Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Build #3, Thread #1: My New Thinline Bass Guitar

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freekmagnet, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I've been meaning to post a build thread here on TDPRI for a while. I like the forum here and I've been kinda lurking around waiting for the right project to post here. Originally, I was planning to start a thread about Thinline Flying V I'm planning to build. Instead I'm going to post this bass thread because I've been in recording the R&D for this piece elsewhere for over a year now. My thought was that since I'm beginning the actual bass build now and I don't know when I'm going to start the V, I'd start by posting this one.

    Anyway, here's my drawing of the bass:

    [​IMG]

    I'm building a 34" scale thinline bass. The back is mahogany with a maple cap. For now, it's dubbed Sirena S1-B-SW Rincon. The brand name, Sirena, means "mermaid" in Spanish and "Rincon" is named after a local surf spot here in Ventura County. Rincon is mentioned in The Beach Boys' Surfin' Sarfari, and is also a Spanish word - "corner". I'm a transplant here in SoCal - I'm from The Bay Area originally, and I wanted to design a bass that reflects what I've come to see and experience here as Southern California culture. Specifically, the cars, the ocean, surfing and Mexican food. I will state my disclaimer here - I don't surf and I don't speak Spanish, but my wife (henceforth, The Li'l Lady) grew up here and she surfs and speaks Spanish.

    Next, I'd like to introduce you to The Funktronic Coil Genie Mk 1:

    [​IMG]

    This is my Arduino-driven pickup winder. I started work on this back in October and I just finished it a few weeks ago. Basically, a motor spins the winding plate that triggers an optical sensor. The sensor sends a pulse to the brain, which then tells a stepper motor to advance 1 increment. The stepper drives a 20:1 gear box which then drives a 1/4 20 screw. The screw serves as as the feed guide and traverse mechanism for the pickup wire. The traverse limits are set via joystick and the stepper advances and returns. A local luthier, Bruce Johnson, helped me with the initial concept of the winder and machined a couple parts for me. I designed, fabricated and built the machine and I wrote the software as well. There's still a few quirks I have to work out, but so far, I've wound 3 or 4 really nice coils with it.

    I started with winding pickups out my frustration with the lack of options for bass pickups. Everything out there is either a P, a J or a Stingray pickup. Everything else is housed in a really boring black plastic pickup cover. I wanted something different. I bought Lollar's book about a year ago and wound a few pickups, but I quickly grew impatient with its limitations and built this one.

    Last week, I built this prototype with coils from my new winder:

    [​IMG]

    It's a neodymium sidewinder. I really like how it sounds. I have it installed on my test bass right now, and I'm playing it through a DIY Stingray preamp I built. I have the pickup installed in the bridge position, and on its own, it's not putting out enough low end to be a viable passive rig. It sounds like a pretty ballsy bridge pickup. I'm going to add some more winds and see what happens, but I'm not ruling out making this an active bass. It sounds really good with that preamp...

    I'll be posting progress with this part of the project.

    Yesterday, I got started making templates.

    I picked up these templates from Kinko's a few days ago. The Li'l Lady hipped me to this trick - Kinko's usually has a large format B+W plotter in their facilities. You have them print out a full scale template for pretty cheap. These came out to about $10.

    [​IMG]

    Next, I cut them out and spray mounted them to the MDF sheets with Super 77.

    [​IMG]

    I cut the forms out with a jigsaw.

    [​IMG]

    Here's where the fun starts; I drilled the registration holes. My drill press is pretty small, so I drilled the body first and used that as a drill guide for the inside template. It doesn't matter too much if the printed templates match as long as the registration is on. I'm using 1/4" dowel pins to register the two templates.

    [​IMG]

    After drilling the registration holes, I used my handy-dandy new el-cheapo OSS that I picked up at HF to shape the templates. Worked like a charm!

    [​IMG]

    Then I sanded the paper off and here's the roughly shaped templates!

    [​IMG]

    Now because I had the registration holes already drilled, I was quickly able to determine that I came in on the upper waist of the inside template a little hot and lower waist a little proud. I cut and glued a 1/8" fillet of MDF and glued it to the side. I'll feather the fillet in an sand the high edge a little. I want the walls to be pretty uniform. I may also make some sub-templates to make a little steppy-part for the tummy cut if I decide to do so.

    I didn't make the top template these two took a little longer than I thought they would, and there's a couple small esthetic and technical decisions that I'll have to make before I commit to making the top template.

    Anyway, I hope this brings you all up to speed. I look forward to posting more about this project.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017

  2. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    This was fun...

    [​IMG]

    I need to make keeper bars for the neodymium magnets. Neos are an unruly PITA. They fly all over the place and I have heard that they can repel each other within the pickup enough to unseat them and make a huge mess of things if they are not well secured. I don't doubt it; on my first iteration, I tried securing them within the flatwork - not unlike say, a Fender pickup. Needless to say, that didn't go too well and it's a miracle that I was able to get a functioning prototype.

    I'm going to cast the keepers out of polyurethane resin. This aluminum piece is the original. I couldn't think of a way to make an original that would withstand these tolerances without falling apart. I tried making pieces from wood, but they failed. Maple might of worked, but casting from wooden parts seems to leave a lot of air bubbles in the silicone molding compound.

    I drilled the holes with my drill press and then carved the shape largely by hand out of a piece of 6061 using a flat bastard file. Not too bad! I'll hit it with sandpaper before I make the mold.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017

  3. adamkoop

    adamkoop Tele-Meister

    160
    Feb 18, 2016
    Halifax
    I'm a sucker for thinlines, and this looks like it'll be pretty slick when it's done.
     
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  4. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    So much goin on here!

    That winder--too awesome! My first winds were done with a cordless drill clamped to my bench, a dollar store pedometer and a leaf switch pulled out of a closet light...

    The design looks very cool and plenty SoCal.

    Neos are SCARY. I have a pair of 1"dia. 1" long neos for charging polepieces--total overkill, and I know they could break my finger if I ever space out while handling 'em...

    Those keeper holes look like they're for some mighty big neo magnets. Neos are SO much stronger than alnico or ceramics; do you need that much pull?

    Looking forward to seeing this develop!
     
    Freekmagnet likes this.

  5. jman72

    jman72 Tele-Holic

    688
    Aug 31, 2013
    Central Florida
    Very cool! I'm definitely watching this one progress.
     
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  6. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Thanks you all for commenting!

    There is a lot going on - did I mention I'm about a year or more into this project? I'm sort of bringing you guys in a little late I guess. :/

    Actually, the neos I'll be using are quite small. They're 1/4" x 1/4" slugs. The keeper looks a lot bigger in the picture. I might have been able to go smaller, but lining up the strings to the poles or making a smaller bobbin would be a little more of a challenge than I want to take on right now. This will be my first neo pickup, and I am intrigued by them mainly because there are a lot more options in terms of shapes and sizes available when compared to say, Alnico or ceramic. Because the neos are so strong, I can use small magnets that can do the job of a larger A5 or C8. BTW, the small neos aren't all that terrifying - they're more like petulant children.

    I'll be posting some photos of the casting process tonight or tomorrow. I made one mold last night, but I had air bubble that ruined it. I'm trying to decide if I should keep moving or make another.

    Yeah, I kinda went overboard with that winder...
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
    Jupiter likes this.

  7. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Onward...

    After sanding my original to 600 grit, I hot-glued a little box out of Foamcor™ and placed the piece inside. I use Foamcor 'cuz it's cheap and fast.

    [​IMG]

    For mold making, I've been using this silicone molding compound made by Smooth-On. Usually, it's really good stuff, but it seems that this batch is way more viscous than batches I've used previously. I was having a hard time with air bubbles, so I had to take some extra precautions. I used an acid brush to apply the compound directly to the original.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the mold. I poured it and let it sit overnight.

    [​IMG]

    And ¡Voila! Here's the finished mold. Despite my efforts, I had a little air bubble inside one of the holes. I decided to let it go - I can just drill it out, and frankly I don't think I'm going to get any better with this disappointing silicone compound.

    [​IMG]

    Now here I am actually casting the part. I'm using polyurethane casting resin. It's pretty user-friendly as long as you're aware of certain things:

    It's very reactive. Don't worry - it won't explode or anything, but if it gets contaminated, you'll ruin your cast. A tiny bit of moisture will cause the poly to froth violently and you'll end up with a big bubbly mess of plastic. Cleanliness is really important. I found a local surfboard making place in town and I bought a bunch of these little inert mixing cups. They were like $5 for 100.

    The working time is 2 minutes and you have to stir everything very thoroughly. You gotta work fast! Stir the two compounds separately before stirring the two together. Make sure you get the stuff on the sides of your mixing container. Imagine - stir-stir-stir-stir-stir-stir-stir-stir-stir-stir...then POUR!

    If it gets on your clothes or your skin, it ain't coming off or out. Wear gloves. It'll stain your skin and it won't come off for a few days. Anything it sticks to, you'll have to scrape off with a razor blade.

    Anyway, I mixed up way too much here. Part of the finesse is getting the quantity right. Demolding time is 15 min.

    [​IMG]

    And here we go! A pretty solid little magnet keeper! I'm going to let these harden overnight, although if I wanted to push it I could work them right away. I'll cut the flashing off and then sand down it to size. I deliberately made the original a hair tall so I could adjust to the perfect height or use the same keeper for a slightly taller magnet if need be.

    [​IMG]

    Next stop - flanges and a complete bobbin!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017

  8. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I'd be really proud of that!
     
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  9. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    Looking good!!
     
    Freekmagnet likes this.

  10. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    [​IMG]

    OK, with considerable effort, I managed to get these assembled.

    I learned a few things today:

    1) The polyurethane keepers rock.

    2) Garolite is almost as useless as Forbon - maybe even worse. I know this is a Telecaster forum, bit I hate Forbon. Cutting it sucks, it's expensive and there's really no reason for pickup makers to suffer so much. Next time, I'm going to try and use this 1/32" aircraft grade birch plywood I have. I was worried about it warping over time, but I'm going to encapsulate these pickups in epoxy so I probably shouldn't worry about it.

    So the easiest stuff I've used is circuit board material. Maybe I need to find a source for that stuff without the copper plating.

    3) MDF drilling templates are only good for a few runs. I need to make an aluminum one, and find a flange material that's easier to drill.

    4) The neos are a pain no matter what, but the best strategy I could come up with is using pieces of steel to hold the magnets in place. Once you get the flanges around the slugs, turn the bobbin on it's side and squirt a ton of CA glue where ever it looks like it needs it. The main thing is that the bobbins are somewhat uniform and it looks like all the magnets will come in secure contact with the steel pole pieces.

    I'm going to sand the edges and the corners of the flanges some more. Although I'm eager to hear how the next wind count is going to sound, I'll prolly wait until next week to do the wind. If I have time to work on my bass over the weekend, I'd like to make some more headway on the body templates.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017

  11. Pisgah

    Pisgah Tele-Meister

    365
    Aug 29, 2014
    Gulf Coast
    Fun thread. Arduinos are cool. Casting is cool. Shop pics would be nice.
     
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  12. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Tele-Afflicted

    this is going to be a cool build!
     
    Freekmagnet likes this.

  13. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I felt that I should oblige @Pisgah and post a shop pic along with this forewarning: Be prepared to be underwhelmed. I do pretty much all my work on this little bench using a drill press, a router, a hand-held jigsaw, a flat bastard file, scissors and tape. Anything that involves spraying or creating dust I do outdoors in my backyard, which is overgrown from the record rainfall in SoCal this year. It occurred to me this morning that this indeed is my little corner - mi rinconsito.

    I'm thinking about getting an X-Carve setup to put adjacent to my desk. On of my employers is trying to bribe me into staying on with an offer to cover the cost of purchase. We'll see. I really need something to cut accurate shapes. If I do get one, I'll need to get serious about dust collection since I have to share the garage with my family. However, the li'l Lady seems to like the idea of have a CNC machine around. I'd also have to consider space. Realistically, I really only have room for the 500mm, but if I'm going to have a CNC mill, I should prolly have the 1000. That would leave the 750. Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.

    [​IMG]

    I ran the winder today and got a couple of coils. I have a little bug in the software I gotta fix, and if I go with the bigger wind count, I'm going to have to refine my bobbin design a bit. The tolerances on these smaller coils are intense. One of them was about 1/64" taller than the other, and I managed to fit enough wire on it. The other... well... these are prototypes.

    [​IMG]

    As an added bonus, I've included a video of the Funktronic Coil Genie Mark I in action...



    Next stop, potting with epoxy!
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017

  14. metecem

    metecem Friend of Leo's

    Nice to read all this.

    Smart guy at work.
     
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  15. sergiomajluf

    sergiomajluf Tele-Meister

    311
    Sep 26, 2015
    Santiago, Chile
    Love the plastic screw guiding the wire! Go Arduino fans!
     
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  16. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    OK, so today I potted the pickups. This is a method that I picked up (no pun intended) from Bruce Johnson. In some circles, it seems to be considered a fairly controversial technique. I've been doing this for the last year, and it seems to work for me, and somehow, I just didn't like the idea of heating up flammable paraffin and wax on a stove. Besides, I don't have room for a rice cooker/wax pot in my shop... so here goes.

    Basically, I just dab the coils using an acid brush with this Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. It's basically epoxy thinned with a ton of acetone.

    [​IMG]

    It works great and it really penetrates the coil. It takes about 2-3 days to dry, however, I recently harvested some magnets from a previous wind that I did several months ago and the coils had become rock hard. The pickups still worked, of course. The idea is that the final pickup will be encapsulated in epoxy, so it makes sense to pot them with epoxy as well. Think of it as creating a cocoon-like epoxy universe.

    Usually, it's a pretty painless process, but as I pointed out earlier, one of the bobbins was too small to hold all of the wire. It was a pretty nerve wracking process, but I managed to tuck the wires in enough to keep them protected within the bobbin. I tested it an I still had resistance, so that was good. These coils were pretty much made to see how much wire I could actually wrap around these bobbins. They just need to last long enough for me to get them into the test bass and see what my output is like. From there I can decide if I can either reduce the wind by a few hundred counts or make the bobbin a tiny bit bigger.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a picture of a little stand I made to hold the coils while I brush them with CPES.

    [​IMG]

    I don't usually have the wires loose like this; I like to make little solder terminals for the thread. I've never designed a sidewinder before and I've never made a mini sidewinder at that. There's a lot of space constraints, and I haven't figured out the best way to add terminals to bobbins yet. Before I finalize the wind, I'll have it figured out.

    A few thoughts on using Garolite as flange material: Cutting it was really hard. Because I could cut it with a mat knife, I'd say it was slightly more agreeable than my arch nemesis, Forbon. However, Garolite has a tendency to chip, which sucks. It was really difficult to get a nice clean cut. As far as stiffness, it passed with flying colors. I had no problem with flaring despite the fact it was a mere .03" thick. It played well with CA glue. It's chemical resistance was good as well. I'd say my feelings are mixed at best.

    I did a few winds a while back and made my bobbin flanges using drafting vellum dipped in Krazy Glue. Vellum is thinner still and it's almost stiff enough - but not quite. If I'm not careful, the vellum will flare. Handling the finished coil with the neos will likely give the vellum a pretty good beating. But I really could use the roughly 1/64" of extra space - that may be enough for my wind count to work. I may try a wind or two.

    Next stop, I'll just solder the pigtails, tape the coils, cut the steel pole plates, pop the pickup together and drop it into the test bass.

    In the meantime, I think I'll take a look at my templates and get working on that belly cut sub-template.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
    hfw01 likes this.

  17. Barncaster

    Barncaster Poster Extraordinaire


  18. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Cool, I'm glad this thread is making people happy. This pickup project has been going on for a long time! Designing a pickup from the ground up is a pretty involved process.

    I've built a number of designs - mainly C8 and A8 humbuckers - but none of them really did it for me. One day about 3 weeks ago, I was riding my bike home and I had this vision of a neodymium sidewinder. Seeing how there's not a lot of info about neos out there, even less about sidewinders and virtually nothing about neo sidewinders, I didn't know what to do expect. (I've actually read one description of neodymium pickups that described them as being "explosive". So far, I haven't heard any explosions.) So I wound one up and I liked it. Just a few tweaks in the design and I'll be done.

    I'm pretty excited to get on with the rest of the bass as well. I've budget template making vs pickup making time, so hopefully I will have the templates all cut out by Friday and have this last wind loaded into the test bass by Thursday.
     

  19. Barncaster

    Barncaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Hey FM,
    For a very interesting take on neodymium usage in pickups, go read some of Deneb's posts. Fascinating stuff and he is a great fabricator. He used neo mags in some blade Strat pups recently and they sound wonderful.
    Rob
     
    Freekmagnet likes this.

  20. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet TDPRI Member

    96
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Cool - thanks for that tip! I'll look him up for sure. I'm pretty pleased with the neo loaded pickup I made. For the first run, it sounded pretty dang good!
     

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