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Where to begin with building

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Yellow, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    Hi everybody, I am a woodworker as well as a bass player (I build cabs)and had a custom bass made for me by another builder. I am quite interested in how to begin to build my own bass.
    I am certainy capable of gluing up a body wings, top cap, neck stock but the fretboard scares me a bit.
    How should I begin? any literature, basic principles, ideas you would recommend.
    Common Jigs for making fretboard? Pictures anywhere?

    I would appreciate your advice and ideas.
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    What part of building the fretboard/neck scares you?

    As far as literature goes, the one book I've read is "Make Your Own Electric Guitar" by Melvyn Hiscock.

    Also, there is a ton of information on this forum (use the search and you can find info on almost anything), and also at www.mimf.com and www.projectguitar.com.
  3. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    And let's not forget our very own FAQ, stickied on the main page of this forum. It'd be a shame for Basschair to go to all that trouble and not have it be used.

  4. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    OR buy a pre-slotted board :p
  5. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

  6. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    I did look through the FAQ's, there is lots of great info, I didn't find any on making a fingerboard in particular and carving the curvature whatever degrees it is. 14, 15

    I see some stuff on the truss rod, step by step would really be fantastic,
  7. you could always make a fretless neck :)
  8. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    Actually I would love to make a fretless, how do I get the curve all the way accross the finger board.
  9. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    you can do a flat fretboard if you like.

    i like them a lot. they have their good times ... radiused fretboards have other good times.
  10. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    I hear you flat is easier may be, but for playing I am used to slight curve.

    I looked into ohter guys, links and suggestions, It is all good, I would like to get a hold of some step by step instructions for the neck ( it is neck through I am talking about, I should have mentioned it I guess)
  11. Look on e-bay they have radius sanding blocks.Use these blocks to radius the fretboard and, level the frets.
    Also, start with scale drawings of the bass, work with it to get the shape down then, worry about woodwork.
  12. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    radiusing sanding blocks is a good way to start things.

    a more advanced method is filing your fretboard to a radius. draw a parallel line from the side of couple of mm's ... depending on how much ur radius is. file sideways till you reach the parallel line (parallel to the top of the fboard where your frets will be).

    finally, i think i saw JPguitars using a fretboarding radiusing jig in another thread. search for it.

    the only thing i dislike about neck thrus is that the necks are fixed. i am making 2 basses for myself (as well as others for customers). the customer ones i have no problem with making neck thrus because i just deliver them and get over with them. but my personal basses, i would like them to be fretless and fretted at the sametime. until i find a way to change fretboards easily, i will keep making bolt ons with different fretless and fretted necks. this is something u might want to consider. a neck thru bass ... you are pretty much stuck with it for a lifetime.

    how to do it? 2 ways:
    1. center block method. use a 1" thick piece of wood (depends on what wood you want) that is long enough from the start of the body till the headstock. from the heel to the end of the body, you leave it square with the tapering to match the neck's tapering. the centerblock would be an identical match to the square part of the neck.

    2. buy a 2" thick piece of wood that is long enough for the same purpose. this way you have the same result without the center block.

    the neck heel:
    i have studied this for quite sometime now. i have collected pictures of over 25 different methods of neck heels. it depends on what you want. i believe the easiest could be Fodera's Beez Elite's neck heel. where you have one continuous sweet between the horns passing on the neck. its less fancy than the Alembic, Parker, some Conklins etc.

    the neck:
    i outsource some necks to a CNC 3axis router machine. it drills guidelines in the neck for me. in the sense that it creates a really coarse curving guidelines that i file down and smoothen out by hand.
  13. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    Thanks, this is great.

    Yes I agree neck through is a commitment. I dont mind the idea of having more then one bass, in fact this intrigues me to try different materials and designs to see what really makes the tone I like.

    Presently I have DPCustom 5 string bass [​IMG] not the best picture, was at hand. It really captures a lot of things I like.

    I think I will definitely attempt a fretless, hopefully it will happen,

    Any good places for finger board wood in Canada, BC?
    How dry should it be, should I test it when buying?

    I dont really know what the acceptable tolorances are for this kind of thing.

    Appreciate all your advice.
  14. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    A common method for radiusing a fretboard is to use a jig which suspends the fretboard/neck a set (adjustable) distance above a belt sander. This jig can be swung to allow the radius of the fretboard to be sanded in quickly and accurately. LMII used to offer a complete jig for sale, but you should be able to build one without much effort, provided you have a suitably sized belt sander.

    Nateo built a similar jig to what I described above that used a router instead of a sander. It worked quite well and the beta version produced quite good results that required only minimal clean up with a radiused sanding block.
  15. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    a jig something like this


    I can put a compound radius on a fingerboard in less than 15 minutes counting the time for belt changes (80 - 150 without skipping a grit size) and it can be done with the fingerboard loose or attached

    all the best,

  16. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    OK, I am starting to see the picture.


    1.block of wood 2"thick or so length from stock to bottom
    2. Rout the truss rod channel
    What about griphite reinforcement?
    3. Finger board
    4, Radius
    5,nut and neck stock

    Is that roughly the steps?
  17. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    a few thoughts on your itemized list

    thickness will depend on a couple of things - will you be making a Fenderish style headstock, or one that angles back? If it's to be an angled headstock, will you use a scarf joint, or cut it from a set of laminated pieces? Your answers will determine the thickness you'll actually need

    what about it? :smug: check out StewMac or LMII for their offerings of reinforcement bars. I use 1/8" x 3/8" x 24" in my 5-string necks, and I leave about a 3/16" wall between the trussrod channel and the carbon bar channel - one bar on each side

    if you want a fretted board, you'll need to add slotting to your workflow

    there are two things to do here - radius the FB and carve the profile on the back of the neck. each requires a different set of tools and techniques. I use the belt sander for the FB radius, and a spokeshave and rasp for the carving

    I highly, highly, highly, highly recommend Hiscock's book on building an electric guitar/bass. 95% of the things you need to know are in there - and in great detail.

    all the best,

  18. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    Thanks again, yes I will check out that book for sure.

    As for neck yes I would like to angle it and probably make it up from laminated pieces.

    Building cabs is so straight forward, this is new to me but I am exited, this will teach me more woodworking skills and I might end up with a new bass for myself.

    My site

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