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Thread: Electric Bass Guitar Build

  1. #16
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    I knew Rickenbacker was aggressive in that sense but I never heard Fender was, though it doesn't surprise me that they would be. I was thinking of making some changes and the first place I wanted to was around the scroll. It's kind of dated. I do want to keep the two-piece headstock. I like it too. What I don't know is how much material is necessary at the headstock to take the load of the tension from the strings. That's part of why I didn't make any changes in the first guitar.

    What I can see in the future is me getting bored with making exact Fender clones. When I saw the JP-90, I liked how they flared out the horns a bit and that got the creative juices flowing. Then I saw this today


    I loved how the grain flowed with the body and I was surprised to find I actually liked the shape of the body. But mostly I found it inspired me to make something different. Maybe the key is to take the wood and design the body to enhance the grain.

    I know, in a general sense, everything has been done, but I see nothing unoriginal with taking something, changing some of it, and making it your own.. I've always loved design. So I see myself going in that direction as I become more confident about building a playable guitar. I get bored easily so the idea of making my own designs keeps the enthusiasm high.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Coloccia View Post
    Are you going to keep the two-tone headstock? I think it's pretty cool.
    I'm going to do the black-dye-sand-back method on the Rad Axe 2 body. Then I'll lay some red dye over that. Since the neck and body are both maple, I didn't want to attempt to dye that little portion of the head. I'm thinking keeping it from bleeding over a finely defined line would be about impossible. So I cut the RA2 headstock today and then went searching for a dark wood with a lot of figure. I sampled this red-dyed piece of walnut.


    Just after I applied the dye, the darkest part of the wood turned almost black. So this should work. Now, what new headstock shape will emerge? I have no idea.

  3. #18
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    I think you could injure yourself on that radical shaped body,Julie!! It would not be comfortable to play seated,with that prong sticking out. For what they are,the curves are well drawn,except flattish spots on the long horn's curves. I just don't care for it. It won't become a classic design. Simple is best. It always is. Think: What complicated or radical shape has become a classic design? The Fender shapes,and the Gibson Les Paul early shapes have been hard to beat.

    Ask yourself what it is about the original Fender bass that continues to make it the bass everyone keeps going back to? The pickups? Scale length? Neck dimensions? There is something about it that experienced players end up returning to. I'm not saying to make copies of it. Just use whatever it is that musicians like.
    Last edited by george wilson; 02-19-2014 at 1:48 PM.

  4. #19
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    I agree with George. It seems to me that everybody is making copies of the classic designs. You may want to consider what makes these designs so popular, study them and design your own based on the fundamentals and ,like George say's - Keep it simple!

  5. #20
    They make good points. There are definitely ways to play with the formula while still keeping features that everyone is comfortable with. This is an old prototype/loner I have laying around. It's since been beat to heck, and it served it's purpose so I mostly dismantled it and recently used the neck to do a destructive stress test...just wanted to see what it would do. Anyhow, it's definitely a unique shape, especially with that tiny lower horn, but if you were to look closely at it you'd see that the waist, especially the lower one where your leg goes, is very classically located and shaped.

    But now if you look on the back, you'll see a fairly unusual sculpted heel design that is extremely comfortable to play. The small horn and sculpted heel is my "thing" and makes the guitar very playable in the upper registers, but overall it hits some pretty classical lines at places where people have come to expect them. There's lot's of room, even now, to stay within "normal" parameters and still stretch out and make it your own

    BTW, this was a VERY thin lacquer finish. Maybe 3 coats of clear. It's not enough. By the time I was done leveling and polishing, it didn't take much to wear through the rest of the finish!!


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    Last edited by John Coloccia; 02-19-2014 at 2:26 PM.

  6. Julie, don't let 'em talk you out of passion. If you want to build one that is shaped like a dragon's head, go right ahead and build it. We're not saving lives here, we're building guitars. If you don't like it when it is done, just build another one and salvage the parts. The fun is in the playing AND the building. Go for it!

    When I built the bass I decided that I wanted a very aggressive set of horns on it so I did. I still love it. Will everybody else? Who knows. All I know is I do and I'm the one who built it and I'm the one who is playing it.

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    Last edited by Dennis Peacock; 03-12-2014 at 3:28 PM.

  7. #22
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    I am a bass player....and have been for almost 40 years. I bought an EB-3 bass a few years back and thought I'd really like it.....I gave it away 1 year later. There was not much I liked about the bass, so I donated it to a non-profit that was needing a bass guitar.

    I have a few bass guitars at my home but I really got spoiled when I took a tour of the Gibson Tobias Bass guitar factory that used to be near me (Gibson closed the plant just a few years ago). I really feel in love with how the bass felt, sounded, and how well the neck design fit my short stubby fingers so well on both a standard and long-scale neck.

    My hope is to do exactly what you are doing....building my own bass guitar to my own specs to fit just me.
    Thank you greatly for this thread. Much appreciated.

    BTW Chuck....I LOVE the look of that bass.!!!!!
    Last edited by Dennis Peacock; 03-12-2014 at 3:29 PM.
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  8. #23
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    Not talking Julie out of anything. I am trying to help her develop designs of her own that are tasteful. She is intelligent,and I know she can do it.

  9. #24
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    Maybe a silly question for some, but are those "longhorn" basses practical? Easily broken off?

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Raudonis View Post
    Julie, don't let 'em talk you out of passion. If you want to build one that is shaped like a dragon's head, go right ahead and build it. We're not saving lives here, we're building guitars. If you don't like it when it is done, just build another one and salvage the parts. The fun is in the playing AND the building. Go for it!

    When I built the bass I decided that I wanted a very aggressive set of horns on it so I did. I still love it. Will everybody else? Who knows. All I know is I do and I'm the one who built it and I'm the one who is playing it.
    No one has talked me out of the bass Chuck. It's been on hold for several reasons that are still being resolved. And while I was waiting for answers from my SO, I decided to finish the second guitar.

    My SO really loved the feel of a Ric 4003 over either a Jazz or P-Bass. Maybe it's the weight. The scale lengths are only 3/4" apart so I'm thinking it's the body thickness (1.25") and subsequent reduction in weight. But that would mean a thru-neck build. I kind have to change gears for that. And if we go with a 33.25" scale, that would have to be hand cut.

    My SO settled on pups (Fralin). I was thinking Schaller bridge and tuners. The body design is still being discussed and the neck thickness is still up in the air.

    That bass of yours is absolutely gorgeous! What woods did you use (besides maple)? Did you rout out for the dark wood on front where the maple is or were they pieced together? And how did you match the grain on the rear cover so perfectly? That is the best grain match I've seen yet!

  11. #26
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    It looks like the delays are over and most all the decisions have been made. This is some of the wood we picked up yesterday. Plans are to build a thru-neck with a curly (it's more like quilted but it was marked curly) maple neck and koa for the body halves. It's looking like the long piece of Macassar ebony will be used for the fretboard as the brown in it so closely matches the koa. I'm not anticipating doing any toning.


    I don't know if I'll need to grain-fill the koa. This will be the first time I've worked with the wood, mostly because its price kept me from buying it.

    I've got all the plans done for a Ric-type bass so I'm ready to make the templates. The body will be 1-1/4" thick. I'm hoping that will keep the weight down some. I have no dimensions on the neck thickness or curvature so I'll have to wing it. I'm planning on putting in one truss rod and a couple of carbon fiber rods imbedded on either side of that.

    I'll post pics of the progress.

  12. #27
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    Well, we made a change in direction. The P-Bass and Jazz Bass lost to a Ric-type bass. So this will be my first thru-neck build. I'll be doing a lot of winging it.

    I made the templates from a CAD file I got off the Internet. But I first had to do a lot of work on it before it could be used to make templates.


    I'll be keeping as close to a Ric as I can and that includes a 33.25" scale. Stew Mac doesn't make templates for that scale (only 34" & 35") so I'll be cutting the frets by hand. I started with a 8/4 piece of koa, for the body sides, and resawed it to a bit over 1-1/4". The neck is going to be curly maple and the fretboard Macassar ebony. We found a piece that has brown in it that blends nicely with the koa.


    I'm planning on angling the headstock 4-5 degrees. Can do that without making a scarf joint? From the side, it looks like the grain from the neck would run through the entire headstock. I'll glue up koa on either side of the maple on the headstock.



    The red pencil marks are for biscuit cuts. The thru-neck is 7/8" thick and I'm planning on gluing a piece of figured sapele (from the first guitar) to the back to make up the rest of the 1-1/4" thickness needed at the body halves. When I cut the halves, I tried to get the grain to flow in a way that's pleasing to the eye while making sure the upper horn had straight grain running to the tip.


    It looks too long but it's the same length as the Ric. I'll be taking this slowly.

    And I won't be buying any more koa. It's tough to dimension and ridiculously expensive.

  13. #28
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    For the through neck, I think you could laminate it to avoid a scarf joint. I have a prototype guitar made by Ibanez with a through neck. It has a five piece laminated neck and is one sweet & versitile guitar. The body sides are laminated as you plan. Personally, I love the 4001 bass. The Bruce Foxton / Phil Lynott sound is some of my favorite bass sound.

    i look forward to seeing your progress.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

  14. #29
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    You're talking about the entire neck being laminate, right? I envision trying to laminate a head onto the solid wood neck.

    I saw a build on a bass forum where the guy made a flame shaped head. It looked pretty cool. Several days ago, after it was done and he was stringing it up, the head broke off. He glued it back on but that may not be enough. It looked to me like there wasn't enough stock where he cut the nut and he didn't leave a volute. Luckily for him, it's a bolt-on neck.

  15. #30
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    When you laminate the through neck you don't need such wide and thick stock.

    image.jpgimage.jpgimage.jpg

    You're able to turn nice quarter sawn 5/4 stock 90 degrees rather than laminating the headstock and body.
    I certaintly don't want to be dogmatic about it but is simple and it works well. This guitar is about 23 years old and has been heavily toured. Its versatility and light weight make it an ideal second guitar. The neck is thin and fast. The neck is very stable and stay in tune well even though I have been known to hit the strings quite hard and use big bends. My son has done all but steal it from me.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

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