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Thread: Paulownia Precision

  1. #1
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Paulownia Precision

    This may not be a quick turnaround build, since I have one ahead of it in the cue. Still, I would say the build has now officially begun.

    I acquired a PB neck cut to a Jazz Bass profile that arrived in January. I have done a little work on the frets, and have had a bit of a fraught adventure shaping the headsock.

    I wanted a light, very simple bass. So when I saw what looked like a paulownia p-bass body on eBay for $33 it was irresistible. The body is super light. Maybe too light. It is also a bit less than perfect, with some dents, toolmarks and incomplete routes, but for $33 you don't expect it to be ready to put finish on.

    This morning I did a dry fit with the only two parts I currently have...so we are off to the races ;-)


    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Solid colour as it's got the dents and marks? Or going to try steaming those out and staining?

  3. #3
    Mentor JimC's Avatar
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    If its paulownia aren't dents inevitable, in which case might it be as well to leave the dents in and avoid that dreadful moment of the first dent?
    Build #1, failed solid body 6 string using neck from a scrapped acoustic (45+ odd years ago as a teenager!)
    Build #2, ugly parlour semi with scratch built body and ex Peavey neck
    Build #3, Appalachian Dulcimer from EMS kit
    Build #4, pre-owned PB ESB-4
    Build #5, Lockdown Mandolin
    Build #6, Sixty six body for Squier
    Build #7, Mini Midi Bass

  4. #4
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Any bass I own will eventually have dents. But paulownia is certainly soft. I may try to steam and sand out the dents to get a stain on. Solid color is always an option. if it doesn't work.

  5. #5
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    A good finish should protect the wood once it's hardened. And you could always liberally apply thin CA all over first if doing a solid colour finish. Or a proper wood hardener product.

  6. #6
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    The body has nice figuring, so I am going to try to stain it. So I probably won't bath it in CA. I have enough clear coat from my last bass to using it on this bass. If it doesn't harden it enough, it'll have dents like my basswood bass does. Got some Aqua Coat to pore fill, and have started to do some experiments on some scraps of Paulownia. We'll see ;-)

    I have ordered a bridge and a string retainer. Both are making their way very slowly to Miami. I have a blank to start make a nut, so I may get that started.

    Meanwhile, I have been reading about some difficulties actually fitting a pickguard, so I downloaded a paper pickguard from Warmouth to see if the rout on my body is in the ballpark. Seems OK...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is starting to seem like it could be a build.

    I noticed that the neck has a fairly large glue stain around the sides of the nut. Should I sand this out? or I there a better way? I am not sure how deeply the glue has penetrated, and I don't want to take too much off.

  7. #7
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    You could sand or you could try acetone. Acetone may affect the nut though if it's plastic.

  8. #8
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I may try that if it won't discolor the wood assuming light sanding doesn't get it. The nut is the original PB...so plastic. I may knock it out first if I do use acetone. I plan to take your advice to leave it in for finishing, but I can put it back for that.

  9. #9
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I have parts coming at me now from many directions. I ordered a sung-il bridge from Korea, in part because it's a good price, and in part because the one on my hybrid is really good quality. Also ordered it because it will do either string through or top-mount. I am thinking I would like use it as top mount. I have heard that some people reinforce the bridge area with a harder wood on paulownia bodies, but so far I have only heard that problems may occur on strats with a trem. Paulownia seems to be used on basses and teles a fair amount and so far I am not seeing any issues...but I'd like to have the option of string-through if it ever becomes an issue.

    I also ordered the "Black Gold" P-bass pup from Epic Custom Shop in Michigan. They were reviewed on the Guns and Guitars YouTube channel and a few other places. The guy who winds them recommended that for a vintage sound the Black Golds would be best. They sound good on YouTube and $45 with shipping for a hand wound pickup was too good to pass up.

    I have pots from California, a string tree from somewhere in China and a neck plate coming from...well, the company is in China, but the delivery will is supposed to be on Thursday, so i assume it's in an Amazon warehouse on this side of the Pacific.

    Now watching for a decent price on the lightest tuning machines I can find for the 1/2" post holes in my PB neck. I am thinking that the lightest available are Hipshot Ultralights. Anyone know of any that are lighter that will fit a 1/2" post-hole?
    Last edited by fender3x; 29-06-2020 at 08:38 AM.

  10. #10
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    I am hopeful that this will be a stained build. I put the first coat down and was immediately impressed by how much better small scratch marks showed up with stain on them.

    I sanded them out, and put on a second and third coat. I thought it looked good so I took a pic for posterity...and in the pic I saw some slight scratches that I missed in the upper left quadrant.

    So more sanding and a new coat of stain. I may do one more on that quadrant, but can see the improvement.

    I am using General Finishes Dye Stain in Empire Red. I had talked to General Finishes about their Dye Stain before purchasing and it was highly recommended for paulownia. Since then, however, they have posted a warning on their site that their Dye Stain, even after conditioner, may be blotchy on paulownia and pine. I have actually tried it on some scraps of paulownia and it was fine. GF's website says it might do a little better it you mix in 10% of their topcoat. I have some so I did that, and it seems to have worked well...mostly. There is one blotch just neck-ward of the upper pickup cavity. Fortunately that will be under the pickguard.

    Will leave it to cure for a couple of weeks before pore filling to minimize color pull. The 10% top coat is supposed to help with that but it needs longer to cure fully than the stain.Click image for larger version. 

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