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Building my first bass...


GregRichardson
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Hi I'm Greg

One night I woke up and thought "Hey, I want to learn how to play bass" then I went back to sleep. About five minutes later I though "Hey, I don't have any money at all" so I went back to sleep again, almost instantly I woke up and though "Hey, I could build one".

So with my non-existent knowledge of guitars, electronics and carpentry, I set to work learning how to make an electric bass and after about 3 days of trial and error I finally made a bass from some 4x2 and a piezo. So after playing with this barely-working one stringed monstrosity I went to bed happy.

The next morning I woke up preparing to stroke my franken-tar when I couldn't feel anything, no splinters in my hand and no electric shock running through my body. about an hour of looking under my bed, my mum informed me that she threw it away as she though it was just a big piece of wood (which it was) now this would be all fine and dandy if it weren't 'bin-day' the same day. So after mourning the death of Gregtar Mark 1, I though "Hey, why dont I make a real bass guitar, one that you can actually play...

So to the actual point of this article: I want to make a bass guitar that would be easy to play and easy to learn and so I need a bit of help designing the body and length of the neck

Thanks a lot if you can help
Greg

P.S I'm in my young teens so its not weird me living with my parents

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[quote name='EBS_freak' post='227915' date='Jun 27 2008, 11:50 AM']First thing to do, is buy the Bible.

[url="http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Own-Electric-Guitar/dp/0953104907"]http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Own-Electr...r/dp/0953104907[/url][/quote]

Even though its for guitar, the concept must be about the same?

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[quote name='WarPig' post='227919' date='Jun 27 2008, 11:52 AM']Even though its for guitar, the concept must be about the same?[/quote]

Absolutely. The only thing that really changes significantly is the scale. Obviously the dimensions can change due to the number of strings, the scale length etc...

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[quote name='EBS_freak' post='227946' date='Jun 27 2008, 12:28 PM']Absolutely. The only thing that really changes significantly is the scale. Obviously the dimensions can change due to the number of strings, the scale length etc...[/quote]

Aye thats what i thought. Thanks.

*adds to the 'to buy' list*

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[quote name='GregRichardson' post='227896' date='Jun 27 2008, 11:34 AM']Hi I'm Greg

One night I woke up and thought "Hey, I want to learn how to play bass" then I went back to sleep. About five minutes later I though "Hey, I don't have any money at all" so I went back to sleep again, almost instantly I woke up and though "Hey, I could build one".

So with my non-existent knowledge of guitars, electronics and carpentry, I set to work learning how to make an electric bass and after about 3 days of trial and error I finally made a bass from some 4x2 and a piezo. So after playing with this barely-working one stringed monstrosity I went to bed happy.

The next morning I woke up preparing to stroke my franken-tar when I couldn't feel anything, no splinters in my hand and no electric shock running through my body. about an hour of looking under my bed, my mum informed me that she threw it away as she though it was just a big piece of wood (which it was) now this would be all fine and dandy if it weren't 'bin-day' the same day. So after mourning the death of Gregtar Mark 1, I though "Hey, why dont I make a real bass guitar, one that you can actually play...

So to the actual point of this article: I want to make a bass guitar that would be easy to play and easy to learn and so I need a bit of help designing the body and length of the neck

Thanks a lot if you can help
Greg

P.S I'm in my young teens so its not weird me living with my parents[/quote]

I’ve got loads of admiration for you’re enthusiasm man!! Great story regarding the Gregtar Mk1, made me chuckle. Prepare yourself for a steep learning curve given that you admittedly hold little knowledge of all the essential skills it takes to build a bass. Kudos to you though for giving it a bash…maybe one day I’ll gain the confidence to do it myself. Have you considered starting with a simple project like assembling a bass kit, rather than starting from scratch for your first ever project?

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Thanks for all the replies and feedback, I wasn't expecting a response so quickly.
Benwhiteuk; glad you liked the story, I didn't I almost committed suicide when my mum told me she threw it away. I don't want to buy a bass kit because they cost as much, if not more than a basic bass guitar, I like to make things from scratch because they feel like they are mine and all mine, but thanks for the idea.

I've decided that my Gregtar Mk 2 will be more the freaky offspring from a wild coke party in which Miss Bass, Mr Guitar, and Mr 'redneck' Banjo attended.

It will either have 3 or 4 strings (I have yet to decide)
they will be tuned either:
EADG
EAD
ADG (because I would like to play 'When I come around' by Green Day on it)

which brings me to my second question: is there some sort of Fret - necksize ratio? if so what is a good amount of frets to have?

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[quote name='GregRichardson' post='228026' date='Jun 27 2008, 02:06 PM']Thanks for all the replies and feedback, I wasn't expecting a response so quickly.
Benwhiteuk; glad you liked the story, I didn't I almost committed suicide when my mum told me she threw it away. I don't want to buy a bass kit because they cost as much, if not more than a basic bass guitar, I like to make things from scratch because they feel like they are mine and all mine, but thanks for the idea.

I've decided that my Gregtar Mk 2 will be more the freaky offspring from a wild coke party in which Miss Bass, Mr Guitar, and Mr 'redneck' Banjo attended.

It will either have 3 or 4 strings (I have yet to decide)
they will be tuned either:
EADG
EAD
ADG (because I would like to play 'When I come around' by Green Day on it)

which brings me to my second question: is there some sort of Fret - necksize ratio? if so what is a good amount of frets to have?[/quote]

Be prepared - it's always going to cost you more to build your own instrument than buy a cheapo starter one. It will have virtually no resale value either... unless you become a top luthier of course! The hardware (bridge machine heads, knobs, truss rod) alone will cost you a fair bit. Have a look around [url="http://www.touchstonetonewoods.co.uk/"]http://www.touchstonetonewoods.co.uk/[/url] and [url="http://www.stewmac.com"]http://www.stewmac.com[/url] for some further ideas. I find some of the videos that have been put on youtube are quite useful also.

If you get well into it, it may be worth checking out a course... a few people have been on courses from this site... and it will only be time before somebody utters the word Shuker.

I'd keep it standard and go for a four string EADG if its your first instrument. 34 inch scale. Keep it simple.

The number of frets is up to you, but you will need a calculator to work out the distances between them (remember to always measure from the nut) - heres one for starters [url="http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator"]http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator[/url]

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[quote name='EBS_freak' post='228043' date='Jun 27 2008, 02:23 PM']Be prepared - it's always going to cost you more to build your own instrument than buy a cheapo starter one.[/quote]

Yeah, you can get second hand beginner basses for dirt cheap nowadays. I got mine for £20. If you search eBay or Gumtree, you might be able to find something in the £50 or less range.

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I have decided to go to the complete basics and only use very simple cheap things, for example I am going to use a $2 piezo element as a pickup.

To EBS_freak:
I am not going to use any sort of mechanism as I want to make it completely and utterly from scratch (and this is where it starts to sound extremely rubbish) I'm going to use eye bolts for the machine heads and knobs so all in all its going to be an above average primary school 'milk-box' guitar :)

To S_U_Y_*:
Not only have I moved to the land down under (we work in dollars and catch kangaroos to eat on the barby) but I don't even have 50 pounds (about $110), I have around... hmmmm let me calculate... about $20, and if you think that is bad, there is nowhere to buy fakes/replicas here... DARN

thanks everyone for the responses though, and thanks for the fret calculator, that was a god send

Tomorrow is hopefully when I get most of the fundamentals finished and then I'll have to work after school.

Basically what I am now aiming at is something like this: [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4usje4ClKE&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4usje4ClKE...feature=related[/url]
so its going to be more of a noise making toy than a real bass (but hopefully I will be able to play something on it)... sorry for maybe getting peoples hopes up but the reality is I don't have the time, skill, money or artistic brilliance to make a good bass. Now I'm going to go to bed as it is midnight here

Good night... or morning... or afternoon... or whatever
your good pal
Greg

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