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Hi, All  :)

I thought it was time I unleashed one or two of my crazy builds on you all.  I say crazy because, occasionally, my methods make experienced luthiers roll their eyes and shake their heads with a "well, that's not going to work..." or similar phrase passing through their lips. :lol:

What I will do when I get a moment, is post details of a major challenge I was posed with by a contact in the UK last year - it might fit better in the design section because it had some VERY unusual features and constraints.  This one, on the other hand, is fairly conventional, leastways in terms of design.  I will post the progress to date and then update as it nears completion.

It is a single-cut, 34" scale 4 string fretted bass.

  • Top: Camphor
  • Back: Alder
  • Demarcation: Wenge veneer
  • Neck: Mahogany with central walnut splice
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Ebony headstock plate
  • It will be P-J with covered pickups, passive with powered 2-band EQ

The pictures below are probably self-explanatory.  Design / construction method quirks include:

  • The thru-neck will be cut from a single straight-grained length of mahogany - ie no scarfe joint
  • The walnut centre splice has a scarfe joint incorporated to overcome the inherent weakness at the volute of the above design
  • My method is really weird unconventional.  I will elaborate as I go on, but I don't do the normal "take a neck, then glue the wings to it."  Instead, I essentially make the body separately and then slot it over the neck (yes, I know...see paragraph 1 above)

The photos below basically take the progress all the way up to this afternoon when 'rain stopped play', just as the carve on the body had started.

Thanks for looking :) 

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 FaL59Pwl.jpg

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ImbmORcl.jpg

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Do you want me to prioritise a tutorial for this? This is entirely how the whole ProjectGuitar.com/member relationship works....you guys tell us what you want to see written up and we'll start working

Very nice top. That's one of the thicker pieces of camphor burl I've seen. One of my favorite quotes is: The surest measure of a man's intelligence is the degree to whi

Funny that you used Luminlay dots when I published an article on how to make your own today. 

Very nice top. That's one of the thicker pieces of camphor burl I've seen.

One of my favorite quotes is: The surest measure of a man's intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you. I am a fan of your unconventional construction methods. My necks at that stage look very much like yours. I had not thought to scarf the middle lam though. And rather than a neck through, I make a very long tenon, and sandwich it between the top and body, very similar to what you are doing.

I'll be enjoying watching this progress and look forward to seeing more of your work as well.

SR

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19 minutes ago, ScottR said:

Very nice top. That's one of the thicker pieces of camphor burl I've seen.

One of my favorite quotes is: The surest measure of a man's intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you. I am a fan of your unconventional construction methods. My necks at that stage look very much like yours. I had not thought to scarf the middle lam though. And rather than a neck through, I make a very long tenon, and sandwich it between the top and body, very similar to what you are doing.

I'll be enjoying watching this progress and look forward to seeing more of your work as well.

SR

Thanks, Scott

Interesting that we have similar approaches...

The other thing I do with the inner splice is use it as a ready made truss-rod slot.  The splices I use are 6mm - just the right width for the truss rods I tend to use.  I offset the lam by the depth of the rod plus a capping strip:

HuO2Ndel.jpg

 I know it's no real problem routing a truss rod slot, but it is just one more thing I then know is going to be simple, central and right

H872gnpl.jpg

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That's another good idea. My center lam tends to be wider than that. Lately I've taken to making it from the same wood as the fretboard. That means it's a hard, heavy center which may be why I not had any issues due to no scarf.

I can't wait to see what more goods ideas pop out of this build.

SR

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41 minutes ago, ScottR said:

 My center lam tends to be wider than that. Lately I've taken to making it from the same wood as the fretboard. That means it's a hard, heavy center which may be why I not had any issues due to no scarf.

SR

To be honest, I think a scarf only really comes into its own if you drop it!  I think there is plenty enough strength with the thickness and the woods we tend to use for the necks in normal use and abuse...

Andy

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1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

To be honest, I think a scarf only really comes into its own if you drop it!  I think there is plenty enough strength with the thickness and the woods we tend to use for the necks in normal use and abuse...

Andy

I believe you are right. The big ass volute I use adds a bit of protection as well. :lol:

SR

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4 hours ago, psikoT said:

I like unconventional stuff... and your family-size sanding beam. :D

Looking forward to see this done.

A few years ago, I was shown by a top Swedish chef how to cut wafer thin slices of smoked salmon.  "Take one EXCEPTIONALLY heavy and big very sharp knife, and rest it on the salmon...gravity pretty much does the rest.  I worked on the same basis for my sanding beam :lol:

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This isn't unconventional really, other than perhaps how it has been approached in assembly. The "king huge parallel rear lap-joint" (there isn't a real term for it, so let's go with basic woodworking naming) will require a very clean and very very close tolerance in the through mortice. Generally most builders would fit the cap last after assembling the neck and wings. The challenge doing things that way are to maintain a flat plane for the top.

It's going to be a fun journey to watch this one. I love Camphor burl and haven't used it for YEARS. Where did you source this piece from, and did it come mostly green? Last piece I had from Gilmer needed time to dry out.

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4 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Generally most builders would fit the cap last after assembling the neck and wings. The challenge doing things that way are to maintain a flat plane for the top.

Hi, Prostheta

Yes - and there lies one of the reasons I went the way I did.  First time I used this approach was when I built a Jack Bruce Signature Thumb 'tribute' for our band's bassist, who is a big fan of the late great.  I wasn't sure how Warwick constructed their Thumbs at the time and concluded I would need to make it out of a solid piece of bubinga.  Along the way, I found - with the limited facilities I have - it was easier to rout a square accurate slot than it was to create perfectly flat large surface.  The technique sort of stuck.

Ref the camphor, it's the first time I've used it.  My supplier, exotichardwoodsukltd, had a couple of pieces in that I bought a year or so ago and that has been waiting for the right project (he's never had any in since!).  That served a double purpose of me seeing how stable it was.  As far as I can tell, it hasn't moved at all, so I think it was probably reasonably well matured. :)

 

Andy     

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This morning was a bonus because it was dry and bright and we had someone coming to sort some of our windows which meant I had to be home :)

It allowed me to start the carve proper. I roughed it out with a rasp file, then moved to cabinet scrapers, and then to the first rough smoothing (if that's not a contradiction) with the sander.

Here it is after the rasp and scrapers:

OOZVXCBl.jpg

 

And after the 'rough sand':

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What I generally do at this stage is leave it for a few days, and just look at it now and again developing a view over that time whether anything else needs to be done before the final smoothing sanding.

In the meantime, I will make a bit more progress on the neck, weather permitting! :)

Thanks again for looking and the very encouraging feedback

Andy

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48 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

I didn't realise he was still trading! I bought some amazing Macassar Ebony from him many years ago which arrived split. Such a shame, it really was.

There were two companies with the name exotic hardwoods - don't know if it is the same one.  I think the other one has gone.  

The one I use is here http://www.exotichardwoodsukltd.com/ and Kirk, who is the owner is very much trading.  He sells to a number of sectors but has a number of highly regarded guitar and bass builders on his books.  I've found the timbers generally good, although they do not arrive 'ready to use' and can be a bit pricey.  Good website, though, where you can see the specific items you are buying for things like tops and back/side sets.  It's where I got the lacewood walnut and spruce for my acoustic builds.  All of those were tip top quality (although I was in the fortunate position of being able to hand-pick).

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On 11/20/2015, 4:36:32, ScottR said:

Now that you mention it. I can see a custom leather motorcycle seat in that last shot.

SR

:lol:

 

Well - a bit of dry weather should have heralded me doing useful things around the house and garden but, heck, it isn't dry in the UK very often so bass-building came to mind first ;)

I got chance to bandsaw the basic shape for the neck.  

First, got the body thickness cut:

aZWLG0nl.jpg

 

Then the basic side thickness and shape.  Here it is with the spare ebony fretboard blank, loose-slotted into the body:

8v31j6Ol.jpg

 

With the actual fretboard, it was a generous 8.5mm thick.  However, I am trying to match the customer's favourite bass which has a very slim, constant depth neck and, with the truss-rod slot, would have got too close to breakthrough.  So also this morning, I shaved 1.5mm off the fretboard which gives me a workable bulk when I come to shape the neck.

For me personally, this is where my slightly unconventional build method  gives me a tangible advantage.  With all the tweaks here and there - and with my less than perfect technique - everything often has cumulatively shifted enough from the original planned dimensions and angles to give issues with action  / bridge height,  etc.  What I am able to do, is finish all of the key steps, then recheck the neck depth and angle (and if necessary tweak) and know rather than hope that, once it's glued in and immoveable, it's going to be in the right place :)

The headstock will have a couple of wings glued to it and an ebony faceplate with my 'swifts' moniker in MoP

Thanks for looking and for the kind and encouraging comments from my earlier posts :)

Andy

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46 minutes ago, ScottR said:

So do you set the neck and then the fretboard?

This is starting to be like a mystery movie.....what the hell is going to happen next?

Very cool!

SR

Usually, Scott.  For this build, I actually have the possibility of gluing the fretboard and even fretting it, before gluing the neck, but that's probably taking it a step too far!

Andy

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I have a couple of question, if you don't mind:

When you glue the neck to the body, are you going to apply pressure also on the sides or just on the top?...

And, are you going to use epoxi to fill the gap, or just titebond? I'm worried about the flatness of the top after glueing the neck... 

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1 hour ago, psikoT said:

I have a couple of question, if you don't mind:

When you glue the neck to the body, are you going to apply pressure also on the sides or just on the top?...

And, are you going to use epoxi to fill the gap, or just titebond? I'm worried about the flatness of the top after glueing the neck... 

No problem, psikoT

The clamping will be the neck to the top.  The sides are now immovable in any case but are a very close sliding fit so there will not be any gap between them and the neck.  

My logic is as follows: from a functional point of view, for a through-neck, most of the strength is in the neck, where both the nut and bridge are screwed.  The top adds further strength, particularly as the pickup routing will have slotted away 2/3 of the neck's depth.  The back wings, from a strength point of view, have no structural value, so it is the bond between the neck and the top that is critical, not the neck and the back wings.

I might use epoxy, but simply because the demarcation veneer I've used under the camphor is wenge, which isn't great glued with titebond.  In normal circumstances, I would use titebond

The neck and top are at the same level (the joint still has to be flossed, but that won't affect the neck height in relation to the body):

9fWTXHyl.jpg

Before I glue the fretboard, I'll run a sanding beam across the top of the neck and the top to make sure it can be glued snug and flat.

I don't know if that explanation makes any sense?

 

Andy

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