He played bass in a band or two, in the late 70s and early 80s, but henever geeked out on it - he just played bar songs and partied and hadfun. To his credit, him having a bass in the house was my first exposureto electric stringed instruments.
Anyways, he's in his 60s, and he told me he's always wanted a 5 stringbass. He likes when that low B goes off, and let's face it - whodoesn't?
I had him over to my house to hold his (my? the?) old Precision bass he gave meyears ago (same one from the band days decades ago) and see how it felt,what he wanted and such, and true to form, his answer was pretty much "I don't know man, surprise me."
So I am going to make a 5 string bass for my dad, because he's the man.
I am thinking about a custom shape, just because he thinks its way cool that I can do that.
I am a yellow-bellied chicken and ordered a mostly-built neck but the body is starting as a slab.The neck is a maple neck with a rosewood board. The specs are differenton just about every website that sells Mighty Mite necks, so I'llreserve specs until I can measure it myself. Not that it matters - thetwo of us have about as much combined knowledge about bass guitars as abutterfly.
The body is alder, because it's the "tastes like chicken" of wood, andhell, an alder bodied, maple/rosewood necked bass is pretty damn likely to sound like what both of our mind's ears have "bass" sounding like.
Anyways, I'm building a 5 string bass, party party!
I just got the following message from my dad:
haha, thanks Dad
|I'm leaning toward p-bass / jazz....but I want to make somecomparisons. It definitely needs to be unique...like all PhinnGuitars|
Mail came today
I met up with dad for lunch yesterday and he told me that he wants aPrecision upper and a Jazz lower, because the offset waist of the Jazzrides great on the hip, and the upper of the Precision is what he's usedto, and he knows it works and feels good.
So let's mock that up:
I think it'll work!
So I got the slab in yesterday. It's alder, and it's pretty heavy. I'mnot worried about it though, because I'll be cutting nearly half of itaway, plus you want a body that can counterweigh a big 5 string neck.Not sure if counterweigh is a word.
I talked to my dad this morning, and he said he fell in love with thatdeep red stain finish that happened to be in my mockup, so he wants meto do that.
Fun! I thought it was cool that he just saw that by chance, liked it, and went for it.
Coming up with the shape:
Measuring for a 5-string neck pocket
How 'bout this?
So next we trace the final shape onto MDF and cut that out with a jigsaw (bandsaw if you got it)
Then we hit the R.O.S.S. (Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander, God bless it) to sand to the line:
You can see in that last picture that we're getting there, and the linesare smooooooooth! I'm doing a lot better with the ROSS this timearound.
It was so pretty yesterday, I decided to leave the shop and load up myboy in the bike trailer for a bike ride, so here is where I left offyesterday: need to do the horn interiors and the neck joint, then it'stime to screw it to the alder and get to routing!
Hand sanding details of the template:
Template finished, center line marked, mounting holes placed, drilled, and countersunk:
You countersink these holes because thissurface will be on the router table when you route the body shape, and you can't have the screw heads(of the screws that affix the template to the slab)poking out
Body shape traced on to the slab. Extremely careful attention is paid tomake sure the center line of the template lines up perfectly with the glue line on the slab.
Next, I will rough cut the shape into the slab with a jigsaw. Afterthat, I attach the template and route the exact shape with a pattern biton the router table.
So we rough cut the slab with the jigsaw:
And be sure to make perpendicular relief cuts on concave sections. When you come through here along the curve, those blocks drop off anddecrease blade binding:
Real talk, this did not go well for me. I am using a Ryobi jigsaw, andit's really not the right tool for the job. The right tool is a bandsaw,and I have finally gotten serious about acquiring one, because this jobwas so tough.
This alder is a really tough cut for some reason, I broke one blade and it's all been really slow and built up a lot of heat both in the woodand in the jigsaw motor.
Dense wood gives you a lot of blade walk, where your blade bends inside the wood because of stresses, and the top of your blade and the bottom of your blade are coming out in different places.
That's bad because you can think you're cutting outside the line of yourbody shape, and actually be cutting inside the line (on the bottomwhere you can't see the blade).
So I stopped. Then I headed to the ROSS to try to take wood off there,but the wood was so hard that I had a difficult time making any realprogress there.
So today after work, I'm going to get a rasp and remove wood the oldfashioned way - with elbow grease. I'd love to get a bandsaw, but I'llneed to save a little for that.
Regardless, I affixed the template to the slab yesterday. To do this,you line up the template with the outline you drew on the body, thenclamp the template to the body. After that you run your screws from the template down just enough to make a mark on the slab.
Then you remove the template and check your marks on the slab. If theyare correct (they were - dead center on the glue line), drill pilotholes for the screws. Remember, you're not going for a structural bondhere - just keeping the template from sliding around, so you can drillwider pilot holes than you would if you were permanently joining twopieces of wood.
Also remember to place your template mounting holes in a place wherethey will be hidden in final construction. My holes are 1) under thebridge, 2) under where the pickguard will be, and 3) in the neck pocket,which will be routed away.
All together, here's what we have:
After I rasp away all that excess wood, I will take the whole thing over to the router table and route the exact shape.