Jump to content
spacecowboy

First time making a bass, Singlecut NT 5 string

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Context; 

Like a lot of people, lock-down has allowed for a little extra "me" time, and, provided me the opportunity to indulge in my hobbies a little more...

I've always loved woodwork, me and my Grandad when I was really little would spend a lot of time in his garage workshop making anything and everything from wood. 

Recently I have been wanting to buy a new bass, but while looking at loads of options I just couldn't shake the thought that I could just make my own bass? In general I know how things are made, I know how to work wood... I should maybe just give this a go...

In may I started working on my design in CAD and subsequently built 6 basses from redwood,  refining and working out the design. These redwood basses made me realise just how many things there are to consider while building the instrument and highlighted just how many things can quickly go wrong and destroy a build (Routers anyone?) , I highly recommend to anyone wanting to build an instrument that they start in cheaper and easier to work timbers and work the complicated stuff out before you chip in to your expensive stuff, it took me 6 attempts to get things worked out completely. 

So with the Redwood stuff done I'm now ready to start the final bass. 

Build; 

This is the basic CAD data for the bass I'm looking to build; 

bassfront.thumb.JPG.cc2afe00723d8a0455010f77dc987ab4.JPG

bassback.thumb.JPG.1fdca79f13ce6bd3391e29f01f108464.JPG

I'm building this bass at the weekends and most evenings after work so I hope that updates will be pretty rapid and daily.

I was keen to use a mix of my favorite woods on this bass, the neck is a 7 piece laminate, an Ovangkol heart, with a Wenge, Zebrano, Wenge sandwich either side. The fingerboard will be Wenge and the body will be Swamp Ash with a Wenge top cap or tone center, haven't decided yet as the swamp ash looks lovely against the neck woods and I'd hate to hide that with a Wenge top, while a Wenge slice in the middle would look lovely. I'll work it out later. 

 

01.thumb.jpg.c7c6597d610046a51302b5c77921646e.jpg

First thing I did was rip the timbers down to rough size, giving myself enough tolerance to plane them to final thickness. I flipped the Zebrano strips to mirror each other which gives me, in my opinion, a really cool chevron look, This will be the bass body end so it's not hidden by the fretboard.

02.thumb.jpg.066a6218b3240c935ee71d95276de218.jpg

I got the rip downs pretty accurate with the saw, could probably have cleaned them up with a hand plane, but I'm going to throw these on the planer thicknesser and give my arms a rest. I really love the sandwich, to my eyes it looks great. The Ovangkol heart is the perfect aesthetic compliment to the Zebrano / Wenge pieces. 

04.thumb.jpg.ee328259076a5e600053a239bc601616.jpg

The Swamp ash was cut and planed and looks lovely against the neck woods, hopefully you can see now, why I don't want to cover this with Wenge!

06.thumb.jpg.6d3aed5ac1951816b80066a96b518019.jpg

But... if I do pop a Wenge top on the Ash, this is the board I have bought for that, It has really lovely grain and is lighter in appearance than the neck timber Wenge so might create a lovely contrast. It'll only be a small top cap however, approx 5mm thick as this plank weighs a bloomin' tonne.

05.thumb.jpg.3d547e7a326089b1d187ebaff67c5020.jpg

This is the Wenge for the fretboard, fantastic grain, Think this will sand up and saw brilliantly, it's a fantastically stable piece.

07.thumb.jpg.1613fb43ee98bd663a05864da761f138.jpg

Got all of the neck laminates through the planer thicknesser leaving about 6mm tolerance in max width so I can pass the entire glue up through the thicknesser again to get the final thickness. Glue up of the neck is a bit of a nightmare, boards like to move all over and I had more than a couple of accidents in the redwood basses, so lesson learned here is to leave as much wiggle room as possible and then plane and thickness the whole assembly after. 

08.thumb.jpg.b10d41d33baae678eba4fe08c1cbf2a8.jpg

I Put as many clamps as i possibly could on the glue up and used belt clamps to pull the underside of the boards level as they love to move, on the next bass I build I'm going to look to bolt the ends of the boards so no movement can occur, but this glue up is definitely the hardest bit of gluing on the build, my coffee was well and truly cold after I finished gluing up so note to self and others make your coffee after glue up!

09.thumb.jpg.46e547f5082b199c3b9d2c8eeb2ab395.jpg

The boards are sitting pretty well in the glue up, should only need minor work to get this face ready as my reference face and then I can whittle down the thickness tomorrow! 

 

So tomorrow, clamps off, quick clean up, plane, thickness, and then depending on how much time I have and how I'm feeling confidence wise I might start the scarf joint. 

Thank you for looking at the build and having a read. 

 

Edited by spacecowboy
Grammar! & Pics
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:

That's going to make a beautiful fingerboard.

Thank you.

It's wonderful isn't it, I originally bought the board to be used as part of the neck, but I couldn't hide that grain pattern so I had to buy another length for the neck and this replaced a piece of Ovangkol that was going to be the fingerboard. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like an interesting build, following with interest!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That bottom horn does nothing for me, the angle of dangle looks all wrong.

But so what, it's not my bass.

 

You're making a stunning looking instrument with those lovely looking bits of wood.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Si600 said:

That bottom horn does nothing for me, the angle of dangle looks all wrong.

But so what, it's not my bass.

 

You're making a stunning looking instrument with those lovely looking bits of wood.

:D I have been through quite a few lower horn designs and when this current design has been rounded off and all blended in it looks nicer than the static CAD drawing, between that and the headstock I think I have about a hundred designs!

It might grow on you? ;) I also love the phrase "Angle of Dangle" 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, spacecowboy said:

It might grow on you?  I also love the phrase "Angle of Dangle" 

I think that might sit better on the knee when sat practising because of that feature.

I don't generally practise that way because of slippage with most bass bodies.  I have to use a strap even when sat down.  I blame pies.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, SpondonBassed said:

I think that might sit better on the knee when sat practising because of that feature.

I don't generally practise that way because of slippage with most bass bodies.  I have to use a strap even when sat down.  I blame pies.

Yeah I find it's really comfortable in a sat playing position, for me anyway. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, SpondonBassed said:

I think that might sit better on the knee when sat practising because of that feature.

I had a @Prosebass with exactly that feature. It works very well 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, spacecowboy said:

Yeah I find it's really comfortable in a sat playing position, for me anyway. :)

 

3 hours ago, Geek99 said:

I had a @Prosebass with exactly that feature. It works very well 

 

I've exceeded my quota for reactions (TLRTs as they're known in the Den of Iniquity).

I like what I'm "hearing" from both of you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Updates!

10.thumb.jpg.98ae282de6cd53e01ea28be27e314cd1.jpg

Took the clamps off the neck, planed a reference face and then thicknessed the neck flat. 

12.thumb.jpg.0b4123ae32a2a908539decc4318ea49d.jpg

Then it was the first squeeky bum time moment... cutting the scarf joint. I have chosen to do a scarf joint on this bass primarily for joint strength and getting a good grain direction within the headstock area, also means my timber stock is half the size. I made a couple of prototypes with the angle cut from a single block... the short grain edge looked awful and the waste was criminal.

11.thumb.jpg.7e33b5376aff3c089df8c9b5d46aa77a.jpg

To make this task easier and more accurate I've made a simple 13 degree jig that runs up against my fence I can clamp the board square to the jigs face and table and slowly guide the neck through...

13.thumb.jpg.b5416fa05296931871c354b83ddf7d0e.jpg

So far so good...

14.thumb.jpg.14313b792591c3bfdcc53573c2431a88.jpg

To clean up the joint faces I've made this 13 degree router jig, the timber rather than the router sits on a 13 degree angle plane as I found this easier to work, once I have the timber lined up I can clamp it in place and whittle the cut face down with a palm router.

15.thumb.jpg.b720634b53ab51798a2fef08798d39ad.jpg

The routing leaves a nice level surface ready for sanding.

16.thumb.jpg.ac4b072e08623c60e306928513300bfe.jpg

Cleaned up a treat.

17.thumb.jpg.522c57a2d7dd057e2d94e725c7d936a0.jpg

Repeat the process for the other side and then check the fit, This surfaces closes up nicely under hand pressure so on to the gluing! 

18.thumb.jpg.0eec2ec9c15c07788225930bf2add36d.jpg

It's in there somewhere...

19.thumb.jpg.ce3510a7f968eeef38664b309fb83e0e.jpg

The biggest worry with the neck was making sure that once I'd flipped the board over for the scarf joint that the timbers still ran parallel to each other, If i'd have made one side of a laminate thicker than the other side then the mirrored pieces wouldn't line up... apart from the Zebra wood grain on the bottom laminate not running through the rest actually look really good.

20.thumb.jpg.37cd2ea23366efa77a0ffa1befeea0a2.jpg

Joint closed up really nicely with no gaps... phew.

Next:

I've got another squeeky bum day... routing the cavities for the truss rod and carbon rods (probably not needed but hey ho) truss rod access will be on the body end and not the headstock (I don't like truss rod covers). If time allows I'll mark up the neck's tapering angles and prepare it for cutting... luckily it'll be nice and easy to see the cutting line with the white pencil on the Wenge...

 

Thanks for everyone having a read or peak at the pics.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, spacecowboy said:

Thanks for everyone having a read or peak at the pics.

Welcumz

I have run out of TLRTs (reactions) for the moment but I am liking this a lot.

I especially like the lateral thinking that you've applied to the scarf cut.  It's giving me ideas of my own.  In addition, you've documented your project very well.

I'm in for the duration.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

Welcumz

I have run out of TLRTs (reactions) for the moment but I am liking this a lot.

I especially like the lateral thinking that you've applied to the scarf cut.  It's giving me ideas of my own.  In addition, you've documented your project very well.

I'm in for the duration.

Thank you 💪

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a really great, inspiring project. I particularly admire your jig for cleaning up the faces with a router. Top notch work! Can't wait to see your progress!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent!  Watching with great interest.  Very ambitious but you clearly know what you are doing.  Great choices of timbers :)

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, songofthewind said:

This is a really great, inspiring project. I particularly admire your jig for cleaning up the faces with a router. Top notch work! Can't wait to see your progress!

Thank you very much for the kind words! 🙏

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Excellent!  Watching with great interest.  Very ambitious but you clearly know what you are doing.  Great choices of timbers :)

 

Those are very kind words from someone who's builds I really admire, your work is consistently fantastic.

I've never attempted an instrument before, there's so much to consider and think about all the time the brain is always working, I've definitely got a few questions to throw your way when I get stuck if that's ok? 

When I come to make the bridge which I'll  be making in Wenge too (spot the trend on this bass... it's probably going to end up weighing 10 kilos!) I'd love some feedback, I'm also going to attempt making a Warwick Jan3 style nut from timber too... 

Thank you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome collection of woods, the Zebrano really adds a lot. really looking forward to seeing this develop!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, mhoss32 said:

Awesome collection of woods, the Zebrano really adds a lot. really looking forward to seeing this develop!

I bought the Zebrano on a whim with some other timbers as I could include it in the postage for free shipping, turns out to be one of the nicest parts of the bass so far! 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Updates! 

21.thumb.jpg.269b4571603a8bfdb47f72b67f5377dd.jpg

Glue up of the scarf joint was all ok so I planed up the top face and checked everything for square. I've marked out a centre line for the truss and then popped some tape on to make sure I can easily locate it when routing. I've ordered a new longer truss rod for this build, the 600mm one I had was a bit too short so I'm swapping that out for a 630mm so that'll be arriving in a couple of days.

22.thumb.jpg.6deeb488588145e0e88004dd2a51c28e.jpg

I cut the Wenge fingerboard timber down to thickness ready for slotting the frets, I had some left over Ovangkol from the neck so my plan here is to prep the finger board and then whittle off 5mm either side and then bind the two edges with the Ovangkol to hide the edges of the frets.

23.thumb.jpg.5f3dce167521d4c7ae16413a117059bc.jpg

Think it will look lovely when it's all cut to size... does make me think I might have to make the nut from Ovangkol too though... we'll see.

24.thumb.jpg.c8727e72d4e77d9dc095e6d9b8cbd848.jpg

The block from the end of the fingerboard will be used in some way to make the bridge, I'm going to be designing that in CAD at somepoint today while the missus is getting her hair cut.I want to use the end of the fingerboard block so the grain is consistent from the end of the neck to the start of the bridge.

25.thumb.jpg.63f5d9be66b4d4f4d0ca2d79c21473a2.jpg

I have this piece to maybe fashion some saddles, No idea if these will work, I do have some adjustable saddles from a 3D bridge to use if this idea fails and I'll just sit those saddles in to the wenge. 

Next:

Fingerboard prepping, fret slots need cutting, board needs cutting to size, binding glued, and then design the bridge...

Enjoy your Sunday!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's your preference for the edge of the fretboard?  Squared edge with the sharpness knocked off or rounded?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, SpondonBassed said:

What's your preference for the edge of the fretboard?  Squared edge with the sharpness knocked off or rounded?

Exactly that. I'll be putting a 20 degree radius on the fretboard and the Ovangkol will be part of that, then the neck shaping will continue from the back around up to the edge of the fingerboard and I'll knock the edge off with a small fillet 0.5 to 1mm. 

In CAD it takes about 5 seconds... let's see how long it takes with tools :D

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...