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Thread: New Bass Body

  1. #1
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    New Bass Body

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    I wasn't happy with the way my parts-bass came out with the finish. It came out too dark and I tried a poly coat and that was a disaster. Plus the body was a Fender Jazz copy and I really don't like them. I cut down the droopy butt end and sharpened the horns, but it still looked like a jazz bass.

    So, I'm building a new body and decided to do it from scratch. I'll pull all the hardware from the jazz bass and I'll use the neck. I'm not ready to make my own neck yet.

    My purchase was a plank of Alder cut in two.

    img_1635web-jpg

    I took one half and cut that in half.

    bass01-jpg

    I bought a planer and a jointer and milled it nice, flat and parallel. I did the edges so I could glue them together. A small learning curve, but super easy once get the idea of it. The planer is not wide enough to plane the two halves glued together, so I had to do one half at a time. To eliminate the small warpage, I bought a melamime shelf from Home Depot and used it as a sled. It is flat enough to use as a reference and held the alder in place as it went through the planer. I milled both halves on one side with the sled then milled the other sides without it. And I milled them both to the same thickness which was slightly less than 1.5"

    bass02-jpg

    bass03-jpg

    The Alder is nice, but I wanted something eloquent and simple on top. I'm not batting for the fence like I did with the previous two basses and that walnut burl veneer. I went with maple and zebrawood. Both are about 1/4" thick and will make a nice cap. The zebrawood will be an "extension" of the fretboard.

    bass04-jpg

    I straightened the edges of the caps with the jointer and glued them together.

    bass06-jpg

    Then set to making a template. I used my Ibanez 5 string bass as a guide. Love that bass.

    bass07-jpg

    I used a dowel and sandpaper for the interior curves. I changed the angle to smooth out the compound curves. Kind of a pain.

    bass09-jpg

    I held the sandpaper around the exterior curves. Much easier and it is basically self-shapes the compound curves.

    bass12-jpg

    Completed template.

    bass13-jpg

    I glued the maple/zebrawood cap to the body.

    bass15-jpg

    Here is the template with a rough outline drawn.
    bass14-jpg

    I still had a couple of sheets of that walnut burl veneer and I thought I would use one on the back. I actually glued it on but it came out to wavy, so I scraped it off and sanded off the glue marks.

    Before gluing the cap on, I cut a hole in the body for the active preamp. The 1/4" cap will act as a mounting plate for the knobs.

    bass17-jpg

    To cut the body rough shape, I started with a jig saw. Not the right choice of tools. . I was forced to go out and buy a band saw. I really hate spending money for one cut, but needed to do it. The band saw did the job in like 5 minutes. Right tool for the job. I should be able to get more use out of the band saw when I start building frames for my wife's paintings.

    bass19-jpg

    Rough shape done.

    bass20-jpg

    Next, I'll use the template and cut the real shape with a router. That'll happen this week.

    bass21-jpg
    Last edited by Chili; 06-15-2015 at 22:41. Reason: did I actually write Whole when I meant Hole? Who does that?

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    Excellent tutorial!

    Keep 'em coming.

    One question: why did you use the dowel and sandpaper without using a router first?
    "One thing led to another and, before we knew it, we were dead." --Michael O'Donoghue

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    BTW, I like it that you used a real picture as your avatar. Some of the others can be pretty funny, but it's nice to see who we're talking to once in a while.

    I think it makes us realize that there's a real person on the other end, and makes us behave a little more civilized, like human beings should.
    "One thing led to another and, before we knew it, we were dead." --Michael O'Donoghue

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    Thanks man. The dowel and sandpaper was used on the template. I don't think I could freehand the router and get smooth compound curves like that. I needed something to make those curves come out right.

    Please don't consider this a tutorial, it's not like I know what I'm doing....

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    Well done and yes you can build a neck...

    What is this compound curve nonsense on a template?

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    Quote Originally Posted by muttley600 View Post
    What is this compound curve nonsense on a template?
    It's my explanation of how a curve doesn't have the same radius. I don't know what else to call it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by muttley600 View Post
    Well done and yes you can build a neck...
    Thanks Mutt. Building a neck is the ultimate goal for me.

    I'll have questions for you soon about the neck pocket. I think I might be overthinking it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    Thanks Mutt. Building a neck is the ultimate goal for me.

    I'll have questions for you soon about the neck pocket. I think I might be overthinking it.
    On a flat top base you almost certainly are. It's a simple jig (template), router and care operation.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    It's my explanation of how a curve doesn't have the same radius. I don't know what else to call it.
    Thats fine but why are you putting it on a template? A template for a guitar body is essentially a two dimensional thing. I cant get what you are hoping to achieve. Maybe I got it wrong all these years...

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    Ah, so I am mixing terminology; simple fix. I will not refer to it as a compound curve any longer. (And I know you're just having fun with me.)

    For the neck pocket, I read or heard somewhere that I might need to calculate for the neck break, but maybe that is not applicable for my needs. Which would be great to hear. I am guessing if I keep the pocket parallel and the neck parallel then all I have to do is calculate the pocket depth to ensure proper string height from nut to bridge. Is it as simple as that?

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