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What would you do with a Lightwave?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by RBS_Johnson, May 13, 2019 at 12:31 PM.

  1. Hello all,

    So, yesterday my sister gets ahold of me and tells me that her and her boyfriend have a "sorry you wrecked your motorcycle" present for me. Not sure what to expect, I stopped by and got it.

    They had no idea what this bass was, and I didn't get a clear idea of where it came from or what happened to the hardware and pickups. It's a Wilcox Guitars Lightwave bass. For those not familiar, the Lightwave uses an optical pickup(light based), instead of traditional magnetic pickups.

    So I cleaned it up, what you see is what I've got. Now to figure out what to do with it. The fretboard has been sanded at some point. It seems well built overall, and not too heavy. I'm not of a fretless player, by the way.

    Any ideas?



    20190512_220505. 20190512_220515. 20190512_220522.

    Fat Freddy, andruca and mikewalker like this.
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    So it's gutted? Or you have the parts out?
  3. It came just as you see. Missing all the proprietary, expensive bits. Along with everything else.
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    A bigass bridge like a Babicz to cover up some holes, a pickup or two, some refinishing on the fingerboard, and an Audere preamp and you’ve got yourself a nice new bass to play with.

    I’ve got a Willcox Lightwave. They’re nicely made basses. Excellent build quality and really good necks. I’d give yours some organ transplants and bring it back to life.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    If you don't want to become a fretless player, sell it and put the money into a different project.

    If you are open to fretlessing.....


    "Hi, I have one of your basses that's missing all the electronics and the bridge. Do you sell those as replacement parts and if so how much would they be?"

    If that's within your budget, go for it. If not, sell it and put the money into a different project.
  6. Two very different opinions here. I may be open to playing fretless, but I think I would like to mark the lines, at least on the side of the neck. I'm not expecting replacement parts from the manufacturer to be the way to go(I think I saw that a battery and charger are around $100).

    Side note - most of my other side projects that need parts aren't as nice as this bass.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If you need parts for other basses, and aren't a fretless guy, sell this body and neck to finance enough stuff to bring your other projects together.
    RBS_Johnson likes this.
  8. That is possible. Though I'm not sure what the market is like for something like this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I don’t know if Willcox sells replacement parts for the Lightwave. And I’ve never seen the components on the used market. So hopefully they can do something for you if you want the optical pickup. But it’s pretty amazing and not quite like anything else so it’d be worth at least looking into IMO.

    Luck either way. :thumbsup:
  10. We'll see. I plan on emailing them just to see. I'm in no hurry to work on this, so if it comes to it the bass can sit around for awhile if I think it will be worth it.
    40Hz likes this.
  11. I saw a fully loaded one on ebay a few months ago, it was relatively cheap, IIRC.
    RBS_Johnson likes this.
  12. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    My Lightwave Hybrid has THE BEST NECK I HAVE EVER PLAYED... (300+ basses)
    It also has a very ergonomic body... Just a stunning package, altogether. If I could just figure out how best to upgrade the op-amps in it, to reduce the hiss a little ...
    RBS_Johnson likes this.
  13. They vary quite a bit from what I've seen.

    The neck on this one is nice, I don't know about best ever. It's an interesting design for sure.
  14. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Willcox will refurbish your bass but not sell parts around. Lightwave did sell kits years ago but not anymore.
    I guess somebody wanted the guts for a project.

    It shall work just fine with any good pickups.
  15. I would, at leas, check on the chances of getting replacement parts for it.
    It might be a very good fretless.
  16. I will let them do it if it's less than another good bass I want, lol. Failing that I was thinking maybe lace alumitones or something similar with a preamp.

    Will do. It seems most people love them or hate them in stock form.
  17. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Probably glue some knobs on to it, find a cheap bridge and spray paint it a solid color for a wall decoration. Too many parts missing, and very proprietary parts at that, with no vintage value.
  18. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    These aren't particularly valuable basses, I don't see why you cant mod it to your heart's content. New bridge, PUs, preamp, bell brass frets, Drop tuner on the e string, make a pickguard if you need too, add a Roland synth pickup, go nuts. It doesn't look like there will ever be a crazy collector's market for these. There are plenty available, it's not like you'd be ruining a hand-made instrument or something that's rare. If it's light and the neck feels good, outfit it with whatever you like.
  19. Which is exactly why I was considering the magnetic pickup conversion. I don't have enough wall space for decorative basses that don't work, lol. :roflmao:

    Money input vs. Resale value may dictate the way forward. I can do mag pickups easily enough, probably don't need synth stuff. Any reason you suggested brass frets? I would think they would wear super fast.

    Plus my sister might be annoyed if I sold it:cautious:
  20. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Just keep the expenditures in check. You know what the resulting value will be.
    RBS_Johnson likes this.

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