5 String Bass Build

SlingBlader

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I've been working on a 5 string bass build off and on over the past year and it's now getting into the final stages of the woodworking phase. I'm not sure if anyone has any interest in a bass build (this being MLP and all), but it has been a little slow around here lately. :D

Here are the specs:
  • Double cut, neck-through, hippy sammich style of my own design (with some obvious influential nods)
  • 35" Scale
  • 19mm spacing
  • 2 Aguilar MM pickups
  • Aguilar OBP-3 preamp 18v
  • Stainless frets
  • Brass nut
  • Hipshot ultralite tuners
  • Hipshot D bridge
  • Multi-lam, taper-core neck
    • Wenge, maple, bloodwood
  • Zircote top, bookmatched to center
  • Mahogany wings with figured maple laminates
  • Figured Ebony fretboard
I think that's pretty much it. I'll start putting up some progress posts tomorrow. :thumb:
 

SlingBlader

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Making the body wings.

So, in addition to the primary woods listed above, I'm also using black dyed poplar veneer for accent lines in strategic locations.

Here are the layers starting with the top:
  • Ziricote (.30") covering the wings and neck beam
  • Figured maple (1/8"+)
  • Black poplar veneer
  • Mahogany core
  • Black poplar veneer
  • Figured maple (1/8"+)
The target thickness is 1 5/8".

Here's a shapshot of my drawing.


Rough cut mahogany wing cores.


Rough cut figured maple laminates.


Gluing up the layers for the wings.


In the bag.


I didn't glue the rear layers on the treble wing right away as I wanted to make a grain matched control cavity cover. Here I've already routed the top maple laminate out of the cavity.


Carefully cutting the cover.


Here is the addition of the black poplar veneer and maple laminate to the rear of the treble wing.


And the whole assembly.
 

Tac_R

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Wow! Already looking like its going to be an awesome build - for spec and the high quality of execution. Really neat with the grain-matched cover, and especially that tight gap - how did you do the initial cut to get the saw blade in, without it standing out at all?

Cheers,

David
 

SlingBlader

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Wow! Already looking like its going to be an awesome build - for spec and the high quality of execution. Really neat with the grain-matched cover, and especially that tight gap - how did you do the initial cut to get the saw blade in, without it standing out at all?

Cheers,

David
Hi David-

Thanks for the feedback. I scribed all the way around the opening with a marking knife right up against my template first. Then, I just wiggled an X-acto knife right in the scribe line. I used a very fine blade on the scroll saw, so it slipped right in. :)



 

SlingBlader

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Making the neck.

Next up, I cut up some strips of wenge, maple and bloodwood to use for my neck. I cut the maple into tapered pieces, trued up one side of each with a plane, then mounted the two trued-up sides of the tapers together. This produced a rectangular piece with the "not true" sides facing out. I then roughly trued up one side and ran it though the thickness sander. The tapered pieces came out great.

This is the clamping fixture that I made to hold the neck beam. There are cauls which have a complementary angle to make the clampig process easier.


Neck beam clamped up.


Fresh out of the clamps. I used urea formaldehyde glue for the glue up.


Starting the cleanup process.


Keeping things nice and square.


Close up of the laminates.


More soon! :)

Gary
 

SlingBlader

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More neck work.

Next, I installed a double action truss rod (LMII) capped with a maple strip. I also installed 2 rectangular carbon fiber rods. To be honest, I really don't feel that those add much to the stiffness of the neck when multi-lam construction is used. But, I had them in the cabinet, so in they went. :)



I also cut the headstock angle and glued on some maple wings to accommodate the eventual headstock shape.



I had a nice chunk of figured ebony on the shelf, so I resawed it into a few fretboard blanks. Here is the one that I'm using just after cutting the fret slots.



And here it is roughly tapered on the band saw and polished up. I plan to leave the board plain with no top markers on it. I really want to use one of the leftover boards for a fretless at some point. :thumb:



I also glued up the ziricote for the top and ran it through the drum sander.



Well that's pretty much as far as I got with this project last fall before I put it on hold to finish my degree. I had been working on that forever and it was time to get it wrapped up. I finally graduated this spring... I'm just glad I finished it before retirement. :D

The next progress posts will be from around June of this year.

Thanks for looking,
Gary
 

SlingBlader

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Oh, a couple of steps that were left out...

First, I added a thin piece of ziricote to the front of the headstock.


I also cut the "step" to allow for the thickness of the ziricote top.
 

SlingBlader

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OK, so officially picking back up in June of 2019...

I needed to get the ziricote top fitted around the neck area. So, I transferred the neck measurements over to the top, rough cut on the band saw, then fine tuned with files and chisels until I had a good snug fit.









Next up, I attached my headstock template, cut it out, then sanded close and pattern routed. I cleaned up the square bits with files.




A view from the rear. I left some meat there for a volute.




I cleaned out the truss rod access hole and tested things.





More to come, and thanks for looking. :)
 

Ripthorn

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Looking fantastic! Great execution all the way around.
 

Skyjerk

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unbelievable! Its seriously gorgeous. and congrats on your degree BTW :)

Oh, believe it or not, my own bass build is a bolt-on :)
 

SlingBlader

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unbelievable! Its seriously gorgeous. and congrats on your degree BTW :)

Oh, believe it or not, my own bass build is a bolt-on :)
Thanks, Chris and I appreciate the sentiments about graduating. It was a serious monkey on my back and I'm happy to have it gone! :D

Yeah, a bolt-on is a deviation from your norm for sure. Can't wait to see some progress pics!
 

SlingBlader

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Attaching the fretboard.

I used a couple of locating pins which were just one leg of a wire staple driven in and snipped off nearly flush. I used hot hide glue to attach the board.




I flushed the sides of the board down to the neck.




Board attached.




 

SlingBlader

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The headstock.

OK, let's talk about headstocks for a moment, shall we? This is literally one of the most difficult aspects of any guitar design. It should be "original" (yeah right, 8 months after I drew this up I saw 2 on Instagram that were nearly identical), but still remain functional. It should also fit the overall aesthetic of the design. When I was working on this drawing, I had a few other designs in mind that I admired. The primary one was the Carl Thomson. I love that sort of quasi-deco, "stacked", feel. I think that @fatdaddypreacher also has a similar design that was influential to me. :D

So, long story short, I came up with a sort of strange, stacked, oddly deco-but-not, design that I liked a lot. I connected a few addtional lines to create these small "accent wings". In my mind, I had a great plan for these.... and this is difficult to explain. The accent wings would be routed at an angle (slope), so that the accent wing would be shallower as it went toward the top of the headstock.

I realize there is no picture here to help visualize this, so scroll down and you can see the lines drawn in. Anyway, once these "accent wings" were routed at an angle on some magical jig that I have yet to design, they would be topped with an acccent wood laminate. Here's the problem: When I drew the damn thing up, I only drew the diameter of the machine head post and I did not include the washer/bushing that attaches to the machine head. Becuase of this miscalculation, I could not do what I origianlly wanted to do with the offset accent wings... the washers would literally overhang the lower level.

I suck, I know. :slap:

There were other problems that I encountered which were unforseen, so it was at this point that I declared this an imperfect proof of concept/prototype. I just wish I had used cheaper woods for the prototype. :D On top of this, I fully intended for the headstock to be asymetrical, just not as much as it turned out in the end. I think that when I originally drew it up, I intented to go back and revise the drawing, but I never did. :shock:

OK, so here it is with no modifications so far, but you can see the extra lines that designate the accent wings. I decided to nix the multi-level routing, but still inlay some accent laminates. It would give a similar effect to the original idea, but I would not have to worry about the washers overhanging the edge.




So, I mounted up my smaller headstock template, grabbed the trim router and stuck in a shallow pattern bit.




This is what I ended up with. Honestly, this could work if it werent for the previously mentioned screw up.




Fitting some bloodwood accent pieces. :)




But then I started to look at my silver lines.... and I thought that this could use some additional accentuation. So, I added stips of maple and black dyed poplar.




"Prototype!", I shouted, then glued the pieces in using more clamps than necessary.




Here's what came out the other end.




Honestly, I kinda like it. If I were to do it "on purpose" again, I'd outline the entire middle section with maple. The transition of the accents looks a bit odd from the side. I also need to thin out the area that I refer to as the "jowls".

OK, that was a long-winded post, so my apologies! I really hope that my rambling explanations made any sense at all.

More soon,
Gary
 

Tac_R

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Well, I for one really like it! It's hard to say for sure without seeing (obviously), but I think the subtle accents possibly work better than the stepped route might've done, anyway?

Cheers,

David
 

Rapdog

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Inspiring work. So clean and great to watch. Thank you for an awesome build thread.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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very nice. i have also toyed with the idea of wings on the side of my hs where the top profile breaks, leaving the center pronounced and perhaps even an exotic wood, but my decal woni't work , and just left it at that. i'm pleased that i was for once a positive influence on someone, as generally, i get lectures from my daughter and my wife after the 7 year old spends a little time with paw paw. nice work.
 


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