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Winter 2017 Build Off - Vintagey Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Beej, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Okay, I'm in: Winter 2017 Build Off - Challenge yourself

    As pretty much repeated from the original discussion thread here: Anybody up for a Christmas vacation Build off

    Mine will be a 5 string "vintagey looking bass". I guess I mean something that has a combination of features of some 50's and 60's designs. I need something less modern looking than my other basses for my band but I have specifics in instruments I play that I want to incorporate. A friend gave me an Ibanez 5 string jazz style pointy early 90's bass but the body was severely cut away and shrunk down such that its not really salvageable. The neck is untouched however and I don't want it to go to waste. :) Its a typical Ibby 5 neck with a 1.75" nut, and taper aligning with a 15-16mm bridge string spacing. Only 22 frets but I'll deal with it.

    Stepping out of my rut for me will be:
    • Using a pre-existing 5 string neck
    • Scratch built chambered body with maple/poplar - I've not used poplar as a top/back before.
    • 1.25" thick body, done this before, but not with a bolt on neck, plus I'm usually 1.375 to 1.5
    • Paper template from a drawing only, but not building any router templates for this one (probably :)). I think I'll hand shape it, so it may vary as the build progresses.
    • Painted(!) I've only painted a handful of instruments ever, most of mine are oil finishes over driftwood top/backs.
    • Pickguard(!) I never use them, but do appreciate their role and look.
    • Passive(!) I have a passive 4 that a friend built, but all of my other instruments are active right now. I may change my mind on this. :D
    • Strat jack(!) I'm thinking of an upside down strat jack that will eject the cord up over my strap button - I never do this.
    • [Painted and pickguard and passive, oh my!]
    • Material added to headstock to change shape. I might not do this, but the headstock is a pointy 90's unit. It has some kitsch value, but it's not a great fit with the rest of the instrument's planned vibe. When you see it, feel free to advise. :)
    • Biggest challenge? Doing a build thread - I don't usually do those and in fact might not have ever even done one in the luthier's corner... :D
    I glued up the body core last night and scraped it down today. Plus I cut out my drawing and transferred it to the core so I can cut out the chambers tomorrow. Pics to come... :)
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    You came close once. Well, you weren't building in the thread, but @Praxist made sure that your treasure trove of goodies ended up in a build thread :D

    Praxist's 1st annual TB bass build competition entry: The P-Rick
  3. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Ah yes. Mr praxist. Back before he moved out in the middle of the night, skipped out on two months rent and I never saw him again. I wonder if he'll show up in this thread. S'alright if he does, we understood it somewhat at the time. No hard feelings if you see this Dan. :D

    2nd post in and there's drama already... :D
  4. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    It's a gift I have
    wraub, bdplaid and Beej like this.
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    The five string ibanez was disassembled a while back, so I'm not exactly sure where the body is at, but I do have the neck handy. You can see the pointy headstock I'm dealing with - opinions welcome.

    I also just realized today that the neck is heavier than I would like it to be, so I may end up making a new neck to go with this body, but it depends on how much weight I can shave off this thing in the meantime. I'd like to play this bass at an upcoming show at the end of January, so I'm going to slog through for now and build a body for this neck.

    Synergy looks on blankly. I wish it was as simple as "Showtime, Synergy!"...
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Here's the design. I ambitiously cut it out before I took a picture. :D

    And here's what it looks like cut out. I tried to capture some fenderish features mixed in with some other things that represent 50/60's vintage in my mind.

    I transferred it to the body core itself after drawing a clean centreline and carrying it over the sides.

    Then I drilled some pilot holes to run the jigsaw through.

    This is a change for me here - normally I'd be making a body template and a chamber template and after the roughcut, I'd go in and clean up the chamber. Because this is a personal bass, I'm just going to sand them a bit and that's it. :) Here's right after cutting out the chamber.

    This body core is 3/4" thick, and it will be clad with 1/4" poplar front and back. I'm hoping all of the electronics will fit in that space. :D

    Next up, some parts...
  7. Nice work. :)

    P.s. I liked that era of Ibanez stuff. You should be able to make it look retro-ish with some sort of interesting trussrod cover.
    Beej likes this.
  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    The bass came with all black hardware, pretty inexpensive but relatively good quality stuff. I'm thinking of going with all chrome components, but I'll see where this goes. Here is what remains of the stock parts - none really in good nick.

    I usually organize my instrument parts in these little plastic bins. They hold a full instrument's parts and help keep things organized. Here are the components I've gathered up so far with the exception of the pickups.

    I've got quite a few different kinds of knobs kicking around, but these old witch hats might do the job. You can also see I've already been thinking of using that EMG instead of going completely passive. Again, not sure. :) I don't think I will take the pickguard right up to the strat jack like I've drawn there, but if I can make it look good, I'll probably go for it anyway.

    And the full monty mockup showing how out of place that headstock looks on this overall design. Ugh! Its not coming to me yet...
    Dadagoboi, JIO and smithcreek like this.
  9. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    That peghead is a challenge unto itself... :eyebrow:

  10. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Yep. I originally thought I might use it with a completely different body style that retained some of the pointy-ness but I need something retro looking. I have a few headstock shape options I'm mulling right now and I'll post up some pics soon.

    Boy I'm indecisive on this build - yet another challenge as I'd like to think I'm usually pretty solidly organized from the start. This build and thread are, generally speaking, not entirely compatible with my usual obsessive nature... :D
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    mapleglo and shai-ga like this.
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    If you remove some material to increase the radius of the corner right above the D tuner, and cut back the long point to a somewhat larger radius, I can kinda see a shape that could work with the body shape.

    Also since you say the neck is heavy, I'm curious what that tuner set weighs, and how much weight could be saved with some ultralights.

    As far as poplar, the back of mine is poplar with an oil finish. I don't baby it, and it definitely shows in the lines and dents when you look at it. From a distance it's fine.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
    Beej and Will_White like this.
  13. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I like that, I'll have to get a few pics up today of what I've come up with so far. I'm not happy with any of them yet. :D

    The tuners were much heavier than expected and the neck weighs only 2.1 lbs without them. I can't do ultralights though as the exchange rate makes them out of reach, but I can probably get some kind of option once I look around locally.

    It is pretty soft for sure. I'm planning to do an epoxy grain fill and hope for the best... :D
  14. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    So other responsibilities are really annoyingly getting in the way of building. :) I've been working here and there but haven't updated much. I've finished the body "blank" and will be routing the pocket and pickup next. The finished thickness is 1 5/16", so should be workable for my needs. I routed a 36" radius into the top of the core before I glued down the top. This gives a very mild curve to the face of the instrument that to me, improves comfort, even though it's only barely discernible if you're looking for it. When the blank is cut out, I'll try to get a picture that shows it.

    Got the shape tweaked here and ready to cut out. You can see the screw holes I use to keep the top aligned during glue up. The middle hole will be routed out for the pickup, and the other one is off the body when cut out. Same on the back, but both are off the body.

    Here you can see the completed "blank".
  15. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    And the headstock. So I've drawn half a dozen or so ideas to address the janky shape and make it look a little more "retro". These three are my finalists right now, but I'm not married to any of them so would love to hear opinions. Something entirely different would also be entertained. :D These three require fairly little effort on my part, but I'm also willing to add size to the headstock first to give me more options. I've got some 5/8" maple that would work.
  16. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
  17. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    1 is inspired by EBMM, but with more of a "hook".
    2 is inspired by Fender strat/jazz/etc.
    3 is inspired by Fender tele

    Any opinions? Ideas? :)
  18. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I like #1.
    JusttheBassics and Beej like this.

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