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Yet another first build post

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mikebpeters, Jan 18, 2012.


  1. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Hi everyone, I've been a lurker on this (and other) sites for a number of months now and am already elbow deep in my first build.

    It all started out innocently enough. I bought a Saga 4 string J bass kit, but I knew that it would turn out to be more of a pattern than a kit.

    After I pulled everything out and looked at it I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of everything included. OK, not Schaller/Hipshot/exotic wood etc, but everything was solid and clean and routes were precise etc.

    I began by gathering material. It has become something of an obsession and I now have almost 8 basses worth of 'stuff'. I suspect that I am not alone in this affliction.

    For example I found an off cut of mahogany for a single piece body that was sold by the pound :) Score!

    I have about a dozen bookmatched pieces of wood for tops and bottoms or accent layers. I also have a bunch of stuff for necks.

    I have a really nice top of the line LTD Warwick so I am spoiled. But now I want something nicer. Not bad mouthing Warwick at all. In my opinion they are representative of as nice a bass that a major company produces, but I want the little touches, continous wood backplates and pickup covers, matching knobs, more exotic wood and stuff like that.

    I have picked up an LED fretboard that is going in to my first build.

    I am also working up a compound scarf joint and my practice went well.

    OK, I am all over the place, but that is what happens when I jump into my story this far in.

    firstly when I got my kit I went and bought some rosewood and Bird's Eye maple from a local supplier and then I ran my bass body through a thickness planer to compensate for what I would be adding.

    I then glued on the two new layers and would show what it looks like now if I could figure out how to add pics to posts.

    Since then all I have done is route out the neck pocket. I outsmarted myself and even though I left some of the original (well fitting) pocket it wasn't enough to use my bottom bearing router bit on so I had to make my first neck template and route essentially from scratch. Worked out extremely well!

    I have also laminated a maple/walnut/cherry/maple/cherry/maple/cherry/walnut/maple neck together and planed and sanded it.

    It is now just waiting on the compound scarf cutting jig that I am in the midst of putting together.

    I have also glued up my off cuts from my top sheet for use in knobs and covers.

    Finally, I have picked up some MEC pickups and pots to replace the saga pickups and I have some schaller hardware for the bridge and tuners.

    As mentioned I have a rosewood fingerboard that has LEDs installed in it. I have decided to add side lites and to tone down the LEDs by removing them and re-installing them a bit deeper and covering them with thin pieces of abalone. I can hardly wait to see how that turns out.

    I welcome thoughts and pointers as I progress and can hardly wait to start my first 100% original build. I am proud of my headstock and body templates that I have concocted!

    Mike
     

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  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Sounds great, Mike!


    For photos, I think TB limits you to two hosted photos per post? Or, you can use a photo website, put all your stuff there, and link it in your post. I use Photobucket.



    You mention a compound scarf - are you building a multiscale instrument?
     
  3. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Hi,

    I have to admit that I found a LOT of inspiration in your posts Mr Pilot Jones :) I had seen the compound break angle before and the gee whiz factor (even if sonic merit is weak) is overwhelming in my opinion.

    I like Gee Whiz stuff :)

    I like your 11 degree break, 6 degree offset and will try that out. Here is a pic of my first rough attempt, just eyeballing it on my chop saw and glueing it up with no particular attention to detail just using scrap wood.

    The whole point of the exercise was to be able to hold a piece in my hands and see what it was all about.

    I like it!

    As well, my plan, probably starting on build 4 is a multiscale fan fret bass.

    Here is a pic of my scrap wood model.
     

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  4. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Part of my philosophy is as much home made as possible (excepting pickups) for some reason I have no interest whatsoever in making my own pickups right now.

    Plus I think it looks really slick to have wooden knobs that either compliment or contrast to the body/neck.

    THG make awesome knobs, but I don't like their prices that much.

    I started off by researching and quickly rejected my first idea (plug cutters) when I read about the grief that other builders have had so I moved on to plan "B" and bought a tenon cutter.

    I then glued up some leftover material from my top and middle pieces, with a piece of maple backing (pic included) and then I clamped it to my drill press.

    Next step was to put a small drill bit in and mark the centre so I wouldn't have trouble finding it later. I'll let you all know if this works out later. Then without unclamping my piece I swap the bit for the tenon cutter and cut out each knob.
     

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  5. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    my first knobs seem wildly successful so far.

    they came out of the tenon cutter smooth and near perfect.

    I will have to figure out their dimensions because they are a bit too tall.

    As well, once I have them sized I will put in abalone dots to mark where they are and I will install threaded brass inserts and set screws to mount them.

    Then I will put them aside and save them to finish with the rest of the bass when I finish it.

    here are pics of me holding one knob, and then a few things laying together for perspective.
     

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  6. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    It seems to me that most basses that I have seen that ease the body under the forearm seem to do so in a straight line.

    I'm not sure if there is conventional wisdom to support this, or if it is just customary, but I have seen a few departures from this tradition and I really liked the look so I decided to try it.

    Then I had to rub some mineral spirits on the body to stand back and appreciate it.
     

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  7. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    OK, these were more challenging than I had anticipated, but they were also excellent learning opportunities.

    Once I got them hogged out, and routed I clamped them together and sanded them so that they would be identical, but in the sanding process they heated up enough to ease the glue bond, so I will have to pull them apart and reglue them. No big deal, but an extra unanticipated step and another lesson learned.

    I am going to stare at them for a while before I commit and rout the body.
     

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  8. Jeff Mills

    Jeff Mills

    May 12, 2011
    It's a pain getting everything lined up square with the body profile cut first isn't it? Looking good - keep at it
     
  9. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Thanks, at least I have an accurate center line to work from. That will help a lot!
     
  10. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    I am in Ottawa on a buisness trip, and when I am here I usually pop into the local exotic wood store to see what they have. My goal today was to pick up some wenge and mahogany for one of my next builds, but while I was there I discovered a small stash of roasted maple so I picked up a piece with some curl to it. Not sure what I will do with it, but it is big enough to resaw into a book matched body. The real story though is that next to the roasted maple was a small pile of cherry picked bird's eye. I picked up a gorgeous piece, but it wasn't long enough for even a fret board and wasn't wide enough to book match for a body so I asked the woman that worked there if she had anything along those lines, except bigger. Welll, the piece that she came out with will be enough for most of a NT neck as well as the top coat for the body wings. She said that in the 10,000 board feet or so of bird's eye that have passed throgh her store, this was the nicest board, and now its all mine ;)
     
  11. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Here is what part of my new bird's eye looks like. Any suggestions as to what I should do with it? It is only 5.5 inches wide with rough edges so about 5 useful inches
     

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  12. gbarcus

    gbarcus Commercial User

    Jul 20, 2008
    Minneapolis & St.Paul, MN
    Owner of Barcus Basses barcusbasses.com
    That piece is gorgeous. I would make fingerboards out of it. Mainly because I have a thing for birdseye fingerboards. :)
     
  13. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    that thought has crossed my mind too, but I have promised an equisite bird's eye bass to my brother. this piece should provide front and back body pieces and outside stringers for the neck. I am hoping that I will have at least one piece left to either act as a stringer for a 'keeper' bass or a fingerboard or something!
     
  14. Stealth

    Stealth

    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    That's a cool build. Subscribed. I'm especially interested in the knob detailing.
     
  15. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    I had a few minutes this afternoon so I worked on my knobs some more.

    First I made a tool out of some scrap to use for rounding the edges. I quickly learned that while cheap sandpaper has its uses this was not one of them. I put 80 grit on one end and 220 on the other. Once I swapped out the cheapy stuff for some good stuff things worked much better.

    Once I got that done I rounded off the 3 knobs I had cut out earlier and I was very happy with the results.

    After that was done I even cut out and finished a stacked knob bottom piece just as a proof of concept. I don't need one for this build but I had the time and ambition. I was delighted with the result and all I would do differently next time is to tighten the tolerances between the inner and outer knobs by using the next smaller bit to hog out the hole for the inner knob.

    Now all I have to do is to cut them to the correct hight, install the threaded inserts and put the abalone markers in the tops.
     

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  16. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    OK, I've been messing around in my shop again tonight. I started off by building a jig to consistently cut a compound angle. I've cut half a dozen pieces of scrap wood with it and it seems to work really well.

    I do however have a compound angle kind of question. Unless I am missing something (clearly possible) when you take the cut off piece, invert it and put it into its eventual position you will have a protrusion. Unlike a normal scarf that fits nicely.

    My thinking is that for those that have followed this path before that you must add the additional step of cutting off the protrusion - if that is truly the case, any advice on aligning it so as to position the piece to be cut off on the 'neck' side of the joint or the 'head' side?

    Of course, any other thoughts would be most welcome. I really don't want to screw up my nice neck blank until I gain some more confidence.

    Of course, I could just cut a normal scarf joint and be done with it, but where is the fun in that.
     

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  17. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    I made a simple jig (I like jigs) to make sure that I could repeat the placement of the inset hole exactly, then I drilled, inserted the abalone and sanded flush.

    so far so good - inserts, cutting to size and finishing to go for that small portion of this project.
     

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  18. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    its been a while since my last post due to some business travel. Over the last couple of days I cut up a piece of rosewood that I had, and it ended up so thin it was actually easier to treat it as veneer than wood.
    IMG_0202.

    so now I have my back accent layer and back plate. I just have to clean them up, and then sand down the back of my body a bit and glue them on, but not before I cut my matched cover plate out of my back piece of maple. IMG_0203.
     
  19. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    Yay, I finally figured out which photobucket code to use :)
     
  20. mikebpeters

    mikebpeters

    Aug 29, 2011
    NS, Canada
    today I was able to clean up the back accent layer of rosewood and the back piece of flame maple so they are ready to be glued on. I just needed a few more things done first.

    I've been procrastinating my control cavity and cavity cover templates for some reason but I got them done today, so now I just have to decide whether the accent layer should go on before or after I route the control cavity.

    Any suggestions?

    IMG_0209.

    IMG_0210.

    IMG_0211.
     

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