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Thread: 3rd Kit- YB-4 Mean Gene

  1. #1

    3rd Kit- YB-4 Mean Gene

    Hey there sheeple!

    Back in November I embarked on a project. The plan was to use a kit as the base to mod to make an axe bass. Now the only axe I knew of was the Cort, but that would change. Since the Cort was the initial model I looked at , there were two kits with a PB/J configuration, one of which was the YB-4. It arrived in the afternoon that I went in for surgery. Since the kit comes with a Basswood body and the Cort was Mahogany, I ordered a custom with a mahogany body. The neck on the Cort had no inlays on the fret board, so as part of the custom order, no inlays. My bro picked up the package from my place, but he couln't bring it round strait away. A week later when he could, his LGA went into lock down, then when he came out of lock down, my LGA went into lock down, and then a couple of weeks later, we all went into lock down! With the end of lock down, he was finally able to give it to me!

    It came with a few surprises. First the body was smaller than I was expecting. Secondly it felt realy light. Didn't take long to realise it wasn't mahogany, it was Meranti, otherwise known and Philippine Mahogany, which as close to actual Mahogany as Tassie Oak is to actual Oak. Ironically they cut a lot of their natural forest down in the Philippines and the most common replant was plantations of real Mahogany.

    So I bought some Big Leaf Mahogany grown in Fiji (same species as Honduran Mahogany). I was going to make a new body and use the kit body as a template for the neck pocket and pickup routes, but a god tap on the Meranti body give a nice ring, so I decided to build around it as originally planned:



    The neck on the Cort is 22 frets, and I could have sworn the kit back in November was 22 frets. The kit disappeared for a bit from Pit Bull's page, and now it's back as 24 frets , which is what came in my kit. No biggie, I will need to modify some curves to blend in with the neck access of the kit.

    Since doing some research I decided to combine elements of some of the other axe basses. in the early 80's Gene was having his axes made by Kramer. There was about 7 different axes they made for him with different configurations. They were a Maple body, had an aluminium neck and headstock, inlay on the fet board (made of a synthetic) and had 20 frets. The rare production model had a single pickup and 24 frets. The blade was screwed to the body with 2 screws and the back of the blade, which was in his personal axes and the Cort, was not there

    The kit neck had no nut, but it was marked, but not fully sawn:



    The last surprise was the nut. I ordered a bone nut, and was expecting a direct replacement for the plastic nut... erm.. spot the difference:



    Kinda disappointed with the bone nut. Screw it! At least one of Gene's axes had a brass nut, so I'm gunna make me one!

    Well tha'ts all so far, I need to get to the blade blank so I can measure and cut the slot for it. And so the journey continues...

  2. #2
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    Nice! I have a brass nut on the RC4A, I like it. I managed to find a perfect replacement on eBay in brass for a good price, could save you some heartache!

  3. #3
    Mentor Trevor Davies's Avatar
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    Hi Rabbit.
    I'm glad you have got "mean Gene" underway. Bummer about the setbacks. I hope the build gets better from here. I cannot wait to compare the final axes.
    PitBull Builds: FVB-4, LP-1SS, FBM-1, AG-2 (Runner up GOTM May 2021), TB-4, SSCM-1, TLA-1, TL-1TB (current).

    Scratch Builds: Pine Explorer, Axe Bass, Mr Scary (current), Scratchy Thinline (current),

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Davies View Post
    Hi Rabbit.
    I'm glad you have got "mean Gene" underway. Bummer about the setbacks. I hope the build gets better from here. I cannot wait to compare the final axes.
    Thanx! Following your build, your axe is more true to the Cort. For at least the last 10 years, according to an ad Simmons did for the GS Axe 2, that's what he has been playing. I know he has also played them on stage, signed them and then flogged them off for 20k a pop, My build is more of a "inspired by" compared to the other two builds I have going. Interesting during my research I have seen much footage of KISS concerts and 9 times outta 10 its the Punisher he is using... the axe hardly ever gets a look in.

  5. #5
    I went with @Andyxlh 's suggestion and got me s big brass one! :



    Some time ago (about 6 months) I hat gathered all the hardware. During my research I discovered that prior to the Cort (which uses Mighty Mite pickups), Gene had an affinity for EMG pickups. Unfortunately *active* EMG pickups. I'm not a fan of actives, so I went with another of EMG's offerings.. Geezer Butler signatures. A thought occurred to me that although the over all size of the pickups may match, the mounting tabs may not. Sure enough, while the PB pups fit just fine, the Jazz pup didn't. To remedy the situation I glued in some dowl, used some foam from a mouse mat as a clamp and:



    I used a flush cut saw to cut the tops off and a chisel to cut away the excess, then a 1/2 in forstner bit to cut new mounting positions. I cut the channel for the blade of the axe, but made a beginners mistake and got my calculations wrong, thinking the wall of the channel was on the fence side edge of the blade, so i was out by the kerf. I wanted a channel that was a few mm narrower than the blade , to give me more material for shaping the scoop of the blade behind the bevel. As it turned out the blade blank was a snug fit. The sides of the rabbet are very thin and as a result at some point cracked. I seeped thin CA glue into the crack to stabilise it and to give it a shot of not ripping apart when the body gets routed, I cut some scrap maple to support the sides while it gets routed.



    I have made further progress since this pic was taken, but will post later so this post doesn't get too bloated. Untill next time .....

  6. #6
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    There’s some impressive woodwork going on here 😁

  7. #7
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyxlh View Post
    There’s some impressive woodwork going on here 😁
    You ain't seen nothin' yet... I heard he built a canoe entirely out of toothpicks and paddle-pop sticks!!!

    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  8. Liked by: Andyxlh

  9. #8
    And it continues....

    I made a template to use the router to form the shape of the body without the blade. Things kinds worked and kinda didn't. The double sided tape I used didn't hold and the template moved. I had to clamp it on and move the clamps around. A few times I must have not held the router flat because there were some gouges and a pattern bit just follows those once formed. No great drama as it's getting painted I can fill the mistakes with epoxy. I threw together a planeing jig to clean up the area that will become the back of the blade:



    and this is what it looked like after planing. I used the pattern bit and the template to avoid accidentally taking a chunk out of the body and this time I used the masking tape and CA glue trick instead of double sided tape.It worked well.





    Thanks to the support of the piece I had in the slot for the blade there was no tear out. So far I'm finding the maple and the mahogany to be very workable.

    And this is the progress so far on the blade:



    I still have to route the cover slot for the control cavity, and I drilled the jack hole slightly off centre to better connect with the control cavity. I suspect I didn't need to, so the jack is gunna look a little weird. I used an angle grinder with a 60 grit flap disk to remove bulk timber from the edge. I still have to refine it more with a ROS... probably with 80 or 100 grit. I suspect a belt sander would have been another option to remove the bulk of the edge. Good thing it wasn't paulownia... 5 seconds with 60 grit on the angle grinder and there would be no blade left!
    Last edited by Rabbit; 05-11-2021 at 09:54 AM.

  10. #9
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    The blade looks great!

  11. #10
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    You're right on the cutting edge of woodworking technology.

    Looking good.

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