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Converting a hollowbody guitar kit into a bass

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Hey guys, new to the forum so please let me know if this post is in the wrong category.

I'm wanting to get a new bass guitar and I had the idea to see what kits were available. I like the look of semi hollow and hollow body guitars but couldn't find any kits for a bass of that type.

What I did find though is a 335 kit.

Has anyone here ever converted a guitar kit to a bass while building it?

My questions for this fact finding stage of my potential build are as follows:

1) What problems did you run into?

2) Since it's a guitar kit, what type of bridge and saddle should I look for that will fit the profile of the body without extensive modification?

3) Most of my experience with basses is in the realm of classical and jazz playing an upright and my knowledge of electronics is lacking. What are the major differences, in general, between guitar and bass pickups, and can I use the humbuckers that the kit comes with or should I replace them?

If scale length and intonation is a concern, would it be worth making it fretless? I've always wanted a fretless electric bass, they look so cool. And could you imagine one on an Epiphone Dot style body?

Thanks for your input in advance guys and gals. Have a good one.

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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I've never built a bass (it's in my bucket list though) so the following is more about the basics of stringed instruments.

The pickups are similar, only the number of pole pieces may differ. The magnetic field of a polepiece is relatively large, there's no audible difference whether the string is on the edge or right over the center line. You'll get a sound using six string guitar humbuckers with four bass strings but at least it would look funny. The potentiometres are similar in guitars and basses and the same "rules" apply: With humbuckers we usually use 500k pots as they cut higher frequences less than the 250k ones used with single coils. But that's not a stone carved law, it's only about how shrill or muffed a tone you want to get.

Fretted or fretless, the scale length and intonation remain the same. It is possible to build a bass using the scale length of a guitar but you may run into issues like rattling. In theory the shorter the scale length the thicker the strings should be to retain the tension for a similar "feel".  It's the same with those mini size children's guitars, with regular strings you can bend half an octave and playing clean notes is challenging. The common scale lengths for electric basses are a compromise between physics and playability - as you know having played an upright the scale length of those is much longer than that of an electric. Stretching your left hand fingers and your arms for playing a 42" scale horizontal bass would be painful!

Finding a bridge to fit the existing holes might be an issue, also remember that you should do something for the headstock as well if it's readily drilled for tuners. I strongly suggest you to find a bass guitar kit and start your building career with that. There's 335 bass kits as well so you don't have to try to frankenstein a guitar kit into something it's not intended for. Like this: https://bassplayercenter.com/diy-bass-guitar-kit-semi-hollow-body/

DIY Bass Guitar Kit: Semi-Hollow Body


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  • 2 months later...

well I see a few issues but I suppose nothing is impossible.  probably the biggest issue is going to be scale length.  a guitar kit is going to be somewhere in the 24.75 to 25.5 range and typical bass is 34 or more.  so you could slap a bass neck on a guitar body... but this would change where the bridge should be so if it's drilled already... might not be able.  you could just put bass strings on a guitar but a 25" scale bass is pretty small and as mentioned tension could be a real issue.

the second big problem is going to be strength.  bass strings put a lot more tension on a body than guitar.  some 335 designs have a center block... so shouldn't be an issue... but some are full hollow... and I don't see that working at all.    Have not built a 335 bass, nor looked at one... but I imagine if it's full hollow you'd need a lot more bracing.  

those would be my biggest concerns.


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