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Creating A Bass.

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Okay, here's the deal... I want above all else to make a neck-thru bass guitar. I've wanted to for some time, a long time, really... and thank God, I found this AMAZING site. I must say, above all else, this site has taught me that it is possible. So... I AM READY. Before I get to the questions, I'll let you know my background, I've been tearing apart guitars for a long time, infact I've recently started to take crappy old instruments and fixed them up, stripped off their paint, and done some artwork and resold for lots, so I'm not completed ignorant, I'm just massively Ignorant. I've found a lot of information on this site, but it's so much work trying to keep track of what information I need, where it is, who said it. When it's all buried four pages into a thread. So, I ask you. What do I need? this is a list a questions, and answers to questions that I have compiled. Please be patient, I'm new to this so I will have more questions as we work through this process.

Stewmac, heard it many times, sells tools, is there a website?

Books, heard a few names, many repeated, what books are most important?

I need tools, Dremmel's are great, and will be my first purchase, what other tools do I need? (I'm willing to spend money, but not break the bank)

I need wood. I like the sound of using alder, I like it alot. I don't like quilted maple, it's good for some things... a lot of things... but not for me. What woods should I be looking at, what are the advantages?

I'm most worried about the neck/headstock/fretboard part of this operation, but I fear not, I'm ready and willing to learn. Please, teach me. ... uh, I'm out of stuff to talk about, so if I left anything out, tell me, if you can answer my question, answer. if you can't but have questions of your own, this thread is not just about me, I'd be so happy if I'm not the only one learning something here. So please... shoot away.

Michael, PhoenixCreations

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First let me congradulate you for joining the Brotherhood of Bassists, a rauciuos bunch whose solitary goal is to get back at the jerk who made us stand next to the drummer. Alright. Stewmac has a great stockpile of books and tools and supplies for building whatever your warped mind can create. Their website is www.stewmac.com and I go religiously. They have a bunch of free info and you can even order a free catalogue. Next, you were looking at what parts you need:

Tuners (figure out how many)


frets (if you are building it from scratch)


pickups (active or passive, humbuckers or single coils)

Electronics (again passive or active, you'll figure our how many pots by how many pups you have)

Bridge (again how many strings)

strap buttons


pickguard if you desire.

Stewmac has a bunch of router templates, and you'll probably need a router to go with them. Fretting is not for the faint of heart. however supplies (basic stuff will cost around $100 from stewmac) are cheap and info is everywhere. I think the main site has some tutorials about this. My suggestion is to take a real long look at some of that basses at your local music store to get an idea of what you want. That always helps to look at a finished one!

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okay, thanks, the stewmac thing was a big question, I suppose I could've googled it, but I didn't think of the question until I was posting. thanks again

I guess I should share some information about what I want, so you guys know a bit more what information to share. I want a natural finish, so no paint. Neck thru, four string, active electronics (probably shoot for EMGs), I want the best wood possible, if there's anything here I'm cutting corners on, it IS NOT the body wood. So all the information you can give me on wood, would be so much appreciated, I've been looking at prices online and everything seems reasonable, so that shouldn't be a problem. I've been looking for what body type I want, and the closest thing I've found is a Dean Rhapsody, it's not quite what I want, but I like the... "wings"? I've been picking up some of the lingo, are the wings the part of the body that go up and around the neck? I've always referred to them as arms, ANYWAY. back on subject, I want those wings, with a back end like a BC rich virgin, pointy, but not quite as wide. more of a sloping back from the arms, wings whatever. I'm still working on a design, but I like both those qualities, just having trouble making them work together, I'll figure out something. .... okay I just spent 10 minutes on a coherent drwinag of my body, this is what I want:

Well, It's very late and I'm having trouble getting the picture thing to work, I'm sure it's user error, so I'll figure it out another time, but I've got the picture on the comp, so you'll see it in the next post. I would like to use a darker wood for the body and a lighter color wood for the neck and the neck thru, maybe with a piece of wenge in the middle to give a three-color thing going on. that'd be cool. Anyways, feedback, ideas, more information that I desperately need, let's hear it guys, lay it on.

Michael again

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The Vampire style body is something I always thought was cool. The all wood finish has always been a fav of mine (cuz I'm lazy and that doesn't require painting) There's a crew that goes by the name Warrior that I've seen in my bass player mags that has these beautiful woods in their custom basses, if only I could manage something like that. If there is a Rockler shop in your area, you can see some of the custom woods that can be used. They have bloodwood, which I'd love to use in a project.

Oh, I forgot to mention, if you are custom building your own from scratch, best not forget a trussrod!

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First let me congradulate you for joining the Brotherhood of Bassists, a rauciuos bunch whose solitary goal is to get back at the jerk who made us stand next to the drummer.

That would be us singers! :D

Phoenix, spend some time thinking about the tools you'll need.

You mention a dremel, but to be honest, I've yet to use mine on my guitars (I don't do inlays though, that's different).

Much more important is a router --and spend some time learning how to use it --and good bits. Stewmac has a couple of bearing bits, they're very helpful.

As for wood --yeah, if you're going for a natural finish, get something with great-looking grain...

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well, I've ordered "make your own electric guitar" by melyvn hiscock, which seems to be a resounding 5 out of 5. So I ordered it, I'm looking at prices for the more expensive tools right now, band saw, jig saw, I need a planer, a drum sander seems to be a nessecity (sp?) but if you have any other suggestions, looks like I need a drill press, palm sander, router, lots of straight edges, lots of time, lots of patience, and lots of love. which all are readily avaliable, (by readily, I mean after my girlfriend and I take care of the rest of her debt), but all very do-able, which do I need over the rest? which can I go without (dremel, apparently)? Which are the hardest to find and I should look for first? Really, the biggest question that's running through my head is wood, what qualities are associated with what woods? what qualities am I most concerned with? (more of a question I should ask myself, but still an important one)

Okay, enough beating around the bush. I'm willing to spend money. lots of money. What's the best wood? The look I am going for, is the neckthru, being three peices, the center being dark, possibly wenge, the two outers being a lighter color, possibly maple? alder? dont know. The rest of the body being something dark again... something... I don't know. Gorgeous. I'm looking for a three-tone color scheme, but if wenge is the best wood for the body, then I'm not going to hesitate buying it.

You're right, I need practice, lots of it. I should focus on getting the machines and learning to use them, I'm pretty familiar with band saw and dremels, used them at a previous job, almost primarily. Everything else all takes me back to highschool, so I need more practice, so tools come first, wood to practice on second, design, design, design comes third, then design comes forth, thinking fifth, template sixth, looking at wood seventh, designing 8th, buying wood ninth, designing tenth, then possibly I can start my project. wait, start is the wrong word, I've started it already, built it already in my head, Finally I get to create my project. Is there anything I've left out in the pre-cut stages? let me know if I have. please.

Thank you guys again for everything, helping me realize a dream I've have for a long time.

Thank you.


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You can do without the drum sander, planer, jigsaw and drill press while you are starting out. The local highschool might have these for you to use for now. Clamps and straight edges and a really large supply of sandpaper are a must! Buy a few quality rasps in differant sizes. I like to make a complete mock-up out of blue construction styrofoam first. You can see what clamping, routing and access problems you are going to have. Try your contours and belly reliefs out on the styrofoam before you make them in wood. Just my 8 cents worth. Basses ROCK! :D

Edited by gripper
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For woods, I always dug the most exotic kinds. My first build was a piece of Brazillian Angellim, it shines like gold and has a deep grain with unique spotting. I never was much of a fan of maple. Since you live out here in MN, check out Rockler craftstores. They have a bunch of nice planks just laying around.

Mickguard, you crack me up man! :D

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