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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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First build - Bass build

I am later today going out to the local salvage yard to pick up the wood needed to build my own bass. I have a short scale neck that I will be using, so what I am looking for is the wood for the body. Its a set neck style.

The electrics will be really simple. 1 single coil PU and 1 dual control (volume and tone in 1). That's it.

The style of the body will be a mix between an SG and Les Paul but with my own little twist into it :) The paint I am thinking is no paint. Think Warwick Thumb Basses in natural brown.

I do have a couple of questions.

What size should I go for? I am thinking something like 10" wide, and 20"-22" long (30cmx50cm). I want it slim so the thickness of the body I am thinking like 3" thick.

The place I am going today, has a lot of railroad sleepers. They are old, and cheap :). I am thinking on using that for the body. But is the wood good enough? How hard are they to use for a bass? I am thinking on routing holes and so on.

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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I am later today going out to the local salvage yard to pick up the wood needed to build my own bass. I have a short scale neck that I will be using, so what I am looking for is the wood for the body. Its a set neck style.

The electrics will be really simple. 1 single coil PU and 1 dual control (volume and tone in 1). That's it.

The style of the body will be a mix between an SG and Les Paul but with my own little twist into it :) The paint I am thinking is no paint. Think Warwick Thumb Basses in natural brown.

I do have a couple of questions.

What size should I go for? I am thinking something like 10" wide, and 20"-22" long (30cmx50cm). I want it slim so the thickness of the body I am thinking like 3" thick.

The place I am going today, has a lot of railroad sleepers. They are old, and cheap :). I am thinking on using that for the body. But is the wood good enough? How hard are they to use for a bass? I am thinking on routing holes and so on.
Your dimensions sound pretty unusual to me, 10" is pretty narrow, and 3" thick can be pretty cumbersome. I would suggest you take a look at some dimensions of the instruments you wish to emulate. A Google search for dimensions should do it.

As far as usefulness of the materials, it is difficult to say- as condition, weight, and hardness come into play. I would suggest picking through as many examples as you can to make sure you aren't getting a hunk of stone nor balsa. Weathering can play hell on wood, and affect its integrity. Unfortunately, you will be pretty much on your own in this endeavour. The upside is if you have jointing/planing capabilities you can dimension as necessary. If the material is really inexpensive, I'd buy some extra, just in case you run into issues. Most railroad wood here is pretty rough, and much of it is impregnated with creosote, which would be a deal killer for me. I don't know how things are treated in your neck of the woods. Any treated lumber is likely a poor candidate, due to potentially toxic oils, or poisonous chemicals used as preservatives. Breathing the dust and absorbing these chemicals during construction can be your undoing (permanently) and should be avoided. Saving a few bucks is not worth the dangers associated with using these materials. If it's clean (ish), solid wood- and not overly heavy or chemically treated, it is viable- but be very observant and ask pertinent questions before you commit to purchase.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great answer. I haven't even considered the chemicals at all :) I guess I figured they were untreated, to begin with. That I will have to look more into, when I get there today.

The size... I was thinking maybe the thickness was too big, but 2" is to small, right? So 2"? The 10" is because of a couple of reasons. First because the whole bass is going to be very simple. So no need to make it huge :). Second, the size of the railroad sleepers are 10"x6" and than 8 feet long. The price for a whole one is just 30-35$. So that is why I am thinking on it. :)

The ones are I thinking on are here:
http://www.macswarehouse.ie/old-timber-sleepers/
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Old March 13th, 2013, 07:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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A typical solidbody is 1-3/4" thick, and often can run 1-1/2". If untreated, you are probably fine, I'm assuming this would be tough, hard wearing timber. I have no idea of the species, but good bodies can be made from most any type of wood. Lots of bodies from one of those big pieces. ;) Maybe even a few necks if you get ambitious.. ;) Keep us posted, and don't be shy to ask questions, we are all in this mess together..
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Old March 13th, 2013, 08:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That actually makes this a lot more interesting. I was thinking on buying a piece of that sleeper since this is first try. Out of that 1 piece there would be wood for 3 bodies :) Not sure how easy it would be to slice such a sleeper, but it does make it interesting. Also not sure I can have a complete sleeper in my car, but we will see. I will see what they say today.

And yes, the reason I am looking at these is that it is over 100 years old. It is extremely hard. As far as I can tell, they mostly come in oak. I have seen a few places where they also had Rosewood, but that's about it. But yes, it is extremely hard wood to work with.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 09:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The simplicity I am going for it something like this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Walnut-Bass-...vip=true&rt=nc
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Old March 13th, 2013, 10:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That's wild. ;) Good luck!
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Old March 13th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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3 inches is way too thick for a solid body.

You probably want something under 4.5 centimeters.

The last time I played a Warwick it felt really nice, you might want to find one in a store to get the basic dimensions off of it or another production bass that you like.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Most of railroad timber is soaked in creosote/tar or Chromated Copper Arsenate

either way, they are nasty
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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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3 weeks ago, I sold my Warwick - ofcause before I got the dimensions :)

As for size. I have been looking at google, and found out that most solid body are around 1 3/4-2" thick. So that is what I am going for now :)

As for the sleepers. I am going to the salvage yard today, so we will see what I can pick up :)
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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Most of railroad timber is soaked in creosote/tar or Chromated Copper Arsenate

either way, they are nasty
At least here in the States (though some railroads have switched to concrete). Another item you may have not considered. These things are tamped in a gravel bed (by the train) all their working life. I think it's safe to say there's probably a lot of gravel driven into them.............deep. Tread with care
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Old March 13th, 2013, 01:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Stay away from creosoted lumber or even pressure treated landscaping woods. Nasty chemicals abound. Try to find some old building structural wood - England may have some nice old Maples or Pines, and they'd be a better choice for a guitar. English Walnut should also be available from a hardwood lumber yard, and is also a great wood for electric instruments. Here in TN I've found nice roadkill walnut that can be made into a neck. Free is good.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Just came back from the salvage yard. You were right. The sleepers were REALLY nasty :) Didnt want to touch those at all.

However, I did find something else. An old shelf or something from a cabinet. Painted (way old paint that is falling off). It is mahogany, and it is solid all the way through.

The size is: 47" long, 9" wide, and 2" thick. So it should do well for a project. I also got 1 piece of very bright pine, to put into the middle of it, when I glue to 2 sides together :) The only thing is, that this is heavy :) So I might need to make the body a bit on the small side just to keep the weight down. :)

I paid 30 for the whole thing - which is about 23$. Not bad I think.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I think the "sleepers" he is referring to are actual railroad cars (as in a Pullman sleeper), not the crossties under the tracks, right?

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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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No it is the railroad sleepers. The wood the track itself is build onto. That is the ones I was thinking on using :)

But I did get something better, I think :)
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Old March 13th, 2013, 03:12 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I think the "sleepers" he is referring to are actual railroad cars (as in a Pullman sleeper), not the crossties under the tracks, right?
Nope, a cultural artifact.............across the big pond, they're sleepers..............here, they're cross-ties or just ties
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Old March 13th, 2013, 03:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Nope, a cultural artifact.............across the big pond, they're sleepers..............here, they're cross-ties or just ties
Hehe that makes sense. :)
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Just had a little bit of a design brainstorm. I have a body in Denmark, that I already cut. But it is handcut, and not really up to the standard I need it to be :) Also it is in Denmark, and I am in Dublin :)

So I will make a new one with the wood I bought today. The design idea is something like this. It is just a brainstorm with no dimensions on it yet. But you get the idea.

Oh yeah, how do I find out where to put the neck compared to the bridge? It is a short scale neck, so I am not 100% sure about the measurements on that? I would like the bridge to be a lot closer to end of the body, than fx a Les Paul - where it is more like in the middle.

http://www.gratisimage.dk/image-B5A1_5140F942.jpg
http://www.gratisimage.dk/image-FC0D_5140F942.jpg
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:21 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just had a little bit of a design brainstorm. I have a body in Denmark, that I already cut. But it is handcut, and not really up to the standard I need it to be :) Also it is in Denmark, and I am in Dublin :)

So I will make a new one with the wood I bought today. The design idea is something like this. It is just a brainstorm with no dimensions on it yet. But you get the idea.

Oh yeah, how do I find out where to put the neck compared to the bridge? It is a short scale neck, so I am not 100% sure about the measurements on that? I would like the bridge to be a lot closer to end of the body, than fx a Les Paul - where it is more like in the middle.

http://www.gratisimage.dk/image-B5A1_5140F942.jpg
http://www.gratisimage.dk/image-FC0D_5140F942.jpg
Measure from the nut (on the fretboard side, where the string exits) to the top dead center of fret 12. Double that measurement to find your scale length. For example, 15" from nut to fret 12= a 30" scale. Your strings should be resting on the saddle at 30" from the nut, with the 12th fret in the center (15" from both the nut and the bridge saddles).
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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You need to determine what the scale of the neck is. The distance between the nut and the 12th fret is 1/2 the scale.

Adjust the G saddle until it is about 2/3 of its adjustment away from the tail. The distance from the 12th fret to the (above) saddle is the same as 1/2 the scale, or the same as the distance between the nut and the 12th fret.
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