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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

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

    Yesterday, I cut the neck shape out of the blank. I used a coping saw. It took about an hour. After I routed it out, I pulled the maple/mahogany body out of storage.

    [​IMG]

    Next, I routed the neck pocket and did a dry run by joining the neck to the body. I didn’t hit any snags and the whole operation went pretty smoothly.

    [​IMG]

    I did make a change to the neck - I took the width down to 1.53125” at the nut. The previous neck was roughly 1.625”. Usually, I like a P-width nut, but I narrowed it down to a J size mostly for esthetic reasons. The first bass didn’t play the way it looked - I don’t know if that makes sense - so I wanted to give the new neck a faster, slimmer profile.

    I also bought an Indian Rosewood FB from LMI. I felt a little bad cuz of CITIES and all, but the LMI site is pretty emphatic about their Rosewood being legit. I just wanted a darker board. The Rocklite or Richlite are out of my budget for now. In my dreams, I’d be using only domestic US woods, but until I get my own fret cutting rig, I’m limited to whatever pre-cut boards I can get. Maple is great, and I think my next bass will have a maple FB, but only building blond necks would get pretty boring.

    Anyway, I finally managed to get the rear counter-bores on the back to work without any problems. On previous builds, I had problems with the 15mm brad point wandering and ripping big chunks out of the back. I realized, it was due to my drilling the smaller screw hole first. This time, I pre-drilled with a 5/64” bit. The smaller bit may have wandered, but I can’t tell just looking at it, and the counter-bores look good, so I’m good.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, that’s it for today. I’m going to glue the FB on tomorrow night and cut it out Wednesday. I have to order some parts tonight.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  2. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    41
    504
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    Ah I see! Very nice work
    I guess you name would have been MagnetFreek if it was just about pickups

    I like that you’ve got a few references to the Greek Gods...

    and the Minotaur/Labyrinth...

    I live not far from the basis of that myth, Knossos, the largest palace of the Minoan empire... in fact the bus I’m on is going past it in a few minutes...

    As for next project colours... I’m voting for Orange... even with the white guard to be honest...

    Although I want to do a red 335 myself... so a combo of your two inspiration pictures...
     
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  3. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    OK I have a question for you super awesome luthiers out there.

    I glued the FB down last night: I had it pre-radiused and pre-slotted at LMI. I always ask for 1/4” behind the nut slot. It seems that it ends up being closer to 5/16”.

    No big deal. On my previous build, I cut the FB at the zero slot and made my nut from a 5/16” thick piece of aluminum so that the edge of the nut came right up to the break point. Everything worked out AOK.

    Mr. Bruce gave me som pieces of 1/4” Corian that I wanted to try making a nut with. When I installed my new FB last night, I tried letting the board overhang 1/16” past the break point so that the 1/4” nut would be flush.

    Well, things didn’t go as planned. (It may be that with the epoxy squeeze-out it looks like the edge of the board is flush with the break point.) If I were to use the 1/4” Corian there would be a 1/16” gap between the edge of the nut and the break point.

    So, I can cut the FB at zero and install the Corian nut and live with 1/16” extra space or use the 5/16” aluminum again and have it be flush.

    Or, my third option is to to cut another slot with my razor saw, chisel a groove and install the Corian as a Fender-style nut, with 1/16” of the FB extended to the break point.

    My questions are:

    Should I just live with 1/16” gap Corian nut?

    Would it be foolhardy to attempt the Fender-style nut?

    I hope this makes sense. I have attached a photo of the FB with the cut line penciled on for illustrative purposes.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  4. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I've never had good luck with Corian for some reason. I would go with the little extra space since it won't matter anyway with a zero fret. You could cut a sliver of wood to glue in place under the Corian to make it more stable or go with the aluminum or a wooden nut/string retainer.
     
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    If your slot was cut by LmII, there is a good chance the nut slot position is calculated to take the saw kerf into consideration. That may impact what try to do with the nut. The LMii hand saw system has a two ended pin, one for just the nut which is .010 smaller than the pin end for the other slots. Perhaps they do the same on their "factory" slotting.
     
  6. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    OK now you got me scared, so I attached an image. According to their website, the LMI boards are cut with the edge of the kerf being dead zero - as in, “not zero fret”. The end of the board would be 5/16” waste. Using a 1/4” thick nut would leave me with a space at the end. I’ve attached a quick drawing. By all means, please correct me if I’m wrong!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    It appears that they did what I said they might do. The only thing that is left is that 1/16" flat spot on the top surface of the nut slot. If you don't like that, you could stick a piece of veneer on the back side of the corian...or not.
     
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  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    (phew!) That’s a relief - you had me worried for a second!

    The piece of veneer is a good idea. I might do that. Thx!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  9. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Anyone have any tips on how to get these aluminum particles out of my Rosewood fretboard? I’ve tried a toothbrush, a wire brush, strong adhesive tape and flooding it with acetone - sofar nothing has worked...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Re-sand with abrasive?
     
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  11. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    That may be my best option - I’m hitting it with 220 right now. I’m worried about embedding it even more.
     
  12. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Progress - glued the fretboard down with West epoxy, installed the aluminum fret markers and the plastic side dots, drilled the tuner holes and sanded the board down to 600. I’ll carve the back this week and sand the FB down to 1500 when I’m done.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Cool! I’ve never been to Greece, but I love all those old stories!

    Good luck with your 335 - I can’t wait to see it!
     
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  14. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Since I have been basically repeating steps that I’ve already taken earlier in this build thread, I’ve been of posting roughly once a week or whenever a big chunk of work has been completed. Today, I am making an exception to this policy. I completed this neck carve in about 3.5 hours. That’s pretty fast for me - my previous neck carves both took at least 7-8. One of my luthier friends told me that as you get better at it you get faster.

    [​IMG]

    I still have some fine tuning to do and once I do that, I will sand out the tooling marks and bring it down to 220.
     
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  15. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I got the frets installed, finally.

    [​IMG]

    Granted, this is only my third neck build, but my fret install seemed a lot more difficult this time. The ends kept popping up out of the rosewood. Then, I ran into Mr. Bruce on the street here in Fillmore, and he said, “Make a smaller radius and bend the ends down.” Lo and behold, it worked!

    I bolted the neck to the body - my next phase will me taking measurements and placing the bridge and the pickup. I made the neck 1.5” wide at the nut and gave the back a much slimmer profile than my last two necks. However, now that it’s on the bass, the back still feels a little flat for me. Once I get the bridge installed, I’ll string her up for a test run and decide then if I want to shave more wood off of the back.

    Here’s a pic of the whole bass:

    [​IMG]

    I’m still thinking transparent orange will be nice over that maple top. I’m going to go with natural “faux” binding. My instincts tell me to try and lighten the edges of the maple somehow. Any thoughts?
     
  16. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I didn't make major progress this week - mostly list if little things. I worked on the neck profile a bit - it feels nice and round up to about the 5th fret, but by the time it gets up to the 12th fret, it feels pretty flat on the back. I just tried shaving it with a round scraper. I might have to hit it with something a little more aggressive like a farrier's rasp or something. The neck is pretty thin as it is, so I don't want to take too much more meat off of it.

    I also tooled the bridge plate over the week. I made it more of a square shape rather than following the outline of the rounded Gotoh bridge. I figured it would save me a little work.

    Today, I did the rest of my machining of the body. Cut the bridge plate hole and the pickup cavity. I also rounded over the back edge. I'll make the tummy cut over the week. I also have to enlarge the hole for the battery box. My current preamp iteration takes 2x9v batteries and I bought a double box for it. The double box cost a fortune. In the future, I'm going to plan ahead and just cut a cavity and make a wood cover for the batteries. The battery box is for the birds. Although, @Passinwind directed me to a really good tutorial on how to bias JFET transistors. Apparently, I may be able to get enough performance out of 9v to make my preamp swing. I knew that transistors could be biased, but I didn't know how to do it and I couldn't find a good tutorial before that. Electronics are pretty much dark magic to me, so every little bit helps. Thanks, Passinwind!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Once I get the tummy cut and the batter hole done, I'll put the bass together, cut a nut, put some strings on it and do a quick setup to see how things settle. From there, it's on to sanding and finishing.

    I'm going to be doing faux binding with just the natural maple. It's one less thing to install. Also, on my last bass with the ABS plastic binding, the epoxy sealing stage was a PITA. The epoxy soaks into the wood, but it sits on top of the ABS. I know that this sounds like something I shouldn't concern myself with, but strictly from a finishing and sanding perspective, that dynamic made the process just that more complicated. For instance, the epoxy colored the ABS and the wood, but since it was just on the surface of the binding, it would sand off unevenly and it would really stand out because it was over white. I know that it is fixable, but it's the kind of small detail that just doesn't seem worth struggling over.

    All that being said, I've never been a huge fan of the natural maple binding look. First off, the wood color is always really warm and the visible grain of the maple can defeat the purpose of the binding - which is to offset the contrasting colors and define the shape of the body. I think natural binding can look really good against a solid color, but against a transparent color it'll get lost. I'm thinking I might try to lighten the binding by adding a drop or two of white Mixol to the epoxy when I go to seal the sides. Who knows? I may do the whole top with an off white undercoat before I add the orange - I want to downplay the maple grain a little bit. For instance, I really like the look of the grain on this Gretsch here - the grain is nice and understated. I guess I should do a test with orange right on the maple before I go and add white to the mix.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
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  17. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Today I roughed out a nut, put some stings on the bass and did a quick set-up. It plays pretty well - certainly much better that my last build, although I could conceivably lower the action a little more. I may try putting a little shim in there to get a little tilt going on. I don’t know how much more I can lower the bridge saddles.

    [​IMG]

    I said this before, but I’m pretty happy with how it plays so far. I was worried that the neck might be too skinny, but now that it’s on there, it feels just about right.

    One thing I really like is the maple cap / mahogany back combo. Just acoustically, the bass is loud, full-sounding and clear. The notes just bounce off of that maple top.

    I made the nut from a piece of Corian that Mr. Bruce gave to me. I really like it. When compared to the aluminum nut I cut last time, the Corian was much easier to tool.

    Next step: disassemble the bass and prep it for finishing. Both the neck and the body have a lot of sanding that needs to be done.

    :):):)
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
  18. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    Getting ready to jump on the finishing train. First, I sanded the whole body down to 220. I like to use a leveling beam when I sand the front and back.

    [​IMG]

    I’m kinda doing a split finish again, but not really. I masked the maple cap off from the mahogany bottom using Frog tape. The edges are going to have that natural maple faux binding.

    [​IMG]

    Then, I sealed the mahogany with epoxy. Since this is basically a grain-filling step, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone; I mixed a little GF Medium Brown Dye Stain in the epoxy.

    [​IMG]

    Once the epoxy cures, I’ll hit the maple front with some epoxy - I might thin it with acetone. Then, I’ll sand the whole body down to maybe 320-400. That’ll give me a nice platform for the orange dye - the over the brown, the back will look darker.
     
  19. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Meister

    281
    Dec 7, 2015
    Ventura County, CA
    I’m giving the neck a few coats of clear today.

    [​IMG]

    I primed the front and back of the headstock with ProFinisher, sanded it and applied the decals. For the clear coats, I’m using the Minwax Oil-Modified WB Polyurethane I had left over from a previous build. For this application, I like the yellowing feature. This is maybe 5-6 coats of Minwax. I also applied some West to the maple cap of the bass body - which slightly yellowed the soon-to-be faux binding. Hopefully, after 12-15 coats of Minwax, the maple neck will be close to the color of the epoxied maple body.
     
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  20. Kriticaster

    Kriticaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    41
    504
    Nov 5, 2017
    Crete, Greece
    Looking really good mate!
    Go for the finish line!!
     
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