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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Basically a Bass thread here.

Iím in various stages of 3 different bass builds in case anyone is interested in following along. Two of them are going to follow this concept drawing except not that headstock. Chris (TDPRIír Anyone) is helping me come up with a cool headstock design, cuz his headstocks are the epitome of cool.



One of them will be a 5-string P-bass style build, Iíll get to that in a minute.
Back in 2011 I made this template for the Jaguar shaped bass body and started building one out of cherry.



Itís fairly heavy but the sound characteristics should be epic and itís the nicest wood Iíve ever worked with hands down. Unfortunately I was lousy with the pictures on this first one, but here it is after I applied some black trans-tint. It has tummy and forearm cuts and controls from the rear.







The neck for the black one I purchased for about $25 from a Chinese vendor. It was reasonably straight but the fretwork was lousy and the nut broke in shipping.



I pulled all the frets, radiused the fretboard, refretted it and shaped the headstock. It looked like this after all that work.



Iím just noticing I havenít made a new nut for it at this point.

With that done it was time for the color and clear coats. I didnít like the trans-tint stain because it wasnít black enough, sorta purple on the cherry so I went with a solid black lacquer coat and here it is with a coat of clear on it.





Since this was cherry and seemed too heavy, at some point I decided to go with a swimming pool style route for the pups. It relieved a lot of weight.

All of this work was done in 2011. Fast forward to today and hereís where the black one gets interesting. I recalled it only had one coat of clear on it. So I grabbed a can of Behlinís lacquer and laid another coat on. It reminded me of Moses parting the sea as the previous clear coat bubbled, fish eyed and went ballistic. Apparently I was using Dupli-color Acrylic lacquer in 2011, it didnít play well with the Behlinís nitro lacquerÖat all. So here it is today on the bench ready for a redo.



Looks like I lacquered the neck at some point. Now we are all caught up on the black one.

The next one is the same design but made out of Ash. A lot lighter and should still sound great me thinks. It currently looks like this.





Iím not ordering anymore Chinese necks so here it is with the neck roughed out. Itís a real nice flamey piece of maple I found at Home Depot.



Lastly we have the P-Bass build coming along. Hereís a photo summary.











Trying to decide which side was the back.








Ready to route the perimeter





I believe that sums up my bass building from 2011 to 2013. Time to move forward and get them all done. Iíll do a better job documenting from here on outÖprobably.

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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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And as usual Barncaster is winding pups for all 3 of these so hopefully he will pop in here at some point and show us all how that goes.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 12:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great basses, James. I've always had a soft spot for Jag-style bodies, they hang comfortably on my carcass. Or I should say, they used to before I discovered beer. Anyway, I still like the way they look. You've got some really nice looking body blanks going there, I even liked the Chinese fretboard, too bad it didn't work out as well as it might have.

I'm thinking bass pups are going to need smaller gauge wire--like 43-44 gauge, and a whole bunch of winds, to take advantage of natural capacitive roll off of higher frequencies, and emphasize the lower range. Just me thinking out loud. Could be wrong.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 01:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Lastly we have the P-Bass build coming along. Hereís a photo summary.

I'm pretty sure that's a Jazz bass.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 02:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm pretty sure that's a Jazz bass.
Yup!
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Old March 14th, 2013, 02:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Right that's what I meant - Jazz bass . What do I know though, I only play bass about 4 times a year when one of our bass players isn't available. Anyway I will likely continue to call it a P-Bass because it's sort of habit now .
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Old March 14th, 2013, 04:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey Rick,

Am still in research phase on the pups. Ill start a winding thread probably the week if the 26th. Already have all the mags and flatwork. Also have plenty of 43 AWG. While at my music lesson the other night that had a little used Squire Bronco bass for next to nothing. It may become a mule. ;-)

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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a really old piece of hickory that will make a nice fretboard for one of these necks.



Looks a little rough but I think there is a nice looking fret board in there somewhere.



Ripped it on the table saw and planed it down and sure enough it looks real nice.







Trimmed and ready for fret slots





I don't have a fret slot template for a Jazz bass...yet. So I decided to make one since I have a few of these to do.

Start with a piece of maple and rip it down to fit nicely in my fret slot box and mark the centerline.





My fret slot box has a razor blade sticking up in the middle which is aligned with the guides for the saw, really simple little jig that works great.

Align the plan with the centerline and attach it to the maple with spray adhesive.



In this case I'm making a master template not slotting a fret board. So I put spacers under the maple board to raise it above the razor blade and carefully cut each slot on the line...like this



Eventually you have a master template





I transfer the marks to the front just to help line things up when I put the fretboard on the template.



Attach the fret board to the template.



The slots I cut in the template are on the bottom of this setup. I simply slide the template onto the razor blade and saw my fret slot in the fretboard. Turns out like this.





I've noticed that it's hard to get the entire 35" neck in the picture, these bass necks are loooonnngggg!
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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Turning my attention towards the big blank paddle headstock next.

I have a shape I like for the 4-string Jagster Bass, but it's a little too small. So I traced it onto the paddle and then did what I could to make it bigger.



Bandsawed



Shaped on the ROSS and by hand a little



Here's a quick mock-up





Next was time to make a template for the neck pocket. The first Jagster Bass had a curved heel on the neck so that template won't work for this one. Here's the new template.



Which produced this result



Apparently I routed the neck pup cavity during all that. I think this picture was taken before I finished the pocket to full depth, looks a bit shallow there.

So the new mockup looks like this now



And with the pickguard template laying on it



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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Next was to glue up the book matched top for the walnut Jazz Bass.





You can't tell in these pics but that top has some ridiculous water ripple type flame in it. It almost glows in the right light, should make a killer top.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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While that dried I made a pile of this on the floor



Which was from giving the Jazz Bass a little lipo-suction treatment

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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The headstock reflects the body shape and that is a good thing.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Always love the build, James! Just a question, how do you sand your radius? I'm thinking of making my own fretboard for my Tele and it seems like a radius sanding block would be easiest..
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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:34 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Always love the build, James! Just a question, how do you sand your radius? I'm thinking of making my own fretboard for my Tele and it seems like a radius sanding block would be easiest..
Thanks B, love that Firebird.

I have radius sanding blocks from Stewmac, and I also made a radius jig to do it with a router. My router jig only has a 9.5" radius though so I need to make a few more radius pieces for it. May just do the stewmac radius block for these...dunno yet. Actually I'm just thinking my router jig may not be long enough to do these, darn the bad luck. Guess I need to re-think my router jig.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 11:43 PM   #15 (permalink)
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It's funny, I've never quite seen that pickup layout. Mostly I see a PJ, with the Pbass pup in mid (like a Pbass) and a Jbass pup in the bridge position (like a Jbass) but no neck pup. I usually associate bass neck pups with Gibsons (rightly or wrongly). What is the thought process on that? Also, that one with big headstock, what is the fretscale? This summer I'll likely build my first bass too (a rather unusual short-scale.........30") and would like to pick your brain on these questions. On the flip side, I'm helping my son build his "dream bass", a huge mother with a 36" long-scale for D-standard tuning. Basses being somewhat of a different animal, I'd kinda like to know a few more whys than usual. Sorry for being such a pest................they are gorgeous
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:04 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Right you typically see them like this



But I don't like the look of that at all, add to it the fact that the P Bass with that pup in that spot has served some amazing players very well over the years made me want to keep it there. Sonically it's up to Rob to make that configuration sound amazing right?

These are all going to be 34" scale length. Many of the choices were not made by me, but I think all 3 of these are going to be killer basses with very different configurations. The walnut one will be a 5 stringer with active Jazz Bass pups. I've only seen Bartollini's make 5-string Jazz Bass pups so Rob will need to forge some little explored terrain in that department.

I don't think I've answered your questions very well Dave...maybe I'll try again tomorrow after some rest .
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Old March 21st, 2013, 01:06 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Muzikp, what's the fourth knob where the output jack usually is? Most of the j-basses with a P middle pickup I've seen retain the stock vol-vol-tone control layout.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:13 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I don't think I've answered your questions very well Dave...maybe I'll try again tomorrow after some rest .
, that's ok James. It probably wouldn't help much with the short-scale as it will only have a Pbass pup but I had thought of adding a strat pup at bridge postition. It's whole purpose is as a practice instrument, with a built in headphone amp so I could play it watching TV (I love the bass in those NBC intros ). To the end of being comfortable setting in a chair/recliner, I'm patterning it after the Russian tele (seemed appropriate) guitar, the Tonika






Kinda funny, a 30" scale fits on the guitar version. They made a bass version but it's two zipcodes long . BTW, it's universally agreed they were lousy. Just made me want to build one
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:42 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Thanks B, love that Firebird.

I have radius sanding blocks from Stewmac, and I also made a radius jig to do it with a router. My router jig only has a 9.5" radius though so I need to make a few more radius pieces for it. May just do the stewmac radius block for these...dunno yet. Actually I'm just thinking my router jig may not be long enough to do these, darn the bad luck. Guess I need to re-think my router jig.
I made a router jig, but unless you have it setup in a dedicate position all the time, its easier to just use the sanding blocks. If I were making 3 or more necks at a time, I would setup the jib. If not, I can do them by hand quicker than setting up the jig.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:50 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm patterning it after the Russian tele (seemed appropriate) guitar, the Tonika




BTW, it's universally agreed they were lousy.
The Tonika eh? I had to really stop and stare at that thing - I'm still not sure what the heck is going on there . Maybe they should have had Tonka design it - it would at least look a little less offensive . Judging only by the picture I'm ok with being lumped into that universal agreement .
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