Post Number: 615
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 5:38 am: |
Now for something a little different....
To be honest I have been agonising over the decision to start this thread and share with you all what I have been doing lately, I have decided "what the hell!"
As a keen amateur furniture maker/wood lover for many years I decided in November 08 to start what was to be a long time ambition - building a "hippy sandwich" construction style of bass inspired by the legendary Alembic (with a little taste of another hero of mine - Carl Thompson)
Let me share with you;
From old furniture projects I had some Mahogany, Oak, Chestnut and black Walnut off cuts lying around my workshop - perfect!
I started by laminating the neck/headstock pieces and central body - centre being Quarter sawn French oak flanked by two pieces of quartered Mahogany - then joining the headstock (peghead to our US members) to the neck with at the appropriate angle with a dowel re-inforced "scarf" joint....turned out really strong!!
Next I routed the channel for the truss rod and fitted it! Now was time to fit the Amboyna wood fingerboard (fretless)to the neck - simply trimmed to size and then glued!! All I had then to do was veneer the fornt of the Headstiock with a thin 2mm layer of my nice Walnut! Next I hand cut a nut from mahogany, sounds like a bad idea? Well it adds a lot to the woody tone my friends!!
Neck & head complete!!!
Next the body - I had the central "stripe" already glued up (quartered french oak/Mahogany) it was time to make some "wings!!"
I started by cutting my 18mm thick Mahogany core to shape, then laminated the "tops" to the centre of the sandwich - the rear; 8mm thick Chestnut
the front; 9mm black Walnut!!
Now all I had to do was glue the "wings" to the central stripe!! I had a body!!
Next I routed out a large, and extremely tight, housing into the body to receive the neck. My intention was at this point to make the bass a "set neck" but I eventually decided a bolt on would be REALLY strong with such a large, tight, housing on the body!! Voila!!
Next I routed for the single humbucking pickup, fitted it and fitted the bridge and tuning pegs!I now routed the cavity for the electrics and made a cover out of Chestnut to fit the controls too. This kind of gave the bass the old japanese Distillate look (see the showcase Distillate section.) Now it was time to make and fit the walnut dummy pickups/fingerblocks. This gives the bass the true Alembic look and also acts as great thumb rests and aids the execution of the modern "Matt Garrison" damping technique!
Next? I hand carved the lettering "OM" from my remaining Walnut for the headstock, glued them on then simply added the side dots on the neck. Now came the sanding, sanding, sanding phase(the bane of a woodworker!) Finally lots of coats of wood oil (a la the "brown" bass!)
I still have to do the wiring, the bit I really dread (Im a woodworker not an electricain) but here are the results so far anyway!!
All this sound easy? Not really...I havent mentioned the hours and hours of labour, excitement and strife etc!!
I am delighted so far, the neck is extremely strong and straight & strung with a nice set of Labella strings the action /setup is perfect, it plays wonderfully well and the tone is SUPERB!!!!! I cant wait to hear it amplified!
I have never built an instrument before, I have not read any literature on doing so either...I just used common sense from my experience as a Bassist and a woodworker - so satisfying to combine both of my real loves!!! I just looked at lots of pictures and took any online advice I could find onboard!!
Tools used; table saw, chop saw, 6" bench planer, electric router...and anything else I could get my hands on!
Anyway, give me some feedback and be gentle! I dont know how any of my fellow members, Mica, Ron or any of the family (gulp!), feel about someone at the club copying an Alembic - I hope I dont get ran out of town!!!!
Post Number: 351
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 5:58 am: |
How does it balance?
Post Number: 655
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 6:10 am: |
It's the dog's!!!
Post Number: 616
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 6:26 am: |
Thanks George I appreciate that!
Funkyjazzjunky - unsurprisingly it balances a lot like a SC...I would guess the SC headstock/peghead is slightly heavier though!
Post Number: 656
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 8:22 am: |
Bring her over to the house once you've wired it up!!
You know I have a personal interest in this beauty!!
Post Number: 352
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 9:27 am: |
You have good wood working skills
Post Number: 3546
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 9:57 am: |
Very cool, John. I love the look of the Amboyna fingerboard. I also see the Distillate influence, though, to me, this really looks as if Wishbass came out with a high end line. Looking forward to reviews on how she sounds when all the guts are in.
Post Number: 571
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 10:51 am: |
It's GREAT... certainly more than I could do with leftover woods.
Post Number: 463
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 11:08 am: |
Very cool. That must have been a lot of fun to build.
Post Number: 561
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 11:45 am: |
looks great! wish I could do that...
Post Number: 2126
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 1:45 am: |
Nery Nice John. Way better than my attempt (in my defence, I was 17 and wasn't a woodworker). Once you have the electronics in, we'll need to get George to book his social club for another get together. I'd be interested to hear how it sounds.
Post Number: 713
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 2:01 am: |
I did this twice, first one was a disaster as I totally forgot about the scale length and used my precision for the fret widths, I bought really good hardware and Alembic style Kent Armstrong Pick ups..needless to say it went in the trash bin after a couple of gigs.
Second one got featured in the UK Bassist magazine, it was a almost a JD copy, it wasn't too bad, I even put LED's in the neck and an active tone circuit but it still wasn't up to scratch..that too went in the trash.
John..your looks great and obviously a lot more care into the build.
Electronics..now I excel in that!
there are loads of easy circuits on the web, you could keep it passive and there are some very good passive tone controls, try looking at Beavis Audio Research, he's a american who builds all sorts of stuff and has a passive low pass filter circuit very similar to the TBX that Fender make.
What we all need now is to hear what it sounds like..no pressure then eh??(LOL)
Post Number: 2127
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 2:14 am: |
Terry."I totally forgot about the scale length and used my precision for the fret widths".
That takes me back to my first ever attempt. I took fret measurements from a precision in Rock City Music (on newcastle's cloth market - before they moved). Unfortunately I had no understanding of scale lengths or even the theory behind fret positioning so I didn't take a measurement from the 21st fret to the bridge! Ended up with a bass that was totally unmusical. in addition, I'd made the neck from a piece of pine my grandfather ( a master carpenter so you'd have thought he'd have known better) gave me. Talk about neck relief!! because I'd screwed up the dimensions, when I came to fit a set of long scale rotosounds, the E string snapped where it was being wound onto the tuning peg. That bass ended up in the bin and I did alot of research before I went too far on my next attempt (which I still have but don't play).
John - How does it sound acoustically?
Post Number: 1563
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 5:32 am: |
Not bad dude!
Post Number: 617
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 10:50 am: |
Graeme - the sound acoustically is fantastic, it has lovely warm tone that many fretless bassists crave! "mwah" all over the neck!
To be totally honest I am shocked at the tone - it was so exciting stringing her up and playing her for the first time...its hard to describe how happy I am with the sound - almost double bass like!
I read in quite a few places that Oak is not suitable as a tone wood for guitar building but I took heart when I saw an old 70's Alembic with an Oak core here at the club. The Oak is very special to me as it came from a 250yr old barn in France...it was the leftover I had from a dining table I built for my home (it has a nice tone too lol!)
Post Number: 3550
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009 - 10:58 am: |
I have a Eugene Howard Parlor guitar from around the late teens or early 1920's. The back and sides are quarter sawn oak. It looks very cool and sounds huge for such a small guitar (as parlors often do).
Post Number: 25
|Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 6:33 am: |
Looks nice! You're definitely ballsy to make a neck... that's the one thing I won't attempt.
Post Number: 190
|Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 11:43 am: |
Very cool! I like that fingerboard.
Post Number: 622
|Posted on Monday, February 23, 2009 - 5:51 am: |
Rusty - the neck is not difficult at all...being scared of something is much worse than doing it!!
Simply get it straight (ish) then control the amount of relief with the truss rod. I was apprehensive about doing the neck but it turned out perfectly fine.
I always wanted to do a build but was scared of all the different stages - its wierd, I just started doing it and each stage just kept working!
The Amboyna fingerboard is as hard as metal - it resonates and almost rings when you tap it with your finger. The strings fitted are roundwound and after extensive playing (sliding as you do with a fretless) it remains absolutely unmarked in any way.