Finished Pics! Ultra Modern Bass

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Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
edited July 20 in Making & Modding
Hi

I referred to this in a recent thread.  It's the latest and last in a bit of a run of bass guitars before I go back to a couple of 6-string electrics.

It's a modern-shaped 4-string 34" bass with a number of challenging features.  This is the general concept:


It will be convex at the top and concave at the back, a bit like this (the geometry determines a few variations but this is, again, the general concept):


Other features:
  • It will be thin - maximum body depth 30mm
  • The fretboard will be full body length and flush with the radiused body
  • Piezo undersaddle plus hidden custom cylinder electric pickup running through a blend pre-amp
  • Headless tuner system (hidden and rear mounted with stylised headstock)
  • Hidden controls, rear mounted
  • White (at least as white as practicable) natural finish with sycamore body and maple fretboard
  • Maple / ebony 5-part neck (through neck)
I'll post some progress shots shortly

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    For the string retention, Mick, who I am building this for, wanted me to use a modified budget headless system.

    To test the concept, I had to make up a jig.  This was the concept:



    ...and this was the concept test rig I made for it.  To my great surprise, it worked!:





    It will have an acoustic-style saddle with a piezo element underneath.  With the strings going through the headstock into the clamps, the headstock can be any shape Mick wants :)

    In the 'neck' position will be a magnetic pickup hidden under the flush fretboard:


    At first I was going for a conventional humbucker (like this but with adjustable pole-pieces) inserted from the back :


    But in the end have opted for some custom cylindrical coils, again inserted from the back:


    With the concepts sorted and tested, it was time to start cutting and gluing wood :)


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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Assembled and cut the basic neck blank:


    Then, after cutting and routing the various access slots and cable runs, cut the sycamore body wings:


    ..and then sorted the housing for the tuner assembly:


    ...and added a fillet at the back:


    ...and cut and slotted the full-length fretboard:


    That's pretty much up to date.

    Next task is to radius the fretboard, then I can radius and flush-sand the body top to the same curvature and then scoop out the back for the 'contact lens' look ;)
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  • SporkySporky Frets: 10775
    That's awesome-bonkers!
    Ich bin ein Hamburgler.
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  • Shark_EyesShark_Eyes Frets: 278
    Already looking super interesting, does the pickup being behind that much wood make a huge difference to the sound? And also where on the body will it be, I can't quite figure it out from the descriptions and text?
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Already looking super interesting, does the pickup being behind that much wood make a huge difference to the sound? And also where on the body will it be, I can't quite figure it out from the descriptions and text?
    The furthest forward coil (the G) will be just behind the 24th fret. The rest will be staggered over about 30mm.

    The wood is invisible to the magnetism, but potentially creates a further distance of the coil and slug from the string to normal which would reduce the volume.  However, because the fretboard is continuous, the surface over the pickup is only 3mm away from the string, then I can probably get the slug a couple of mm lower and the coil itself another mm - so it would be like a standard neck humbucker at 6mm from the string - which isn't bad :)  ... if that makes any sense :)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Sporky said:
    That's awesome-bonkers!
    You say the sweetest things, @Sporky :)
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 767
    Fantastic Andy, always a pleasure to watch your builds.... 
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • rsvmarkrsvmark Frets: 440
    That tuner idea is fantastic - and genuinely innovative
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 5657
    Brilliant!
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Thanks, folks  :)

    Got all my exercise for the month sanding the radius on the extra-long and wide rock maple fretboard blank:



    ...and eventually:


    Then started on the initial carving and sanding of the top, which will be eventually the same 20" radius and flush...this kind of look:




    Literally days more sanding (and that's just the top) - as this is nowhere near 20" yet - but you get the general idea?



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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 767
    Epic progress and looking great.....hiwever I'm thinking it will be fun finishing the fret ends where the neck overlaps the body from 14 onwards.....
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    paulnb57 said:
    Epic progress and looking great.....hiwever I'm thinking it will be fun finishing the fret ends where the neck overlaps the body from 14 onwards.....
    Ah...already thought of that :)  

    Will probably fret it before I fix it...or failing that, finish that side of the fret properly and then leave the overlap at the treble end to tidy up...or failing that, find a bodge as is more usual ;)
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 11146
    *you* are a clever man.

    Bit disappointed to see (what looked like) a proper workbench there though ... what's happened to the trusty workbench?
    ;)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    TTony said:


    Bit disappointed to see (what looked like) a proper workbench there though ... what's happened to the trusty workbench?
    ;)
    Yes - I know.....I weakened.

     And I managed to winkle MrsAndyjr1515 out of the cellar with her potters wheel!  So now I have a WORKSHOP.  Well, to be honest, a small area in a dark dank cellar but it's big enough for a proper workbench YAAAAAAAYY!!!  

    And MrsAndyjr1515, poor thing, been relegated to the purpose built potters shed out in the sunshine in the garden.  

    Oh hang on.....wait a minute......


    ......BUGGER!
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  • olafgartenolafgarten Frets: 1207
    TTony said:


    Bit disappointed to see (what looked like) a proper workbench there though ... what's happened to the trusty workbench?
    ;)
    Yes - I know.....I weakened.

     And I managed to winkle MrsAndyjr1515 out of the cellar with her potters wheel!  So now I have a WORKSHOP.  Well, to be honest, a small area in a dark dank cellar but it's big enough for a proper workbench YAAAAAAAYY!!!  

    And MrsAndyjr1515, poor thing, been relegated to the purpose built potters shed out in the sunshine in the garden.  

    Oh hang on.....wait a minute......


    ......BUGGER!

    Jokes on her, we don't get Sunshine in this country. 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 6519
    This is inspiring stuff.  Modern basses are so much fun
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    WezV said:
    This is inspiring stuff.  Modern basses are so much fun
    Thanks, @WezV    What I like about this one is the technical challenge - trying to foresee the wrinkles and sitting - sometimes for days - thinking 'how the hell am I going to do THIS???' :)

    A case in point is the playing hand clearance because the strings are soooo close to the fretboard/body.  So there is a very subtle drop-away just after the 24th fret that might at least give a couple of mm.  But then too much and the hidden neck pickups, fitted into the back with blind chambers carved into the fretboard, are also another few mm away from the strings.

    Love it :)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    And to the main top-carve.

    At its slimmest (widest) this is the sort of cross section I'm looking at aiming for:


    That section is across here:


    So basically, the top curve of the body is 20" radius (ish) and flush with the fretboard.

    After sharpening my block plane and joiner plane blades, I set about the carve of the top.  

    I made two reference points - I did a quick roundover on the back edge:


    ...and a soft pencil line so I didn't inadvertently plane away the joint line where it will be flush with the fretboard:


    After a day's planing, off and on and taking it very carefully, the lower bout is starting to get there:


    I also spoke to the guy who is winding me the four individual magnetic coils that will be fitted from the back and sit hidden underneath the fretboard in the positions shown here:


    Bit more carving to do - you can see the slight hump on the upper bout compared with the fretboard here:


    ...and then I will be routing the controls chamber and hidden controls bay before starting the carve of the back :)


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  • RavenousRavenous Frets: 1114

    Truly weird & wonderful.

    The tuners will stick out of the back a bit, but I expect it'll be fine in a well padded gigbag...

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Ravenous said:

    Truly weird & wonderful.

    The tuners will stick out of the back a bit, but I expect it'll be fine in a well padded gigbag...

    Yes - but the tuner block is well supported and the total depth is still no more than many basses as the main body is so slim.  We'll have to see if there is a tendency for the tuners to be knocked putting it in and out of the case and knocking it out of tune.  If so, I'll just sort an expanded plastic-foam cover.

    And yes - it is a bit 'weird and wonderful' ;) 
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 767
    Love this as its quite radically different, good work Andy, I bet it's causing a bit of head scratching.....
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 5657
    Loving this.

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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1363
    Love it! 
    In a world of mass produced guitars all following the same 60 year old design it's really brilliant to see something unique being hand crafted like this :-)
    Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
    My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Thanks, folks :)

    The controls are going to be hidden from the front but conventional and freely accessible from the back.

    This is broadly where they will go:


    There will be a powered piezo preamp / magnetic pickup mixer (John East ) a 9 volt battery, two pots (blend and master volume as a minimum) and a jack socket.

    Because there is little room for error, I'm opting for the much safer forstner and chisel rather than let a router loose on it.

    In terms of the knobs access, the chamber is now cut.  Here you see it:


    ...and here you don't:


    Next step is the main chamber.  

    Oh...and remember that the back will be carved concave...and the main chamber will need a cover...which almost certainly will need carving to suit!
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  • RavenousRavenous Frets: 1114

    Nice idea, those hidden controls...

    It might be possible to shape the back cover by first sanding a softwood "mould" against the back (if it's still intact), putting sandpaper on it and flattening the final cover against the mould.

    (Though on second thoughts you can clearly handle just carving it.)

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    Ravenous said:

    Nice idea, those hidden controls...

    It might be possible to shape the back cover by first sanding a softwood "mould" against the back (if it's still intact), putting sandpaper on it and flattening the final cover against the mould.

    (Though on second thoughts you can clearly handle just carving it.)

    I might use a softwood block simply to work out how best to do it - so halfway to what you suggest :)  I haven't got a huge amount of sycamore to risk scrapping so would be probably better having a practice run!


    In the meantime, I've been carving the control chamber and of all the 'go carefully' jobs, this is the one...

    It needs to be deep enough, but the remaining top needs to be thick enough. I know carved-archtop makers do this all the time but I'm going very carefully. I will check the thickness with some calipers this evening but I reckon there's another 3mm to come out of this. A job for tomorrow....

    You can see here in the top left of the chamber the pickup cable rail breaking through. Phew - right place!  That was lucky!


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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1120
    I love how, generally Bassists embrace change more readily than their guitar playing Brethren, looking great :)

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  • equalsqlequalsql Frets: 2684
    What an incredible concept. This is such a great thread and thanks for sharing all your hard work.
    (pronounced: equal-sequel)   "I suffered for my art.. now it's your turn"
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    edited May 19
    The carving of the top and the back is an iterative process.  The lower bout here is as gentle a curve as I would be happy with - if I can, I will take a bit more off:


    ...but I need to work out how much I can/need to scoop the back without breaking through the top and still be able 
     to fit all the bits and cover and accommodate the back scoop - still to do.  

    So I will now start considering the back, using the thickness gauge to see just how far I can safely go:


    Then I'll start the scooping at the back, after I've finished any remaining routing

    Then check the thickness and depth of the chamber and deepen further if necessary

    Then back to the top - if the thickness allows, to finalise the lower bout radius of the bass's top

    And only then can I finish the carve of the top
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1383
    The two jobs I need to do while the back is still flat are the holes for the magnetic pickup coils:


    And the rout for the cover at the back - that will cover the shallow chamber that will give access to fit them from the back and to adjust their individual slugs - which will be a longer version of this, flush-fitted into the neck:

     
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