Wing Bass on a Budget - PHASE I

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Toban.Ivan, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    Even if I used the Wing Bass proprietary name and trademark in the title of this post please be aware that I’m in no way trying to use illegally their marks and that everything you will see in the following posts will only show my interpretation (and little mods to my taste) of the brilliant Idea the WING INSTRUMENTS people had.

    I’m in fact building a version of the same sort of instrument tailored to my needs and this, as you’ll quickly agree with me, would never mean selling anything at all…

    Well.. You know all the posts where we talk about the desire of having a bass during trips or flights etc.. Yes, I really am one of those persons who take 30 to 40 flights over the year and especially european low cost flights.

    SO yeah, it all start with a suitcase.. a little one..


    This is the very typical standard sized suitcase (55x35x25 cm) that is allowed to be carried in the plane. To be stored overhead. For Free.

    This means a lot to me. I never need to bring tools or objects related to my job other than a laptop and the clothes so no need to pay for a bigger sized luggage. Over 30/40 flights per year this mean a lot of money.

    I do still need to have a bass with me however..

    I found out the the Wing Basses, the whole theory behind them, is so damn close to my needs that I had to have something similar. The huge problem however is buying something you can’t try first and also buy it from the USA with a no refund shipping to Italy. A little too $1000+ risky to my pockets..

    THEN here’s the plan..


    My interpretation customized over a couple of mods I consider importants for me:
    • no more than 12 frets (to mimic my others 24 frets basses and for reasonable Slap applications);
    • 1 pickup over the MM sweet spot (28,7” on the 32” scale);
    • tested positioning of the strap holders assuring a correct positioning;
    • drammatically cheaper (and worse quality) headless hardware I already have.
    MAX BUDGET : 300 euros/320 $ +/-

    parts list
    • mahogany body blank (2 pieces), very average quality @ € 45;
    • Nordstrand Dual Blade 4 strings, Neck @ 95;
    • Overlord Headless 4 strings bridge/tuners; (already owned)
    • 7 strings Guitar locking Nut; (already owned)
    • Schaller Strap lockers; (already owned)
    • spared knobs, one switchcraft mono jack, one on-on mini switch etc. (already owned)

    I’ll do almost everything in-house with very little availability of power and elbow tools but only one thing that I will let my friendly luthier do for me. The Fretboard, his gluing and all the fretting process.

    Otherwise I’ll mimic a lot of similar specs of the Wingbass range, like the 32” half scale, the smart profile of the fretboard-beck (no neck here), etc..

    Don’t be too exited about the working skills or the wood porn you’re well used about.. just bear with me if you want.. I’ll certainly need some help during the path..

    PS: why PHASE I? Because, once completed in his natural and basic shape of functionality, I will explore a couple further mods like one on-board headphones amplifier (not a lot of space here..) a corresponding mini pedalboard to be use in close synergy with this half-a-Bass wanna be, and maybe more.. we’ll see..

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
    roma2021 and Chris_Toot like this.
  2. Not sure if you saw my recent build, but I just did this exact thing: wing bass build. I think I brought it in right about that price point, but I used a more expensive bridge and less expensive pickup. I love mine, I play it all the time, but I'd have reservations about stuffing it in a carry on, I have thought about how I might build a case for it though.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Your drawing appears to be the same size or slightly larger than your Lil Turtle carry on.

    I suggest that the drawing fit comfortably INSIDE the suitcase before you cut any wood.

    Sounds like a nice project.
  4. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    The draws are verified but yours it's a very good advice. The Mahogany slab is on his way to me but before any sawdust I'll transfer the outlines on a mdf. That I'll eventually use as template
  5. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    I of course lurked in your build and I found it fantastic. I loved the finishing result on your choosen woods.

    I do own a complete (bridge+tuners) ETS kit (very gooooood quality) and I considered to use it but since it's now on my frankenMMjazzHLbass I'll leave it where it is for the moment. Even if I don't use this bass very often nowadays..

    The carry-on part of this build is, eventually, the most important to me atm. keeping it cheap I'm telling to my self to just give it a try.

    If there's something givin' me reservations is most probably the 32" scale on these last 12 frets.. I'm a used 34" guy and even if sometimes I would like a medium scale for the first 12 frets in a regular 2 octaves bass, I'm a bit worried about this tiny space in berween the upper twelves.
    Especially now that I have one real size draw.

    The préparation of the template will help even further in letting me judge the balance between portability/musicality..
  6. Yes, the spacing is really tight on the frets, but it's still a fun instrument to play. I wouldn't want it to be my only instrument, but that's not why I built it.
  7. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    Waiting for the body blank to be here next week and in the same time preparing my work tour for the next 2 weeks I gived me a little coffee/practice pause.

    The closer friend was my Tom Clement Ryan4, I was sitting on my kitchen chair while drinking my espresso and playing arpeggios without using a strap and..


    I modified the outline considering 2 major things, inspired by the TC Ryan body shape:

    - a bigger area for the right forearm, allowing a more confortable switch between the various fretting positions, from the Jaco zone to the fretboard;

    - a slighly bigger area under the bridge where the controls will be installed. More room and a balanced look.

    Besides, starting to figure out which headphone ampli would be better the bigger area over the bridge and the pickup will easily allow the routing of a cavity (or a pocket) for the joint of a remouvable device. Thinking about a Phil Jones Bighead. Pricy but very high end. Easily rechargable with a 2 band preamp in it and could be stuck in place with magnets.
  8. I'll be following along on this build, as I too like the idea of the Wing basses, but not the cost of the production models. I, however, have basically no need for one.

    Looks like you're off to a good start!
  9. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    Wood, pickup and pots are already shipped and on the road. Too bad I wouldn't be here myself for the next 2 weeks.

    Next weekend, in between the preps for my 5yo son birthday party, I'll check the measures over the real piece of wood.

    I need to properly verify dimensions for furthers upgrades I'm considering.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  10. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    Hey Toban, I really like your body design. Best of luck on the project!
  11. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    Andy thank you very much! For your kind support and for the very genius idea you had in developing/designing the Wing Instruments.
    Our quick q/a by email clearly described how you and your company fellows are totally a pro-business team.

    I'm feeling a bit ashamed in replying your luck-wishing message on a post where I clearly am copying your ideas. Even if with a personal touch but that just confirm once again how do you deserve all the followers attention you're receiving.

    Let me profit of this sincerely human post to thank also Donald Waugh. Never knew someone so open to bass related discussion with a reply average time of 2 mins, from the orher side of this globe..
    Check him and his signature Wing Bass out, if you haven't done yet!!
  12. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    You're very welcome. I totally encourage players to build their own stuff. I'm really flattered that this concept has been accepted (more widely as time goes on). I'm anxious to see / hear the outcome.
    wraub, RBS_Johnson and Beej like this.
  13. Subbed. I had not heard of Wing Basses until reading this thread. Very cool build too!
    Andy Brown likes this.
  14. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010
    Wood, pickup and hardware all arrived. Tomorrow I'll transfer the draw on the mahogany and take more accurate measures.

    Next week I'll be out again but after I'll have a bit of spare time.

    During the next 10 days I'll have to spot a well priced fingerboard.
  15. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Let's not forget Luis Cheul, who AFAIK invented the concept from whole cloth, and had it realized in Europe, years before he became a Wing endorser.
  16. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    After I had the idea, I took the prototype to NAMM in 2013. Luis' friend Igor Saavedra stopped me and pointed out his good friend Luis invented it in Chile. My heart sank. However, I reached out to Luis, explaining we had the same idea, albeit he first, and I wanted to take it to the next level. We became great friends after that, and he fully supports us. He is a great player, and I'm proud to have realized a concept that he thought of five years earlier. I will always recognize Luis as the "father" of the Bajiero, predecessor to the Wing Bass.
  17. Toban.Ivan


    Sep 2, 2010

    Unfortunately no real sawdust still but transferred the basic reference lines on the real wood.

    The blades would have to wait another week.

    In the meantime I'm sourcing sizes and dimensions of a couple of eventual upgrades such a Sub'n'up octaver and a couple of different headphone ampli.

    I'll try to phisically draw them on the scetch and see how to properly integrate them.

    Good thing the mahogany slab has plenty of thickness. Room for everything.
  18. tjclem

    tjclem Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
  19. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    I would recommend you consider the EHX EHX Nano POG. It tracks much better that the Sub'n'up and is more natural sounding.
    Beej likes this.
  20. I haven't tried out many octave pedals, but I love the Whammy pedal, it has so many applicable effects in it for the Wing. It tracks pretty well, but if you're just doing the octave down function it doesn't sound really natural. I considered embedding something, but by using the whammy I get more options and can use it with different instruments. With the exception of detune I find the whammy pedal largely unusable for a full scale bass. I used only the wing on these two songs, the first one used only the Whammy pedal:

    And this one I used the octave effect in Garageband (which sounds very natural) - again all parts played with the wing:

    The octave effect in Garageband is CPU intensive though, it's much better to apply it after you record, not as you record.