Winter Build Off 2022 - Explorer Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Flamingo21, Dec 21, 2021.

  1. Hello all, and welcome to my thread! :)

    My plan is to build an Explorer bass. This shape belongs to the Gibson world, which is new territory for me. So far in my bass life, I've played mainly Fender Shaped Objects, or FSOs. This will be a GSO.

    The body I'll build from scratch, the neck is a ready made product. Clearly then, this is a Partial Build.


    4 strings
    34" scale
    Swamp Ash body
    Maple neck
    Maple fingerboard
    20 frets
    Tuners on bass side
    EMG 35HZ passive humbucker in neck position
    Volume pot, Tone pot
    Black hardware
    See through red acrylic pickguard
    Black strap with peacock motive
  3. MynameisMe

    MynameisMe What will you be remembered for?

    Dec 31, 2018
    J'ville Florida
    I've always loved the Explorer shape.
    Looking forward to see what you can do with it!
    instrumentalist likes this.
  4. 2groggy


    Jan 17, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    Show us your wood!:D Someone had to post it and I have no shame.

    Here's my wood "pile":
    That headstock still looks "fenderish", but trust me: it won't when I'm done with it.
    That's what the piece of maple to the right is for. It's the same thickness as the headstock, and I'll use it to make the headstock look quite "gibsonesque".
    Incidentally, if ever I replace that table, I'll make at least one instrument out of it.

    Even the strap pins are black.

    EMG 35HZ humbucker, plus harness. On the next build I'll take up soldering. I promise. Next build. Or the one after that.

    - a very personal angle -

    When I think of "rebirth", all I can think of is myself. Around five years ago, several things happened in my life in a rather short span of time, and together they make me feel like I'm finally alive. After half a lifetime of making music I found my true instrument (bass guitar), I found a job I really love and will keep doing till retirement, and I got out of a personal commitment that was never going to work and had been weighing on me for many years. In conjunction with all that, I feel I've finally grown up into someone who knows to be someone and make his own decisions.

    This is not to say that the good things that happened before that, didn't happen or don't count. But there was always a shadow, a feeling of total inadequacy, a permanent gloom. This has a lot to do with the twisted way I grew up, but I won't expand on that here.

    Bottom line is, I transitioned from "one day life will be worth living" to "I'm enjoying life".

    And this bass will be a celebration. The Explorer shape is one that speaks to me like not many extraverted things do. The natural finish reflects how much more natural and "close to home" I've become. The Lightning Bolt pickguard will be red, the colour of blood and hence of life. There's no symbolism in the black colour of the hardware, I just feel it will offset the red pickguard better.

    All in all, splashy in my very own way.
  7. For the pickguard I bought a 1000mm x 500mm x 3mm (20"x40"x1/8") sheet of acrylic material. It is RED, the reddest red there is, and it is somewhat see-through. I haven't made a pic of the sheet, as most of it is still in protective wrap, but here's a bit I cut off to try some techniques:
    IMG_20211220_123502.jpg I hope to see the grain of the oil-finished swamp ash through this.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022
  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Nice ash :thumbsup:
    instrumentalist likes this.
  9. I bought a 3" wide black leather strap with a peacock motive at the front end.
    The brand name is Fame, sold by MusicStore in Germany.

    It looks glorious, but it's hard to photograph. I chose it based on the pics on the seller's website but they don't do it justice.

    My attempts:
  10. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I love maple fretboards on vintagey-shaped basses!
    instrumentalist likes this.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Peacocks are so purty. :D 'Round here though, they are sometimes less than welcome. There are quite a few feral peafowl living in Victoria and they make the news with some regularity. It's said there's a population of only around 40, but I'd guess at least 5 times that based on how frequently I see them myself. There's no way that's the same gaggle of fowl in every neighbourhood. :smug:
    Jack Knox: Polarizing Beacon Hill Park peacocks proliferate, puzzle - Victoria Times Colonist
    One even beat up a little old lady a year and a half ago:
    Engle, Matt Liebenau and dwizum like this.
  12. Here's something that has inspired me.

    Gibson Guitar of the Month, September 2008.
    If you thought you saw a lefty guitar, you're not alone. I thought that at first. But no, it is not a lefty. (See the position of the knobs and the strap pins, for instance.)

    It's a righty. Gibson has just swapped the body shape around. They call it a "Reverse Explorer". Strictly speaking, I feel they should have said "Non-Reverse" by analogy with the Thunderbird shape.

    Normal Thunderbird:

    "Non-Reverse" Thunderbird:

    Normal Explorer:

    "Non-Reverse" Explorer:

    But that's just me being nitpicky. What really drew my attention on that (non) reverse guitar is the pickguard. If you can call it that. The Lightning Bolt! I want it on my bass. In red acrylic.

    So I made a mirror image of that pic, put it up on my tablet screen, and drew it by hand full-scale on tracing paper. I think I got very close, and I'm calling it good. I've cut out that shape and will use it to cut the acrylic. In its bright red, it will be quite an accent on a natural wood bass with black hardware!
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2021
  13. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    That will look pretty slick.
    Are you doing the lightning bolt but on the normal explorer shape?
    Will that still line up with the knobs?
  14. I have made a mirror image of the pic, so now it looks like this:
    From that, I drew my lightning bolt full size on tracing paper. So now my lightning bolt fits a "normal" Explorer shape.
    Max Bogosity, Beej and postalflunkie like this.
  15. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    Wil the knobs be on the top or bottom?
  16. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    a transparent red lightning bolt is just about the coolest thing possible on that body shape.
  17. Bottom. Kind of like this:
    Max Bogosity and RichterScale like this.
  18. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Bonus points if you wear these whenever you play it on stage.

  19. Kenan


    Sep 13, 2014
    I think the lightning bolt pickguard is super cool, but it bothers me that the top half of the bolt follows the lines of the body, but the lower half doesn't. I would want to fix that if it were me. Also, the "non-reverse" body is going to balance a lot better and is a pretty good idea to consider, and I actually prefer the look.
    Max Bogosity and Beej like this.
  20. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I just can’t like this enough times!

    MG Wolf, dwizum and instrumentalist like this.