Jump to content

So now Happy Jack has a Mike Lull 5-string neck...


Recommended Posts

When I passed across @Happy Jack 's lovely Mike Lull P5 back to him, fitted with the new Andyjr1515 fretless neck, and watched him play it, I thought - no...we both thought - "that fretless neck ain't going to be swopped back for the original fretted one for a good while!" :D

 

 

For those who followed the thread, you will remember that the idea was that the two necks were designed to be able to be swopped over quickly and repeatedly with minimum fuss or reset.  Trouble is - and this is more to do with fretless necks rather than my skills - some fretless necks and their set up just 'have it', and some are playable but don't have that extra 'mwarr'.  And, by luck, this one happened to have it in bucket loads.

 

So Jack has a lovely Mike Lull 35" scale neck sitting gathering dust.

 

And so stage two of the project has just begun...building a new body for the original fretted neck :)

 

It will be a bit of a slow burn, but the idea is to build:

 

- a lightweight body that balances both on the knee and on the strap.  It's a fairly heavy neck (2.5lbs) and Jack was thinking in terms of trying for 7.5lbs playing weight.  We may not get there, but I have suggested we try to see how close to 6.5lbs we can get.  I know...but at the very, very worst case, we will get a lot closer to 7.5lbs if we are aiming for 6.5! ;)

 

- fitted with a Fishman Fluence 5 pickup (I'm quite excited by that)

 

- (subcontracted) Shell Pink nitro spray finish.

 

I've got some ideas of the best combination of techniques and materials to get the weight, play 'feel' and balance and are now exploring how to get hold of the materials I'd like to use (more challenging than you would think) but this is the kind of shape I'm thinking:

kAYLIoPl.jpg

 

I'm still pondering on some of the critical datum points, especially recognising that the neck is a 35" scale and so I have to allow at least a further 1/2" of balance-point critical items

 

In some of my previous lightweight builds, I've incorporated:

- light timbers (although my lightest used oak!)

- ultra slim centre area of body

- chambers

- lightweight hardware

 

For this build, I will need to use ALL of these...and more

 

I'll keep you posted :)

 

 

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In truth, Andy, I was actually thinking of swopping back the original Lull fretted neck so that the new body would carry the fretless neck you built for me. 

 

My thinking was to end up with the very first prototype lightweight Rogers Fretless P5, guaranteed to be worth a mint in 30 years when people have long forgotten Wal and Alembic  ...

  • Like 2
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

57 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

In truth, Andy, I was actually thinking of swopping back the original Lull fretted neck so that the new body would carry the fretless neck you built for me. 

 

My thinking was to end up with the very first prototype lightweight Rogers Fretless P5, guaranteed to be worth a mint in 30 years when people have long forgotten Wal and Alembic  ...

You know me - I'll have forgotten again which is going to be for which by the time I've even started cutting any timber so we can go to the safest option of 'I'll fit whichever neck you send me...'   :D

 

 

(thinks: I know Happy Jack's sense of humour...he's bound to send me a bass uke neck now... xD )

  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, what are the weight-reducing things that can be done.

 

The ultra-slim body centre is something that evolved from 'Tom's African Bass' through to @TheGreek 's 'cross section of a contact lens' concept on his Psilos Bass through to @Len_derby 's Swift Lite Bass, that sought to get the weight benefits of a slim centre, with the playing, electrics and visual benefits of a more conventional depth of body at the sides:

kdOJUbyl.jpg

 

@Len_derby's bass, below, worked out at 6lbs 6oz playing weight with two pickups and fairly conventional timbers and hardware.  @Happy Jack's will be an inch longer scale and 5-string...hence the design extra work to be done.

SRn9VOSl.jpg

   

 

Chambering can also be done within the remaining thickness, both in the back and top:

sAbI0kal.jpg

 

You do, of course, have to remember that the back is carved too!  ;)

 

Light timbers - swamp ash...great but more difficult to get hold of due to some die-back problems.  Paulownia - lots of folks starting to use it.  Used to be cheap bodies - now it's some of the 'better names' who have clearly been following my 'Why are basses so heavy?' threads xD    It is cultivated, sustainable, good for the soil, soft but very, very light...but at the moment VERY difficult to get hold of as body-blanks.

 

Light hardware - better and better choice  :)

 

Design - Thickness of the body, covered above, is critical but so is: getting the top horn as far forward as practical for on-the-strap balance; ditto the lower waist for over the knee balance; if you are going to have any heavier hardware, make it the bridge; putting the bridge as far back as you can get it.

 

So all of that and more will need to be incorporated...

 

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Slowly but surely the decks are being cleared of family commitments, other small projects, near-death experiences, battles with the useless AA (the motoring one, not the drinking one ;) ), searches for suitably sized paulownia timber (many thanks to the folks here for the leads and @Cosmicrain in particular) and 'life in general'...and I reckon I'll be starting to move forward properly on this in the coming weeks.

 

As everyone will have forgotten by now the background, last year @Happy Jack asked me if I could:

- narrow the neck on his Mike Lull 5-string

and

- build him a fretless neck that he could interchange easily and without the need for adjustment of saddles, etc..

 

This was the result with the narrowed neck:

bmMLkMRl.jpg

 

And less than 1/2hour later, with the fretless neck:

7R6vBIXl.jpg

 

Trouble is...what if you want to play fretted and fretless in the middle of a gig? 

 

So the plan is to leave the narrower Lull neck on the Lull, and build a body for the fretless neck.  But, while we are at it, also see just how lightweight-yet-practical we can make it.

 

I've tweaked the initial design a touch - mainly to get the lower waist another inch forward for better balance when playing seated and to try to get the aesthetics working a bit better.  The top horn is still well forward to achieve the same thing on the strap:

gobGRZRl.jpg

 

The paulownia from Mike @Cosmicrain should be with me in the next couple of days, I know which pickup @Happy Jack wants to fit, the fretless neck arrived from Jack yesterday and so, pretty soon, I will know how big a challenge getting towards a playable 6.5lbs is going to be!  :)

 

 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Trouble is...what if you want to play fretted and fretless in the middle of a gig?

I would have thought retractable frets activated by a little lever or motor wasn't beyond your skill set... :crazy:

  • Like 1
  • Haha 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Si600 said:

I would have thought retractable frets activated by a little lever or motor wasn't beyond your skill set... :crazy:

 

To keep the action correct for both fretted and fretless playing the fingerboard between the frets would need to be raised...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Si600 said:

I would have thought retractable frets activated by a little lever or motor wasn't beyond your skill set... :crazy:

xD  Well, now you know just how wrong you can be!

 

Weirdly, I think someone a few years ago did try to do that.   I'll try and mentally scan my memory synapses to try to remember where I saw that...won't take long - not many synapses left to scan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

xD  Well, now you know just how wrong you can be!

 

Weirdly, I think someone a few years ago did try to do that.   I'll try and mentally scan my memory synapses to try to remember where I saw that...won't take long - not many synapses left to scan

 

You're probably thinking of Mikey Guitar. Unfortunately they now appear to be out of business. The domain name is up for sale and there are just a couple of low-quality video left on YouTube.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, BigRedX said:

 

You're probably thinking of Mikey Guitar. Unfortunately they now appear to be out of business. The domain name is up for sale and there are just a couple of low-quality video left on YouTube.

Yes - that's it!  One of the Youtube clips here of it in action:

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 06/07/2022 at 12:27, BigRedX said:

 

To keep the action correct for both fretted and fretless playing the fingerboard between the frets would need to be raised...

 

Or have a zero fret which had two levels and a cam of some sort under the bridge. Given what the rest of it must be like to put together, probably relatively simple...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, tauzero said:

 

Or have a zero fret which had two levels and a cam of some sort under the bridge. Given what the rest of it must be like to put together, probably relatively simple...

What is really clever when you see some of the other videos that Mikey has with some clearer close ups, is the frets don't retract - which would leave gaps either side and create a fretted effect even when in fretless mode - they seem to rotate and a flat section of 'fretwire' fully fills the gap.  Mechanically, real blue-sky stuff.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

What is really clever when you see some of the other videos that Mikey has with some clearer close ups, is the frets don't retract - which would leave gaps either side and create a fretted effect even when in fretless mode - they seem to rotate and a flat section of 'fretwire' fully fills the gap.  Mechanically, real blue-sky stuff.

 

Yes, presumably it's a zero radius fretboard as otherwise the frets would have to be like barrels. You can make out the frets flush with the fretboard in that video. That's why I thought a zero fret and cam to move the bridge height would have potential, although I suspect it would put everything a bit out of tune. I suspect he has a very light touch, as you'd generally have a little more relief in a fretted than a fretless neck and the mwah in that video on the fretless bit shows the neck has very little relief.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With @funkle's neck drying from another coat of varnish and the family visitors off on a half-day train ride ( :party: ) I've found 10 minutes to weigh the bits that Jack has sent to me.  The first is this lovely Fishman Fluence Soapbar:

Ubg1HZQl.jpg

 

And, of course, the neck itself:

niEc6Dal.jpg

 

So that's neck, tuners, soapbar, pots (included with the Fluence), string retainer sitting at 3lbs 3oz

 

Target is 6lbs 8ozs so let's assume 1lb for the bridge (there is an advantage to having a decent weight of bridge for balance, especially as it is right at the very back of the body.  This is an item that we might be able to beg or borrow a few ounces if the target weight starts looking overly challenging), that leaves 2lbs 5oz for the body, strings, paint, screws, straplocks and knobs.  This is going to be...what's the word...interesting  xD 

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Happy Jack said:

So we're back at a body filled with helium, plastic hardware, and strings made of rubber bands? Looking good, mate ...

 

😉

Better call the one-and-only @Smanth - she's the only person who could make that design. And actually make it work too!

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something rings a bell there about a beam body, like Twiggy, but made out of thick wall plastic box section with a headless neck some how grafted onto the front. I don't *think* it was on BC, put given the mad ideas that sometimes pop up it may have been. Probably elsewhere on the interwebz. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While we are on the subject, visitors leave tomorrow which means I can get my beautiful but exceptionally noisy planer-thicknesser out and skim the rough cut faces of the Paulownia and see what kind of hardness we are actually dealing with.  I will also bandsaw the external body shape at its present full thickness to see how much wood I am going to have to 'lose' ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

As a builder, this is becoming very interesting indeed.

 

As I have the actual neck to hand, I have been able to double check the positioning of the neck on the full-size drawing to get the 35" scale length in the right place.  There is a yellow arrow at the mid-scale position of the fingerboard:

JdHvEDcl.jpg

 

 

I've then cleaned up the paulownia billet that Mike has sent to me with a hand plane.  And it's a bit of a revelation.  It's just as lightweight as I expected, but it is quite a bit harder than I was fearing...which is a pleasant surprise :) 

 

MX8KSOfl.jpg

 

In fact, it is noticeably harder than the 'bitsa' J bass body I used for the veneer demo.  It planed very nicely - full length continuous shavings over this whole length and quite resistant to the fingernail dint test, which the bitsa body certainly isn't.

 

And this whole billet above is only 7.5lbs. 

And, although I will use much of the actual depth in order to get some decent top and back carved curves in, this is at least twice at thick as my average finished thickness will be. 

And so that makes an effective billet of 3.75lbs.  And that's before I cut the shape out of the length!

And so, a circa 2lbs wood-weight body is still feasible  :) 

 

The next stage, theoretically, is to cut the two body halves out and see what the double-thickness-but-everything-else-per-body-blank weight is...but there is one thing I want to do first, and that is to do with balance:

- On the strap, the button position is almost guaranteed to cope with any Centre of Gravity shift resulting from the lightweight body - but I'm still bothered by the over-the-knee waist position.

- But I maybe able to estimate that before cutting any wood.

- I reckon that, knowing how much further forward from the lower waist mid point to the heel the present design assumes (and with the actual tuners fitted to the actual neck)  I may be able to measure the effective weight (actually, for those who remember their Applied Maths, the 'moment') of the neck from that knee position using a spring balance and adding an estimate of the volume of body wood forward of the point 

- likewise, I can estimate the moment rear of that same point, knowing the weight and probable positions of the pickup and bridge

- then I can see if I have to get that lower waist further forward 

- In the meantime, I'll do a few sketches to see how much further forward I could move that bottom waist without it adversely affecting the look of the bass.      

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
  • Like 5
Link to comment
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.   Restore formatting

  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...