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Basvarken

Grabbird = Thunderbird + Grabber

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I have just finished my latest bass build. It's the Brooks Grabbird.
 
This bass combines the 1964 Gibson Thunderbird II with the 1973 Gibson Grabber.
It features a nine ply neck through construction just like the Thunderbird. But with strips of maple veneer in between the mahogany, instead of walnut.
The nickel covered humbucker resembles the pickup of the sixties Thunderbird. But the sliding mechanism in the raised middle section refers to the Grabber of course. The shape of the headstock echoes the Grabber headstock, but the ebony veneer on top is a nod to the Thunderbird headstock.
The shorter headstock and the Ultra-lite tuners make sure it doesn't suffer any neckdive!
 
 

brooks-grabbird-front-full-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-body-angle-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-body-angle-bridge-position-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-head-close-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-head-back-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-full-angle_orig.jpg

brooks-granrid-full-back-horiz-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-body-back-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-bridge-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-flame-logo-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-from-the-butt-end-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-front-full2-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-pickup-close-1500_orig.jpg

brooks-grabbird-truss-rod-cover-1500_orig.jpg

 

 

 
Specs:
- Neck through with figured mahogany body wings
- Nine ply mahogany/maple neck
- Ebony faceplate on headstock
- Cherry gloss transparent acrylic finish
- Rosewood fretboard
- Jumbo frets
- 34" scale
- Handcut bone nut
- Three ply white-black-white pickguard
- Wide travel Thunderbird bridge plus tailstop
- Spokewheel trussrod
- Sliding Thunderbird pickup nickel. 9.2 K Ohm
- Hipshot ultralite nickel plated tuners
- Volume pot Bourns 500 kOhms logarithmic SRT
- Tone pot Bourns 500 kOhms logarithmic SRT
- Kemet capacitor 47 nF paper insulation
- D'Addario Nickel plated Roundwound 45-105
Edited by Basvarken
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I started out with a big mahogany neck blank.
neck-bank-2_orig.jpg
 
I went to a friend who has a saw table and cut it into four long pieces.
Plus I bought some maple veneer to put in between those pieces. I had another piece of slightly darker mahogany lying around, which I used for the middle.
 

glueing-the-nice-ply-center-piece-closeup_orig.jpg

glueing-the-nice-ply-center-piece_orig.jpg

 
It was a bit of a puzzle because there were two tiny) knots in the blank that I would rather avoid in the new laminated blank. I made sure they were in the outer ends of the blank.
 
nine-layers-glued-together2_orig.jpg
 
Next I routed the truss rod channel. And chiseled out the part where the spoke wheel goes.
 

routing-the-truss-rod-channel2_orig.jpg

truss-rod-channel-ready_orig.jpg

 
Sawed the neck blank into a rough shape for the neck, headstock paddle and the middle part of the body.
headstock-angle_orig.jpg
 
Bought a nice piece of rosewood. And drilled holes for the position dots. Glued them in and sanded them flush with the fretboard in tjhe correct radius of 16".

drilling-the-holes-for-the-position-dots_orig.jpg

glueing-the-position-dots_orig.jpg

sanding-the-radius_orig.jpg

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I bought a piece of ebony and sanded it to a thickness of about mm.
Sawed it in the shape for the headstock overlay.
 
ebony-face-plate-plus-headtsock_orig.jpg
 
I drilled small holes for tiny nails that prevent the faceplate from sliding while glued and clamped.
clamping-the-face-plate_orig.jpg
 
Printed out a paper template of the design to check the definite shape.

headstock-face-plate-design_orig.jpg

face-plate-glued-on-head-stock_orig.jpg

 

Did a few tests for the sliding mechanism. I used scrap wood that I had lying around
 

test-sliding_orig.jpg

test-with-scrap-pieces_orig.jpg

test-sliding-mechanism-with-scrap-pieces_orig.jpg

 
 
When I knew the sliding mechanism worked according to plan, I glued the fretboard onto the neck.
I always use strips of bicycle tubes tied together by mean of clamping. You get a nice and even pressure on the entire fretboard. And it doesn't slide because its wrapped all around.
 
glueing-the-fretboard_orig.jpg
 
 
I cut the parts for the sliding mechanism from the same nine ply center piece. I just used the part that was under the neck. I had to remove a lot of wood there anyway.
 
centerpiece-with-one-insert-in-place_orig.jpg
 
And I routed some slots for the pickup screws and the pickup wiring
centerpiece-with-two-inserts-2_orig.jpg
 
I sawed a hole for the pickup in the part that was going to be the frame. Plus I routed the back side, so the plate with the pickup would fit in nicely.
 
frame-for-the-sliding-mechanism_orig.jpg
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sled-with-pickup_orig.jpgfitting-the-holes-and-slots-for-the-wiring_orig.jpgunderside-of-the-sliding-mechanism_orig.jpgfine-tuning-the-sliding-mechanism_orig.jpgfine-tuning-the-sliding-mechanism2_orig.jpg

 

Drilled the holes for the bridge studs
drilling-the-bridge-stud-holes_orig.jpg
 
Drilled the holes for the tuners
drilling-the-tuner-holes_orig.jpg
 
Center piece almost ready for glueing the wings
center-piece_orig.jpg
 
I had a nice slab of curly mahogany for the wings.
First I glued the lower wing.
glueing-the-first-wing-in-place_orig.jpg
 
Then the upper wing. No pics of routing the control cavity in the lower (sorry)

wings-in-the-clamps_orig.jpg

 

glueing-the-wings-to-the-center-piece_orig.jpg

Cut the rough body shape to get ready for the router to cut along the template.
 
template-for-the-body_1_orig.jpg
 
I have no pics of the planing of the wings to make them taper (just like the Thunderbird wings do)
But here's a (not so clear) pic of the taper in one of the wings. You can see I had to fill up the gaps between the wings and the template because of the taper.
tapering-wings_orig.jpg
 
Routed the body shape
routed-the-body-shape_1_orig.jpgsouth-end_orig.jpg
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Made a template for the controls cover

template-for-the-controls-cover_orig.jpg

routed-controls-cover_orig.jpg

 
And I though of a solution for securing the pickup frame without ruining the clean look. I drilled holes for tiny magnets in each corner. In the back side of the frame. And I would place screws or carpet nails in the middle section of the body for the magnets to snap onto.
 
drilling-holes-for-the-magnets_orig.jpgmagnets-in-each-corner_orig.jpg
 
Cut the slot for the top nut
slot-for-the-nut_orig.jpg
 
Prior to staining the body I used pore filler because the mahogany has very open grain.
pores-filled_4_orig.jpg
 
When the grain filler was sanded flush I stained the bass with a waterbased bright red colour by Clou.
staining-the-body-red_orig.jpgsliding-parts-stained_orig.jpg
 
After the first layers of clear coat acrylic it looked like this
first-layer-of-clear-coat_orig.jpg
 
I applied the water slide decals
prpping-for-decal_orig.jpgdecal-in-place_orig.jpg
 
After many layers of acrylic and lots of sanding in between
polished-body_orig.jpg
 
A friend of mine has a laser cutter. I sent him the design for the pickguard and the logo. He cut it out and engraved the flame logo for me!
 
laser-cust-logo-close_orig.jpgpick-guard-test_orig.jpg
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Just love that trussrod cover!

What does the bass weigh?

 

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8 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

Just love that trussrod cover!

What does the bass weigh?

 

4.5 kg

Edited by Basvarken

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4 minutes ago, Basvarken said:

 

4.5 kg

Thanks. I feel better now ... I don't need to ask whether it's for sale. :D

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I'd heard of The Rail by Westone but I'd not come across The Grabber by Gibson before.

A neatly reproduced sliding pup mechanism in an eye catching body.  What more would you want?  I can't wait to hear about the tonal palette you'll have just from adjusting the pup position.

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I want you to do me a Pelham Blue Ripper with Thunderbird pickups 😂

Edited by AndyTravis
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1 minute ago, AndyTravis said:

I want you to do me a Pelham Blue Ripper with Thunderbird pickups 😂

No problem Andy. Send me the specs and I'll make you a quote.

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3 minutes ago, Basvarken said:

No problem Andy. Send me the specs and I'll make you a quote.

I suspect after recent purchases, there would be an imminent divorce.

But you make beautiful instruments. And I am weak - I know where you are though, for sure.

Have you ever attempted a version of the Les Paul Signature bass (the posh Jack Casady).

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7 minutes ago, AndyTravis said:

I suspect after recent purchases, there would be an imminent divorce.

But you make beautiful instruments. And I am weak - I know where you are though, for sure.

Have you ever attempted a version of the Les Paul Signature bass (the posh Jack Casady).

No I haven't , but I did modify my JCS a bit. Inspired by the first generation of the Les Paul Signature bass
2938651_orig.jpg

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38 minutes ago, AndyTravis said:

I want you to do me a Pelham Blue Ripper with Thunderbird pickups 😂

Me too 😁

Such a cool idea and lovely looking bass. 

Out of interest, what fretboard radius does it have? 

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8 hours ago, DoubleOhStephan said:

Me too 😁

Such a cool idea and lovely looking bass. 

Out of interest, what fretboard radius does it have? 

The Grabbird has a 16'" radius

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