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GarethFlatlands

Jazz neck build - Now a full Jazz build!

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I'm not sure if Shinto is the name of the tool or the brand (I've seen the same tool sold under the "Ice Bear" name too,) but I suspect we're talking about the same thing. The cavity is covered by the plate, but I'm going to sand the burn off just because it's bugging me slightly, although part of me kind of likes the way it looks too! If there was going to be more of that dark contrast I'd be tempted to keep it.

Edited by GarethFlatlands
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Not much done today. I tried to line up the neck pocket template I made, but as it was so small I was having a hard time getting everything perfectly in line. I gave up and made a new one out of a scrap of plywood. This one is much larger, and includes the top and bottom horns of the body as well as the pocket, making it much easier to line up. You can see the old one on top of the new one here. I used the ply body template for the general shaping, and then the old scrap bass body for the pocket itself.

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Much better. Routing out the pocket on the new body, I hit the same issues I did yesterday with the control cavity. The plunge router doesn't plunge that deep, so it bottoms out pretty quickly when using the template as a guide. The resulting route isn't deep enough to be able to ditch the template and use the already-routed body to guide the bit. This means swapping the bit out to the palm router to get the pocket to the stage where I can remove the template and swap back to the plunge router to finish the job. And I don't like using the palm router for this job. The small base, lack of handles and lower torque made it much twitchier and there were a couple of points where it jumped wildly as it hit something it didn't like. I'm going to hit the same issues with the pickup cavities as they're the same depth as the neck pocket (1.55 cm as close as I can measure it), but worse as the template and therefore margins of error are much smaller.

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A quick test fit, and... it looks OK. It's nice and snug in there, but the corners aren't radiused enough (or are too radiused? I forget which way round it is) to get the neck heel up against the edge of the pocket. Nothing that can't be fixed with some very careful freehand routing or much sanding. I'll add "top bearing router bit with slightly smaller radius" to the list of stuff I wish I had but can't justify buying. The centre line looks a little off despite the care I thought I'd taken lining it up from the scrap body and template, but it's too late to worry about now.

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Looks a bit like a bass!

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Looks more like a bass in some ways and less in others! The horns look a bit too blocky now that it's all coming together, so the next jobs will be shaping them with the shinto rasp (just visible through the JJ Abrams style lens flare), routing the pickup cavities and sorting out the neck pocket corners.

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3 hours ago, GarethFlatlands said:

The resulting route isn't deep enough to be able to ditch the template and use the already-routed body to guide the bit. This means swapping the bit out to the palm router to get the pocket to the stage where I can remove the template and swap back to the plunge router to finish the job

I used to have those problems all the time, especially with routing pickup chambers.  In the end, I realised that you can get really short top bearing cutters.  Axminster used to do a diddy one but Wealden certainly do:

https://www.wealdentool.com/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Template_Trim_279.html

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14 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I used to have those problems all the time, especially with routing pickup chambers.  In the end, I realised that you can get really short top bearing cutters.  Axminster used to do a diddy one but Wealden certainly do:

https://www.wealdentool.com/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Template_Trim_279.html

Thanks, that looks like it might solve both the cavity routing and neck pocket corner issues. If I make another bass, I'll invest in one.

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I'm not doing any more work this week as I have a gig on Saturday (audience seated in tables of 6 or less, no dancing or singing along allowed; should be strange), and I don't want to risk any stupid injuries that would stop it going ahead.

As there's some downtime, I thought I'd get the forums opinions on the eventual look of the bass. I still have most of a bottle of tru oil left from the neck and I understand it goes bad relatively quick, so I'm going to use that as the final finish. But the grain of the wood isn't particularly interesting so I was considering staining it first. My first thought was a semi transparent red finish with no scratchplate a la Geddy Lee.


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But as usual when presented with a lot of choice, I've got total option paralysis. Obvious colour stain? A more natural colour? Flat or burst? Nothing but oil? Blackberry jam? Something else completely? Feel free to chime in with any thoughts.

Edited by GarethFlatlands

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Gig completed! My last with the band due to imminent baby. Back to work on the bass. My first job was to get the neck fitting better into the pocket. First, I used a smaller radius template (one I made for the pickups) to try and nibble away at the pocket corners. This was going OK, until the point where the template slipped and I took a chunk out I didn't want to. Bugger. I could either try nibbling away with the router, or take the lower risk path and sand down the neck heel, the downside with this option being the neck was already finished with tru-oil. I decided that a re-finish was the easier option and using a flat sanding block, re-shaped the neck heel until it was a much tighter fit. I'm hoping the body finish will be thick-ish, and narrow that gap even more.

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You can't see it in any of the photos, but the bottom of the neck pocket was a good 3-4mm wider than the neck. This is what happens when you use templates you make yourself. Anyway, I'd drilled the holes for the neck using the back plate as a guide, and used these holes to secure a straigh piece of scrap plywood, lined up with the edge of the excess wood. Then, the bass was flipped over and the ply used as a guide for my bottom bearing router bit to get rid of the extra width.

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This is post-route. A bit of sanding to neaten it all up, and we're golden. Now to fit the neck. First, let's make sure we're not going to drill too deep into the neck. Backplate on, I fitted the screws to maybe 90% tightness and then measured how much they protruded from the body wood. I measured to to part where the screw narrows tapered than the full depth, as I want some wood for the screw to bite into to make a secure connection.

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About 5/8". I normally work in mm, but the tiny markings on the cm side of this ruler make it hard to see and using the inch edge was just easier. Once done, I removed the screws and backplate and clamped the neck into the body. Then, using the 5mm drill bit I drilled the body holes with, I hand pushed the bit through each the hole, and used the pointed guide part of the bit to mark tiny holes into the neck heel. This gave me the exact centre of where the screws would come through in relation to the body. But rather than drill exactly here, I used an awl to mark a further hole a fraction of a mm closer to the body. This is where the holes will be drilled, the idea being that the slightly offset screws will push the neck towards the body more than if they were lined up perfectly straight. The drill bit (4mm this time, again to give the screws more wood to bite into) was then marked off at 5/8" with masking tape to ensure I didn't got too far into the neck.

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The holes were drilled, and the neck screwed onto the body. Apparently, the heel isn't perfectly flat as there's a slight gap between the body and the neck. That can be fixed with sanding.

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The neck seems very thick, and protrudes about 1.7cm from the body. A lot of that is the fretboard wood, so I'll need to make a jig to use the planer router bit to take a good amount of material off quickly and as flat as possible. I already made an attempt to radius it with my radius block, but even with 40 grit paper it took an age to remove any noticable amount of the thickness so that's not an option. To give you an idea, the tallest bit of my P bass is about 8mm + the scratch plate thickness (about 2.2mm assuming it's .090" thick) from the body, so there's almost 5mm that needs removing.

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Shouldn't I have thicknessed the fretboard wood before I put the neck together? Yep! My other options are to make the pocket deeper, or to attempt something similar to what Andyjr1515 did with his 6 string build for Eude and do an L-shape tenon in the neck heel (see about halfway down this thread on page 2). Or indeed, some combination of these options. I think I'll see how the router planer jig goes before I think about anything too drastic.

 

Edited by GarethFlatlands
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Hi @GarethFlatlands

Hmmm...that is indeed quite a thick fretboard.  Does that mean that your trussrod slot at the nut is quite close to the bottom of the neck or is it a deep-ish neck?

Anyway, that aside, I wouldn't head down the L-shape tenon route - it worked great but I'm sure that was more by luck than judgement ;)

Easiest and safest is to deepen the neck pocket of the body - there's plenty of meat at the bottom of the pocket and so you really won't have any issues strength-wise.

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The truss rod was put in the top and there's no fillet covering it, so the flat part is pressing up against the bottom of the fretboard piece. The neck is deepish, the truss rod nut doesn't look particularly high or low. It does however stick out quite a way over the headstock, but that's a problem for nearer the end of the build.

I'll take a mm or so from the pocket, to flatten it out if nothing else, then try and remove the rest from the panga panga.

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As there was plenty of material left in the neck pocket, I did as Andyjr suggested and took a mm or so out of it to both drop the neck further, and to make sure the pocket was nice and flat. There's still a slight gap which I'll look at addressing further down the line but it's better than the pic above.

The main jobs today were tackling the pickup placement and routing. I used the setup below to thread a piece of garden twine through the bridge. This was then secured at the headstock with a scrap of wood and a clamp. Some sticky tape held the nut in place so the string could sit in it at one end, and then across the saddles at the other. I measured 35" on both lengths of twine and marked them off with a best-fit line, drawn at a right angle to the centre line. If it's a few mm off, then the adjustable saddles should be able to move to compensate.

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Once I had the bridge in the right place, I drilled 2 very shallow holes at the top and bottom screw positions so I could keep it there while marking out the position of the bridge pickup. On my scrap Jazz, this was (I think....) 1 and a half inches from the edge of the bridge. The neck pickup distance was dictated by the scratchplate. Once I had some rough lines, I used the twine to figure out if the pickups were at the right height and once I was satisfied with everything, marked the positions off. Routing went pretty smoothly and the bridge pickup cavity was quickly done. There was an empty cover in the basement for build purposes, and this dropped in nicely.

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Repeat for the neck pickup, and we're done with all the body routing!

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Note the carpet square I dug out to protect the body from knocks and scuffs from my horrible, unfinished workbecnch.

Time for the nerve-wracking bit; drilling the holes for the pickup wires. The neck was OK as the distance I had to blindly drill was pretty short, but the bridge was terrifying. I just (and I mean just) made the control cavity without going through the back of the body, and made some nice drill scuffs on the wood which you can see above. I still have the bridge ground wire to do, but I think I'm just going to run that into the pickup cavity and then through the same wire as the pickup.

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The picture is terrible, but you can just make out how low the pickup wire hole (marked by the pencil arrow) was in the control cavity for the bridge p/u. As the body had been abused a bit, I felt it was best to re-sand everything at this point and did a pass at 80 grit and then one at 120 grit before calling it a day.

Edited by GarethFlatlands
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More sanding today. 180, 240 and then 320 grit all over the body. Then a rub down with a damp cloth to raise the grain, followed by a further sand with 400 grit. The body is now ready for finishing which was a nice coincidence, as the water based stains arrived just after noon. There were 3 colours, navy, antique pink, and purple with a plan to do a base of navy, then a burst of pink/purple. First up, the scrap piece of wood test; the same wood (an offcut from the body shaping) and then onto it.

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Not bad, and it actually works better in person. The initial coat of navy raised the grain again, and was re-sanded again, but the rest of it came together nicely. So onto the body with the same technique. One coat and a sand later.

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And then onto the burst. Despite the scrapwood test, this did not go well.

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Bit of a mess! Now I have to make a decision; try and add more stain to make the burst work, or sand it right back and paint over it. My first thought it to abandon the stain and attempt a spraycan paint finish. I have to go to Halfords tomorrow to pick up a baby car seat so grabbing a couple of rattle cans is an option.

Any suggestions welcome!

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Oh dear. I imagine the blue based dyes will be very tenacious and therefore hard to sand out fully. Perhaps a solid colour is indeed the heartache free way to go.

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3 hours ago, songofthewind said:

Oh dear. I imagine the blue based dyes will be very tenacious and therefore hard to sand out fully. Perhaps a solid colour is indeed the heartache free way to go.

 

2 hours ago, Pea Turgh said:

Try more stain first.  Then if it looks like a child’s art project, paint it.

I checked it this morning to see if drying overnight had somehow fixed it, and while it looked a lot better in terms of coverage and evenness, it still looks very amateurish. The best thing at this point seems to be to cut my losses and attempt a solid colour finish. I spent yesterday evening looking at pretty much every spray can colour Halfords stocked and I've narrowed it down to a preferred choice, and a backup in case they don't have any of my first choice in stock.

If there are better, easier to apply choices of paint than car spray cans then please let me know ASAP.

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18 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

I’m certainly no expert, but I was under the impression that dyes are built up in layers, rather than in one go.  Maybe @Andyjr1515 could advise?

There's a luthier on You Tube who does lots of stuff with dyes.  The channel is Big D Guitars.

Most of it seems to be rubbing the dye on, sanding it all off.  Rubbing more dye on, and sanding it off.  Over and over again.

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24 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

I’m certainly no expert, but I was under the impression that dyes are built up in layers, rather than in one go.  Maybe @Andyjr1515 could advise?

 

4 minutes ago, Unknown_User said:

There's a luthier on You Tube who does lots of stuff with dyes.  The channel is Big D Guitars.

Most of it seems to be rubbing the dye on, sanding it all off.  Rubbing more dye on, and sanding it off.  Over and over again.

Possibly. I watched a tutorial from Crimson guitars who put the dye straight onto the wood with a piece of damp kitchen roll. They got a nice coverage and were able to work the dye after applying it, but mine went on in blotches and was unworkable almost immediately. I only bought 10ml bottles which are almost depleted already, added to the fact it's not behaving how I expected means it's probably best to abandon it now. If I try again, I'll pay the extra money for specialist dye from somewhere like Crimson rather than buying the cheapest stuff I can find off ebay.

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In my experience, the 'sand, stain, sand, stain, sand' approach is useful on highly figured woods to get more stain in the end grain and lighter in the cross-grain - but for this kind of wood, to be honest it's 'the more coats the better'. 

Ref your photo, the brown area is likely to always be a little brown with water-based stains, but the light patches are usually signs of:

- contamination of the wood...a problem sometimes with ready carved bodies but not the case here because you have thicknessed the timber and sanded it so all the surface wood has been removed

- just not enough stain (or stain that is too weak)

The first thing I would try is more coats of the navy - normally I would apply at least 4 coats of the base stain and sometimes more.

If that is still patchy, then you could try a decent spirit stain (Chestnut are good - they do a great multi-colour sample pack for not a lot of money ... and each little bottle will stain at least one bass!  The poster colour sample pack includes a strong blue and a strong purple amongst other very usable colours).

And don't worry about more coats going deeper and deeper into the wood...they don't for the cross grain.  They just give a more saturated coverage to pretty much the same depth of penetration - which is surprisingly small on all except end grain.   

Edited by Andyjr1515
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Thanks Andy. The Navy is all gone and there's maybe 1/3 of a bottle of pink and purple left. I'll head to the cellar to give it another coat and see if the colour deepens at all, or bursts a little better while I wait for the email that says my Halfords order is ready to pick up.

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The situation did not improve with more stain. It's clearly beyond my skills/levels of patience at this point. I'll be looking into other options while I wait for my collection notification.

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44 minutes ago, GarethFlatlands said:

The situation did not improve with more stain. It's clearly beyond my skills/levels of patience at this point. I'll be looking into other options while I wait for my collection notification.

OK.  It was worth a try ;)

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Shame, but worth a try. I’m also inclined to the view that there are contaminants or oils on the surface of the wood, judging from the pic.

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On 25/09/2020 at 21:55, Andyjr1515 said:

OK.  It was worth a try ;)

It was. The difference between the test piece and the bass was night and day. No idea what caused the difference.

On 26/09/2020 at 09:09, songofthewind said:

Shame, but worth a try. I’m also inclined to the view that there are contaminants or oils on the surface of the wood, judging from the pic.

Maybe, that would partially explain the blotchy finish but I feel like the worst of it was just my inability to apply it correctly.

Anyway, I made the trip to Halfords and picked up 3 spray cans along with the baby car seat; grey primer, my colour of choice and some clear lacquer. My makeshift spray booth was, shall we say "rustic". Close to the airbricks that ventilate the cellar and with an old guitar box to catch the paint where I missed the body.

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First up, the grey primer. Coat 1!

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Leave for 15 minutes, and.... Coat 2! Taken left handed, hence the blur.

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Pretty even finish for a newbie. A few drips here and there but mostly OK. It's just a case of balancing distance from the body with the speed of the pass to get a decent coverage without flooding it. I'll leave it 24 hours, sand it lightly with some 320 grit and then see how it looks. If it needs another coat of primer, it'll get one. If not, then onto the colour. Which is a surprise for now. Baby is due on Thursday so we'll see if the bass is done before he arrives.

Edited by GarethFlatlands
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