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Sirena • El Santo: Freekmagnet Jumps on the Short Scale Bandwagon

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freekmagnet, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    All kidding aside, I recently felt inspired to build a short scale bass. While I’ve never been and never will be a short scale believer, I’ve always recognized that they do occupy a sonic space that is all their own. After all, Sir Paul rocked a Hofner pretty convincingly, and Andy Frazier’s super-fat Gibson EB-3 tone on All Right Now is one of my favorite bass sounds of all time.

    Having been laid up with a back injury (I seemed to have pinched a nerve while on an easy bike ride with the li’l Lady and her niece), I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days browsing through guitar and bass images on the internet. @crazydave911 posted a Vox Clubman bass on one of my threads, and I was instantly smitten by this instrument. Since I can’t really do much besides sit or lay around, I sat down last night and sketched out this bass.

    [​IMG]

    I was kind of striving for that “student model” vibe a lot of those old short scale basses had; basic abbreviated versions of some of the full-scale models using recycled technology and design elements - while still making a small effort to define their own niche. The idea back in the day was to sell these instruments to kids and establish a sense of brand loyalty. A Fender Mustang was basically a miniature PBass, yet it had its own little pickup. I used a few design elements from some of my previous builds. I was also looking to capture a few elements from the Hofner 500/1 and Moserite basses.

    I’m not completely set on the pickup configuration yet. For now, I placed a pair of tall humbuckers I designed last year - I’ve been trying to find a place to put these. Additionally, I found a source for some thick AlNiCo magnets, so I kind of wanted to swap out the C8 magnets I’m using now. I might move the bridge pickup closer to the bridge to give it more of a Hofner vibe. Or, I have some skinny single coils I built for the Pistolera bass. Anyway, I have a few options to try out.


    Just FYI, El Santo was a legendary Mexican wrestler who went on to make horror and adventure movies. El Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro (The Saint vs. the Vampire Women) comes to mind. I haven’t decided on a color, but I’m thinking maybe silver as sort of dedication in his memory. We’ll see - I’m trying to go further out there with my color choices and selection of cheap materials, and silver feels kinda tame. I don’t know if I can pull off a water-based silver sparkle finish. Silver sparkle would be more appropriate. Maybe a frosted white would be cool.

    I’m in the middle of another build, so I’m not going to start this new one right away. Maybe if I start feeling better this week and I need to occupy myself somehow, I’ll run down to Mayan and buy some wood.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  2. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yeah baby!! :D Ebay seller Bezdez has some pickups you MIGHT wanna see ;)
     
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  3. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, BezDez has some good stuff! I shop there sometimes.

    I have some pickups I built last year I wanna use. They’re laying on a shelf, wondering if they’ll ever find a home.
     
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  4. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Lol I heard that, I gave up pickups a long time ago but have gotten the bug again recently when cleaning a box and found my old Alnico 2 stash :lol:
     
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  5. Raoul

    Raoul TDPRI Member

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    FM-- I saw your post in the other thread about being smitten by the Clubman. The Clubman is definitely cool, but your own designs don't give anything away...

    You planning for solid/chambered or full-on hollow?

    I won't commit to Believing in short-scale, but I quite like the sound of a hollow short-scale. Both Chris Wood (MMW, Wood Brothers, etc) and Tony Scherr (Bill Frisell, Sex Mob, etc) have Hofners in their arsenals and make them work in pretty varied, but admittedly jazz-flecked, environments.

    Will be interested to hear how you like your various pickups in the shorter scale/lower tension set-up.

    Moral of your pinched nerve is, don't ride easy. :cool:
     
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  6. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    My Russian, Strat and Brotherhood Build bass are all solid, around the pickups I wanted to use. I use to wind the Teisco type of pickup, you know WITHOUT the microphonics? :lol:
    For my Brotherhood, the 27" scale shorty I got lucky with a big pole Alnico 2 four barrel lol.
    For the Strat bass an Alnico 5 but a 10k humbucker, just what I wanted.
    And possibly the nearest to my heart the Russian, got former Squier 10k ceramic Pbass pickups. I'm not an anti ceramic snob by any stretch but I don't use just any of them. My Gibson L6 is my guide there, if they are smooth, glassy and have the RIGHT amount of punch I'm sold :D. I HAD a Kay short scale (very short scale) pocket bass that was hollow but it and my Les Paul stolen at the same time :lol::cry:. The Kay was hollow and like anything I'd been all in it so I HAVE toyed with the idea of a 30" scale version of it with the old speed bump pickups. Nothing like a refrigerator magnet with wire wrapped around it :lol::lol:
     
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  7. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    Thx!

    I haven’t decided yet if it’s going to be chambered or solid. I could go either way to tell you the truth. A slab body would definitely have an “inexpensive” vibe, but a chambered/semi-hollow short scale has its own kind of charm. I wasn’t really seeing a sound hole in this bass, so that’ll be a big determining factor.

    Yeah, I’ve never really been a short scale guy. I prefer the deeper, more complex tones you get out of a 34” bass as opposed to tubby impertinence of a 30” bass. That being said, I’ve used an EB-3 in the studio a couple times and it sounded great. Today, I was listening to some online demos of the Ovation Magnum - what a cool bass! It’ll be fun to build a 30” and see what I can make out of it.

    There’s been downward trend in bass scale lengths over the last few years. I think a lot of players are getting older, so they feel like 34” is too much of a stretch for their aging hands. I always treat market trends with a lot skepticism. I just saw that Vox, and I was like, “I love that bass,” so I figured I’d build something inspired by it.

    Yeah, I don’t know how I injured my back. That was fairly routine bike-ride for us.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    :lol::lol::lol:

    Yeah, ceramic magnets are tricky, but you can eke a good-sounding pickup out of them. They make great bass pickups. The trick is to not wind them too much. An underwound ceramic pickup has a real sweet tone to it. The Danny Gatton Tele bridge pickups have something like 3800 turns on each coil, but they have a HUGE magnet underneath.

    AlNiCo, I’ve found, is a lot more forgiving. If you wrap a bunch of wire around a A5 magnet, you already have a great-sounding pickup.
     
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  9. Raoul

    Raoul TDPRI Member

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    Well, when you decide you don't really use this thing you build, let me know. :twisted:

    I still haven't bought/built my bass, since a friend has lent me his p-bass for an extended time. Nothing to complain about, there-- love that sound. But impertinent tubbiness sounds like fun, too.
     
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  10. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    On one page at that website it shows a side view of the Clubman. They were made of plywood like early Teiscos and about 1 inch it appears with maybe a thin ply over the back as I do with thin bodies. In my thread

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/dear-diary-what-a-build-its-been.275819/

    There are the seeds of many things I'm currently doing but there is a short scale Esquire and a Cittern I built of 1 inch pine and covered the back with birch ply (probably what Vox used) and hand stained the back and covered the top in cloth. Then went around the edges like a burst and bam, there ya are. If I'd ever built a Clubman I'd probably do the same again. Vox was only available in red or blue then and neither gets my motor running. A kid down the street had one and we almost traded, I had a Silvertone guitar he wanted (Danoelectro) and I loved that bass and amp. I had never played a bass before and he was taking lessons and in an afternoon I was WAY ahead of him, I loved the thing. Wish I'd have traded to, my Silvertone did a RUD inside a year (rapid unscheduled disassembly). Lots of folks love them but the originals were masonite and firewood. Now the later ones made in Korea seem ok
     
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  11. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have no idea where I saw them, but yesterday I was surfing for parts and saw some pickups that looked like old German pickups, no visible polepieces. I'm pretty sure they were Chinese.

    This is also interesting. Expensive, but kind of looks like an old Vox pickup.
    https://www.banzaimusic.com/Nordstrand-Big-Single-4-Soapbar.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  12. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    The Nordy Big Singles are nice pickups.

    I’m think I’m going to build something like this:

    [​IMG]

    But it will be a humbucker, so it will have a different face shield like the second one from the upper left-hand corner in this picture:

    [​IMG]

    I built a prototype last year, and it sounded pretty good. If I built it again, I could prolly get it to sound better. I have a big, 2.25”x.5”x.25 A5 magnet I can try out instead of the C8 magnet I have now.

    If not, I could use a set of these:

    [​IMG]

    They’re a tall single coil design. I put a set of these in my Pistolera build, and they sound great.
     
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  13. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think the migration to short scale has little to do with players except tangentially. I myself was born with short powerful arms reaching tires me. I think the move to short scale started with session bassists. The boards were getting advanced and could basically get any tone from any bass and then having to sit and play one ALL day brought the comfort of the shorties into the mix. Now with the proper amp and pedal I could get my Russian to sound like vintage Motown so hey, why not? :D
     
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  15. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, those are no good. That pickup cover is going to kill all your treble. Assuming that that cover is grounded, and it allows the electrical current to flow in a circle, it won’t be very bright. Unless it’s nickel-silver, but it’s probably not.

    Thx, though!

    I got the pickup part pretty squared away. I have a pickup winder here, and I’ve built tons of pickups and I have tons of them laying around.
     
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  16. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You think? The similar looking Teisco ones are all treble, no bass, but they do have polepieces sticking out.
     
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  17. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, maybe. Or, maybe people just want something different. I remember about 10 years ago all the hipsters wanted a semi-hollow bass. They harder to find back then. And now that you can pretty much find a Epi Jack Casady at your local GC, they’ve moved on to the next thing.
     
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  18. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Tele-Holic

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    Or maybe they’re super under wound or the shields aren’t grounded (thus providing no shielding) or could be a lot of things.

    You know how guys like to remove the covers from their Les Pauls? Same principle - a cover won’t kill all your treble, but it’ll affect the tone in some way for better or for worse.

    But you bring up a good point though - for all the speculative quackery surrounding pickup covers (something to which I myself may be prone to espouse), Danelectro lipstick pickups are completely covered in brass, and they’re as bright as can be. OTOH their output is pretty anemic.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I never liked short scale basses but I had a Hagstrom I put new frets on and liked a lot.
    Tiny thin little neck and oddball truss rod that seemed to be more like a T shaped beam with small heel located allen screw.
    Odd pickup too, the cover had fake poles sticking out and the actual coil had what seemed to be a rough cast bar magnet in it.
    It was the model with a solid wood SG sort of body shape and Fenderish headstock.
     
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  20. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Not through my Roland :lol:
     
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