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Short Scale Bass Build


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Hey everyone, 

Build 1 is now done and dusted, so I'm moving onto build #002.

This one is going to be a 30" scale bass guitar, EMG active pickups, Gotoh 4-in-a-line tuners and a Hipshot bridge. These are all parts I bought back in about 2017 to build a bass, but got sidetracked and never got it done. 

The timbers are all Australian, which was something I was really keen to stick to. The main body blank is Bunya Pine (not actually a pine, but looks similar), body cap is Queensland Maple, with a 2mm Tasmanian Blackwood veneer going in between. Neck will be Qld Maple. Fret board is Gidgee (a desert acacia species). I'm foreseeing at this stage that the whole lot will be Tru-Oil finished - I want to let the timbers shine on their own in this one.

I've been trying to do a lot of front end loading on this one to try and make the build quicker than number 1, so I've designed the shape in Inkscape vector software, then designed the hard points and all the cavities in AutoCad. 

I've also bought some new tools (thanks, day-job bonus!) to help speed the job up as well, the key ones being a spindle sander which has already arrived and seen some duty, plus also a 14" bandsaw which is on the way. 

 

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Thanks gents! Looking forward to really getting stuck into this one. I've got a day off coming up in a couple of weeks so I'll be spending the whole day in the shed hopefully (probably not, he he he) making good progress. The main piece of hardware I'm still waiting for is the truss rod, so I'll be kicking off with the body.

And Bizman, yeah, Drak's Beryl looks pretty amazing after it was finished, such a big change from where it started. I spose as we go along through the process I can always shift the goal posts a bit if it's needed. I'm pretty used to moving goal posts in my day job. ha ha. 

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Laser cut the fret board layout today to see how it all looks together, I'm feeling like maybe the body is just a bit on the small side. I've tweaked my cad model so will print it out tomorrow and see how it looks in person. 

Overall, either way it's going to be a compact bass, it's closer to the strat shape in size than a 34" bass. 

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that fretboard looks lovely in that light.  all wood... seems to have a photogenic angle.  that is def the angle for that one!

also a big fan of short scale.  32 is my fav size - cut my teeth on a yamaha motion b 32" scale and that just feels right.  I don't think that body looks too small... if anything it looks pretty big north to south... but it's only your o that matters.  i think the tobias basses have an incredibly small body... and then there's the curbo so... no rules.  

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Thanks gents, appreciate the comments and support. Agreed too, Mike, that fret board really looks good under that light. Also, I've never actually played a short scale bass, but the concept sounds great, I always reckoned a 34" is a bit gangly for me. Ha ha. It's nice to hear you both say good things about them, I'm hoping it'll really work for me. 

So I tweaked the body design to add another 25mm to it to see what it would look like. I printed it out and tried it side by side... I think I'm leaning towards the original now; I love that look of the bridge being way down the back on a bass. Going to stew on it for a few days and then decide. 

Oh and top tip, when you print out templates, make sure your full page print isn't scaled to 97% somewhere in the back of the print options. 🤣 Oh well, it's only the templates I'll have to remake, at least I hadn't cut the actually body yet. Ha ha. 

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That's a good tip regarding printing. For some reason the settings seem to change by themselves, supposedly there's some printable documents that have scaling embedded and the printer then remembers the last used.

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22 hours ago, Nicco said:

Thanks gents, appreciate the comments and support. Agreed too, Mike, that fret board really looks good under that light. Also, I've never actually played a short scale bass, but the concept sounds great, I always reckoned a 34" is a bit gangly for me. Ha ha. It's nice to hear you both say good things about them, I'm hoping it'll really work for me. 

So I tweaked the body design to add another 25mm to it to see what it would look like. I printed it out and tried it side by side... I think I'm leaning towards the original now; I love that look of the bridge being way down the back on a bass. Going to stew on it for a few days and then decide. 

Oh and top tip, when you print out templates, make sure your full page print isn't scaled to 97% somewhere in the back of the print options. 🤣 Oh well, it's only the templates I'll have to remake, at least I hadn't cut the actually body yet. Ha ha. 

afa scale... even when you've got it to not scale at all... I've found printing out 1/4 sheets to still have some annoying variance that would make the sheets not quite perfectly line up.  I suspect that is due to just the paper moving as it goes through the rollers and wondered if others had the sm issue.  Not a huge variance... but I switched to using 14" paper so that would minimize it.  

 

 

 

I have large hands compared to other folks... but because i learned guitar fisrt and spec 3-notes-per-string... I struggle quite a bit playing a 34 and it always feels like home on a 32.  feel like I can just manhandle it and it plays so fast.  Hard to believe 2" at scale makes such a dif... but it does to me.  Hope it does for you.

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Templates redone exactly 3% larger. I've stuck to my guns with the original body design. Not sure if it's just my mind playing tricks on me or not, but it doesn't look too small now. 🤣 Ha ha ha. 

Next week is the week off, so keen to get everything ready to go for Monday to get some serious work done on this thing. 

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2 hours ago, Nicco said:

Not sure if it's just my mind playing tricks on me or not, but it doesn't look too small now.

It's surprising how minuscule obscurities the human eye can see. 3% is a LOT.

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Yeah, it was just a smidge awkward when it was the reduced size. Looks great now, just how I hoped it would. Crazy how such a little change had made such a difference. 

Managed to sneak in a little time to do some jointing on the qld maple top. Almost there but not quite. I've never used a shooting board before, so having to go slow to make sure it doesn't get away from me. 

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I picked up a Roarockit kit after reading someone on here using them (sorry, can't remember who) and got to glueing the 2mm blackwood veneer to the cap. Both sides are now done like this.

I'll glue the two halves into a full cap ready for sticking onto the body as soon as the channels for the wiring are all done. 

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14 minutes ago, Nicco said:

Boo! Not sure why that photo is upside down.

That happens sometimes, no clue why. IIRC when that happened to me I had to make a copy of the original photo and use that instead.

Oh, and you have quite some time to edit your post and replace the picture. The three dots in the upper right corner of your post...

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So I've had my shed days for the week, all done and dusted. Very happy with the progress.

The 6 P's really helped with making good progress... Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance! I spent the time making the templates and using my drawings and the end result was some nice and clean pockets. 

Quick list of progress, then I'll just dump in photos. 

- Qld maple cap joined onto 2mm Tassie blackwood veneer, jointed and glued into a single cap

- This guitar will have a face mounted output jack, so rather than have to carry around a right angle adaptor for the straight end leads I've got to suit my other guitars, I've made a sneaky little adaptor holder. I had to sink in a blank jack from the top

- Wiring channels routed into the top side of the body blank, then cap glued on

- Body trimmed to shape minus 1mm sanding allowance to go 

- Cavities routed in the back

Next up will be sanding then doing the contours. I'm still waiting on the truss rod, so can't really start on the neck yet, unfortunately. 

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Thanks guys, appreciate the comments. I've been doing little bits of sanding when I can, hopefully I'll get that finished soon, then I can get stuck into the fun bit of doing the contours on the top and the belly carve

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I've got the sides and back effectively sanded now, which let me do the round over on the back of the guitar. I wanted a 9mm or so radius, but the hardware shop only had 6mm or 12mm. I figured going with a 6mm allows me to go back and take a bit more off later. 

Then, I got super excited and got the angle grinder and flap disc out to rough in the back carve. 

We've had a couple of really hot days here, it seems the highly figured top didn't like the temperature! I've got a couple of little cracks now that I didn't before, plus my centre join has opened up a bit. I'll push on for now, but may need to revisit it at some point, maybe some epoxy to stabilise it or something. 

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1 hour ago, Nicco said:

We've had a couple of really hot days here, it seems the highly figured top didn't like the temperature!

I've been watching the acoustic build that someone linked to on Youtube. The luthier told that they store their ebony fretboards for seven years before using to make the wood  acclimatize to the workshop conditions. Guess your top is a bit greener than that! But that looks like a bit of sawdust and some glue will fix those cracks.

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Yeah, it's definitely greener than that! It's been in the shed for about 4 months. To add to it though, we kind of skipped spring in our past if the world though unfortunately, it went from 18 degrees and raining to 35 degrees and bone dry in about 2 weeks. The shed is uninsulated and out in the sun too, so temps in there are pretty high. 

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