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honza992

31" Gibson Bass build...

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OK, I'm doing a wipe-on finish on my Walnut Les Paul Guitar thingy, which means I have an inordinate amount of time between an inordinate number of coats.  So rather than actually do useful stuff, I thought I would start planning my next build. I realise @Christine has pretty much done the definitive Les Paul bass build thread, but maybe mine will be just different enough to hold your interest.  

Anway, specs something like:

31" scale, 19 fret (is this too few??)

Some sort of ridiculously over-laminated and accent-lined neck blank

Slightly oversize Les Paul Body (though smaller than the official Gibson oversized)

Slotted headstock

Single humbucking pickup, probably in the 'P' position

Birdseye Maple veneer top

Figured Etimoe or Bosse Cedar veneer back

Double bound with flame maple (umm...once I've learned to bend it)

Guitar tuners

Double 'f' hole

Yet more pinstriping and veneering than you can shake a stick at. 

 

So there you have it.  Short scale because I've never build one.  I want it simple though, so I thought a single pickup would be good.  I must do love the sound of a P bass though, so I'm thinking a Gibson humbucker in the P position would sound pretty similar but keep the Gibson look.  Slotted headstock, because I just think they look great.  The guitar tuners I'm going to try because bass tuners, even Ultralites, look a bit oversized and even they I think might cause neck dive, my pet hate.  The Hofner Beatle bass uses guitar tuners, so I'm pretty confident it can be done, particularly with light-ish strings, but if anyone has done this please shout up.  And they only weigh 20 grams each, ie half that of an USA Ultralite.....

Veneer-wise, here's the top I'm thinking.  Birdseyes.  And lots and lots of them:

IMG-20191129-131053.jpg

 


For the back I'm thinking one of these.  The first is Bosse Cedar, the second is Figured Etimoe.  I've put the three together to see if you have a preference.  The workshop strip light sucks the colour from everthing so here's the stock photos.  Both look pretty amazing in natural light.  Any thoughts?

IMG-20191129-122207.jpg

AAA-Bosse-Cedar.jpg

AAA-Curly-Etimoe.jpg

 

As for layout, here's a mock up of the slightly larger body and 31" scale with slotted headstock.  As with the Walnut LP I'm just finishing, the lower horn is 'sharp' so that I can do a mitred joint in the binding, rather than trying to bend flamed maple (which has a reputation for splitting) round the more traditional rounded lower horn.  But if I can practise a bit and I can manage it, then I may revert to the more traditional shape. 

IMG-20191129-115719.jpg

So there you have it.  Them's are my thoughts.  This won't be a quick build cos I've still got two others to finish!  But thanks so much for looking.  And feel free to shout up with thoughts and criticisms🙄😎
 

 

 

 

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This sounds like another interesting one, looking forward to seeing it.

My Fire Dragons have 19 frets, to be honest how often do you need to go higher than 15? For me at least it isn't an issue in any shape or form. I have ultralites on those too and I can't get them to neck dive at all if that helps at all but the headstocks are short and the necks very thin along with the rear strap lock being mounted very high up

My vote would be Birdseye Maple Quietly classy

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Personally, I don't think 19 frets is a major limiter for the great majority of players.  I would actually say the same on a 6-string electric, but particularly on a bass the number of folks who ACTUALLY play those very top notes is relatively small (although I'm aware the fear of 'but what if I DID want to play those notes?' affect us paranoid players too.  And I say that because it is unquestionably because I don't have a 24-fret bass that I, personally, suck at bass :)  )

I like some of the features you're building into this.  I'll be watching this one :)

 

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On 30/11/2019 at 10:44, Christine said:

This sounds like another interesting one, looking forward to seeing it.

My Fire Dragons have 19 frets, to be honest how often do you need to go higher than 15? For me at least it isn't an issue in any shape or form. I have ultralites on those too and I can't get them to neck dive at all if that helps at all but the headstocks are short and the necks very thin along with the rear strap lock being mounted very high up

My vote would be Birdseye Maple Quietly classy

I have a habit, when playing something that is frankly boring, to transpose the whole thing up to 12th and beyond. But I've got to be very bored playing it and very very confident that I can play it once I've moved.

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Sorry, this one is well due for an update.  Lots of progress that I should have shared in real time, but by the time my day of arguing with a toddler has come to an end, I just don't have the energy😂🤣🙄😭

Here goes....

The neck blank is made from flame maple and sapele, with a few accent lines thrown in for good measure.  I also took the time to make a proper jig for flattening one side.  I've been meaning to make one for ages and I have to say it works brilliantly.  It's a direct copy from Bruce Johnson on Talkbass.:

IMG-20191212-095441.jpg

The body I've decided to chamber a bit more than I have in the past.  Still with a solid block for bridge and pickup, but otherwise chambered:

IMG-20191213-084929.jpg

The veneer went on in the normal way.  Wine not included...

IMG-20200106-114719.jpg

The neck pocket I did in my normal way - make a template using the neck itself (albeit this is from my other build):

IMG-20190822-121240-Edited.jpg

The biggest step up for me in this build is that I have decided to do a proper mortice tenon joint.  The joint isn't straightforward because it is angled in two different directions - the neck is angled back (at 1.6 degrees) and the neck itself tapers.  I thought long and hard about how I could use a router to do it (my preferred technique for almost everything) but in the end decided to go old skool.  Cutting the side wall with a guide placed at an angle of 1.6 degrees:

IMG-20200103-151153.jpg

Hacking at it with a chisel!

IMG-20200103-151703.jpg

Ending up with a tenon like this:

IMG-20200103-153135.jpg

After an entire morning of going back and forth, test fitting, sanding a bit, chiseling a bit, swearing a bit, I think I ended up with a joint that I am very pleased with:

IMG-20200109-094147.jpg

 

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The body is coming along nicely, f holes now done and the sides are sanded ready to have the binding channels cut:

IMG-20200109-123612.jpg

The binding will be rocklite ebano with an white/black/white stripe on the side, and a white/black stripe on the top.  The flame on the back of the body is going to be stunning!

 

Because this will only have a single pickup (a P in a cabronita cover, from Jess Lourieiro) I've decided to play around with the electronics a bit.  There's a great TB thread on using multiple different caps (https://www.talkbass.com/threads/multi-capacitor-tone-control.737912/) so I thought rather than having a pickup selector in the traditional Les Paul location, I would have a toggle switch selecting between three different cap values - 0.047, 0.001 and 0.0047.  I've posted in the Repairs & Technical board about where to find a DTDP ON ON ON toggle switch that is the same size as a Les Paul pickup selector switch (most ON ON ON toggles are mini), so if anyone knows where to buy one, please let me know!

So that's where I am.  Thanks for looking.

 

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On 10/01/2020 at 21:23, honza992 said:

 

 so I thought rather than having a pickup selector in the traditional Les Paul location, I would have a toggle switch selecting between three different cap values - 0.047, 0.001 and 0.0047.  I've posted in the Repairs & Technical board about where to find a DTDP ON ON ON toggle switch that is the same size as a Les Paul pickup selector switch (most ON ON ON toggles are mini), so if anyone knows where to buy one, please let me know!

 

 

Would this work

https://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Components_and_Parts/Switches/Free-Way_Pickup_Switch.html

It's a 6 way switch but if you looped in both sides together it would work or you could play with other configurations

free-waydiagrams.pdf

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On 18/01/2020 at 09:21, Christine said:

Would this work

https://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Components_and_Parts/Switches/Free-Way_Pickup_Switch.html

It's a 6 way switch but if you looped in both sides together it would work or you could play with other configurations

free-waydiagrams.pdf 2.24 MB · 3 downloads

Thanks for that, looks interesting.  Would it work?  Not sure.  Electronics is definitely not my strong point.  Luckily the amazing @BassBunny has sent me the right ON ON ON switch, so I think I'm going to run with my original plan.  Thanks Bunny!

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OK the binding is on.  I cut some veneer for a couple of accent lines for the front and back faces....

IMG-20200110-123847-1.jpg

...then used Rocklite ebano bindings with a 0.3mm white/black/white series of stripes which will be viewed from the side.  I used super glue to glue the bindings in, doing all 3 layers at the same time, apart from the lower cutaway which is a bit more difficult so I glued the black and white veneers in first then the binding itself.  I've pre-bent the last piece of binding here, just prior to gluing:

IMG-20200115-125805.jpg

The superglue worked ok, but has left a little bit of staining round the sides, even with a couple of layers of shellac before gluing.  I think the problem was that the superglue I used was thin, but not water thin.  I've ordered some super thin CA glue from BSI, so next time it will be perfect.  Godammit.....

Time for a mock up....

IMG-20200117-124409.jpg

Annoying the Jess Loureiro pickup that I ordered well over a month ago (precision in Cabronita style case) has never arrived.  No nothing.  I've emailed and left voicemails and no acknoweldgement of any kind.  Very annoying.  I spoke to Matt from House of Tone pickups who suggested they could do a custom wind in a standard guitar humbucker size.  Lead time is 5 weeks or so, so in the meantime I've ordered a cheap (ish) wide spaced guitar humbucker from Tonerider and I'll stick that in in the meantime to see how it sounds.  Most of the internet commenterati say that using a guitar pickup in a bass is doomed to failure, but I have my doubts. If it sounds rubbish I'll get Matt to build me a proper one.....

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Some questions:

Is the top flat or curved? It looks curved in the photos but I am as blind as a bat

What switch are you using?

What's the bridge?

😀

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5 hours ago, Christine said:

Some questions:

Is the top flat or curved? It looks curved in the photos but I am as blind as a bat

What switch are you using?

What's the bridge?

😀

It does look curved!  But it's not.  Flat as a ....pancake.  But thinner.  Much much thinner (the veneer started at 0.5mm....)

The switch I'm using in a DTDP ON ON ON very generously donated by @BassBunny.  It's not just a simple pickup selector switch, it allows for 3 completely independent selections - in this case 3 different cap values.   

The bridge is this one:

https://www.blackdogmusic.co.uk/product/bass-guitar-bridge-and-tailpiece-set-2/

It's obviously cheap but it feels very solid and the chrome is nicely done.  I haven't used one before so I'm not sure how well it's going to work but it was the only reasonably priced TOM bridge with seperate tailpiece that i could find.  This whole bass is bit of an experiment, so I'm testing the water as I go!  

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Thanks I'd love to know more about that switch @BassBunny

The top of that looks sensational, it really does, tell me you're going to spray that with clear nitro, it will look sensational for evermore. Acrylic gloss with a cross linker would be good too, keep the blonde colour set for much longer with it's UV blockers

I thought that was the bridge you were using, I've looked at them too because they look more like the tune o matic  that the Warwicks I've been using. Are you planning on canting the bridge slightly to allow for it's limited movement? Very keen to see what you do and how you get on here. Another couple of questions, do you need to angle the neck with the height of that and what neck radius does it look like been designed for?

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42 minutes ago, Christine said:

Thanks I'd love to know more about that switch @BassBunny

 

I can't tell you much unfortunately. It's been in my parts box for years. I bought it to replace a coil split switch on a bass and decided it was too big so went for a micro switch instead. It's just a standard DPDT On/On/On but larger than most you can get.

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1 hour ago, BassBunny said:

I can't tell you much unfortunately. It's been in my parts box for years. I bought it to replace a coil split switch on a bass and decided it was too big so went for a micro switch instead. It's just a standard DPDT On/On/On but larger than most you can get.

Thanks, shame it might be useful to have such a part available

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On 19/01/2020 at 20:17, honza992 said:

Most of the internet commenterati say that using a guitar pickup in a bass is doomed to failure, but I have my doubts.

I think you are right to have doubts.  Yes, there will be some electric pickups that are eq'd very specifically, but most will work just fine.  @scrumpymike 's original and modified Fender Rascal has 6-string electric single coil lipsticks - and that sounds great!

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3 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I think you are right to have doubts.  Yes, there will be some electric pickups that are eq'd very specifically, but most will work just fine.  @scrumpymike 's original and modified Fender Rascal has 6-string electric single coil lipsticks - and that sounds great!

And looks so cooool 😎

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10 hours ago, Christine said:

Thanks I'd love to know more about that switch @BassBunny

The top of that looks sensational, it really does, tell me you're going to spray that with clear nitro, it will look sensational for evermore. Acrylic gloss with a cross linker would be good too, keep the blonde colour set for much longer with it's UV blockers

I thought that was the bridge you were using, I've looked at them too because they look more like the tune o matic  that the Warwicks I've been using. Are you planning on canting the bridge slightly to allow for it's limited movement? Very keen to see what you do and how you get on here. Another couple of questions, do you need to angle the neck with the height of that and what neck radius does it look like been designed for?

Actually it's not going to be Nitro.  It's going to be..........shellac.  My plan is to French Polish.  I've got no way of spraying Nitro and the one time I brushed it, it worked but I swore never again.  I like the idea of being able to do it at home in the evening and also the fact that it's seems to be pretty environmentally friendly.  I'm active in Extinction Rebellion so I'd find it hard to spray Nitro.  I know I only make a few guitars a year so realistically it makes no meaningful difference to the climate crisis, but symbolically it's important for me to try to reduce my carbon footprint.  I also know that FP is considered too soft for electric guitars, but I don't gig and if it get's trashed I'll make another one!  I'll probably use blonde for the front, keeping it as pale as possible, and garnet for the back and sides, hopefully darkening them quite a bit. 

 

As for the bridge, yes I think it will be at an angle.  There's not much travel so between short scale and low tension strings I'm nervous of running out of adjustment.  I haven't drilled the bridge holes yet, so I'll wait till everything is done, string it up and mark it out properly.  

Yes, I'm using a neck angle, albeit only a slight one - 1.6 degrees.  I forget what the minimum string height at the bridge is, something like 16mm, so it's significantly more than a fender style bridge which is somthing like12mm.  So it definitely needs an angle to make it useable.  As for radius, I think it's 12", but will double check tomorrow.  Certainly that's the radius I'm building anyway!

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8 hours ago, Christine said:

Thanks, shame it might be useful to have such a part available

You can get a mini DPDT ON ON ON everywhere (https://www.axetec.co.uk/guitar_parts_uk_051.htm for example, and cheaper from ebay and non-guitar shops) but they are really small - the sort of thing used for an active/passive switch, like this on a j-retro

dropped-Image.jpg

For purely aesthetic reasons I want the switch in the standard Les Paul position and such a small switch looks a bit ridicuous, so I was after a slightly bigger one.  And are impossible to find.....

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3 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I think you are right to have doubts.  Yes, there will be some electric pickups that are eq'd very specifically, but most will work just fine.  @scrumpymike 's original and modified Fender Rascal has 6-string electric single coil lipsticks - and that sounds great!

I knew it!  The master has spoken and that's good enough for me😁

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