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Thread: OctoberBass RCA-4 First Build

  1. #1
    Member OctoberBassRCA-4's Avatar
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    OctoberBass RCA-4 First Build

    Hello from Nashville! Received my Bass Kit yesterday after a four month wait. Here it is as a mock build. During my wait, I found out PBG will no longer offer these kits, so is it one of the last? I'm happy with everything so far, and anticipate a long project to get me through the winter. I'll have quite a few questions during the process. Thanks for having me!
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  2. Liked by: Spackhead

  3. #2
    GAStronomist wazkelly's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum and hope you enjoy building your new kit.
    Was unaware these had been discontinued as they have been extremely popular and there are many build diaries to check out.
    Cheers, Waz

    Sent from my SM-A520F using Tapatalk
    # 1 - EX-5 https://goo.gl/fQJMqh
    # 2 - EX-1 https://goo.gl/KSY9W9
    # 3 - Non PBG Tele https://goo.gl/W14G5g
    # 4 - Non PBG J Bass https://goo.gl/FbBaFy
    # 5 - TL-1AR GOTM Aug 2017 https://goo.gl/sUh14s
    # 6 - MMB-4 Runner-up GOTM Oct 2018https://goo.gl/gvrPkp
    # 7 - ES-1 Runner-up GOTM Aug 2018https://goo.gl/T9BEY8

  4. #3
    Mentor JohnH's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard - looking forward to seeing what you do with it
    #001 (LP-1S) [finished - co-runner up Nov 2018 GOTM]
    #002 (WL-1)
    #003 (MPL Megacaster - semi scratch build) [finished]
    #004 (ST-1 JR - Arachnoid Superhero build) [finished]
    #005 (LP jr)

    Junk shop acoustic refurbs (various)
    'The TGS Special'

  5. #4
    Member OctoberBassRCA-4's Avatar
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    Hello PBG,
    So I received my kit, and obviously consumed with what next. Sanding. But I feel I can't find enough info on the subject for my novice experience. Sand, sand then sand some more... ! What am I looking for with the 220 grit sand, how far before the next grit? Same then with the next grit? What am I looking for?
    What about the binding, how much sanding before the binding is compromised?
    I have not settled on a finish yet, so a stain is still possible. I've read you can only sand with so much grit before staining won't take.
    Does the neck need much sanding, yes, where I see it needs it, but do you follow the same rule?
    One more for now, where do you stop sanding to apply grain filler, is there a method?

    Thanks!

  6. #5
    GAStronomist wazkelly's Avatar
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    Hi Buddy, all good questions to ask.

    Suggest you carry out a close inspection all over both the body and neck first to identify any machine marks that run across the timber grain as these will require a different approach before doing what you think would be normal sanding.

    Let's start with the neck....being made from rock maple these don't usually require much effort at all and would suggest a light sanding with 120 grit along the back where your hand rests whilst playing to knock down any splintery bits. If planning to stain body & neck the same colour, best not to sand the neck too much otherwise it gets difficult to match colours as the maple grain is very tight and too much sanding ends up polishing the surface which can repel attempts to soak up enough stain. As the headstock is already pre-shaped you may find some machine marks in the various curves and if you want it looking smooth and showing off the grain these will need to be sanded out otherwise stain will end up accentuating that more than the grain underneath.

    Sanding a body..... I always use a cork block starting with 80 grit and do a fairly robust sand on top & bottom, sanding with the grain. This helps to knock down irregularities and begin to smooth down both surfaces. On the sides, and particularly curves around upper and lower horns leading to the neck pocket you will notice what looks like fine saw tooth marks left behind from when the body was cut but machine. End grain of the timber tends to show this more than side-on and to get rid of them the natural approach seems to be sand across these marks. You could try that but it takes a lot of time & effort however a better approach is to sand in the direction of the machine marks first until they are gone, and then revert back to sanding in the direction of the grain or aspect of that part of the body. For example, near where bottom strap button would be located is where most of the end grain will be visible and you will be sanding across the grain, usually at 90 degrees and this is how it's done all the way around side edges.

    If using 80 grit is taking too much off or getting nervous about it step up to 120 grit. Out of 7 builds I have done 2 with binding and it copes OK with solid 120 & 180 grit sanding.

    Generally I would recommend going as hard as you can on all surfaces with 120 grit trying to use that grade alone to get it as smooth as you possibly can, then maybe a light to medium session with 180, then stop and evaluate where things are at. If planning to do a stain finish, I have found this to be the best starting point. After 240 grit it feels very nice and smooth, but too smooth as surfaces become over polished and repel efforts to evenly soak up stain.

    It is easy to obsess over getting a super smooth surface before applying any finish and that would be true for applying a solid spray finish but stains require a different approach as outlined above.

    Stained finishes can end up looking as smooth as glass, it just requires more & more layers of top coats to flatten things out.

    Hope this provides some clarity for you.

    Cheers, Waz

    EDIT: Forgot to mention when to add grain filler.....just after you have done your best with 120 grit as that seems to allow more of the filler to do it's job. To make sure some of it stays put and acts as a contrasting grain popper you may need to just lightly sand back with 180 to 240, but don't go nuts with either grit as you can strip lots off or end up over polishing.
    Last edited by wazkelly; 14-10-2018 at 10:06 AM.
    # 1 - EX-5 https://goo.gl/fQJMqh
    # 2 - EX-1 https://goo.gl/KSY9W9
    # 3 - Non PBG Tele https://goo.gl/W14G5g
    # 4 - Non PBG J Bass https://goo.gl/FbBaFy
    # 5 - TL-1AR GOTM Aug 2017 https://goo.gl/sUh14s
    # 6 - MMB-4 Runner-up GOTM Oct 2018https://goo.gl/gvrPkp
    # 7 - ES-1 Runner-up GOTM Aug 2018https://goo.gl/T9BEY8

  7. #6
    Member OctoberBassRCA-4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wazkelly View Post
    Hi Buddy, all good questions to ask.

    Suggest you carry out a close inspection all over both the body and neck first to identify any machine marks that run across the timber grain as these will require a different approach before doing what you think would be normal sanding.

    Let's start with the neck....being made from rock maple these don't usually require much effort at all and would suggest a light sanding with 120 grit along the back where your hand rests whilst playing to knock down any splintery bits. If planning to stain body & neck the same colour, best not to sand the neck too much otherwise it gets difficult to match colours as the maple grain is very tight and too much sanding ends up polishing the surface which can repel attempts to soak up enough stain. As the headstock is already pre-shaped you may find some machine marks in the various curves and if you want it looking smooth and showing off the grain these will need to be sanded out otherwise stain will end up accentuating that more than the grain underneath.

    Sanding a body..... I always use a cork block starting with 80 grit and do a fairly robust sand on top & bottom, sanding with the grain. This helps to knock down irregularities and begin to smooth down both surfaces. On the sides, and particularly curves around upper and lower horns leading to the neck pocket you will notice what looks like fine saw tooth marks left behind from when the body was cut but machine. End grain of the timber tends to show this more than side-on and to get rid of them the natural approach seems to be sand across these marks. You could try that but it takes a lot of time & effort however a better approach is to sand in the direction of the machine marks first until they are gone, and then revert back to sanding in the direction of the grain or aspect of that part of the body. For example, near where bottom strap button would be located is where most of the end grain will be visible and you will be sanding across the grain, usually at 90 degrees and this is how it's done all the way around side edges.

    If using 80 grit is taking too much off or getting nervous about it step up to 120 grit. Out of 7 builds I have done 2 with binding and it copes OK with solid 120 & 180 grit sanding.

    Generally I would recommend going as hard as you can on all surfaces with 120 grit trying to use that grade alone to get it as smooth as you possibly can, then maybe a light to medium session with 180, then stop and evaluate where things are at. If planning to do a stain finish, I have found this to be the best starting point. After 240 grit it feels very nice and smooth, but too smooth as surfaces become over polished and repel efforts to evenly soak up stain.

    It is easy to obsess over getting a super smooth surface before applying any finish and that would be true for applying a solid spray finish but stains require a different approach as outlined above.

    Stained finishes can end up looking as smooth as glass, it just requires more & more layers of top coats to flatten things out.

    Hope this provides some clarity for you.

    Cheers, Waz

    EDIT: Forgot to mention when to add grain filler.....just after you have done your best with 120 grit as that seems to allow more of the filler to do it's job. To make sure some of it stays put and acts as a contrasting grain popper you may need to just lightly sand back with 180 to 240, but don't go nuts with either grit as you can strip lots off or end up over polishing.
    Thank you Waz! I'll go forward with your advise.

  8. #7
    Member OctoberBassRCA-4's Avatar
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    So I followed Waz advise and sanded with 120 grit overall, I don't see any machine marks and really want to go smoother with 240-220 grit but will wait for a chance to test a stain on a sample of Ash. The stain I'm considering is waterbased. I've read that will raise the grain. Is this an issue I need to consider before going forward with waterbase stain? I plan on a MusicMan Bridge pickup and I know I have to route that out and need a template or at least purchase the pup first. Do I need to route before staining?
    Lastly, as I wait, can I work the frets and fretboard before gluing in the set neck? Should I sand the board before dressing the frets?

    Thanks.

  9. #8
    Member OctoberBassRCA-4's Avatar
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    Seafoam Green Dye finish.

    I like this color. The guy says he used #9 Blue, #8 Green, and #25 White. I can't find dyes in reference to these code numbers. Anyone know?

  10. #9
    GAStronomist wazkelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OctoberBassRCA-4 View Post
    So I followed Waz advise and sanded with 120 grit overall, I don't see any machine marks and really want to go smoother with 240-220 grit but will wait for a chance to test a stain on a sample of Ash. The stain I'm considering is waterbased. I've read that will raise the grain. Is this an issue I need to consider before going forward with waterbase stain? I plan on a MusicMan Bridge pickup and I know I have to route that out and need a template or at least purchase the pup first. Do I need to route before staining?
    Lastly, as I wait, can I work the frets and fretboard before gluing in the set neck? Should I sand the board before dressing the frets?

    Thanks.
    Routing for a larger bridge pickup should be done before starting on the finish. Doing neck setup before gluing makes sense. Presume you plan to seal the fake rosewood fretboard? If so, do your fret work first and when polishing them with 0000 steel wool use that to 'sand' the fretboard too as it won't be as abrasive as regular sandpaper and will bring it up very smooth without scratching.

    Sent from my SM-A520F using Tapatalk
    # 1 - EX-5 https://goo.gl/fQJMqh
    # 2 - EX-1 https://goo.gl/KSY9W9
    # 3 - Non PBG Tele https://goo.gl/W14G5g
    # 4 - Non PBG J Bass https://goo.gl/FbBaFy
    # 5 - TL-1AR GOTM Aug 2017 https://goo.gl/sUh14s
    # 6 - MMB-4 Runner-up GOTM Oct 2018https://goo.gl/gvrPkp
    # 7 - ES-1 Runner-up GOTM Aug 2018https://goo.gl/T9BEY8

  11. #10
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    Sydney
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    Looking good so far! I played my RCA4 kit last weekend, it sounded and looked cool!

  12. Liked by: OctoberBassRCA-4

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