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Finished pics! Psilos Ultra-modern bass build


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On another forum, I've titled it, "A Bridge Too Far?"

Definitely my most ambitious project yet...

Another bass - but the one after this is going to be a 6-string electric! :hyper

This one is not guaranteed to succeed but, if it does, will be most definitely in the ultra-modern camp.

Its for Mick - do you remember the Alembic-like bass that was falling to bits a year or so ago?  That was Mick's.

Why is it ultra-modern?

  • The shape - front and cross-sectional
  • piezo under acoustic bridge + hidden magnetic pickup
  •  (not headless but) headless tuning, hidden
  • hidden controls
  • full-length, integrated fretboard
  • single-cut
  • ultra-slim (1" reducing to nothing)
  • all white(ish) natural finish

 

This is what I mean by the shape - basically Mick's design and an amalgam of some of the more unconventional specialist makers:

_MG_1316.thumb.JPG.3784f6668adc1721809e1e5ce9eda405.JPG

 

The fretboard (fretted) will be set into the body, with a touch of 'neck angle' relief to allow for fingernail and pick clearance, but cross-sectionally will be like a 'contact-lens':

_MG_1320.thumb.JPG.a9a9e011cc6ced006d428ac93699d66c.JPG

This is why it might be a bridge too far...:rolleyes:        :D

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I've been watching this on the "other" forum and have been waiting for it to appear here. It's certainly an ambitious build, but I'm confident you'll pull it off with your usual aplomb - even if you are not at the moment! You won't be let down by your planning anyway! :D

I did wonder if sliders might take up less room than the pots - like the active EQ panels fitted to some electro-acoustics, but then they would be more likely to gather "gig juice"

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On 4/6/2017 at 0:02 PM, Norris said:

I did wonder if sliders might take up less room than the pots - like the active EQ panels fitted to some electro-acoustics, but then they would be more likely to gather "gig juice"

Yes - sliders were an option like on some acoustics - as were the teeny 'trim' pots you get on some effects pedals.  Having said that, the mini-pots should fit.  If, in real life, it doesn't quite fit, then there are those other options to try out.

Onto other parts of the spec.  It is intended to be basically all white!  Well, certainly from the front.

I've managed to get hold of some lovely bookmatched wavy sycamore for the main body wings and then matched that with a 5-piece through neck of maple and ebony.  The full-length fretboard will also be maple, not shown here yet:

_MG_1346.thumb.JPG.4caf36fd1cb1d0f2ecd9decf7cb84a6d.JPG

 

Because the design is offset and single cut and book matched, there is a LOT of wood wastage...but that can't be helped.  Here's broadly how the body shape fits into those pieces:

overlay.thumb.jpg.df234503161a221e709e43d97fbc5efb.jpg

The neck will be inset around 7mm and the fretboard continuous right up to the tail end.  

The body will be compound curved to give a pseudo 'neck angle' to ensure there is at least a little clearance between the strings and the body top at the hand playing position.  You can see the angle joint - which will be rounded off with the fretboard curving a few mm downwards rearward from where the frets end. 

 

This is one of those 'think about it a lot, then cut a little bit, then put it down and think about it a lot more!' projects 

 

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Looking good! It's not the sort of look I'd normally be into but there's just something about it... B-)

And with the wastage... It looks like a fair amount so you could always salvage it for headstock plates?

Mike.

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very interesting build. 

question- will the bottom of the fretboard overhang on the bridge end- or are you putting a curve on the bottomside.? I am trying to get my head around your comment- "The body will be compound curved to give a pseudo 'neck angle' to ensure there is at least a little clearance between the strings and the body top at the hand playing position.  You can see the angle joint - which will be rounded off with the fretboard curving a few mm downwards rearward from where the frets end." 

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3 hours ago, Mr Natural said:

very interesting build. 

question- will the bottom of the fretboard overhang on the bridge end- or are you putting a curve on the bottomside.? I am trying to get my head around your comment- "The body will be compound curved to give a pseudo 'neck angle' to ensure there is at least a little clearance between the strings and the body top at the hand playing position.  You can see the angle joint - which will be rounded off with the fretboard curving a few mm downwards rearward from where the frets end." 

Yes - not the clearest explanation... :D

I need to draw a sketch, really, but in brief:

  • taking a cross section of the body, the body top is going to be a 20" radius - the same as the fretboard.  So, effectively the body just becomes a very, very wide fretboard!  
  • The downside of this is that it would be like plucking or picking at, say, the 20th fret.  That is, you would be plucking 2mm off the bass top - which is a bit close
  • so, I will be also adding a curve along the length of the body, so that the body at the bridge is more like 7mm away from the strings than 2mm.  The fretted part of the fretboard must, of course, remain straight, so this curve can't start until after the last set-in fret.

When I get on the desktop again, I'll pop a quick sketch to illustrate what I mean ;)

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There are so many things new to me on this build!   It's great :D

 

OK - the owner wants a headless tuner system (that he has supplied), basically hidden at the back of the bass, with the strings coming through the  full-length fretboard and onto the bridge.  The tuner system he has supplied is similar to the Steinberger headless systems, with an important and helpful difference at the headstock clamp end.

This is how I've designed it to fit:

_MG_1310.thumb.JPG.8dcd01d4f5a9bfc6ecd5a6523cf8d70b.JPG

Basically, a split neck allowing the correct seating of the tuner block and access to the fixing screws and ball end 'grabs'.  The strings will then exit the top of the fretboard at a decent break-angle and then over a (piezo equipped) acoustic-style saddle.

Great in concept but many, many things that could go wrong.  So it called for a test rig.

 

First I got some pine the same depth as the neck will be and another pine piece on top representing the fretboard.  I cut the 'neck' with a 35 degree cut and positioned it so I could ensure access to the tuner pullers and fixing screws:_MG_1357.thumb.JPG.131dff08c2538daeb7c58b69455fb67f.JPG

 

As above, this would have the end of the tuner block poking through the bass top if I did nothing different.  So out came the hacksaw:

_MG_1361.thumb.JPG.d7ee0ca5b9f6c7dc3839d082e5d47694.JPG

 

Then I made a pretend 'wing' and chiselled out a cavity for the tuner overhang to slot into:

_MG_1362.thumb.JPG.43e54d1bf30626c6497c9ba2d37c868e.JPG

 

Then glued the body 'wing' on.  This is broadly how it will look from the back:

_MG_1369.thumb.JPG.af3afe5bba526a790b51bf928e60fdfa.JPG

 

Here you can see there is good access to the tuner grabs (for stringing up) and fixing screws:_MG_1365.thumb.JPG.c66bce0aeebddb9798d34b3097391c24.JPG

The advantage of the slots in the body wings is that they act as the end-stop for the bridge and the fixing screws then merely hold the tuner in position - the body wings take the full force of the sting tension.

 

I will now fix the other body wing, add a pseudo-saddle and use the same jig to try out the headstock clamp in what, at about 5", might be the smallest fully strung up bass guitar in the world :D

 

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53 minutes ago, psikoT said:

I like your hand drawn designs, rare to see nowadays. I couldn't manage it without a computer.

Every time I get onto the cad package I get distracted by something or other and then can't remember how to do even the basic stuff when I get back on, so in the end it's usually quicker for me to use a pencil and rubber.. (and I don't do that many so in the scheme of things....)

Even when I did cad, I actually found it easier to think through initial issues and solutions with a pencil in my hand...probably my age... :D

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Finished the prototyping of the string tuning and clamping arrangement.

At the headstock, the mechanism will again be hidden at the back.   The supplied tuner system differs to the Steinberger units in that it has a double clamp system rather than the usual need for double-ball end special strings.  It is designed for the more standard 'sudden blunt stop' headless systems so out came the hacksaw again:

_MG_1375.thumb.JPG.23dd60fc5d48dc2f6c43a5dd7dd60422.JPG

Then drilled a few holes in the rig and strung up two of the strings (would have been all four but my pseudo fretboard was too narrow!)

 

Here it is from the back at the tail end:

_MG_1379.thumb.JPG.eec5edad40a95d8e6a4f7da76d58e91b.JPG

 

...and here from the back of the 'headstock'.  Note the double clamps - allen key studs and then floyd-rose nut type clamps

_MG_1380.thumb.JPG.caed0cab801f471637c433a5e324e63f.JPG

 

It is so very easy to string up - capture the ball ends at the tuner end; feed the string through the headstock and pull tight; tighten the grub screw; bend the residue 90 degrees and pop on the double clamps; trim to size;  couple of turns of the tuners and you are at pitch :D

It also has to be one of the most secure arrangements I've ever done.  Those strings and components simply can't go anywhere at all.

Here it is from the front:

_MG_1383.thumb.JPG.52415f3e7aa07b82576ece197af2b208.JPG

 

So...just a wipe of tru-oil, couple of strap locks and ship it off to Mick.  I always said to him that there may need to be compromises along the way but I reckon it has more than just the mere essence of his original design brief:  it's offset; it's white; it's VERY light; it's eye-catching 

What more could he possibly expect?

Miracles?

 

 

 

 

:lol:

 

 

 

 

.... 

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On 4/10/2017 at 5:26 PM, Andyjr1515 said:

Yes - not the clearest explanation... :D

I need to draw a sketch, really, but in brief:

  • taking a cross section of the body, the body top is going to be a 20" radius - the same as the fretboard.  So, effectively the body just becomes a very, very wide fretboard!  
  • The downside of this is that it would be like plucking or picking at, say, the 20th fret.  That is, you would be plucking 2mm off the bass top - which is a bit close
  • so, I will be also adding a curve along the length of the body, so that the body at the bridge is more like 7mm away from the strings than 2mm.  The fretted part of the fretboard must, of course, remain straight, so this curve can't start until after the last set-in fret.

When I get on the desktop again, I'll pop a quick sketch to illustrate what I mean ;)

the part I guess I am still not sure about is the bottom of the fretboard between where the neck angle starts and the bridge- its almost like (in my mind) the bottom of the fretboard would be flat until that neck angle- and then it would (if it was to be snug to the body and not overhang the body) have to angle forming a triangle from the neck angle to the bridge (I think?)- very interesting. you have my interest peaked big time on this. 

As far as your body radius- have you sorted out how you will do that? I had to do a 25" radius in a Turner Model One copy I did a few years ago- here is a pic- I laid out mdf board- held a 25" piece of string down at a center point off the board- took a pen and swiped the radius across the boards. made a "ghetto style extremely large" fretboard radius jig and went to town.  that was a ton of fun. and clean up was easy with a little sanding and it came out great. 

(the jig was turned 90 degrees before use )

001-2.jpg

73.jpg

215.jpg

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I like that cross-section @Mr Natural :thumb:

Apologies that I never posted the explanatory sketch!

Basically, the idea is that the fretboard will be absolutely flush with the body, so it is a continuous curve of 20" radius as seen from the cross section viewed from the back.  Forgive the rubbish sketch, but something like this:

_MG_1385.thumb.JPG.00e4f8cfd32493a314dbcf81eb9d2e4e.JPG

The frets would extend just past the lower cutaway.

 

The problem however, if the body was straight with the neck, is that at the playing position (a few inches in front of the acoustic-style saddle), the strings will be only around 3mm away from the body.   Any decent length fingernails and there would be a deafening clattering of keratin on maple!

So the idea is to curve the body along its length, after the end of the fret-run.  Grossly exaggerated, a bit like this:

_MG_1387.thumb.JPG.f0041d4151c57c5dd71edb153bb95cba.JPG

So the body top will actually be semi-spherical!

 

In terms of how I intend to do it - well, the plan is planes, cabinet scrapers and  sandpaper.

 

Yes, I know...this could all end very badly :lol:

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Last bit to work out properly and probably add to my lap steel bass (definitely think there's a market there, @ScottR ) is the hidden magnetic pickup.

The challenge here is that the body is very thin to start with and gets thinner very quickly as you move away from the centre-line. Add to this the challenge of getting the coil as close to the strings as possible and you can probably see where I'm coming from.

The original concept was this:
58f3a06cbc2e6_Fretboardpickup.jpg.0bbfb1bfeaca1645c404967db104fff4.jpg

I did some experiments with various metal bits (slugs and bars) laying across the top of the pickups of my fretless and came to a number of conclusions:

  • Built-in adjustable slugs are better than close proximity metal as pictured above
  • If it IS separate, then a rectangular iron bar across the top of the pickup is better than individual slugs
  • All of the above do increase the volume, but you still need the coil itself to be as close as possible to the strings to get the tone as well.
  • The ideal pickup therefore needs to have adjustable slugs, be narrow and be slim
  • So Mick's MEC, nice though it is, is probably not the one. 

Here's how wide and deep it is compared with, say, the mini pickup for an EB-3:

_MG_1389.thumb.JPG.0a7e4fc8799aa2d4f85c0adf0550d36e.JPG

It extends way past the width of the fretboard, reducing the maximum pickup height by a few mm; it is 28.5mm deep against 19.5mm of the mini humbucker (the body depth at the centre is likely to be 30mm max); it doesn't have adjustable slugs. My fear is that any advantage of a nice pickup would be lost - and some - by the extra distance it would be from the strings.

My thoughts at the moment, if I can't find anything else, is to use the adjustable slug version of the above mini & that I fitted to Pete's EB-3 style build last year:
_MG_9308.thumb.JPG.5c7d0c891cc9285128fc7aeae77e814f.JPG

 

The curve of the body top in the drawing below is exaggerated for illustrative purposes but I think it explains what I mean....:
58f3a06da2c61_pickupposition.jpg.85265eea514d437e5f9dc0297a31d6bc.jpg

I'll do a bit more thinking and research and then bounce the options off Mick.

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This is geometry heaven!  (or hell, depending how you look at it - or who's doing it - heaven for us in the peanut gallery, hell for you Andy,)  Matt Harris's radius dish idea is on track, and whatever you do to get the compound curve will end up thinning that lower left lobe of the body design down to nearly nothing, if you continue the curve.  

What might be easier in terms of milling both curves without diminishing the lower lobe, would be to use your 20" radius milling jig for both sections (Playing zone section off-plane of the fretboard section by a few degrees), then the intersection of both of those radii will create a shoulder line, that can then be rounded gracefully.   

You might even want to consider changing your radii in the playing zone to a greater radii to allow for the thicker lower left lobe.   Worst case, you could always glue a contrasting wood to the back of the sycamore in that lower left lobe.  

Will be interesting, quite lightweight, and a real sweet piece when done.   

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3 hours ago, StratsRdivine said:

 and whatever you do to get the compound curve will end up thinning that lower left lobe of the body design down to nearly nothing, if you continue the curve.  

Ah, but coming from where I was born and bred in the UK (a town that has a most hurtful reputation ;) ), I will of course cheat a bit :lol:

Along the length will be more like a smooth 'kink' rather than a continuous curve (my drawing above was a bit misleading).  Basically, I'm adding a neck angle, albeit after the 24th fret even though the body joins at the 12th...  

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