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32" scale p bass "the picalow"

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I don't care if no one ever responds to my posts... I'm having fun so... here is my progress so far:

had bought a delta band saw - just an 8".  hoping I'd be able to re-saw the 5" 6/4 walnut I bought for a neck... didn't work so well.  actually got about 6" into it but just was stopping the saw at that point.  I suppose if I bought a better blade perhaps I could muddle through but figured I'd "go with the grain" and work on the body for now. 

used my router sled to plane it down to approx 1.5".  calipers says I'm within 8/1000 thickness on all measured edges so - close enough for me.

so drilled some holes and used my jig saw to ruff cut the shape


used my drill press and barrel sander on it...but right away blew out a small piece at the bottom edge.  so I read up on downhill routing and switched to my whiteside bit 3/4 instead of 3/8.  that worked a lot better.  the chunk was glued back in but I think it was completely routered off in the end so - no worries there.DSCF2731.thumb.JPG.7eb658aedc7eda775e3457962f9f1e74.JPG

routed out my f holes cavities and gave her some random weight relief...DSCF2741.thumb.JPG.eb2887ddb2a84ccf034f81e530871d2d.JPG

applied black epoxy to some voids and glued my top on. 

till next time!


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thank you sir.  have quite a ways to go yet but gettin' there.   not bad for a first anyway.

prob finish up the body this weekend.  might try to tackle the neck wood with my jigsaw.  after all the horror stories of folks trying to cut 8/4 with jig saw... mine powered through like it was butta - at least doing straight lines anyway.

cheers and thanks for the response!

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On 4/23/2018 at 10:38 PM, Andyjr1515 said:

Good progress :)

What's the top wood?

that, I'm told, is maple burl.  its from canada so it might be "maple burl a".  (hehe).

here is another shot after routing and with some water...




the couple of void spots were pretty 'punky' so last night I was removing some material with forstner and blew out a small piece near the neck joint.  should be fine anyway but glued it back in.  in retrospect probably not the best decision to have it so close to the neck pocket area but I was trying to minimize it so... alas we'll see if it causes any more problems.  If I have to I can always trim out a piece and glue something back in but like I said it's right on the pocket so... may not be a problem.

DSCF2750.thumb.JPG.ab985a6d05f7aab84f7dbb47c3b8db8f.JPGhope to get back to routing the pickups and f holes tonight so- something to look forward to today while I save the world from badly formatted data.

so below is another "crazy mike's wireup" I did for a 7 string washburn.  think I might use a variant to wire this up.  the three way selects between parallel/series - inside/outside coils.  a nice marriage between simplicity (3way) and lots of options with the rotary. 

will do a ebmm diy preamp for this one so have to decide if I need a separate battery cavity.  also need to decide if I want to redo my pcb layout.  I kind of like the idea of A) board mounted pots and/or B ) putting my trim vol in a spot that would be adjustable through the f hole.  Not sure if I have the effort in me as my current layout has been verified a few times.  plus still have to etch a pcb, drill it out, populate, test, etc. sounds like a lot of work so will have to check my bag of assembled stuff and see if I have one in there as an alternative.

thinking 1 vol, 1 rotary, 3way toggle, bass w push pull for true bypass, treb w push pull for bright.


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so... some minor updates... here it is after routing the f holes, the pickup cavities, and the neck pocket...




then after routing out my control cavity



odd... after removing this material the bottom felt really light and it kind of made me think this thing is going to be heavy.  funny how balance can hide weight.  Should have picked up a scale to get the actual weight.  Am debating if I should give it another pass on my router sled - at this point I'm at 1 7/8.  could remove an eighth. 

also need to do a battery compartment and am considering buying a plastic one or doing it myself.  

saw norris's cool idea to inset the neck plate - might steal that.


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You mean neck plates?  Guess I've just not seen that before.  Can't imagine doing it freehand.  am still  on the fence about what I'll do there.  might go for the sclupted/inserts for a bit more challenge, then again I never play above maybe 17 on a bass... and only if I'm playing zep's/ramble-on!

ps I just noticed that you have built 'the next bass on my list'. a carl thompson.  I'm a huge les fan and have been working on a drawing of his 32" bass.  that bridge piece looks intimidating as hell!  amazing.  am going to have to give that thread a read through.  any chance you would pity me and pass along any design docks?  if not, I understand. 

I want to do a 32" 5 string version and have all sorts of ideas about an acoustic preamp/bridge.  I've done some work with piezo on my diy elec mesh drum kit so... have some piezo ropes lying round I was using for ride cymbals.

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Oh, NECK PLATES. Wow, okay. So no, not standard practice then! I way thinking of control plates. haha

I think it's a great stylistic touch if you can pull it off.

I built two CT style basses, so I guess you are referring to my Sapele/Wengé bass? That one is fantastic and I love it. The other was a bit of a disappointment as the neck geometry was a little off, with the thin-ness of the body making it impossible to recover. So disappoint.

Happy to share any plans you need.

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both are so beautiful, but yes, the wenge one really catches the eye, but not going near the idea of fan fret any time soon. 

do tell prestheta... geometry?  never heard of it.  afa I know the neck is not an angled pocket... right?  so I'm guessing fretboard was too high?  multiscale was off?  what was the downfall?

afa carve... learn me... my thoughts were to get a 3/4 chamfer bit and then carve back from there with rasps?  also, was thinking I would do mine as a neck through.  build the three pieces, carve the inside cuts but leave the edges square, use a mirror pattern to gue them together.  this is a ways off as I have yet to complete my first bass and my next will be some sort of reg guitar... but somewhere down the line.

was hoping I could get a full size pdf with the layout/lines of the carves and the body and headstock shapes if you have it.  mine was simply done in photoshop using  a picture, the pen tool and then smoothing... so it's drifted from orig quite a bit.

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Geometry is how the string plane, body plane, bridge specs and all that hash together to produce a workable instrument. My neck pocket was too flat, and I dropped a bollock on that job by rushing. Entirely my fault. The compound scaling was perfect, the string runs also. The neck sat too flat with respect to the body, making it easier to build an entire new instrument than to fix it! I can't see it anywhere around here so I guess that I must have burnt it. :happy:

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too flat... so if I'm reading you right action would be too high then?  Couldn't you just lower the bridge?  Guess I'll just have to take your word for it - a shame to toss away your work... your stuff is really nice. 

I hear ya on the burnt it thing... if I screw something up it is like an obsession to obliterate it so I can move on and forget!  I've seen that a few times with other woodworkers.  "bury my mistakes"!

did you do an acoustic electric bridge on that?  do your own pcb/preamp?  I was looking yesterday to see what was out there as I'll probably do bit circuit etch in the next 4 weeks and might want to add something like that in.  I saw a few ideas but nothing I'm sold on trying yet.  

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Thanks man, I appreciate that.

That's it exactly on what was wrong. The saddles were intended for a fixed height so it was a challenge from the outset. I don't bury my mistakes as such, I just prefer them not to mount up as a permanent reminder that will never actually end up being fixed. I burn them because we have a lot of fire here and turbo winters.

I never did do an acoustic bridge because I've never been that into piezo or contact mics on bass. Just not my thing I guess. Making a homebrew preamp would be a nice idea though if you've got the skills for that. I might suggest that you terminate the pickups with a connector so that you can swap in/out different versions of the preamp if you're going to experiment and refine.

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right on.  I have a piezo in my ibanez ergodyne that sort of got me into it.  It is a very bright crisp sound, and I'm not sure I'd want it on its own, but mixed with another pickup it sounds pretty good.  I figure... if I'm going to go active anyway... and if I'm going to that type of bridge - it might be fun to diy it.. 

I'm very confident with building preamps.  I've built many.  7 of my current guitars have everything from musican bass/sabre clones to lakeland/fender deluxe clones, jackson mid boost, alembic stratoblaster... the list goes on.  Just another of my hobbies.  afa connectors... I've never done that.  Always just figured it's easy enough to solder something else in if I change my mind.  I generally test things out pretty good on a test harness first anyway. 

speaking of which I just put in a 9v box in this bass.  Got my roundover bit and rounded off my edges.  Will post some pics again soon. 


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Go for it. I'd say that on the basis that you prefer piezo as an accompaniment to traditional mags, having the option of dual output makes sense. If you're recording or bi-amping, you have control where it's best rather than just in the bass. Rickenbacker's "Rick O Sound" did/does this with a dual jack setup so you can send the bridge pickup to one signal path and the neck to another. This might be useful in this instance, perhaps.

My favourite guitar (the often-mentioned Ibanez S) has a model in the range with this piezo and mag dual output configuration. If you could locate the circuit diagram for the Ibanez S2020 (or the RG2020) then you're golden.

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wow, that really does sound acoustic.  the mm majesty and parker fly all have similar.  with a piezo, controlling the highs cutoff point through the circuit would probably be crucial as w a guitar oriented circuit it would likely introduce all sorts of unneeded noise (if used for bass).   

will have to do some more research on that point.  perhaps pull apart my ibanez and try to reverse. 

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yeah, about that... I'm not decided on what I should do... perhaps if I work it out here in text it will come to me. 

So I have a west african ebony fretboard on the way.  I was planning on taking a piece of leftover from the top and planing it down to about 1/8" and overlaying the headstock and doing a nice 1/8 round on it.  I was planning on using other scraps to make some fret markers.

I think what I'd like to do is to tape off the walnut and just do clear over it.  then dye the burl medium blue and sand it back in hopes of just getting light blue veins.  The difficulty is... how is that going to work out on the fret markers and ebony fretboard.  I will likely need to dye the fretboard black.  so I guess I should do that before doing the fret markers... then dye blue over it after the fret markers are in and sand back.  I want the fret markers to match the body and headstock but am not exactly sure how that plays out best.  then again the lovely cream of this burl would really look nice all natural against an ebony fretboard.  I'm not sure if the burl will stand out enough without some sort of dye.

perhaps instead I should go with a light tan dye and sand back?

any thoughts and ideas appreciated.  what would you do with it?

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so in response: I did mock up some colors but have decided to go natural.  colors, once I got the color dark enough, sort of hid the beauty imo.


1) why don't folks seal the truss rod rout?  It would seem like it would be a good way to add a little stability, then again I suppose once you toss some silicon on either end that is enough of a seal?

2) neck grain... so the piece I chose was obviously flat sawn and the grain does not run the length of the neck.  I've heard mixed ideas on how this may be better as it allows the truss rod to do it's job easier, but am aware the age old standard is to find grain that runs perpendicular.  Am I getting that right?  so next time I want to look for grain that starts and finishes on the top/bottom?


progress updates:

finished thicknessing my neck...




rough cut the profile and routered it. 


built a jig for the truss channel and routed it.  screws made it a simple job to line up the blade right inside the lines.  loosen one and tighten the other and voilla.


truss rod fits like a dream.  not tight, but can't move around at all.  not my best work on one end... need to get better with a chisel... did the cut for the "fretboard stress relief thingy" by hand w router and chisel.  (was gonna go out the other side but in the end decided heal adjust so had to fit the additional square bar there).  I guess I've got a little spot for some silicon! it's not too bad, about a 1/16th of space on one side.

cut some slight reliefs for my controls...


did the control cavity cover and 9v battery compartment


I know I know... had a piece of mahog and figured I'd use it.  perhaps w a little light tobacco stain it will match better.  very happy with the fit tho.


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27 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

why don't folks seal the truss rod rout?  It would seem like it would be a good way to add a little stability, then again I suppose once you toss some silicon on either end that is enough of a seal?

You mean, seal the end where the nut is accessed from? I'm not sure I can see a reason to add a waterproof/airtight seal at the end, other than make more work for yourself. The usual practice is to add a few dots of silicone in the channel to prevent the rod from rattling, but not completely seal it up.

The other thing you want to be careful with  creating a seal using some kind of rubbery/silicone material, is that the silicone can contaminate the timber and prevent the glue taking hold properly. The neck/fretboard glue joint would be at the most stress at the nut under the counteracting tensions of the trussrod vs the strings. The last thing you'd want to do is inadvertently make this joint weaker.

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well... we know that a neck that is sealed well on the outside tends to be more stable... I'm just wondering why I don't see folks using tru oil in the neck channel.  You could tape off the channel and be careful to brush it on. 

was just wondering why that's not a thing.

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