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Rubis

Day of birth Precision bass build

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Hi everyone, this is my first post on this site, which I have recently discovered. 

This is not my first home build, and I actually started it a few months ago, but the stage I am at now is the most challenging to me, and I would appreciate any offers of advice greatly. 

I have posted this build elsewhere (Basschat and Talkbass) because there is specialist knowledge available there, in relation to little details which I am hoping to get right, but I don't have access to a vintage P bass for reference. 

So if you don't mind, I will go from the beginning with this post, to set out exactly what I am hoping to achieve 

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I was born on 17th March 1964 and I’ve always wanted a ‘year of birth’ bass.

Sonic blue is my favourite Fender colour. Rosewood board necks are my favourite necks.

A decent 1964 sonic blue precision would be beyond any price I could justify spending, and to be honest, if i had that sort of money to spare, the thought of spending it on a guitar would scare me!

So my attention was drawn to 'modern relics' such Limelight basses and Fender relics, but to be honest, they always looked ‘overdone’ to me.

Also, Limelight basses seem to look generically vintage to me, by that I mean that there are important missing details, (mainly for a ‘64 bass, the lack of a laminate fingerboard), which would put me off buying one, fabulous as they are.

So, to get to the point of this build.

I am going to have a go at building a ‘day of birth’ bass.

That means one built on 17th March 1964, it will be sonic blue, I will attempt to ‘age’ it or lightly relic it, to look like it has been loved and played a lot, but not abused, not my thing I’m afraid.

I have collected a certain amount of articles and photos for reference, but I am counting on the expertise of those who have owned a 60’s Fender, and those with the kind of in-depth knowledge who can help me with the small details which will hopefully add up to a convincing finished article.

Let me clearly point out however, I am not intending to make some sort of forgery or attempting to pass the end result off in any way as an original ‘64 bass.

Firstly, I don’t think it would fool too many people.

Secondly, in the style of Limelight basses, it will have an alternative decal on the rear of the headstock with a suitable inscription to avoid any confusion.

I think this will be a fairly slow process, but it will be fun (providing things don’t go too wrong) and I hope it will be an opportunity for discussion and learning.

Probably my biggest challenge will be making a period correct veneer fingerboard neck such as this rather than use a slab board neck from the likes of Allparts

zpfpakpdwc87vlzxmwuy.jpg

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As an example of the kind of ‘fun’ detail I will be fussing over, I shall try to replicate the date stamp on the end of the neck, of course, to say 17 MAR 64 (it would be silly not to!)

I shall also try to stamp my date of birth on the neck plate as a serial number

I know that the date stamps on the neck heel do not refer to the date the neck was made, so for example the neck pictured above was not made on 7th March 1965. I was informed on another site that in that case the 7 actually refers to the model of guitar.

I also realise that the serial number aught to begin with a letter L followed by 5 numbers, but I am not making a clone, and so the 'serial number' on this will read as 170364...……..obviously!

 

I have been collecting a few bits to make a start with, it will have a Bare Knuckles ‘65 pickup which I love.

I got an alder body from a popular online body parts supplier, which was sold to me as a second because of a couple of very small knots in the wood, but they are in areas where a lightly worn bass would still have intact paint anyway. 

It came routed and sanded for less than the cost of an alder blank, so it seemed rude not to, it will be painted over and then lightly relic’d anyway, so it certainly doesn’t need to be perfect.

I compared the appearance of it to some of the photos I have collected of pukka 60'sFender P basses, to try to get things like edge radius and routings to look as close as I can to a ‘64 body before finishing it, and I must say it was a good buy, saving me a lot of work.

I did buy a decal like the lower one here, but was informed that although the decals changed in 1964, the correct one for March would have been the earlier 'spaghetti' logo, such as the top one, and this is where sites such as this, and the first hand knowledge come into their own. I will no doubt find a use for the later period logo 😉

1964_headstock_logos.jpg

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I've managed to get a little bit of work done on the body, I have sealed the body then applied white primer and then a coat of sonic blue.

I appreciate that although the finish will be aged, or lightly relic'd, it would make sense to start with a good finish before 'attacking' it, as that would have been how it started out, so I will aim to get the best finish I can using just rattle cans. I have a compressor, but as I'm not aiming for a showroom finish, I can compromise a little bit. I this heat, the paint from a rattle can goes on quite well as the paint and the body are warmed up nicely.

Bit more work to do though, when I'm happy with the colour coat, I'm planning on a clear coat, then a bit of subtle yellowing with light amber neck tint, avoiding the areas that would not be affected, such as under the pickguard, bridge/cover and neck plate, then another clear coat.

DSC02619.JPG

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This is the sort of look I'm aiming for, a sort of slightly yellowed with age and lightly relic'd look , a bit like this bass shown below. 

11247a.jpg

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This shows a bit of yellowing on it now, it was great fun once I got going, in fact quite difficult to hold back and not go over the top with it, this is addictive!

I fitted parts onto the body to provide natural masking, leaving the un-aged sonic blue underneath, and didn't screw the scratchplate down tightly so that I wasn't left with a hard line, as it would be (and in fact is) warped with age and so there would be a softer line between the yellowing and the clean colour. I hope this looks more realistic. I know it's only really visible when the scratchplate is removed, but I might as well do it if I can. I did a bit with the bridge cover on and then removed it and did a bit more, to try to make it look like the cover has been on and off 'over the years'

I will tweak it a bit to rub back a little bit of the yellowing on areas that, from what I've seen in the dozens of photo's I have looked at, seem not to yellow. I can only imagine that this is down to some sort of continual wear pattern from contact against your body whilst playing.

I mean on areas such as the forearm contour, the belly contour and the lower curve where it rests on your leg when you are seated, but again, I need to remind myself……..less is more!

Sorry the photos don't show the colours or detail up very well, but the natural light was fading and i had to take them indoors.

DSC02636.JPG

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DSC02630.JPGDSC02637.JPG

 

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More hardware to finish off the body.
 
Strap buttons, neck plate and I was lucky enough to find an aluminium pickguard shield on Ebay Germany which has saved on yet more import taxes as they don't seem to be available in the UK  
DSC02855.thumb.JPG.ef5e0e63a54d37808980a8a3cd1b0efd.JPG
Next challenge is the aluminium pickguard shield. 
 
The red lettering on the back appears to say 'ALCLAD' but I can't make out what the rest of it says so I will probably just copy the lettering verbatim
avbzcbgzey1igznqanly.jpg
 

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I began the relic-ing process on the body by following this article from Guitar magazine, which was very clear, useful and pretty much tallied with all the other articles I had read or watched online. 

https://www.theguitarmagazine.com/diy/relic-nitro-finish/

It's easy to get a bit carried away when dropping keys onto the finish and picking bits off with a nail file and dentist's style pick, and the paint chips very easily. 

I didn't want it to look pristine, but I also didn't want it to look like Rory Gallagher's Strat!  

I tried to stick to areas which would naturally get worn, like the forearm contour, and places that always seem to chip and damage from the dozens of photo's I have looked at!

DSC02863.JPG

DSC02861.JPG

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Next step was the hot and cold treatment. 

I used a heat gun and plumbers pipe freezing spray because the freezer is full of food and the wonderful long hot British summer seems to have ended. 

One fairly small area at a time seems to be the best way with this, and as in the article the cracks and crazing seem to emanate from the little dings and dents, moving off in a random pattern, which is how it would go naturally I should imagine?

I used the recommended wood dye, but it seemed a bit too thick and dark for my liking, so I diluted it with white spirit and it went in the cracks nicely and is still quite visible. 

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The next step I suppose, which I’ve been putting off because it will be a challenge for a ‘garage enthusiast’ with very limited facilities, is making a neck with the proper curved veneer fingerboard rather than a slab board.

I know you might be able to get one made by Musikraft but by the time you add import taxes to the purchase price it can get a bit silly

I also thought of taking a neck and fingerboard blank along to a local firm with a CNC machine and have them do the radiusing work, but I’d prefer to do it myself if possible.

The idea that occured to me lately was to make a router jig using those clever linear bearings and rails which are used on 3D printers for the lengthways movement

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2Pcs-8x300mm-Linear-Rail-Shaft-Optical-Axis-4x-Bearing-Blocks-3D-Printer-CNC/152600768642?hash=item2387b6f082:g:JiQAAOSw5T9aveVS

and the some version of this kind of thing to give the sideways movement at the appropriate radius, and set to either  a convex or concave radius to achieve the veneered fingerboard curve?

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=guitar+fingerboard+radiusing+jig&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari#imgrc=FZMgdEXEOuBLwM:

I hope that makes sense, it does in my head but that’s by no means always a good thing!

As always I would love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, warnings or  ideas for this 

thanks in advance again

Harry

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What a cool build!

My hunch is that the way to do that fretboard veneer is to resaw a thin piece of rosewood, radius the maple neck, and use steam to soften the rosewood to allow you to bend it over the neck.

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Thank you, I'm looking into that because I have a feeling that whilst spending hour upon hour (!) researching for this, I read that that was how Fender did them, I could be wrong of course, but it would make sense. 

I guess you would be better off with a flat sawn fingerboard rather than quarter sawn, which may split? 

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Hello and welcome to another fellow Basschatter :)

I usually view BC on my phone, so it's great to see some decent pics of this build. Lovely detailed work so far...

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Right.....how time flies! 

I haven't been entirely idle for the past couple of months, but I haven't been as busy with this as I had hoped to have been. 

I have been experimenting with a router jig to get that troublesome veneer fingerboard radius, and got part of the way there. I have used some parts from 3D printers 

s-l1600.thumb.jpg.a4e452c7facdeda12a6d4b0c6a29be91.jpg

I got the12mm bar for the bearings to slide along, as it needs to be quite long to fit a bass neck onto, and have been trying to make a holder for my laminate trimmer (for lightness, so it doesn't bow in the middle while travelling lengthways. 

I'm pretty sure it will work (eventually!) but there is a lot more trial and error than I had thought. I had envisaged a device which would allow the trimmer to travel side to side on a curved holder, as others had done, which would give the required radius, and hoped to have been able to have it reversible so that it would do concave and convex, but that might be a bit ambitious!

I haven't abandoned the idea, but I have put it to one side for now and taken the easy/sensible option of ordering an aftermarket neck from Musikraft. I have heard good things about their necks and they seem to be the only ones to offer the period correct veneer board, the price is reasonable too.  The only problem, of course was getting a rosewood fingerboard as there are problems exporting it, so I had to make one compromise. 

They offer a great service where you can spec pretty much anything you like, so I went on their site and was able to order a neck which will exactly meet my needs. 

These are the options I have gone for

Options:
ORIENTATION: Right for Right Handed Players
HEAD SHAPE: J/P Style
HEEL SHAPE: Rounded J/P Style
NUMBER OF FRETS: 20 Fret (Standard)
NUT WIDTH: 1-3/4 P Style (44.45mm)
HEEL WIDTH: 2.4375 (61.91mm) Vintage Fender
TUNER HOLE SIZE: 2 Step 11/16 X 9/16 Vintage Fender
TRUSS ROD TYPE: Single Acting Adjust at the Heel
FB RADIUS: 7-1/4
NUT SLOT STYLE: 1/8 Standard Fender Style
SHAFT WOOD: Rock Maple
FINGER BOARD STYLE: Veneer Vintage Fender (20 Fret Only) Will Come With 50/50 Side Dots + $80
FINGER BOARD WOOD: Brazilian Walnut - Reclaimed Lumber from The Coney Island Boardwalk
TOP DOTS & INLAY: Imitation Clay
BINDING: None
SIDE DOTS: Imitation Clay 2mm
FRET WIRE SIZE: 6230 Vintage Small
FB EDGES: Semi Rolled Standard
BACK PROFILE: Fat C 1.0 X 1.0
FINISH: Raw (No Warranty)
MOUNTING HOLES: Do Not Drill Mounting Holes

All vintage spec and with the fattest neck possible, exactly as I would have hoped to have built it myself.

This way will also mean I will not have the headache of fretwork and fettling to get it acceptable. 

The fingerboard material is a little unusual....."FINGER BOARD WOOD: Brazilian Walnut - Reclaimed Lumber from The Coney Island Boardwalk"...……..sounds quite cool coming from the Coney Island Boardwalk but from what I can gather, it's a very similar colour, and I had intended to try using brown dye to darken the fingerboard for a more aged look anyway (apparently brown leather dye works well). 

The build time is 6 to 8 weeks, which is perfect, as it's going to be my birthday present. 

Hopefully it may arrive early enough to get it finished in time for St Patricks Day, when I can wet it's head with a Guinness or two! 

Here are a couple of pics I found of a relic'd Musikraft Jazz neck which gives a pretty good idea of what they do

evnwvnhzfebt1tkyvpoh.jpg.75485cf89ffc7676845686dd8a791869.jpg

dzcdljale3kqzvkzkp1i.jpg.90615fcde121c00956c40bcae55fdb68.jpg

rvw8ao1cnnvynekewfiq.jpg.a0684c5def50949eb96f689b2dcfd7ef.jpg

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4 hours ago, Rubis said:

Right.....how time flies! 

I haven't been entirely idle for the past couple of months, but I haven't been as busy with this as I had hoped to have been. 

I have been experimenting with a router jig to get that troublesome veneer fingerboard radius, and got part of the way there. I have used some parts from 3D printers 

s-l1600.thumb.jpg.a4e452c7facdeda12a6d4b0c6a29be91.jpg

I got the12mm bar for the bearings to slide along, as it needs to be quite long to fit a bass neck onto, and have been trying to make a holder for my laminate trimmer (for lightness, so it doesn't bow in the middle while travelling lengthways. 

I'm pretty sure it will work (eventually!) but there is a lot more trial and error than I had thought. I had envisaged a device which would allow the trimmer to travel side to side on a curved holder, as others had done, which would give the required radius, and hoped to have been able to have it reversible so that it would do concave and convex, but that might be a bit ambitious!

I haven't abandoned the idea, but I have put it to one side for now and taken the easy/sensible option of ordering an aftermarket neck from Musikraft. I have heard good things about their necks and they seem to be the only ones to offer the period correct veneer board, the price is reasonable too.  The only problem, of course was getting a rosewood fingerboard as there are problems exporting it, so I had to make one compromise. 

They offer a great service where you can spec pretty much anything you like, so I went on their site and was able to order a neck which will exactly meet my needs. 

These are the options I have gone for

Options:
ORIENTATION: Right for Right Handed Players
HEAD SHAPE: J/P Style
HEEL SHAPE: Rounded J/P Style
NUMBER OF FRETS: 20 Fret (Standard)
NUT WIDTH: 1-3/4 P Style (44.45mm)
HEEL WIDTH: 2.4375 (61.91mm) Vintage Fender
TUNER HOLE SIZE: 2 Step 11/16 X 9/16 Vintage Fender
TRUSS ROD TYPE: Single Acting Adjust at the Heel
FB RADIUS: 7-1/4
NUT SLOT STYLE: 1/8 Standard Fender Style
SHAFT WOOD: Rock Maple
FINGER BOARD STYLE: Veneer Vintage Fender (20 Fret Only) Will Come With 50/50 Side Dots + $80
FINGER BOARD WOOD: Brazilian Walnut - Reclaimed Lumber from The Coney Island Boardwalk
TOP DOTS & INLAY: Imitation Clay
BINDING: None
SIDE DOTS: Imitation Clay 2mm
FRET WIRE SIZE: 6230 Vintage Small
FB EDGES: Semi Rolled Standard
BACK PROFILE: Fat C 1.0 X 1.0
FINISH: Raw (No Warranty)
MOUNTING HOLES: Do Not Drill Mounting Holes

All vintage spec and with the fattest neck possible, exactly as I would have hoped to have built it myself.

This way will also mean I will not have the headache of fretwork and fettling to get it acceptable. 

The fingerboard material is a little unusual....."FINGER BOARD WOOD: Brazilian Walnut - Reclaimed Lumber from The Coney Island Boardwalk"...……..sounds quite cool coming from the Coney Island Boardwalk but from what I can gather, it's a very similar colour, and I had intended to try using brown dye to darken the fingerboard for a more aged look anyway (apparently brown leather dye works well). 

The build time is 6 to 8 weeks, which is perfect, as it's going to be my birthday present. 

Hopefully it may arrive early enough to get it finished in time for St Patricks Day, when I can wet it's head with a Guinness or two! 

Here are a couple of pics I found of a relic'd Musikraft Jazz neck which gives a pretty good idea of what they do

evnwvnhzfebt1tkyvpoh.jpg.75485cf89ffc7676845686dd8a791869.jpg

dzcdljale3kqzvkzkp1i.jpg.90615fcde121c00956c40bcae55fdb68.jpg

rvw8ao1cnnvynekewfiq.jpg.a0684c5def50949eb96f689b2dcfd7ef.jpg

man, some really cool stuff there.  love the creative fading above.  Was really hoping you were going to go further with the radius thing as I'm planning something to accomplish the same for my next build... assuming I don't chicken out!  It's much more "nuts and bolts" so nothing impressive.  Anywho, thanks for sharing!  Can't wait to see it assembled!

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Thank you for your comments, I will carry on with the jig (probably in a few months time when it's warmer out in the garage) and I will be sure to post something showing how the results turn out, I am stubborn in nature!

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