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

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

  1. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    So far, I’m liking the Minwax Oil-Modified Water Based Polyurethane. It’s pretty much everything Mr. Bruce said - you can use it right out of the can, sprays on really smooth, sands easily, it’s tough and it looks great. I’d say it’s the best that I’ve tried thus far. If it weren’t for the amber tint, I’d say it would win hands down. Here it is after 4 coats.

    [​IMG]

    Because of the tint, Minwax would probably be best over natural wood as opposed to solid colors.

    Thanks for all your input guys!

    I decided what I’m going to do is mask off the binding and leave it white. I’m not sure how I’m going to address the seam yet - I want the back to be glossy so I’ll probably put at least 8 - 10 coats. Then I’ll re-mask and hit the front and the binding with a few more coats of ProFinisher.

    I could pull the tape off the binding maybe halfway so it’ll get maybe 5 coats of Minwax. That would take the lip down a little bit and not darken the binding much. The body is pretty smooth, and I probably won’t have to do a ton of level sanding - besides, I’ve gotten really good at sanding the body and binding separately.

    Then I have to address the issue with the Minwax being more glossy than the ProFinisher. I may have to give the finished bass a coat of some third product to give it a clear coat.
     

  2. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    [​IMG]

    Here’s my painted body. I have to touch up a couple spots on the binding with Minwax, but that’s it. I’ll do my touch up with a small brush. Then I move on to sanding. One or two spots I’m really not happy about, but overall I’m happy enough with it. It’s definitely better than the last finish.

    A few takeaways:

    1) I either need to find a “do-it-all” clear coat that I won’t screw up or learn to make peace with ProFinisher. I really like the Minwax, but the amber tint doesn’t work for everything. I’m making it work, but splitting the finish is for the birds.

    2) The dyed poplar looks great. The natural greenish poplar color is not an issue, but black streaks can be a problem. If you’re diligent about your wood selection, dyeing is a viable option that’s not difficult to execute if you’re looking to experiment. I had a few technical issues along the way that kept it from being “perfect”, but overall I’m happy with it.

    3) I have mixed feelings about ABS binding. Not so much with looks (which I like) or installation (which is easy), but with finishing. Finishing it is weird because the ABS is plastic and it sands a little differently than wood. Aside from faux binding or bent wood binding, I can’t think of any other options. Both of those solutions come with their own caveats. I imagine bent holly would look pretty bomb, but steam bending would be a lot more labor intensive.

    The other thing is that 1/16” thick binding didn’t give me much wiggle room. For instance, I had more tooling marks on the outside curves of the body which required more sanding which in turn thinned the binding in a few spots. I suppose I could use thicker binding. Or maybe I’ll just get better at doing it.

    On a binding side note, I have a luthier buddy in Santa Paula who makes a lot of Mexican stringed instruments, all of which have some pretty far out binding that he makes himself. He said he’d show me how to do it sometime, so maybe I’ll have to make a trip down to his shop. I’m kinda picturing that crazy black and white checkered binding you’d see on a guitarrón.

    4) I’m liking the General Finishes Milk Paint. Great colors. LOTS of pigment for really solid coverage. It’s pretty tough on its own. However, it is matte so that’s something to consider. I sprayed on a pretty hot day, so I didn’t get a lot of flow. I probably should have level sanded my color coat. There’s a couple little spots that could have looked better.

    5) Masking the cavities from the inside before gluing the top to the back is the only way to go. There’s a little more cleanup, but it’s super easy cleanup.

    That’s it for today!
     
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  3. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    41
    368
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    Looking great!! Can’t wait to see her finished
     
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  4. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    That looks fantastic!!
     
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  5. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I spent the day sanding and polishing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Came out OK. There’s a couple spots around the bridge I don’t like, and there’s some scratches if you look at it just right you can see. Other than that, I think I’m done.

    Earlier in the week, I’d noticed a few bad dark spots in the blue. I sanded it back a little and gave it a few coats of blue followed by 12 coats of clear. The spotting problem persisted throughout, but I managed to minimize it by adding more ProFinisher over the dark spots. I think that the issue is that the ProFinisher lightens the color somewhat, and working with the light blue, any small spots where there’s more or less clear is really noticeable. For now, it looks like a killer guitar, so I’m done.

    I also spent the afternoon trying to etch this PCB. I hadn’t made a PCB in years, so I fuddled through it as best I could.

    [​IMG]

    It’s an onboard preamp designed by Albert Kreuzer. I downloaded the plans from his website. It looks pretty cool - it’s a buffered JFET pre with a BigMuff tone stack modified for bass. I’m going to build it and try it out. I like the MM pre, but if I can find one that sounds good with just two knobs instead of three, that’d be really cool.

    As far as my pickup, I’m really liking the Ceramic 8 version I built a few weeks ago - more than I like the Neo version I built. The only problem with the C8 version is that I have to fabricate a special magnet myself - which is a real PITA. I priced some prefabricated from Apex Magnets (I think) and they were asking $4 ea for a qty of 50. That’s not bad price-wise. The ones I gotta cut myself are about $3 and some change from Mojotone. But, I gotta buy 50. So that’s that dilemma.

    Anyway, I have some more cleanup on the body, and this I’m going to work on my neck a little bit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018

  6. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

    930
    Dec 23, 2014
    Burbank, CA
    I have quite a bit of experience with molding and casting materials. I can give you some pointers on material selection and techniques if you like. Also, I'm in Burbank.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  7. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    41
    368
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    This looks awesome!
    Love the shine you got on it!
    I wouldn’t worry about minor imperfections in the finish, most people will be blown away by how it looks and, I’m sure, how it sounds!
     
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  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Burbank? Far out - by SoCal standards, we’re practically neighbors!

    I may hit you up for some pointers sometime. I’m on guitar-building mode right now, so I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Although, I heard there’s a Smooth-On dealer in Burbank. Do you know anything about that?

    Thanks! I’m kinda banking on people being blown away enough by its awesomeness that they don’t notice my tiny failures!

    Part of me is subconsciously building a case against ProFinisher. A lot of guys seem to like it and get great results. I, on the other hand, struggled with it. The Minwax worked great, but it’s amber - which is good for some things, but not all things.

    That being said, ProFinisher also has some great qualities that I can’t really argue with.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  9. mPacT

    mPacT Tele-Holic

    930
    Dec 23, 2014
    Burbank, CA
     
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  10. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Wow, a urethane that takes polish? Cool! Thx for the tip. I’ll check that out for sure.
     

  11. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I’ve been making another neck over the week.

    [​IMG]

    I had that black neck I made, but I decided that I didn’t like the solid black with the two-tone body. I figured since I had that extra fretboard and some maole left over, I might as well just make another. I use that black one on another bass.

    I put oversized 3/8” aluminum fret markers on this one and I’m really digging the look. Next time, I want to space the 12th fret markers closer together.

    At some point, I want to experiment with aluminum block inlays, but that’s for another project. I spent an evening trying to chisel little squares into a piece of scrap. It’s not super difficult, but it will take some practice on my part before I consider doing it on an actual fretboard. And then there’s the process of making all those aluminum squares...
     
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  12. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    41
    368
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    That, sir, is a mighty fine looking neck!!
     
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  13. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Now in regards to another aspect of this build, I’ve found myself still tinkering around with this last night...

    [​IMG]

    I set up my breadboard in an old stomp box enclosure I had laying around and populated the board with a opamp booster circuit I pulled off of Jack Orman’s site. It’s feeding a modded Big Muff Pi tone stack I took from the Kreuzer preamp.

    I was really hoping that I would lose interest in this - I don’t know jack about circuits and electronics and I really have no business trying to design an onboard preamp. The only problem is, so far it sounds really good! I actually like it more than I like the MM pre I’ve been using. I gotta bring the gain down a little bit, pick the right sized input cap and get the LPF part of the tone stack to attenuate more highs, but that’s it, really. I should probably stick a buffer in there somewhere as well.

    I should probably start a “help an idiot design his preamp” thread in the electronics section or on DIYstompboxes. Ultimately the most major concern I’m having is battery life. I’m using a TL072 opamp and I really have no idea if I should be using something else for this application. I also made a JFET version a few days ago that had a nice warm vibe to it, but I was getting too much distortion and not enough gain - I don’t know enough to know if there’s a way to get that warmer vibe without the distortion but with more bump.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  14. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    22
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    When ever I design using transistors I always put a trim pot in place of a drain resistor so I can bias the transistor to 4.5 on the gate so you can get max gain with minimum distortion. Someone else might have to give advice on what transistor to use to give some gain without hitting the rails.
     

  15. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Cool, thx - I’ll give that a try!

    I’m digging the opamp version for now, but now that I’ve got this circuit kinda up and running, I’m thinking I may revisit the JFET version. It seems like the JFETs are more touchy than the opamps, but their sound is more “round”.
     

  16. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    22
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    Also regarding buffers, an opamp is fine if you are using a non-inverting amp configuration but since you like the warm vibe in a way a low pass filter won't an inverting opamp allows you to change the input impedance of the buffer. A lower value can give you a warmer tone. If you have the parts it might be worth trying this configuration, VR3 value doesn't matter I put 250k because it's a common guitar pot value, you can change C1 and C2 to taste (I have no idea what's ideal for bass guitar) and adjust R2 for gain.

    inverting-amp.png

    Sometimes a crappy input impedance can sound good. I designed a dirt pedal and loved it a lot but it had a low output so I fixed that issue while also modifying the input amp (and the impedance as a side effect). I was convinced it was the boost after the effect that screwed with the eq but it turned out to be the input impedance.
     
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  17. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Wow, cool. Thx! I’ll check that out.

    I’m still in the dark about inverting and non-inverting opamps and what the advantages are to both. I’ll have to research that a bit more. Like I said, I really shouldn’t be trusted with a soldering iron!
     
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  18. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Meister

    Age:
    41
    368
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    That neck looks great finished... can we get some nice full body shots of the guitar please??

    Also the onboard preamp is a great idea... and thanks largely to this forum I’m actually able to read the schematic and understand some of the words and concepts flying around

    I’m interested in how the preamp sounds at different stages of the design...

    I’m building a DIY hybrid amp (with very little pre-existing electronics knowledge) so all of this is my current learning curve...
     
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  19. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    22
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    A non-inverting opamp has a high input impedance (good for ideal buffers) but can't have a gain of less than 1. An inverting opamp has an input impedance equal to R1 (in the schematic) so it can be on the low side which will round off the highs, they also use fewer components, in most cases you just need an opamp and two resistors to add a gain stage to any design. Inverting op amps can also have a gain of less than 1.
     
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  20. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    215
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I’ll post some shots of the whole guitar as I draw nearer to getting it together. I’ve been really focused on completing one small bit at a time. Tuesday was fretboard night, and yesterday and today are neck carving nights. With any luck, I’ll be thinking about spraying the neck with some clear coats this weekend, so you’ll be seeing the whole guitar next week possibly.

    Sorry to keep you in so much suspense!

    Good luck with building your amp! Sounds like a fun project.

    I’ll prolly post a preamp sample as I get closer to finishing it - I have really small windows of time, and sitting for an iPhone vid takes a big bite out of that time. I’m still uncertain about designing my own preamp, but I do know that so far I like the results more than I like the Musicman preamp I’m currently using. My pre really opened up the sound.

    And the preamp idea is really out of necessity. Because I have the pickup so close to the bridge, I’m really relying on the preamp to attenuate the bass and bring out enough low end to support a full band.
     
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