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Thread: First scratch build

  1. #1
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    First scratch build

    Hi all

    I built a PBG kit last year - a P Bass kit, and did a build diary and enjoyed it so much that I decided to do some more. However the one I wanted was out of stock and with one thing and another winter came, when it's too cold in my unheated workshop, so I left it. I've now decided to have a bash at building a bass from scratch. I have a reasonable selection of tools, but not a huge amount of knowledge so I wanted the first one to be an experiment/learning process.

    Hope no-one minds a non PBG build, There are others on here and a lot of knowledge so hopefully people can point me in the right direction if (when!) I mess up!

    I should add that I didn't decide to record the progress until after I'd started so some pics are not available.

    The first thing was to come up with a design. I've always liked the Musicman Axis Sport Guitar, but never seen a bass version. There is probably a good reason - neck dive I imagine - but with a body of the right weight it should be ok? Guess I'll find out!

    Anyway, after a bit of drawing on some old lining paper, I came up with this.



    Took a while to get the shaping right and after about three days I changed the headstock and made the body slightly wider. This is the finished version, you can see all the rubbings out! Eventually I was happy with the design and copied it onto some tracing paper. I don't actually have any tracing paper and it's all A4 which isn't wide enough, however kitchen greaseproof paper seems to work as well and is wider. I stuck it on an old piece of plywood and cut out a template, sanded the edges and transferred the centreline.



    Seems to be ok so far, so it's on to the actual body....

  2. #2
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    No, you're all fine with your build diary. Plenty of scratch-builds on here. Even non-Pit Bull kits are fine in this section.

    Good luck with your first full scratch-build!

  3. #3
    Member dozymuppet's Avatar
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    Nice! My first scratch project is inspired by that shape as well.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Good stuff mate. Are you making the neck as well?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woltz View Post
    Good stuff mate. Are you making the neck as well?

    Sent from my SM-G781B using Tapatalk
    Hi

    Yes, building the neck as well. Have some more updates to post, as I'm a little way into it - I decided to do the diary as an afterthought!

  6. #6
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    For the body, I had a long piece of mahogany type timber. I think it's Iroko, not 100% sure. It was a mantlepiece above a faux fireplace in my house when I moved in. I took it out after a few years as it was pretty naff and kept the wood. I resawed it and cut it into various pieces. I didn't take any pics of this, but I have some bits left over.



    I had four bits of the piece on the right and the long bit on the left I was going to use for the neck. (I changed my mind on this). My father has a planer/thicknesser, but he's in his late 80's so I had to wait until he'd finished shielding before I could use it! Eventually did this, glued three pieces together and then once it had dried, I cut out the shape on the bandsaw having drawn the template on it. Using a router I trimmed the edges with a flush bit thingy which didn't work as well or was as easy as it looked on Crimson guitars video! My router is one that a neighbour gave to me after he moved into a nursing home and it's rather old 1/4 inch and the on/off switch is really easy to knock on or off! I've never really used routers before so this is a bit of a learning curve.

    I had a roundover bit as well, so after practicing on some scrap, I had a go and made an ok job of this.

    I measured it against my post lockdown belly and carved out a belly cut and arm relief and after a little very rough sanding to round the edges I ended up with something along the lines of this. A way to go on the sanding front though.



    and...



    No neck pocket or pickup cavity as I don't have a neck yet or a pickup. For the pickup I was thing of just one - something like a Seymour Duncan SMB4A or D which is a Musicman replacement? With a volume and tone control, to keep it simple. Alternatively maybe just one Jazz bass pickup? Happy to take any recommendations for a one pickup system as it's not something I have huge amount of knowledge. I play a Fender Jazz and the Pitbull P bass (with stock pickups) primarily, hence why I thought of the Musicman pickup. It would also go with the Axis inspired shape.

    I intend keeping the front clear and having the control cavity at the rear, so no pickguard - though it's all subject to change if I mess it up!

    Not a huge amount more that I can do on the body at present, so it's neck time. It's from this point that I started to take pics as I went.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Barden View Post
    No, you're all fine with your build diary. Plenty of scratch-builds on here. Even non-Pit Bull kits are fine in this section.

    Good luck with your first full scratch-build!
    Thanks Simon, think I'll need it. I'll be leaning on your knowledge no doubt!

  8. #8
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    The Musicman style pickup is nice and meaty sounding. With that SD, you've got the option of having a series/parallel/single coil option for more versatility. I believe they are normally wired in parallel.

    My own choice would be for the alnico version. The ceramic will be a bit more powerful and you gain more mids, but at the expense of some loss of treble. It's easy enough to roll off some treble and boost the mids on the alnico, but with the ceramic you can cut the mids but if the treble isn't there to boost to start with, you'll struggle to get a similar sound to the alnico. The ceramic certainly seems to have a fuller sound on the SD sound clips, and if it is similar to the ceramic pickup I had in my OLP bass (that quickly got snapped up by the bass player in my band) it's a great sound for a solid rock or blues bottom-end.

    Obviously you really need to make a choice now so you cab rout out for the pickup - unless you do a larger rout that allows you to fit a variety of pickups by using different scratchplates. A jazz bass pickup will probably have the longest dimensions, and the MM style about the widest. So if you were planning on a scratchplate, then that's one option that leaves the pickup selection until a later date. If it's an all-wooden top, then you do need to select a pickup so you can rout accordingly now.

  9. #9
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    Ok that makes sense. Thinking about it, I've got the bridge and the tuners - Gotoh jobs. The bridge has Jazz bass spacing so I'll need to check that the spacing of the pickup poles matches the bridge? Or is that not too critical? That may make the decision for me - I probably should have mentioned that!

    Yes, I'll need to build a template for the pickup routing so I need to order it soon. I was hoping they'd have one in Guitar Guitar (It's two minutes away in Epsom) but they don't seem to, so it's online we go.

  10. #10
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    Nice work on the body so far, but not being a bass player myself, I was far more enamoured with that nice old workbench and vice!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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