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PhilR

Hello. My name is Phil, and I'm an addict...

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... addicted to BASS

Well, almost. The pandemic lockdown has effected us all in many different ways and in my case that manifested in a persistent urge to bury myself in sawdust. Guitar building was something I'd wanted to try since I was a teenager but had neither the tools, time, money or workshop to do it. Around May of this year though I found myself with some government grant funding and lots of time on my hands so, I dove in. Tentatively at first.

Well, let's just say that it all went a bit crazy from there. And now, a few months later, I have now built 1 Les Paul style guitar, a multiscale baritone 6-string, a 5-string bass, 2 4-string basses, one baritone strat conversion neck and one rebuilt Eko bass (which was actually the thing that got all this started). I clearly have a problem, and need to be stopped. 

Would you like to know more?

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I like this:

567033700_2020-08-2719_13_58.thumb.jpg.488474ab6b31bedc95983c34e8380549.jpg

Seems reminiscent of something but I can't decide what.

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1 minute ago, songofthewind said:

Colour me impressed. I would like to know more.

Welp, you asked for it.

 

21 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

I like this:

567033700_2020-08-2719_13_58.thumb.jpg.488474ab6b31bedc95983c34e8380549.jpg

Seems reminiscent of something but I can't decide what.

My main inspiration was the Zon Sonus, although I did alter the headstock design.

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Okay well I'll start with the project that kicked all this off. I originally bought an Eko BX-7 barebones bass from Brandoni guitars back when I was still in my teens so going back about 20+ years now. I made a mess of that thing but I still beat on it for years until I eventually broke it bad. Anyway I decided back in May to see if there were any of these left and lo and behold, Brandoni still had one in stock. So I bought it. My intention was to machine down the top of the body wings and replace the surface with something harder than the yellow pine that they were made of. I'd never done anything like this before although I was no stranger to using a router so I laid my plans and just got on with it.

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Anyway that went pretty well. Not perfect, but not terrible either. I used a thrown-together router sled to help me with cutting down the top and used some sepele for the new surface. Once it was glued in I hacked, routed, angle ground and drum sanded it into shape.

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Now after this stage I actually finished the bass in nitrocellulose and was planning on leaving it there but things kinda went off the rails a bit. For a start I realised the the original fretwork was kinda garbage so I decided to make it fretless. Then, having gone to that trouble I realised 2 things:

1: I am absolutely not talented enough to play a fretless
2: The f'kin neck had a backbow in it.

So, much planing of the fretboard ensued to flatten and re-radius it and I then re-fretted it with jumbo wire.  Around this time I had also decided that I was gonna do a scratch build and bugger the consequences and this is why the Eko bhass didn't get finished until a couple of weeks ago but I'll get to those others things later. All the mess with the fretwork completely ruined the nitro finish so I decided to strip it. And also install a 2nd pickup for the extra tonez and also so I would have somewhere to rest my thumb. So out comes the router and in went a Wilkinson MM pickup.

By THIS point I had already built 2 other basses from scratch but I digress.

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So there you have it, the Eko BX-7 bass. Born sometime back in the 80's and brutally returned to life by yours truly over the space of about 4 months.

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This concluded episode #1 of this online ego trip.

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Very imaginative conversion process. It would never have occurred to me to cut down the wings like that.

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7 minutes ago, songofthewind said:

Very imaginative conversion process. It would never have occurred to me to cut down the wings like that.

Oh this was an experience that served me in good stead a while later. This story gets messy.

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Hi Phil and welcome, this one is a stunner and a nice finish to the wood , nice work ☝️

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Anyhoo I'm on beer #3 so might call it a night after this. THIS was the first guitar I decided to build completely from scratch mid-way through the bass conversion above. Now, if you ask online about a good guitar to build as a newbie you'll get an army of boring gits telling you to either build a kit (done it, boring) or build a telecaster from pine with an eBay neck or something.

Well, dear reader, f*ck that noise. I don't want no pine boringcaster. I want to build a Les Paul. My inspiration for this was the work of a member at the Les Paul forums by the name of Scatter Lee. You can Google him yourself, but rest assured this guy is a genius of improvised jigs and tooling. Armed with this half-assed research and some downloaded templates I bought some wood and got to work.

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The design here isn't strictly Gibson you may notice. I was actually aiming at a guitar produced by a Japanese company called Greco, which is used by Roland for one of their early synth guitars. A former housemate of mine had one of these and it was actually a really nice guitar. But also rare as unicorn poop. So here I am making my own. I made the neck from maple & mahogany.

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Around this point I had to come up with a way to cut a fretboard radius and slotting jig. So I did a bit of Googling and came up with this:
 

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Next up: Top carving! This is actually far less intimidating when you know how to do it. Basically you're just routing in the contour lines and then sanding out the steps. I made one routing booboo along the way but was able to fill it in with dust&glue.

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Good templates make good joints which is why I spend some good time cutting MDF before I started hacking up wood. This worked out well as the neck joint came out pretty darn good. I also came up with what I thought was original headstock design. Suffice to say I found out later that no, someone had already come up with pretty much the exact same thing already. Sigh. I knew nothing about neck carving but I just went at it with the drum sander and, well, see for yourself.

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I made a very sketchy floating router thingy so I could cut a roundover on the top. And did some blending on the neck joint. Cut in the pickup & control cavities. And eventually shot it with some nitro.

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Now, there is a reason why I won't use nitrocellulose again after this. This guitar hung on a peg for 3 f*ckin' weeks and after that the finish was still soft enough to recieve an imprint from a goddamn rubber pad. I didn't care by this point though, I just wanted it done.

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Anyhoo to wrap up this tedious tale: how did this turn out? Great! The guitar plays really well. It's also STUPID heavy. Turns out making a guitar from a solid sepele slab with zero weight relief results in a guitar for truly manly men. This thing feels like a mighty tree that just happens to be a guitar.

Next up: Phil decides to built a multiscale guitar. Anger, regret, bargaining, despair and eventually acceptance follow.

 

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24 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Hi Phil and welcome, this one is a stunner and a nice finish to the wood , nice work ☝️

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Thank you sir. All my most recent builds were finished using french polishing methods. Which is kinda labour intensive but actually pretty quick compared to spraying. The top on this one is figured sepele, a very underrated wood in my opinion.

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Loving the Eko bx-7. I had one about ten years ago that had been painted black by a previous owner. I found it in a ad in a newspaper shop for £30 and I stripped back to original finish. Had white dimarzio p and jazz pickups in it. 
 

 

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Edited by simon88wilson
Found an old pic of it!

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53 minutes ago, simon88wilson said:

Loving the Eko bx-7. I had one about ten years ago that had been painted black by a previous owner. I found it in a ad in a newspaper shop for £30 and I stripped back to original finish. Had white dimarzio p and jazz pickups in it. 
 

 

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That's pretty clean. Wish mine had the rosewood fretboard.

Edited by PhilR

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Poor poor soul, I really feel for you 😂

Well done so far!

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Not just an addict but a fast worker too!  That's a lot of instruments in a relatively short time.

I like the designs and choice of woods - they all look like well looked after older instruments rather than brand new stuff.  Great job.

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2 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Not just an addict but a fast worker too!  That's a lot of instruments in a relatively short time.

I like the designs and choice of woods - they all look like well looked after older instruments rather than brand new stuff.  Great job.

Shellac does give wood the lived-in look. And yeah I do bash through these quite quickly. Too quickly to be honest, they've pretty much all got numerous flaws that I could have done better on if I'd just had a bit more paience.

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I'm gonna skip the multiscale build, we're all about the BASS here am I right? Okay well I decided to make a 5 string. I haven't owned one for quite some time so I figure meh, make my own. Why not?

The design for this one was blatantly copied from inspired by the Zon Sonus. I've been a fan of Bill Gould of Faith No More for some years and always wanted one of the basses he's endorsed for so long but Zon basses are like unicorn sh*t in the UK, and cost more than my car. So make my own I must. I'd been wanting to build something from paduak after seeing it at my local hardwood seller so I grabbed some for this project, along with a load of wenge. Here is the neck being assembled.

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The body I made from a sandwich of cherry and utile (another African mahogany variant). I mused on the headstock shape for quite a while, ans sketched a few ideas before settling. Shown below is everything being glued up and cut to shape.

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I screwed up on the control cavity by cutting it too close to the body outline. I used a massive roundover bit on the back and it cut into the cavity. I made it work though, with a thick wenge cover plate contoured to match. Also, I settled on a headstock shape but not before screwing it up and cutting the profile too close to the holes. I used some more paduak to turn lemons into lemonade and I must say the final result looks cool as f*ck. I'm using a Warwick Just-A-Nut on this, for convenience if nothing else.

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Starting on the finishing process here. Getting everything sanded smooth then beginning with the french polishing process.

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Done! Or am I?

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Okay no, I wasn't done. Let's wrap this up by stewing on my mistakes. Firstly: neck too big. I pretty much copied the published specs for Warwick's 5-string basses but that resulted in a very baseball bat-like profile. So it went back in the vice for more rasping. Fortunately one major advantage to french polishing is it's very easy to recover if you need to do any extra work like this. Whereas a lacquer finish would be pretty much ruined.

Also: Don't use garbage Chinesium hardware. I properly cheaped out on the hardware here. The tuners work but are very not great. And the bridge... When I first strung this up I was getting a horrid high pitched buzz that I couldn't initially track down. Was it the nut? The truss rod? The strings themselves? No, it was the goddamn bridge. I fixed it by banging a shim in there to tighten it up.

Also, note how the bridge is hanging over the body carve? That's because I over-carved it, and really should have made the body longer. I fixed that on the next build.

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Overall this resulted in a pretty damn nice bass albeit with a few niggles. I learned many lessons here, and I actually remembered some of them later!

Edited by PhilR
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