jump out and bite me (damn splinters!), so I decided to cobble them together into a short scale bass... the pieces I had to make the neck were not long enougn to do a standard scale neck, hence the short scale.


    Alder body core, wenge top and back ~1/4" thick

    Wenge and hard maple neck... wenge fretboard.

    28 5/8" scale (decided to do something different, and that's all I could fit on the neck and still have 24 frets!)

    About half way through there was a bit of a mishap... I grabbed the 1/2" roundover bit instead of the 3/8" roundover, and took too much off the top. :eek: So, I planed the top off and glued on a new one, then checked (TWICE!) that I was using the 3/8" roundover for the little guy. Debated doing this as a bolt on neck, but decided in the end to do it set-in, for a cleaner look.


    The bridge is carved from striped ebony, with a strip of hard maple on the bottom for an accent. When the pickups get here (Nordstrand NJ4SV set) I will make pickup covers from the remainder of that striped ebony block, and then I probably won't be able to put the thing down. I've been playing it unplugged for almost 2 weeks now, and it's a little groove machine. I strung it up with Ernie Ball Slinky heavies, and the tension on this short scale is as high as my standard scale 4-string with medium-lights (maybe even a little stiffer).

    All in all, a more than satisfactory way of cleaning up wood scraps without letting them go to waste. :)
  2. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    looks good man! love the bridge!
  3. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    Cool, scrap use at its best!
  4. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I thought so... I get really crabby if I have to waste perfectly good wood. Thanks for looking!
  5. T2W


    Feb 24, 2007
    Montreal, Canada.
    Nice Scotty !! That is looking amazing !! love your originality. Keep it up ! Peace.
  6. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    My name is Shawn, but it's a compliment to be confused with Scotty ;) He rocks!
  7. T2W


    Feb 24, 2007
    Montreal, Canada.
    Oh sorry Shawn, I got confused with Scottyd. Nice Work Shawn !!
  8. Thonk


    Sep 14, 2003
    Nice work amazing what a few scraps and some talent can get you

    btw have you thought about stringing her up as a piccolo?
  9. eleonn


    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Really nice bass... and the new top look better than the original one.
  10. :eek:
    Holy crap. I'm lovin the upper horn.
  11. WOW...amazing... i love the look of the wenge, and i've had gas for a short scale for a long time. looks like i have to build one my self. keep up the good work.

  12. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    I considered stringing it up piccolo, but have been in a rather Beatle-esque place lately... that, and a bit of a Stanley Clarke vein... I know that Stanley also uses piccolo basses, but I've always liked his work on the stort scale strung up standard. Also, lately it seems that I'm always the (GASP!) guitar player in the bands I'm in, so stringing up piccolo just seems a little too much like guitar envy to me, and this little bass thumps so hard, it would be a shame to take that away from it. :)
  13. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Incidentally, the original top, fretboard, and all neck laminations came from one billet. I trimmed the chunk that became the neck laminations off of the width, and the remainder was resawn as the top and back. When I planed the top off, I planed the back off too, and used another small billet I had planned to resaw for body laminations under maple or myrtle, and used it for the new (matching) top and back.

    I'm working on the wooden cover plate, probably going to attach it using rare earth magnets.
  14. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    So, I'm up in the air, now, about pickup configuration, and I'd like opinions...

    I'm either going to install a pair of Jazz pickups, or a MM pickup. Either way I'm going to be using Nordstrand pickups, for sure, so I know that either will sound good, but each setup is a completely different animal from the other, and as this is my first short scale bass, I'm wondering if anyone has a preference... I'm so completely on the fence about it, that I don't know which I'd choose.

    Help me out!!! :)
  15. How about MM-J?

    I've always liked that combination.

    J-MM would be cool, too. I've seen it on some Warriors and it looks pretty neat. I've heard that it sounds good, too.
  16. Jazz behind a MM pup
  17. Nice! What a beautiful bass.

  18. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Now that IS nice.
    I really don't like Wenge as a tonewood...never have, but if it looks like it does here...well one might almost think again.
    How about just using a nice piezo under the bridge to keep the looks intact?
    To me it looks a lot like a carl thomson bass.

    Very nice!!!!:D
  19. Linkert

    Linkert Guest

    Oct 24, 2006
    Its sad that i feel homosexual on a short scale bass.. My fav parts is the bridge and upper horn. Sooooo sweet!
  20. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    lol... Linkert, thanks, man... you don't need to feel homosexual on short scale bass... think of how many hot chicks McCartney has had! ;)

    This body design took me a couple of years to refine, but basically started with the idea that the spacing of the strap buttons needed to be exactly like a Warwick Corvette Standard... my buddy plays bass, and I was just a lowly guitar player and builder, I had never built a bass up to that point. He wanted a longer scale 5 string that matched the rough body dimensions/spacing of his Warwick Corvette, but he kinda dug the idea of a scroll on the upper horn. So, we started sketching things out. Then he decided that he liked the lower horn of a Parker Fly guitar, and so the initial lower horn design was heavily carved to sort-of mimic the lower horn on a Fly.

    The scroll eventually developed into a hook, the waist narrowed and offset a little, and the butt end became oblong, kinda like a Jazz bass. 5 years later, I still love this design. It just feels so organic.

    Anyway, I don't think I'm going to combine the J and the MM pickups... I've got a 4-way rotary switch that I picked up from Sheldon Dingwall, and I'll either use it on the MM pickup (split to neck or bridge, and both in series or parallel), or I'll wire the J pickups to it.

    So, everybody, for *this* bass (not across the board, but in this instance), which do you think would fit the personality better - the single MM pickup or a pair of Jazz pickups?

    I look forward to hearing everyone's opinion, and why.

    BTW, I think I've settled on the Aguilar OBP-1, as it greatly resembled the old MM preamps back in the day, and means fewer knobs, a cleaner look.

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