Jump to content
Maude

Aria FEB with a doublebass radiused board.

Recommended Posts

I may have just put the wheels in motion to something really cool, or I'm an idiot. Time will tell. 😁

I've had a longtime love affair with the Takamine TB-10 but they are too expensive for something to noodle on. One of the main attractions is that it has a radiused board like a doublebass so forces your right hand to play it like a doublebass. 

I had thoughts of converting a cello or something into a 34" bass but then noticed a damaged Aria FEB on ebay. It's one of Gear4Musics casualties so is brand new but damaged. The damaged listed is cosmetic damage to the headstock, and the board lifted slightly from the body. My first thought was that the head has been whacked and bent the neck back, breaking it away from the body causing the board to lift slightly. The listing does not mention the neck having moved and the headstock damage is very minimal so it might just be the board coming unglued and the little nick in the head, as per listing. I've taken a gamble as the listing says it's returnable but not for the damage listed, a broken neck is not listed. Anyway I'll find out on Tuesday when it arrives 🙈

My plan is to remove the board and somehow fit a doublebass one from a 1/4 size or something, I'll know more when I can take some measurements and do some research. I'll probably want a longer board so I can play over the end of it like a doublebass. I'll need to add a tailpiece and a wider, higher bridge to accommodate the increased angle a tighter radiused board will give. 

Will it work? Who knows. 

Is it worth trying? Probably not. 

Am I going to? Hell yeah! 😃

 

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many (many) years ago a double bass repair expert called Neville Whitehead ( now in Australia) started putting double bass fingerboards onto Fender Precision basses. I was in his High Wycombe workshop getting my DB sorted and saw a Fender  P bass on the bench and enquired about it.....fretless bass was making its mark on bass players at the time.....the bass was being converted for a London player called Dill Katz. I immediately said I wanted one, went out and bought a P bass and Neville transplanted a fingerboard onto it. However, the radius camber of the board was too much for electric/me and it took a few visits back for him to tone down the radius camber, flattening  it to a more comfortable playing setting so you may find you’ll have to do the same. We used the stock bridge so string height etc wasn’t a problem. He probably thinned the underside of the f/board before gluing it to accommodate the thickness. Later on of course I had a jazz pickup installed by Kent Armstrong but that’s another story.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How did he use a standard P bridge with a much tighter radiused board, surely he wouldn't get enough height adjustment to match the board? 

I actually want the physicality of a doublebass, string spacing, radius, etc. I want the end of the board higher than the body so I can put my thumb under it as I do on doublebass. 

One of the biggest problems I think will be the weight of a bigger board, but the added tailpiece and bridge might counter that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mentioned that he probably flattened ...but should have said reduced the thickness...by planing the underside of the f/board to reduce its height to accommodate string height using the same bridge. It was still a thick board after that. Just a small amount of shaving wood away can produce a big difference in the boards thickness. 

I’m not sure that you will get a double bass string spacing on a P bass neck. Maybe a whole new neck would be simpler ?

Edited by mybass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No I probably won't get as wide string spacing as I'd like, but the point I'm trying get across (not very clearly 😁) is that I don't want to take a doublebass board and make it fit a bass guitar, rather take a bass guitar and make it fit a doublebass board. 

I want the long overhang of fingerboard raised off the soundboard so that I can play it like a doublebass. If I shave the neck down so that it sits flat on the neck and soundboard and use the existing bridge then I may as well just use my existing fretless acoustic. 

See the length of fingerboard in this picture compared to a bass guitar. The red area is just as important as the neck radius in making it play like a doublebass. Something even the TB-10 doesn't achieve. 

N6YgbU0.jpg

I'm not sure how I'll do this until I've got the parts and do some good old British eccentric in shed engineering. A doublebass nut isn't as wide as you might think (about 42mm) so the compromise will be starting the board at neck width at the nut and getting possibly wider than the neck at the body end. The bottom of the nut end can be sanded down (as in your explanation) which will narrow it and lower it's profile while keeping the radius the same, but leave the body end wider and taller. This will act to increase the neck angle, hopefully allowing the overhang of the fingerboard over the soundboard to be raised enough to allow for it to be played like a doublebass. This in turn will mean the bridge will need to be a lot taller, meaning a tailpiece will be needed. If the strings were anchored to a taller bridge the levering action would tear it off the soundboard. 

The edge of the fingerboard that will protrude over the neck edges will need to be addressed, but again, until I can see and feel it I won't know the best course of action. 

This is all just a mad plan in my head and might not work at all, but nothing ventured and all that. 🙂

Edited by Maude

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:scratch_one-s_head:

You'll be playing it like a horizontal bass rather than an upright?

What does having an upright bass fingerboard on a non upright instrument do for you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, mybass said:

Many (many) years ago a double bass repair expert called Neville Whitehead ( now in Australia) started putting double bass fingerboards onto Fender Precision basses. I was in his High Wycombe workshop getting my DB sorted and saw a Fender  P bass on the bench and enquired about it.....fretless bass was making its mark on bass players at the time.....the bass was being converted for a London player called Dill Katz. I immediately said I wanted one, went out and bought a P bass and Neville transplanted a fingerboard onto it. However, the radius camber of the board was too much for electric/me and it took a few visits back for him to tone down the radius camber, flattening  it to a more comfortable playing setting so you may find you’ll have to do the same. We used the stock bridge so string height etc wasn’t a problem. He probably thinned the underside of the f/board before gluing it to accommodate the thickness. Later on of course I had a jazz pickup installed by Kent Armstrong but that’s another story.

I wonder if he was using new boards, or recycling old ones? Since double bass fingerboards are often replaced when they've been re-dressed a certain number of times and the thickness becomes too thin for the job, re-purposing then as fretless electric bass boards would seem like a cunning idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, mybass said:

Many (many) years ago a double bass repair expert called Neville Whitehead ( now in Australia) started putting double bass fingerboards onto Fender Precision basses. I was in his High Wycombe workshop getting my DB sorted and saw a Fender  P bass on the bench and enquired about it.....fretless bass was making its mark on bass players at the time.....the bass was being converted for a London player called Dill Katz. I immediately said I wanted one, went out and bought a P bass and Neville transplanted a fingerboard onto it. However, the radius camber of the board was too much for electric/me and it took a few visits back for him to tone down the radius camber, flattening  it to a more comfortable playing setting so you may find you’ll have to do the same. We used the stock bridge so string height etc wasn’t a problem. He probably thinned the underside of the f/board before gluing it to accommodate the thickness. Later on of course I had a jazz pickup installed by Kent Armstrong but that’s another story.

Dill Katz.. I saw him with District Six and bought this LP. 

IIRC he was on a fretless J most of the time.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meanwhile, this certainly sounds like an intriguing project. Re the red part of the fingerboard length, remember the FEB is something like a 14th fret neck joint whereas the double bass is somewhere around 10th, so the "12th fret" is already overhanging.

Edit: Looking more closely at images of FEB, it looks like 17th fret joint.

Still an intriguing one!

Edited by hubrad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Si600 said:

:scratch_one-s_head:

You'll be playing it like a horizontal bass rather than an upright?

It's just for noodling at home so will probably be played seated at 45 degrees rather than either extreme. I'm in an acoustic band and when we do The Pretender by Foo Fighters I quite often lay the doublebass over and play it like a bass guitar, it's cheesey as hell but with the mandolin player on his knees beside me both 'rocking out' it's a crowd pleaser. Anyway it's actually very comfortable to play like that. 

7 minutes ago, Si600 said:

:scratch_one-s_head:

What does having an upright bass fingerboard on a non upright instrument do for you?

You physically can't play a doublebass like a bass guitar, or a bass guitar like a doublebass, I want a bass guitar that you can play like a doublebass. 

For silly things like sitting in the garden playing, sure I could lug a doublebass out there but they're cumbersome and then I can't just lay back in a chair and play. 

It's just as much for the challenge of doing it as anything else. In my original post I said, "Is it worth trying? Probably not." 

I also said I might be an idiot. 😁

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, hubrad said:

Meanwhile, this certainly sounds like an intriguing project. Re the red part of the fingerboard length, remember the FEB is something like a 14th fret neck joint whereas the double bass is somewhere around 10th, so the "12th fret" is already overhanging.

The overhang part is more important for me for the plucking (right) hand, so the point where you would go into thumb position with the left hand not so relevant. Without the overhang to play over you can't slap like a doublebass. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Beer of the Bass said:

I wonder if he was using new boards, or recycling old ones? Since double bass fingerboards are often replaced when they've been re-dressed a certain number of times and the thickness becomes too thin for the job, re-purposing then as fretless electric bass boards would seem like a cunning idea.

He was recycling old boards so they were already 'radiused' a lot, too much for a straight electric bass. He got me to take the bass home and get a feel of the radius, then we slowly reduced the radius until I was comfortable with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, hubrad said:

Dill Katz.. I saw him with District Six and bought this LP. 

IIRC he was on a fretless J most of the time.

 

Great pic! He probably had a jazz done too..... I'm sure he started with a P bass conversion as I just went out and bought the same model I saw in Neville's workshop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do remember that Neville Whitehead used a lot of the the DB fingerboard length, as far up to the P bass pickup and carved the board almost around the pickup. However, there was quite a drop in volume 'up there' and of course it was quite difficult to get the (left) hand in any comfortable position that far 'up there'!

Here is a very poor picture of that P bass but you can only tell the thickness of the f'board I'm sorry to say. You can see how much the radius had been taken down. I practised a lot on double bass, which led me into fretless bass.

Visitor recording 1977?.jpg

Edited by mybass
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@mybass, I've got an EUB, it's not acoustic and you can't play sat down with it on your lap. 😉

I appreciate the input but this is mainly about just trying to do something different. The closest off the shelf bass to what I want is the TB-10, and at over £2.5k it isn't in the price bracket of home noodler. Even then it doesn't have an extended board like a DB. 

This may well turn out to be a disaster, but it's a bit of fun and I thought I'd document it so everyone can point and laugh when it goes wrong. Or maybe even be amazed if it works. 

🙂

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rock on I say. The world would be a poorer place without unhinged experimentalists trying something new. :crazy:

  • Like 1

Share this post


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

Go for it!  I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.  The paint job will be awesome anyway!

I haven't even considered the finish yet, it might be matchsticks by that point. 😆

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Maude said:

I haven't even considered the finish yet, it might be matchsticks by that point. 😆

You're laminating a bass out of matchsticks and then adding a double bass fingerboard to it? This is turning out to be an amazing project!

  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an NS Design Fretted Omni Bass a few years ago. The radiused DB fingerboard was a real pleasure to play given my DB background. The frets were fun as well. If another came up I would proably buy it. There is one for sale in Germany which is suspect is my old one, but the price is way more than I sold it for, and import VAT etc just says no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It occurs to me the acoustic response might be a bit hit and miss, since it's designed around a flat-top acoustic guitar style bridge and you're replacing it with a floating bridge and tailpiece. The bracing is usually designed quite differently between the two. Though with acoustic bass guitars the tone through a piezo might be more important than the unamplified tone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Beer of the Bass said:

It occurs to me the acoustic response might be a bit hit and miss, since it's designed around a flat-top acoustic guitar style bridge and you're replacing it with a floating bridge and tailpiece. The bracing is usually designed quite differently between the two. Though with acoustic bass guitars the tone through a piezo might be more important than the unamplified tone.

I have had the same thought, as the bass comes the bridge, and bracing, is designed to work with more of a shearing force than the straight downward force a floating bridge will place on it. 

My plan, and I use that word extremely loosely, is to knock up a rough bridge and tailpiece, hook the tailpiece over the bottom strap pin, with a suitable brace over the bottom of the bout, and try it as it is before removing anything original. The strings will be miles above the fingerboard but I'll be able to roughly judge its tone, and strength, on the open notes. Possibly even leave the normal E and G and fit the A and D over a tall narrow bridge to compare the two. If it really isn't going to work then I can just repair the original damage on the Aria and keep it or move it on. On the other hand it may be terminally broken from the outset. 

Obviously with lockdown and everything I haven't been going out or doing anything really that costs money, so if it implodes then although I'll have lost money, I'll still be up for compared to normal life expenses. And in the words of Henry Cole from Shed And Buried, "We may not have made any money, but we've had some fun doing it".

🙂

 

Edit. I could add a soundpost if the top looks like imploding. 

Edited by Maude

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...