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Thread: My TB-4 Bass Build

  1. #1
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    My TB-4 Bass Build

    Hi,
    Build newbie. Long time bass player.
    The name's Dave, and located in Ballarat Vic.
    I figured I should start a build diary even though the gear isn't here just yet. By the end I suspect I'll have forgotten why I started.

    Why the TB-4? To be honest, I've actually always hated Thunderbirds. I also hated Fender Aerodynes until I played one. Now I own it. If the build turns out, maybe I'll take to the whole Thunderbird look. If it doesn't, I'll let the kids play it. Weird? Possibly, but it's a first build, so I'm not sure how attached I want to get to it.

    What I've got on order - the TB-4 with shielding tape and bone nut. The only good machine heads I could get were the Grover golds. Everything else was out of stock. They'll probably never make it on the bass. I'm impatient to wait for PBG to get new stock, so they'll likely vanish at some point and be replaced with black ones. The rest of the hardware in the kit is chrome apparently. If I happen to like the bass after it's built, that'll all get upgraded anyway. I'm not however inclined to drop the cost of the kit on a decent bridge.. and likewise on pickups for a first build.

    Colourwise:
    Dingotone Karijini Red with Black stump around the edging. I don't want an intermediate colour to go the whole burst effect, but I'm hoping I can just get the red progressively darker as I layer it away from the centre, then some black around the outside.
    The neck I plan on being red.. if I can darken it up a bit, I will, though I want the head stock light enough to see the decal.
    No idea how possible any of this is yet until I try it on some timber off cuts.

    I hate pick guards. None of my basses or guitars have them (bar an acoustic), so that'll never be attached.

    Pre-prep:
    I've cleaned up the workbench in the shed so I have adequate space of sanding with adequate light. Once that's done it'll likely be where I need to do the stain work.

    My biggest concern is drying. The garage is pretty close to ambient temperature, which this time of year in Ballarat is lucky to make it past 14C during the day. I've seen a lot of complaints about the Dingotone finish taking a long time to cure.
    I'm not terribly sure if I really should be making a rig in the house to let it dry under a central vent (house is usually 19-21C) and do this from once I stain it or if I should just do this once the final coat is on it.

    Looking forward to getting the gear in so I can do the mock up and see what I'm working with, then get on with the prep. It's something I've always wanted to try despite my woeful DIY stills (electronics are fine.. working with timber.. not so much).

  2. #2
    Member Trevor Davies's Avatar
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    Hi Lunaticds,
    Good luck with the build.

    I loved building my TB-4 and I love the look of a thunderbird.

    I had lots of trouble with the dingotone final coat drying on my first build which was the FVB-4 (it was winter though, but I did have it inside in a heated room!). I now use tru-oil for my final coats.

    My drying rig is a vice bolted onto a saw-horse, using a lolly-pop stick (??) on the guitar body.
    Build #1 - FVB-4
    #2 - LP-1SS
    #3 - FBM-1
    Semi-scratch Explorer - Rebuild Diary
    #4 - AG-2 - Runner up GOTM May 2021
    #5 - TB-4
    Scratch Build #2 - Axe Bass
    #6 - TLA-1 - Current

  3. #3
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Davies View Post
    HiI now use tru-oil for my final coats.

    My drying rig is a vice bolted onto a saw-horse, using a lolly-pop stick (??) on the guitar body.
    I've seen a few people mention using Tru-oil instead for the final coats. Given our sub-arctic temperatures, I suspect I'll probably just avoid the frustration and do the same. The less I need to bring things into the house, the less the chance of little finger prints appearing in the finish.

    Actually the vice isn't a bad idea. If I'm stuck drying in the garage that'd save me some work.

  4. #4
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    As an aside, I was thinking a bit about how I might approach the bit that scares me - potentially having to work the fretboard and what not, so I remembered I've been carting around an old Samick strat copy for the past 20 odd years, and decided I might show it some love. The first fret needs replacement - I munged it years ago and managed to cut the B string straight into the fret, then proceeded to do more damage by trying to fix it.
    So... to add to my basic luthiers tool kit, I've ordered a fret leveler, a fret puller and some sand paper to polish the frets up. This stuff might be necessary for the TB-4 build. It's not like I don't have other guitars in need of some TLC either.

    I may have been a little bit naughty - one of the machine heads was buggered, and they were always crap, so I may have ordered a set of Gotohs to swap out. Then I may have recalled the electronics were crap and the selector was buggered, so I may have ordered a loaded pickguard with some refurbished Squire electronics to fit. The guard shape is a little different, so I'm gonna have a couple of visible holes, but after some polish, it should come up OK.At this point, this old strat copy has cost me in new bits more than it's worth, so if I completely bugger the fretboard, I might as well just put a new neck on it and start again
    The Samick has a few dings here and there but polished up pretty well considering its never been in a case, often been jammed in the back of wardrobes and otherwise left laying around. Perhaps I should start a thread over in the non-Pitbulls area to document that journey.
    Last edited by lunaticds; 16-08-2021 at 08:26 AM.

  5. #5
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    You can put something about the Samick in the non Pitbull guitars section. I have put a couple of projects there.
    I remember playing a gig with a borrowed thunderbird bass. The player I bought it from played with a puck only, I play with fingers, there was a raised screw on the pickup that tore through the skin on my fingertips in about 30 minutes, I finished the gig a mess of bandages!!!

  6. #6
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyxlh View Post
    You can put something about the Samick in the non Pitbull guitars section. I have put a couple of projects there.
    I remember playing a gig with a borrowed thunderbird bass. The player I bought it from played with a puck only, I play with fingers, there was a raised screw on the pickup that tore through the skin on my fingertips in about 30 minutes, I finished the gig a mess of bandages!!!
    Thanks Andyxlh, I found a spot for it (should be in my sig too now). I'm chasing down a super cheap Squire for my next project already. I have this bag of stickers and a weird desire to coat an otherwise boring guitar in them and have a crack at getting enough 2k over them that I can bring it up to a nice smooth, shiny surface. Kinda juvenile but that vision is stuck in my head.

    I've honestly never touched a thunderbird before. I blame Nikki Sixx for putting me off them as a teenager. I imagine that they'd be fine to play.. minus that drama that you went through. The last time I borrowed a bass, it was a Yamaha RBX160 in about 2001. There was a country band playing before us (we were into older rock), and their bass player lobbed off. The venue decided it was either both bands or no bands, so I had to take one for both teams. No rehearsal time, no fold back, an under powered bass amp behind me next to the drummer, and a narrow stage that had me on the opposite side of the drummer than the guitars. I didn't recognise half the songs, knew how to play none, but did manage to get some lyric sheets that told me what key they were in. Fun times, an insane amount of palm mutes and a record stage change between bands to put myself in with the guitars. I sucked, but at least it meant we all got paid.

  7. #7
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    Thatís a great story!!!
    I like Sixx, itís cool when the bass player writes the songs!
    Have you considered getting a Pitbull ST1 kit? They are cheap and great, probably no more than the squire and not plywood. Iím a teacher and we build loads of them with the kids. The ST-a with the ash body is heavier and prettier and not much more money

  8. #8
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    The ST1 is $149 with free deliveryÖ

  9. #9
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyxlh View Post
    Thatís a great story!!!
    I like Sixx, itís cool when the bass player writes the songs!
    Have you considered getting a Pitbull ST1 kit? They are cheap and great, probably no more than the squire and not plywood. Iím a teacher and we build loads of them with the kids. The ST-a with the ash body is heavier and prettier and not much more money
    Actually funny that you say that, I was sitting the car earlier on the school run thinking about the STA and the ST1 as an alternative if this cheap Squire I'm chasing falls through. Then I look at the timber and think if I like it, I'll wanna stain it and make it look nice. My self control sucks I suspect I'll probably wind up getting one sooner or later anyway.
    That's pretty cool to do that with the kids. Love the idea of kids getting involved, particularly in the setup side of things.

  10. #10
    Member lunaticds's Avatar
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    I just bit the bullet on another kit.. sick of waiting on a local seller on Facebook to reply about his cheap axe.

    I was going through the custom specials and found an ST-1 with dual humbuckers that someone had returned. The wood doesn't look particularly interesting.. infact it just looks like two clumps of different coloured timber jammed together - which is ideal in this case, given what I plan on doing with it
    I think I need to start another build diary!

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