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Rexel Matador

Lockdown build - multi scale metal machine

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In between bouts of “working from home”, queueing at the supermarket and my one form of exercise per day, it seems like a good time to build a bass (not least because it’s always a good time to build a bass).

I’m craving a fretless so I can get jazzy in all this spare time, but, much as my last build is growing on me, it’s just not metal enough.

So the plan for this one is a multi-scale, EMG-equipped, 4-string, modern-looking, vaguely Fender Jazz influenced affair.

I’m not made of money and I actually quite like the simplicity of the ESP LTD “black metal” bass, with it’s single EMG soapbar, so I’ll be doing something similar. Single volume pot again, as I won’t be needing a tone control.

Wood choice is a little weird, but it’s just what I could get hold of - cherry for the body and neck and African rosewood for the fretboard. The rosewood is very pink/red, so I might try a dark cherry red stain on the body. Scratchplate and hardware will be black. I like it when jazz-style basses have the scratchplate but no control plate, and was quite pleased that the warped body shape allowed me to apply that to the single volume configuration - happy accident (though not to everyone's tastes, I'm sure)

I’m going to try a flat fretboard on this one. None of my other basses have one and I’m curious.

Here’s a very rough idea of what it’ll look like. The headstock shape is a placeholder - I haven’t given it much thought yet. Also it'll have frets, I just couldn't be bothered to draw them in.

Picture1.jpg.e9c3522d686b91d5f3bb8b81c845c7c5.jpg

So far, I've started on the fretboard slots. It's going to take a while!

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Posted (edited)

I forgot to mention the scale length - it's 900mm to 850mm - so roughly 35.5 - 33.5 inches. For my current band I tune, low to high Ab, F, Ab, Eb. -so the low string is a semitone lower than standard and the others are a semitone higher. I think, if I string it .135, .100, .080, .060 (or maybe .065) - I should get a good consistent tension, but it might take some trial and error.

I've never played a bass longer than 34" before, so it might take some getting used to.

Oh, and the perpendicular fret will be the 7th. Just copying Dingwall because they seem to know what they're doing - nothing more scientific than that!

Edited by Rexel Matador
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Made a template today. This plywood is far from the ideal material for the job but the piece of MDF I was going to use is in my office and I won't be going there anytime soon. It seems to be free from gaping voids so it should do the job. Still needs a fair bit of sanding but it's nice to see the body shape full size - I think it's going to look great.

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I've slotted the fretboard, though not to full depth yet, just to see how difficult it was actually going to be. Yes, it's covered in gunk from when I taped it down to plane the bottom, but after a good sanding it'll be fine. I like to keep my build diaries warts 'n' all. It's a very weird looking piece of wood - I'm just going to go with it and see what happens.

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And the neck blank with truss rod - still playing around with headstock shapes. I'm not doing anything fancy for this one - and I want to keep it relatively small as this bass is going to be long AF - but I still want it too look the part.

20200329_202348.thumb.jpg.593bcbc2ea35237522bdcbb9582ce64b.jpg

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I've totally lost the motivation for this, which is a shame as I've got so much more time on my hands. For one thing I feel bad buzzing away with powertools when all the neighbours are stuck at home! Hopefully I'll find some inspiration over the weekend and get back to it.

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On 29/03/2020 at 20:51, Rexel Matador said:

I've slotted the fretboard, though not to full depth yet, just to see how difficult it was actually going to be. Yes, it's covered in gunk from when I taped it down to plane the bottom, but after a good sanding it'll be fine. I like to keep my build diaries warts 'n' all. It's a very weird looking piece of wood - I'm just going to go with it and see what happens.

20200329_202330.thumb.jpg.226b85e0125b196b96a00409877605a2.jpg

 

 

One tip I picked up from someone for when you want to stick stuff together with tape to stop it sliding but to make it easy to separate later and leave minimal gunk is this. Stick masking tape to each of the two surfaces you want to hold together then put the double sided tape in between them. Works a treat for slotting fretboard or holding templates down whilst you use a router.

Look forward to the next steps of your build.

Cheers

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23 hours ago, Rexel Matador said:

I've totally lost the motivation for this, which is a shame as I've got so much more time on my hands. For one thing I feel bad buzzing away with powertools when all the neighbours are stuck at home! Hopefully I'll find some inspiration over the weekend and get back to it.

Funny you should say that, I painted three basses a couple of days ago and felt the same with the compressor running making a right racket. I've been doing some work in the garden using a rotovator, chainsaw, petrol hedgecutter and mower and felt the same guilt. It's definitely a strange time. Hopefully we'll see some progress soon. 👍

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On 03/04/2020 at 14:47, Rexel Matador said:

I've totally lost the motivation for this, which is a shame as I've got so much more time on my hands. For one thing I feel bad buzzing away with powertools when all the neighbours are stuck at home! Hopefully I'll find some inspiration over the weekend and get back to it.

I've heard one or two of the neighbours working on shed projects with power tools.  It's reassuring.

It's not uncommon for Spondon.  We have lots of home builders of various projects.  What is odd is that a lack of traffic noise means that you hear just the birds and occasionally the power tools.

Don't let it keep you down, especially after Her Maj's speech last night.  If nothing else, do it to keep your sanity.

Keep Calm and Carry On

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Take a short discussion with your neighbours and make a deal, that noise is OK from 12oo to 14oo, or whatever. When everybody knows this, there should be no word about it later on. This also drives you to do short, well thought (?) steps, one at a time. Talk about rhythm.

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That pink fretboard has been abandoned on account of its flimsiness. I'm using this maple one instead. The heel end looks like that because I'm stealing the Framus idea again - screws going in the opposite direction under the scratchplate. It worked nicely on my first build so I thought I'd try it again.

I've also radiused it. I was originally going to go for a totally flat board but decided against it. I don't really know why, it just sort of happened.20200413_143727.thumb.jpg.54f24e660aa67a32eb6ae36b02673afc.jpg

20200413_143737.thumb.jpg.e22787ffbf3dbd9b6a2f4e6b737908aa.jpg

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Cut with the scalpel then widened with a knife so the saw bites (but that's for another day)

Whether I've been accurate enough for this thing to actually play in tune remains to be seen, but I'm pretty happy to have got this far!

20200413_193659.thumb.jpg.eef092b3689b6b4cec61d1143657f16d.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Frets are in - so much easier on an unshaped neck!

20200428_134814.thumb.jpg.a04bec43f933c57321cc25e59c11755f.jpg

The first few on the low string feel very far apart - it'll take some getting used to.

Edited by Rexel Matador

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Rexel Matador said:

Frets are in - so much easier on an unshaped neck!

20200428_134814.thumb.jpg.a04bec43f933c57321cc25e59c11755f.jpg

The first few on the low string feel very far apart - it'll take some getting used to.

Now it's getting interesting.

You've taken the Dingwall idea of having the fret that is perpendicular to the fretboard at the seventh position.  If I recall, @Andyjr1515 has it at the twelfth in one of his builds.

Perhaps the most comfortable position for the perpendicular fret would depend on which end of the neck you frequent most...?

Edited by SpondonBassed

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17 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

Now it's getting interesting.

You've taken the Dingwall idea of having the fret that is perpendicular to the fretboard at the seventh position.  If I recall, @Andyjr1515 has it at the twelfth in one of his builds.

Perhaps the most comfortable position for the perpendicular fret would depend on which end of the neck you frequent most...?

Having never actually played a multiscale instrument before, I had no idea what my preference would be! I saw that Dingwall do it at the seventh and figured they seem to know their stuff when it comes to fanned frets, so why not.

Secondly I liked the idea of mitigating the slant at the nut and lower frets - I play mostly (though certainly not exclusively) down there and figured it might make it easier to get used to. It all remains to be seen.

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7 minutes ago, Rexel Matador said:

Having never actually played a multiscale instrument before, I had no idea what my preference would be! I saw that Dingwall do it at the seventh and figured they seem to know their stuff when it comes to fanned frets, so why not.

Me neither! ;)

I've done two multi-scales and they are both quite different to each other :D  

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9 minutes ago, Rexel Matador said:

Secondly I liked the idea of mitigating the slant at the nut and lower frets - I play mostly (though certainly not exclusively) down there and figured it might make it easier to get used to. It all remains to be seen.

Yes - that was sort of my logic on Pete's piccolo bass, which has the vertical actually at the first fret!  He'd never heard of multi-scale and I didn't tell him until quite well into the build that is WAS multi-scale :D

I guessed that he would be less frightened by it so much if the bottom frets looked normal-ish.  In the event, he took to it like a duck to water, even at the dusty end...  

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Posted (edited)

The neck is starting to take shape. My last couple of builds have had very thin necks, so I thought I'd leave this one a bit chunkier and see how I get on with it. It's hard to tell as it's only roughly carved and has no strings on, but I think it'll be pretty comfortable.

20200430_195611.thumb.jpg.ea8ddfae877d4298cc709afdd3a39aa3.jpg

 

Edited by Rexel Matador
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Cut out the body shape today - the holes are from where I attached the template, but they will be obliterated/obscured but the forearm contour, scratchplate and neck pocket respectively.20200503_211752.thumb.jpg.bf8362f605bc7354ffe9d71a3488dd2f.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I cut a (thankfully reasonably modest) belly cut, stood back to admire my handiwork and realised I'd cut it in on the front of the body. So now the upper body is "contoured". Sometimes I wonder if it's safe for me to be around sharp tools.20200508_133651.thumb.jpg.1b5bce8bc9e57135ba4c8b99015b2821.jpg

Edited by Rexel Matador
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Long day...

20200508_180415.thumb.jpg.900ccc3f61e4431bc8d026166c5b6145.jpg

I really hate doing neck pockets. I'm definitely going back to neck-through for the next one!

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Hurry up with that.  I want to copy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heeheehee.

The neighbour gave me a nice chunk of timber yesterday.  I need to identify it to see if it's any good for my neck through.

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I've made a scratchplate from some nice matt black perspex and and everything seems to fit. I think it goes with the modern style of the thing. I was going to use a regular Tele/Precision-stlye knob, but I'm going to experiment with a bigger one and see which I like best. Have to wait for it to arrive first though.

I'm going to wait until the neck is screwed on before attaching the bridge pieces because I want to get it right first time. The metal band tunes to B flat on the lowest string and on my 34" scale basses, the saddle has to go way way back. These single string ones have a bit less travel so I need to make sure it's in a position where it can go back far enough. It seems to me that having the foreward-most point of travel placed exactly at the scale length is pointless because it's always going to end up further back. What would the effect of the longer (35.5") scale be. Would it intonate closer to the actual scale length? Further back? About the same?

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Started sanding the body today. It's far from perfect but I have to keep reminding myself that four and a half basses ago I'd barely used a drill, so I'm definitely going in the right direction. I just can't wait until the day when my plans to move to a bigger place can be resurrected and I no longer have to do all this with out a bandsaw, table saw, jointer, spindle sander and god knows what other free-standing tools are generally considered essential in this game! I guess I'm currently a reluctant member of the Brian May school.

Still undecided on the colour. I originally wanted to stain it dark red, but I think for that to work it would need a matching headstock and I'm not confident enough that I can mask and scrape my way to clean enough lines. So I might leave it natural.

One of the guitarists in my band has asked me to build him a guitar so I must be doing something right. It's quite a ridiculous project - too bad I won't be able to write about it here! 😂

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9 minutes ago, Rexel Matador said:

One of the guitarists in my band has asked me to build him a guitar so I must be doing something right. It's quite a ridiculous project - too bad I won't be able to write about it here!

I think we'd let you off seeing as you've put up a bass build already.  It hasn't stopped @Andyjr1515.

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6 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

I think we'd let you off seeing as you've put up a bass build already.  It hasn't stopped @Andyjr1515.

Noted. It should be interesting if I can pull it off.

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