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Finished! Headless bass with a difference

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Bit more progress with this.  Apologies for the post being a bit pic-heavy. The pickups arrived.  The pickups themselves have a bottom multi-wire connector which, with the three way switch suppli

Forgive the self indulgence As always, thanks for looking, folks  

Yes - back to basses!    I've been asked by A to make a rather special bass.  It's going to be a mix of trad and modern.  And maybe a world first...? The basic spec starts fairly conventiona

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And to the headless system.  

There are relatively few around that are single ball and A (I think likewise) prefers this to double ball-end types.

And that brings me to Nova Guitar Parts - Andre Passini in Brazil.

He used to sell them on ebay, but to his surprise, the Chinese started 'selling them' - on ebay and complete with knock off graphics!!!  I think if you wanted to describe the word 'blatant', it would be a good example.  I noticed when I went searching them out that both his and the Chinese ones had gone.  Presumably Andre complained to ebay and ebay took notice and did something about it.

So I contacted Andre through Facebook and got a very prompt reply.  And just look at this, arrived from Brazil this lunchtime in less than a week from ordering:


This is top class.  

And it gets better.  Often the problem area of these types of tuner is the friction on the tuner knob and thread caused by the tension of the string pulling metal to metal  - well look at this :) :


Yes - ball-races.  These tuners are very carefully designed and are beautifully, beautifully made.  Using the old engineering adage of 'if it looks right...'

Oh - and he does 6 string electric versions too.

AND individual bases so you can change the string to string distance to whatever you like or even go multi-scale.  Check them out!

I'm VERY excited about this build :)

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21 minutes ago, Passini said:

Very nice Andy, thank you for your support!

Hi Andre and welcome!!  You've tracked me down :)

I'll try to make a decent job of the build and do justice to your beautiful bridge system!  ;)


By the way - was I right in my comments about the Chinese copies?

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18 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Hi Andre and welcome!!  You've tracked me down :)

I'll try to make a decent job of the build and do justice to your beautiful bridge system!  ;)


By the way - was I right in my comments about the Chinese copies?

Thank you Andy!


Yes, Chineses copied my design, I sold on ebay one bridge to China and few months later they were selling it, What can I do.

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Well, not an update that will rock the world but...it IS the first cut related to the project :)

I've cut the back wing mahogany blanks ready for thicknessing


The mahogany was a gift from a Basschat member as a thank you for a small job I did for him a year or so back.  If I remember correctly, it's from an old bar top.  It's nice wood!

Tomorrow I will get my trusty Makita thicknesser out and get all four pieces down to their final thicknesses.

A and I have also decided on the arrangement of the neck laminations (9 piece) and so tomorrow I should have the order for the neck and fretboard timber into one of the main UK suppliers I use (David Dyke) along with some Swamp Ash for another (smaller) project that's on the drawing board. 


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OK - well this morning was the chippy/dusty process of bringing both the top and back pairs down to their finished thicknesses.  

Just a quirk of physics - the pretty powerful industrial vac I rig up to the extractor vent on the Makita thicknesser still has a tendency to clog up even though I am thicknessing at less than 0.5mm per pass...and yet it will suck up three XL rubber gloves without a blink of an eye.

These will both darken when finish is applied, but these are the faces that will be seen at the top and the back.  The back will also have the multi-laminate neck running in between the pair:


In between the two will be a 2.5mm constructional veneer of black walnut (on its way) which should give a pleasing demarcation line.

The two mahogany wings will be hollowed and - if I remember correctly - we are going for a modern 'F' hole a little bit like 'Swift Lite' lightweight build from a year or so back.

In terms of immediate next steps - other than ordering the neck and fretboard timber - it will be to join the top. 

Those of you who have seen my previous builds will know that I'm a bit unconventional here.  Instead of using a template, I hand finish the top and then use THAT as my routing template for the rest of the body later in the build.  There are - from my point of view - sound reasons for me doing it pretty much the opposite way to any other builder in the world.  That might be a point of view of one, of course ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...

A bit more progress on this after quite a delay waiting for the neck timber to arrive (I don't know what it's like in your various countries but in the UK anything to do with free-time and home hobbies are super busy.  Based on how busy my luthier-supplies folks are, there must be a LOT of guitars and basses being built at the moment!

As many of you are aware, I draw my neck geometry full-size.  With a neck-through, you don't have the luxury of being able to easily tweak the neck angle once you get to that stage, so it needs to be right to start with:


A quick double check of the plan-view and side view:


...and then I was confident to start cutting the neck splices.

It is planned to be a 9-part neck of mahogany and maple but with 7 of those parts sitting inside the 40mm nut width so that the outer mahogany sides could be continuous all the way to the nut.

I cut a paper template and ensured that I could get two splices per blank:



With splices all cut, it was time for the multiple glue jobs (I don't try to apply glue and clamp those 7 faces all at once - that road leads to misery ;) )


So after 3 or 4 rounds of glue and clamp, we have the neck blank ready for it's next stages which will include routing the slot the top will fit into (marked in yellow here):






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While this was going on, I also added a layer of constructional veneer to the top.  It is thicker than standard veneer (this one is 1.5mm) which will make it stand out a little better in that this bass's carve won't have the 'sucked lozenge' treatment that nicely elongates the standard 0.6mm veneer.  This should give a nice demarcation:



The other thing I did as part of the final drawing was work out the adjustabililty of the Nova bridge.  I have to say, the more I work with this, the more I like it :)

The intonation range is MASSIVE.  Taking the usable range with the adjuster units in one allen bolt position, that alone is 9mm:


But you can bolt the unit on in four positions:


So the total range from full forward to full back  is huge.  I reckon, even with this multi-unit baseplate, you could do a half-decent multi-scale without even having to the resort to Nova's individual base plates.

I also like the string capture mechanism.  It's very simple but very effective - 

- pull the adjuster, with its brass ball recess block, out from the back

- push the ball-end through the cylinder

- pop the ball end into the recess in the block

- pull the block and adjuster back through and job's done!



I was able to work with Nova too having found amongst my spare bass strings, one make with particularly large ball ends.  This one (not one of the international mainstream string makes) didn't fully seat in the recess.  With a 6.5mm drill, I was able to just ease the diameter out just 0.13 of a mm and it fit perfectly.  I kept Andre ( @Passini )  from Nova updated and I believe he will make that change so that if anyone does use this slightly off-ball string make, it will fit as well as the D'Addarios, Ernie Balls, etc, etc. which already fitted like a glove

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11 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

There's a little story about that.  I'll tell you all about it in the morning ;)

looking fwd to it.

that guitar has styling that kind of remind me of a guitar I was always kind of fond of - the old westone


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  • 4 weeks later...

Season's Greetings!

Apologies - I'm running a bit behind on the thread...mostly because of the organisation of the family Christmas stuff, food buying, watching MrsAndyjr1515 cooking lovely stuff (not through misogyny...more like through demonstrated incompetence of Andyjr1515) , wrapping presents, followed by the next lockdown a few days before and the urgent re-distribution of said cooked lovely stuff, wrapped presents, etc,, to the family who weren't now going to be able to visit after all :rolleyes:

But all of that is sorted, we've had the Zoom festivities and, just before the next lockdown happens, building has recommenced :)

So - a quick catch up up to date:

On 12/8/2020 at 9:09 PM, Andyjr1515 said:

There's a little story about that.  I'll tell you all about it in the morning

But I didn't say which morning!

Well - the maple demarcation veneer did look pretty good.  Pity, though, that I put it on the wrong side of the top :thumb:

And do you know how hard it is to get rid of 1.5mm of maple??  In the end is was only my little Ibex thumb planes that would efficiently get rid of the bulk and then the Mirka started to be able to do its stuff.  The standard planes just slid over it.  Even the Shinto rasp got nowhere with it.

It took ages!



But finally got there and redid the veneer - this time on the correct side, and also added some to the edges of the back wings:


So the plan is, once it's all glued up, it should look like this:



Then cut the slot for the top to sit in:


..and started on the fretboard.  Radiussed it with the G&W jig:


Fret-slotted it with the G&W Mitre Block:


Fretted it:


And now it's starting to look like a bass:



The other notable thing is that I ordered a set of the individual bases for the Nova bridge to be able to get to the 18mm string spacing that A has settled on (the 4-string bridge plate is set at a more standard 19mm spacing).  It's really cool that the same tuner units fit on the either the fixed bridge plate or individual ones.  More kudos awarded to Nova Guitar Parts! :) 


And that's pretty much up to date :)



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Wall-to-wall superquads reminds me a little Nigel Tufnel's Musicman:

guitar review: Music man (Nigel Tufnel signature)

C'mon - surely there's gotta be room to squeeze a J-style single in if you squish up the Superquads a bit in A's bass? Can you retrofit a piezo to the bridge as well? MORE POWER!!!

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  • Andyjr1515 changed the title to Finished! Headless bass with a difference

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