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Thread: Completed build (finally...!) - SSR4 Bass in butterscotch

  1. #1

    Completed build (finally...!) - SSR4 Bass in butterscotch


    In June 2020 I purchased a Pitbull SSR4 bass kit thinking I would have it completed by Christmas. Last year.

    Life and other things got in the way, and I think I have purchased 2 or 3 additional basses and guitars since that time as well.

    The idea behind purchasing the SSR4 kit was simply that I always thought that the Gibson RD Artist was the ultimate rock bass shape - and so I set out to build my ultimate rock bass. I tend cover a number of genres as a freelance bass player, but apart from a mid 90's Belman and a 10yr MTD that struggles in the tropics, I never had anything that I could comfortably use on a hard rock/metal gig. I have built a number of my other basses (including a Pitbull JB5 that I bought used/semi-completed), and restored others, so the building process wasn't that much of a challenge - I just needed a sound platform that I could pimp.

    Along the way the bass christened itself 'Artie'...

    A list of tweaks to the kit as delivered are as follows, with pics of the bass below...

    • Black hardware replaces chrome hardware.
    • ...including Hipshot high mass bridge for Gibson basses
    • String-through-body ferrules installed (as per the Gibson version)
    • Tuners installed slightly on angle towards the player 'Warwick style'
    • Pickups replaced with Seymour Duncan Blackout active soapbars
    • Custom circuit V/T/T, with 3 way pickup selector
    • Foil lining to all cavities
    • Flat/wide Hi-fi type knobs
    • Custom black pearl pickguard - pretty much the same shape but some angles changes
    • Truss rod cover replaced with metal Gibson bell copy
    • Generic straplocks
    • ...and strung with DR Low-Riders 45-105

    The nut is left alone as it seems to sound fine for now.

    The body is stained with the Dingotone butterscotch stain and the headstock remains clear with my own custom logo, instrument name, and my reference number.

    Top coats of the body, neck and head are hand rubbed Tru-oil, applied over a couple of weekends to a high gloss level and finished off with Tru-oil gunstock wax.

    I collected all the new hardware items from various online sources over the final three months of 2020 and the body sat under my bed for just on a full 12 months before commencing the build. The kit parts went together smoothly without any problems at all, even when swapping out the original hardware for the new items. When stringing, the intonation was easy enough to dial-in after the nut was grooved out a little.

    I positioned the neck strap pin in the original location, which meant drilling through the neckplate to attach the pin. The bridge strap pin was moved off-centre towards the top of the body approx. 30mm from centre-line of strings in order to minimise head-dive while playing. I have a reverse-body bass and a Tele bass, along with a vintage Electa/Global SG bass, which all suffer head-dive due to poor balancing. The relocation of the strap pin goes a long way to solving that issue.

    Apart from finding time, the only real challenge I had was finding tone-caps to give me sufficient tonal variety from the pickups. While the Blackout pups are suited to metal playing, what I didn't realise is that due to such a hot signal from the in-pickup circuitry, the preferred way of installing these soapbars is to bypass any tone pot at all and just dial in the required tone through the players amp. Consequently I ended up using a pair of .82uF caps in the tone circuits rather than the more common .047uF cap. Sometimes I wonder about still going bigger with the caps.

    The control cavity is fortunately large enough to stow away the 9v battery, which is now tucked in there with a layer of bubble wrap between it and the other components.

    My final playing action is a tad higher than I normally would like, but at this stage I will leave it and see how it goes, knowing that this bass will not be played lightly.

    I think that's about all for now - I can't wait to get it out to rehearsals this week...

    If you're still with me by now, thanks for reading.

    Wayne - Darwin.

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    Last edited by www68; 17-11-2021 at 02:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Member Trevor Davies's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Nice work Wayne. Looks great.
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  3. #3
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Reading, UK
    Hi Wayne, and welcome.

    A very nice looking bass you've got there.

    What wiring diagram did you use in the end of the circuit? And are those 5-string pickups, as I can't find any 4-string active SD soapbars. Did you use 25k or 100k ohm pot values, as SD have diagrams for both

    Output level has nothing to do with the tone cap selection value. The standard bass/guitar tone circuit is a basic RC (resistor-capacitor) high-pass filter circuit, where the 'resistor' in the circuit is the pickup resistance, and not the potentiometer resistance (this just limits the amount of high frequency signal that passes to ground). So you are typically matching a resistance of 6k-10k with a 0.047uF capacitor. But change that resistance value significantly and you also have to change the capacitor value to get the same cut-off frequency as you would with a standard passive pickup tone control.

    With an active pickup, the active electronics in it have a very low output impedance. Exactly how low, I don't now as all the figures I've seen so far indicate something far higher that I'd expect to see from a so-called low-impedance output. Seymour Duncan indicate 1k whilst EMG indicate 10k for their 'low-impedance' output (which is a term normally given to an output with <1 to maybe 100 ohms).

    But the EMG tone pot capacitor value is a 0.1uF capacitor, so something bigger than the standard 0.047uF cap is definitely needed.

    Did you mean two 0.87uF caps (as you wrote) or did you mean 0.082uF? Presumably you wired your two caps in parallel to get double the capacitance value of one cap, rather than in series, which gives you half the capacitance value?

    If you take a passive pickup with an 8k resistance and a 0.047uF cap, then the high pass frequency 'knee' is at 423Hz.

    With an output impedance of 1k, you'd need a 0.376uF cap to get the same 423Hz knee value, and for 100ohm output impedance, you'd need a 3.76uF cap for 423Hz.

    What I don't currently understand is why low impedance pickups typically use 25k pots (or maybe 100k pots) for the tone circuit pot value. The pot value doesn't affect the RC circuit cut-off point, just the amount of high frequency signal flowing to ground. Having a low resistance value for the pot should give a much 'muddier' sound when full up as a result. But maybe the active pickup output is inherently a lot brighter than its passive equivalent, so it benefits from some taming?

  4. #4
    Nice looking bass!! I have the same pickups and I managed to screw in a battery clip to the side of the control cavity, clips in nicely and is secure.

    The biggest challenge was the pickup rings as they donít really make them for bass guitars in the exact size I needed to cover the extra routing gaps as the SDís are quite short

    Great bass and well done mate

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Darwin, Australia
    Hi Wayne,

    It must be a Darwin thing. I purchased an IB-5 about 6 months or more ago, with every intention of having it done by Christmas. It's still sitting under my bed, and like you I have spent this time gathering the bits and pieces to build it to my specifications. I'm nearly have all my required parts now, other than a few parts I have on order, and maybe 1 or 2 more changes. Then the build can begin, so by this time next year I too might have a finished Bass guitar.

    Nice job on yours though, it came up really well. I'll keep an eye / ear out for it.

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