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Building my first guitar body

Dugz Ink

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I'm a member of a home-studio forum, and I was chatting with some of the other members about buying a second fretless bass. This led to a discussion about building a fretless bass. (I have a fair amount of experience designing and building furniture and custom rifle stocks.)

That's when somebody gave the address of this forum. (BTW: Cool site!)

So I'm embarking on my first project, but I didn't want to start by purchasing hundreds of dollars in parts and then trying to building something without dimensional guides on hand, so the fretless is NOT going to be my first project.

Instead, I'm going to build a second body for my Epiphone "Les Paul Jr." It was cheap, and could use some help. (I've already had to dress the frets!) It looks like everything is surface mounted, which would eliminate inletting pick-ups on my first project. So I would keep the neck and hardware, and just build a body.

I've been reading posts on this forum, plus details on various private web sites, and I think I'm learning... but I would really like to check with some people who know a lot more than I know.

I'm considering Swamp Ash, because I would like to keep a deeper sound... not as bright as a Maple. I'm still unsure if I want to add other wood(s) to the face; I have the tools and the woodworking experience, and I would hate for the body to turn out great and then say "I wish I had __________."

Okay, let's talk design before we get too far into a discussion about the face.

I laid out the original body shape in my cheap CAD program, and then started making modifications... cutting off a little here and adding a little there... just so the new body wouldn't be identical to the old body. Here's the first idea:


So there you have my ideas, so far. Forget about the pick-ups for now; I'm just concentrating on building a beautiful body. Any advice or comments would be appreciated.

Dude... this has turned into a long post. I'll shut up now.


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let me warn you.

I still have yet to finish my Jazz Bass project, and my woodworking chops are crap.

BUT I can offer feedback that you can take or leave at your leisure

First of all i must say awesome design! that shape really speaks to me, and if i saw it in the store, I'd buy it...cept i would do just 2 things to it.

Firstly, I would make the bottom cutaway, a wee bit longer for better access to the upper frets. The way you have it is cool, but this is a personal preference of mine.

And finallym I wouldnt move the controls far away from their original position. Again a matter of preference. Other than that, I have to say awesome guitar!



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The treble side waist looks wrong to me. It seems to cut in too far, and too sharply; I really don't know how comfortable that would be. Second, I agree about moving the controls. Other than that, I really like the design.

As for a cool top, a veneer is always an option. Do a cool veneer, like maple or something exotic like waterfall bubinga, a black accent veneer beneath that, and then the swamp ash. It's a beautiful combo, especially if you use a large roundover on the edges (3/8" or more).

It's cool that you want to start on an easier project than a fretless bass, but have you seen Carvin's bass necks? They sell neckthru and bolt-on blanks here, and the possible modifications they offer are the same as on their custom shop basses, seen


Just some food for thought, in case it was an option you hadn't considered yet. Good luck with whatever you choose, and that new body will be cool regardless of what you do with a bass.

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Thanks for the info and the feedback.

I was thinking about moving the controls because I keep bumping them with my hand while I'm playing. Since I'm not coordinated enough to play guitar and turn knobs at the same time, I figured I would just put them where they would be safe. But maybe that wasn't such a good idea. maybe I should learn how to play... the harmonica.

I am a little concerned with the ability to play the high notes (due to the body design) but I figured I could iron that out by bolting on the neck, trying a few rifts, then un-bolting the neck and making the necessary adjustments to the body... before I sand and finish the body.

I sure hope I'm thinking my way through this project without missing something.

But if not, I'll have an interesting looking seat for a stool.


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Remember, If you have to move the neck forward, or backward any, You will also have to move the bridge. And also, think about how often you actually play the upper frets. For me, its not an issue, because I never use them and If i needed that reach for a certin song, I would just tune an octive higher.

And also, If you ever plan on playing slap bass that neck Pup may get in the way. Thats the only reason why I havnt bought a rickenbacher, because when I play slap it gets in the way, and Its RIGHT where I pop the G string.

Are thoes the pickup placements your acutally going to use? or just for the sake of being there in a rough plan? And I second the control moving.

BUT! I love the design! very retro looking.

what kind of bridge are you using?

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The placement in the pic is close, but not perfectly exact. When I tear apart the guiatr, I'll use the old body to take my measurements.

I'm using the factory parts that are on my Epiphone "Les Paul Jr" for now. (This isn't the bass; I'll build that after I learn a little.) I don't want to start swapping parts until I can figure out how to use the ones that I already have.

Thanks for your input on both threads!


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