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So after a long hiatus, I'm back building again! My last was the explorer in about 2015, so it's been a while. I've been loving playing that in my band, easily the best sounding guitar I own! I've wanted to get back to it for ages, but life got in the way with moving countries and house buying etc..

Lockdown and furlough has given me a prime opportunity to finally get the shed set up and back to it though!

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Anyway, this time around it's going to be a bass - my first one! I've been spending more time with my Thunderbird lately but am really craving that extra string for some djenty/metally/proggy goodness. In particular I'm after that Darkglass-infused modern tone (ala Karnivool/Plini etc).

I'm struggling a bit with finding pickups at a reasonable price at the moment, but the plan is for a set of passive soapbars going through a 3 channel pre-amp. Any recommendations would be appreciated as I'm much more on top of guitar p'ups than bass ones!

I've taken an Ibanez SR as the start-point, mixed in a little Warwick Corvette and made my own headstock design. I'm also going with a proper logo for the first time!

Scale length is 34.5", I wanted to keep a little of that de-tuned percussiveness in the low-B as well as not losing the playability of a "normal" scale-length with moving to a 35". Seemed a decent compromise. I'm also keeping the narrow nut spacing of my Thunderbird (classic pro) as I love how that neck feels.

Woods-wise it's going to be a 7-piece neck-through made up of Maple, Wenge and Padauk. The body is mahogany topped with a generous bit of maple for some carving. The generosity is primarily down to the mahogany I have warping after I cut it from the blank a year or two ago.. hopefully what was salvageable is stable now!

I've already made a start on the neck, but here are the plans so far - there's a bit more work to do to tie down details, but it gives the idea.

Good to be back!!

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Cheers! I really love getting things precise, it makes all the difference! Whereabouts are you from in Derby by the way? I'm originally from Draycott (near Long Eaton)!

I've gone back to work now, so progress has slowed a bit. I've just been tidying up my maple neck blank. Hoping to get the full neck stock together by the weekend. Unfortunately the only blank I had was a 25mm x 105mm plank which will need a bit of creativity to get a through-neck out of.. I couldn't really justify an extra £50 for a 2" one with this lying around...

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My plan is to halve it lengthways, flip one side to get opposing grains for stability and then build it up into two blanks and bond them to the core. The idea being that if it warps laterally then at least the warp counters itself..

I'm not totally sure if it's necessary to flip as it's a dried blank. It does mean that the visual grain doesn't match so well. Any thoughts/advice appreciated!

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So tonight, progress stands at two cleaned up slabs of maple. Tomorrow I'd like to get the body sections bonded on but we'll see!

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at first... I wasn't sure you were real... as your work area seemed impossibly tidy... but then I saw a pile of wood shaving on the floor in this last shot... and now I can confirm you are not a robot.

your drawing are really fantastic.  multilam blank looking 'right on'.  looking fwd to seeing the build.

afa preamp... one of my all time favs is bartolini ntmb, the ntmb+ being the 3 band version.  .  just has a growl to it that I love. 

There are a number of diy solutions if you've considered that route... specifically looking fwd to trying the cort/spector/ken-smith haz lab preamp with the mids add-on.  Have always loved the sound of spector, and at least some of that has to be attributed to the pre.  You can find the schem for that one on the net in case you are comfy with that prospect.  those would get my vote anyway.

 

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For a slab sawn plank I've halved it lengthvise and simply bookmatched the cut, adding the core strip in between. For strength and stability I've been pondering about the four ways of arranging the halves but so far I haven't got an answer about which option were superior to the others.

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Thanks everyone! Great (and crazy) to hear that there's people anticipating this as much as me! 😊

@mistermikev, haha yes it's all down to clever framing.. That bin is steadily developing its own fossil record (and likely, ecosystem) but I can't get rid due to lockdown or burn it due to lack of firepit/brazier... 

I'd not actually considered building my own pre-amp but that sounds like a cool little project - I studied amplifiers and electronics in my degree so could be time to dust some of that off! I suppose they are op-amp based? I'd looked at Bartolini pickups and the Darkglass pre-amps but £240 for a set of p'ups and £140 for the amp is pretty steep! was considering an Artec stand-in for an updgrade later..

The drawings are just done in mac powerpoint - the arrangement and bezier functions are pretty powerful and you can print to pdf in real scale which is really handy. Like I say, I've had a lot of time on my hands...

Sounds good for the neck then, I'll get on with flipping it (better safe than sorry). @Bizman62, that would be my preferred option, but this is too thin to bookmatch that way. I'll do that for the body though. Would be interesting if there is a difference.. maybe it's just down to taste on how the grain looks?

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2 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

Thanks everyone! Great (and crazy) to hear that there's people anticipating this as much as me! 😊

@mistermikev, haha yes it's all down to clever framing.. That bin is steadily developing its own fossil record (and likely, ecosystem) but I can't get rid due to lockdown or burn it due to lack of firepit/brazier... 

I'd not actually considered building my own pre-amp but that sounds like a cool little project - I studied amplifiers and electronics in my degree so could be time to dust some of that off! I suppose they are op-amp based? I'd looked at Bartolini pickups and the Darkglass pre-amps but £240 for a set of p'ups and £140 for the amp is pretty steep! was considering an Artec stand-in for an updgrade later..

The drawings are just done in mac powerpoint - the arrangement and bezier functions are pretty powerful and you can print to pdf in real scale which is really handy. Like I say, I've had a lot of time on my hands...

Sounds good for the neck then, I'll get on with flipping it (better safe than sorry). @Bizman62, that would be my preferred option, but this is too thin to bookmatch that way. I'll do that for the body though. Would be interesting if there is a difference.. maybe it's just down to taste on how the grain looks?

ecosystem... hehe, cracked me up. 

bartolini... there is a schematic out there for it... have a pcb built for one but need to order some chokes from mouser and just haven't gotten around to it.  Lotta fun to build yer own.  I have the darkglass in my axefx and i can see why folks like it for bass... has a nice snarl.  I'm sure you'll eventually be able to find the schem on freestompboxes if it isn't already up there. 

lmk if I can be of any help in that dept.  cheers

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2 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

this is too thin to bookmatch

Just for clarification, the bookmatch in my sketches is on the narrow edges.

So if you have a 1x4" plank and you cut it to two 1x2's the bookmatch is on the 1" side you just sawed. For a top you cut a wide plank into two large matching slabs but in both cases the freshly cut surface is where the faces match.

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Great work & love the wood choices - thoroughly impressed by those of you who true your work pieces with hand tools. I can barely manage with machines 😄 looking forward to the developments on this. I'm in the middle of a neck-through 5 string myself, and have yet to research electronics/pickups.

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Hi all, It's been a slow week on the guitar front with going back to work. I also had a bit of a set back as I found that I'd had some bowing in both the maple neck sections and the laminated parts. After consulting the oracle (my dad), best bet is that it's just one side drying out faster - the fresh planed sides are all the ones which are long (convex).

I've clamped them all up straight with room to breathe, away from the shed. So let's see in a few days. I suspect that it was more humid in there over winter than I thought for.. Turns out my bed is about the only place with a long enough straight edge, but needs-must in search of bass!

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@Bizman62, thanks for the clarification, I see the point now. It does make handling the stock a little easier and avoids joints on the body (although means some addition for the headstock..). I will possibly re-evaluate which way to go once I've straightened and cleaned up the bits.. Still not sure if the more open grain of the "wide" face would look better on the neck.

@djobson101, thanks! I'll give it a follow! I've loved the idea of padauk/wenge for ages. I have some lovely cocobolo for the fretboard as well, (I believe it's cocobolo, it was long ago and can't find the reciept!). My dad taught me everything, he used to make sailboats with his dad so it runs in the family I guess! It's mainly patience and practice I think though!

 Looks like I'll be moving onto the body wings sooner than anticipated!

 

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8 hours ago, Stavromulabeta said:

best bet is that it's just one side drying out faster

Your oracle sounds like a man who's got a deep knowledge of the ancient wisdom known as common sense!

A good way to acclimate wood is to pile them on a flat surface with slats between each board, turning the pile upside down every now and then to ensure a uniform drying. See image:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, it's been a bit of a hectic time lately with going back to work (from home). I've also been much more careful with wood storage!

Some small progress though. I now have a complete neck-through blank, and I'm really pleased with how it's looking! The nerve racking job of making that scarf joint is coming up fast!

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I also made a start on the body wings - going for a thick maple top over mahogany. I had to do a bit of maths to work out the thicknesses. I wanted the 10mm carves to leave a nice ratio of 1/3 to 2/3 at the thinner edge.

For those of you who are interested, it's a neat little result to take the guesswork out of how a top will look at the edge. I suppose you can also set a thickness instead if you wanted it to appear like a 1/4" binding or something..

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Plugging in some numbers I came out with a 38mm body made up of 22mm mahogany to 16mm maple which I could make from what I had available. Not too thick, but slim profiled. 

With some negative templates I've been selecting which bits to take from the maple I have. There's some nice figure on that plank, it's quite open and even looks a little swamp-ashy in the right light.

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The top will likely be a deep red on the wings which I think will match the padauk stripe and a slightly darker oil finish on the mahogany - but that's for another day. 

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I've also got some black dyed veneer to give a neat 0.6mm pinstripe at the join (and also to prevent bleeding of the dyes...).

More news on that neck coming soon I hope! I'm a bit worried about aligning the stripes across the scarf joint.. I'm not convinced about adding a strip in-between and it would look cool without if I can make it work.. Maybe just a layer of veneer?

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@mistermikev, quick one for you now I'm speccing out the cavities for batteries etc. I just about have space for 2 PP3's, but I'm not sure if there's all that much benefit to going 18V or not. Most preamps seem to be either 9V or switchable. If there's not much to choose I might stick to a single one for space reasons.

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1 minute ago, Stavromulabeta said:

@mistermikev, quick one for you now I'm speccing out the cavities for batteries etc. I just about have space for 2 PP3's, but I'm not sure if there's all that much benefit to going 18V or not. Most preamps seem to be either 9V or switchable. If there's not much to choose I might stick to a single one for space reasons.

I'm doing an upcoming bass that is going to have 2 9v.  I plan to put a switch I've seen in to go back and forth between 9v with longer life or 18v with more headroom.  I figure it'd be something to switch to 18v for recording and back to 9v for regular practice.  I hate changing batteries and have a lot of guitars with them... so personally would like to minimize that.  18 vs 9 isn't going to make a huge dif in all cases... but I figure why not have the option?  pretty cheap switch and can always just set it to 9v and forget it.  that's my 2 cents anyway.

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