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Finished! A Very Special Save


Andyjr1515

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I have had the privilege to work on a couple of Wals since I started this crazy hobby and, without any hesitation, they are my favourite basses.  Everything is SO well engineered and the instruments just feel and sound - great!  It's one of the absolute delights of the regional Basschat Bass-bashes because the kind folks round here let maniacs like me actually pick them up and play them.

So, anything that I can do that can keep a Wal working or get playing again is always of interest.

So you can imagine how excited I was to be contacted by our very own @Fishman who explained that he had some Pro 1e components and could I get it all playable again. 

'Sure!  Send them to me."  Gosh - a Pro 1e!  Happy Days :)

 

The box was smaller and lighter than perhaps I might have expected.  Well - maybe it's a particularly lightweight version...even MORE exciting because sometimes they can, indeed be on the heavy side :party:

 

Oh...that's odd...

ANKUO2Ol.jpg

 

xD

Well - definitely a Wal!  That is the best pickup in the industry in my opinion:

a5oPAxCl.jpg

 

Well, OK - I'll admit that @Fishman did mention that it needed a new body.  And the fretboard is coming off and being replaced with an ebony fretted one with a couple of AJR swifts at the 12th, requested by @Fishman so that there can be no ambiguity that this isn't a full genuine Wal (oh...and because they DO look pretty cool ;) )

This is the kind of job I can slot in while the relevant machines are out for @Jus Lukin 's build (my cellar isn't big enough to leave the bigger stuff in situ) so it won't be a super fast affair but I am looking forward to it.

Oh - and I've got a lovely piece of lightweight swamp ash for it (ignore the outline - don't worry, it won't look like a Fender ;)

mAgCa27l.jpg

I'll keep you guys and gals posted :)

 

 

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
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2 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Is it going to have Wal-shaped body (if so which one) or something different?

Yes - as @Fishman says, we are going for the same body shape.  It's a very traditional 60's/70's bass shape that was, I am sure, borrowed a bit from other makes at the time it was designed so I don't think we're treading on any toes. 

And, even though the neck and fretboard are actually genuine Wal, I think taking off the fretboard and replacing it with something very obviously not Wal is a good enough way of ensuring that everyone, now or in the future, can see it's a tribute. 

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So - to the fretboard.

The plan (you know about "best made.." etc) is, after taking out the nut, to remove the board but, if possible keep the runout into the headstock where it is, which might be a challenge because it is actually part of the fretboard:

Aua19Bil.jpg

 

1st step is to protect the neck:

eq0WsVhl.jpg

With old necks and bodies - particularly if they have lacquer cracks and crazing, which this one does - you have to be very careful with masking tape.  I use the 3M decorators tape (DON'T use the blue Dial knockoff from B&Q) because the 'tack' is lighter than some and it won't leave glue behind.  But on an old neck, I also don't leave it on.  Same issue - reducing the chances of lacquer coming off with the tape.  The longer it's on, the tighter will be the tack.  So I will be applying and taking tape off a number of times on this particular refurb.

Here's 2/3rds of my kit.  A travel iron (on full) and a single-edged razor:

mG4rbetl.jpg

Key thing is getting the fretboard very hot and letting that heat fully penetrate down to the glue line.  It's not to be rushed.

After around 10 minutes of the iron just on this end few inches, I was able to do this:

9phdS6nl.jpg

The razor was able to slip between the board and the neck.  I worked the blade round both sides and the end until I was able to get my very thin steel sheet in between without it straining the board at all or digging in. I use the acoustic sides protector stainless sheet that I use when bending acoustic guitar sides, but folks use cake platters, etc.  As long as it's steel and very thin it will work fine:

07MhTdSl.jpg

And then it's a case of being patient and going an inch at a time, heating up the next section and 'walking' the steel sheet or platter up.  I find it goes about 5mins per inch once the board really starts heating up.  But I let it go at its own pace - rushing it usually ends badly.

After around 35 minutes I'd got here:

2e4Qb3cl.jpg

As I started getting close to the nut, I used a razor saw to cut the 1-2mm of board joining the main board to the runout:

2mXrXOEl.jpg

Then 5 - 10 minutes later it was all off:

3tfoA1ml.jpg

 

Phew! :)

 

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7 hours ago, Fishman said:

agh! the mantra! a secret no more 😊

But the precise positioning of the shinto plane, the 6.5mm drill and the luthier's left leg remains a mystery to the uninitiated. 

I know,  I tried it with a stuck bolt,  recited "FFS Come off", and the clock fell off the wall :(

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Just now, HazBeen said:

@Andyjr1515 no steam used, right? I always steer away from steam for fear of bending, but I know people who call me a fool for just using heat.

No - no steam.  I think that's just one more element that can affect things that you might not want affecting.  For this one, it wouldn't actually matter because the fretboard isn't going back on, but it's interesting that it is still flat as a pancake.

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I'm interested in the method for removing the fretboard as at some point I will be doing it myself (on a very cheap neck luckily so if it all goes wrong I will simply find another less butchered neck)

as I don't have a spare iron i will be buying a cheap one for this job, Wilco offer a couple under a tenner, will 1200W be enough or do I need to push the boat out for the 2200W version?

also, what thickness is the steel sheet you are using for this? If i ask nicely the kind gentleman that runs our workshop will furnish me with some shim steel but I'd need to know how thin it should be.

 

as I don't intend to reuse the fretboard either would removing the frets and thinning the board with a plane be worth the work or will leaving the frets in be better?

 

thanks 

 

Matt

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5 hours ago, itu said:

The glue heats up really slowly through the fretboard! An inch / 5 minutes is so slow. With a very thin heater it might be faster but it would be one more tool, or what do you think @Andyjr1515?

Yes it is slow - but then again, timber is quite an effective insulator so I suppose it's probably not that surprising. 

I did wonder once whether the heat gun I use for getting poly finishes could be used but decided that it would most likely burn the top surface of the wood while the lower layers remained cool.  Using the iron, you can gauge how hot the top is getting and even turn the temp down if necessary to allow the heat to penetrate the 6mm or so without burning - especially if you are planning to re-use the board.

5 hours ago, Matt P said:

as I don't have a spare iron i will be buying a cheap one for this job, Wilco offer a couple under a tenner, will 1200W be enough or do I need to push the boat out for the 2200W version?

also, what thickness is the steel sheet you are using for this? If i ask nicely the kind gentleman that runs our workshop will furnish me with some shim steel but I'd need to know how thin it should be.

 

as I don't intend to reuse the fretboard either would removing the frets and thinning the board with a plane be worth the work or will leaving the frets in be better?

Yup - this is a travel iron from Amazon.  I think it was about £15.  It's lighter than a full-size one but still gets hot enough.  1200W is plenty - just don't underestimate how long it takes at first.  It speeds up as you go along as the fret areas further up are warming up as you approach them.

I think a fretted board with the frets in actually is probably a bit quicker (but only a bit).  Personally, I leave the frets in - the iron on the frets then gets heat via the tangs to pretty close to the bottom of the fretboard and the fret wire is a good conductor, so if you 'iron' 2-3 frets at a time, you are getting heat from a number of sides all at the same time ;)

 

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Excellent job there Andy .(I love this place, so many inventive people and solutions, not to mention great skills and interesting builds.)

I've only ever done 2 fretboard replacements and luckily for me both were on quite old instruments glued with old style less difficult to soften glues. I do have a Warwick fretted neck (only a cheapish Rock Bass, but I like the shape and feel of it) which I have been considering defetting, but after seeing how you removed the board from this Wal,I do like your one wide strip of steel idea, it looks much easier to handle than my collection of old artists pallet knives I've used in the past. I might borrow your method and go for a nice shiny new unlined board on my Warwick neck.  😉

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