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Entry for February 2020's Guitar Of The Month is open - ENTER HERE!

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Hi all from Yokohama, Japan!  I play (bad) bass for my church band, and enjoy my MusicMan Stingray a lot.  It's got the piezo pickup, and can make a nice blend, but ... it's heavy!  At just a tad over 11 pounds, my aged back has been asking for a bit of relief, so decided to try my hand a building a bass ... or two. :)

A while back, I found this slab of wood on Yahoo!Auction, our equivalent of eBay.  It was supposed to be a table top, but warped a bit, and the big knot in the center was not terribly attractive ... I was the only bid at about $30 including shipping.  I had no idea what to do with it.  Btw, it's called Chinaberry, or "sendan" in Japan, Melia azedarach, and the berries are mildly poisonous ... and gets birds high as a kite. :hyper

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And I had a Hohner B2B (Steinberger licensed headless "broomstick" bass) that is light, but the strap button location and full scale = neck dive galore.

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I also have a 5-string Steinberger Spirit bass with a horned body that is great, but never use the low B, so took some design cues from that and thought to re-purpose the Hohner neck and bridge ... and found that I could have TWO bodies from that slab ... why not?

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I am working on the headless one now, and will post some pics of my progress.  The second one will be a short scale (30") with a Japanese Mountain Cherry neck ... still kind of in the planning stage

Warning!  I am a carpenter, not a luthier, or even a luthier wannabe.  My idea of tools is a hammer with a pounding end and a "fixing" end, a circular saw, and a chalkline. I love working with wood, and this is a new challenge for me, but really not out to make drop-dead gorgeous instruments so much as  solid-but-interesting players.  If it happens that they are attractive as well ... Yay!

Cheers, all!  cj

 

 

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This shows where that big knot was ... and parts of it are "incorporated" into the design. (code for "hope it doesn't compromise the body integrity")

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Made a template that looked something like I wanted, and used a table router for the first time.  Yikes!  Nearly threw the body into the backside of my car, then got smart and cradled the body in my arms (NOT close to that wicked bit!!) ... only to get the wind knocked out of me by a kickback.  Fortunately, lived through it to learn something ... small, s-m-o-o-t-h  cuts.

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After a 1/2" roundover and a splash of white gasoline (naphtha).

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Body routs in the template, and what to do with the original bolt-on neck that had a "tab" extension ... which I thought would look pretty ugly on the grained/flamed body.

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More pics to bring me up to date soon ...

cj

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As I mentioned last post, the original neck had the maple extend a good inch further back than the fretboard, and that and the back of the neck were painted a thick black.  On the hope that the maple might not look terrible, I stripped it off, and found it was plain ... but not ugly.  Next, I decide to lop off the extension, and use a set-neck instead of the bolt-on.

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The routs went fairly well, and the neck pocket (in spite of all my fears and fussing) was a nice, tight fit.

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Next was the pocket transition, using various hand tools at first, then impatiently switching to various power implements of destruction.

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Control cavity rout and confirm electric parts will fit.  It's a bit tight, but passive, so should be fine. Found some Allparts rosewood knobs. :thumb:

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Confirming the neck pocket was straight, clamped it in and looked at E and G strings ... Yay! (the picture angle is off, the strings were perfect) Got out two different tuners to check intonation, which was exactly the same location as the original. :D

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The past few posts were all during the New Year vacation.

cj

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Chinaberry actually has very striking grain. I think I read that it is related to mahogany in some way. You have some very nice figure in yours. I think you are going to be quite pleased with the way it looks under a finish.

And welcome!:)

SR

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So that was just a dry run before finishing the body.  I hope someday to spray nitro lacquer, but have read enough build threads to know that it's 1) not that easy, and 2) takes time.  The first is a challenge that I will meet someday, bit the second would keep me from playing this guitar soon, so found a company that makes a fast-drying brush-on acrylic lacquer sanding sealer (that a mouthful!) and a spray urethane that were supposed to match ... and after a few trials on scraps, found that they did match, and dried quickly. 

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Then I had a few patches to make ... a few original dents in the wood, a few (ahem) holes in the wrong place, and a few things idiotic things I tried on-the-fly that didn't work.  You can see all of them if you look close, but up on stage it shouldn't matter, eh?

First coat of sanding sealer made the grain and flame pop out very nicely, IMHO.  Then sandback, brush on another coat, sandback ... almost ready to rattle-can spray.

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That was last week, and sprayed three thin coats of the urethane (at least, that's what they are calling it here). After some hand-rubbing ...

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My goal was an 8-pound/thereabouts bass, and I think I might make it!  Body only, ready to glue the neck, add parts, and string up ... 1,766 grams, a little less than 4 pounds.

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Cheers!

cj

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20 hours ago, ScottR said:

Chinaberry actually has very striking grain. I think I read that it is related to mahogany in some way. You have some very nice figure in yours. I think you are going to be quite pleased with the way it looks under a finish.

And welcome!:)

SR

Thanks for the welcome, SR!

I Wikied it and saw the "related to mahogany," but gotta say it strains the imagination visually!  If anything, Zebrano meets Swamp ash, ;)Working with it, however, I admit the similarity ... and it is lighter than I first suspected.

I just posted the finish pics, and it really soaked up the first two coats of sanding sealer.  Thought about more coats to completely hide the pores, but then decided I kinda like a bit of texture, so just sprayed clear and hand-buffed.

Neck's glued, so hope to be able to string it up tomorrow! :peace

 

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Japan builders untie! err... unite! 

Those big router bits scare the cr@p out of me. I've started using a 1/4" and 1/2" long bit and just inching my way up the side of the wood a little at a time.

Where are you buying your finishing materials? I haven't had much luck at Unidy or Vivahome. 

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That is definitely the nicest piece of chinaberry I've ever seen. It really did come to life under a finish. You've got to be happy with that!

SR

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50 minutes ago, a2k said:

Japan builders untie! err... unite! 

Those big router bits scare the cr@p out of me. I've started using a 1/4" and 1/2" long bit and just inching my way up the side of the wood a little at a time.

Where are you buying your finishing materials? I haven't had much luck at Unidy or Vivahome. 

Hey a2k,

We will get together soon!  Just takes so me time-juggling. ;)

indeed, that was my first time to use that router. It has more horsepower than my first motorcycle!!  And my mind was thinking, "What would happen if that 60mm bit decided to fail at 30,000 rpm?!"  I've heard tales about carbide splinters ... Yikes.  But it worked great, and I learned how to "carve" the difficult areas and not try to take too much at a time.

I have been buying most of my Washin Paint supplies at Shimachu Homes or Amazon Japan.  Flammables are hard to get to Japan ... or for that matter, Hawaii.  Still experimenting with lacquer.  Tools come from OFF or Digram online, or again, Amazon.  Wood is mostly Yahoo! Auction, but have brought some that I had sent to my daughter in Hawaii, then hand-carry back to Japan.

see ya soon!

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8 hours ago, charisjapan said:

Hey a2k,

We will get together soon!  Just takes so me time-juggling. ;)

indeed, that was my first time to use that router. It has more horsepower than my first motorcycle!!  And my mind was thinking, "What would happen if that 60mm bit decided to fail at 30,000 rpm?!"  I've heard tales about carbide splinters ... Yikes.  But it worked great, and I learned how to "carve" the difficult areas and not try to take too much at a time.

I have been buying most of my Washin Paint supplies at Shimachu Homes or Amazon Japan.  Flammables are hard to get to Japan ... or for that matter, Hawaii.  Still experimenting with lacquer.  Tools come from OFF or Digram online, or again, Amazon.  Wood is mostly Yahoo! Auction, but have brought some that I had sent to my daughter in Hawaii, then hand-carry back to Japan.

see ya soon!

I got some Watco Danish Oil off Amazon Japan. And for some reason, U.S. Amazon will ship certain sizes of Tru Oil (shhh!). I also found some varnish at Tokyu Hands of all places.

I hadn't thought about Yahoo Auctions for wood. I just took a look - that's a rabbit hole I could lose a lot of time in!

Anyway, we can talk about all of that offline. The bass is looking great!

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12 hours ago, KnightroExpress said:

Looks like we've both got necks in clamps at the moment! The grain on that chinaberry is really great, I bet it looks even better in person.

Thanks, Knightro!  A compliment from you means a lot, as I've seen your work!

The clamps are off, it's wired up, and just had band practice ... tomorrow debut. :peace

 

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As expected, this was scary to wire up in the tight cavity. I can't believe I go through it without burn marks!

You can see the 5 mm neodymium magnet sitting on top of the sunken screw in that pillar in the center.

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I was in a rush to make this maple cover, and it shows. I will probably give it another try later, but tomorrow is first gig, so ...

The maple cover is just super-glued to the magnet inside, and I needed a way to hold it in place ... thus another magnet while the wood super glue hardens.  This was nearly a disaster, as the second magnet immediately jumped from my hand and attached itself to the super glue!  After separating the (no mean feat!), I tried again, keeping the second magnet on the top of the guitar, and it was another chore to grab it ... it's so tiny, and kept jumping to another metal part.  First attracted to the humbucker (naturally), to the bridge, then to the screw of the strap pin ... Gaahh! 

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It lives!!  :thumb:

I was able to use it for band practice this morning, and will debut tomorrow morning.  Required very minimal setup, as neck and bridge are repurposed.  The Bartolini humbucker with a minimalist passive setup sounds a LOT better than the previous precision/jazz pickups ever did.  The volume has a very smooth taper all the way down to zero ... I credit the Emerson treble bleed mod, my first time to use it.  The tone pot, however, is very subtle ... which is fine, as I rarely mess with it.  Maybe the treble bleed affects the treble cut?  Whatever, I am looking forward to worship tomorrow ... practicing in an empty room is different from playing along with 40 or 50 voices.

Ergonomics are even better than I expected ... completely different from the broomstick! It was a nice practice bass sitting down, but awkward standing.  Now, compared with the MusicMan, it feels like a feather ... and was concerned it might sound like one.  Fortunately, not the case.  My wrist rests on the bevel nicely for playing over the pickup, and the balance on the strap is perfect for me.  Final weight: 3.342 Kg, / 7 lb.6oz..

And everyone likes the Chinaberry grain/flame!!  :D

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