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Beater Bass

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Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:35 pm

A couple of months ago I decided to build myself a bass that embodies everything I want in a bass.

1) Fretted - I've been playing double bass and fretless electric for a number of years (not very well) and it takes effort and thought. No problem if just playing, but when I sing also, it's hard to remember or read words while playing. With frets it's a lot easier.

2) Cheap - use free wood I have on hand.

3) 5 string - I've never had one before. I really want that D note, and the C and B are a bonus. Also a lot easier to play in F or B with that 5th string.

4) Durable finish, and not to worry if it gets dinged and dented anyway. Lacquer is too fragile, and a shame to damage after all the trouble to apply it well.

5) Use the 5 tuners I have on hand that are all of the same configuration (L American=R Chinese.)

6) Zero fret so I don't have to worry about nut slot depth.

7) Light weight. I'm old and decrepit, and I have a hard time standing for 45 minutes even without a bass around my neck.

So I drew up a plan.
Attachments
beater-bass-plan2.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:45 pm

Of course, I had to refine the plan.
beater-bass-plan2.jpg

I selected some wood - I think the neck/body/wings are Douglas fir. I found a piece with vertical grain for the neck through portion, figuring it would be almost like laminations.
beater-bass-4.jpg

Then I drew out the specs on the wood.
beater-bass-2.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:58 pm

Using a J bass pattern, I cut the wings and some spacers from a more flat-sawn piece of wood. I left the upper horn long to make sure there were no balance problems before I cut it to final shape.
beater-bass-3.jpg

I cut the neck and headstock to shape, routed a truss rod slot and drilled through from the headstock for the adjusting nut.

beater-bass-5.jpg


The fretboard is osage orange.

beater-bass-6.jpg


More later.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:14 pm

The control cavity and pickup routes.

bb-control-cavity.jpg
bb-pickup-cavitiy.jpg


Control plate.

control-plate.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Mark Swanson » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:18 pm

That's coming out good! I love projects like that, and that plan is classic...maybe you should donate it to Charlie and he can sell copies from our Plans page! :)
    Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:23 pm

Mockup and ready to glue up.

beater-bass-7.jpg


Glued and strung. I had to put a shim under the saddles - they only have about 1/8" of vertical travel (cheap Chinese), and the action was too low.

beater-bass-8.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:33 pm

I was going to paint it fluorescent orange, but decided instead to use some old rattle cans I had on the shelf. I googled spray paint art and found some neat stuff some Mexican artists were doing. I tried to copy the technique with moderate success. Practiced on the back.

beater-bass-back.jpg


Then did the front - not much difference.

beater-bass--front.jpg


It's got several coats of rattle can polyurethane, and the neck is Tru-Oil.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:38 pm

A close up of the saddles and pickups/controls. Yes, the knobs are too close together, but the volume is easy to access with my little finger, and I never touch the tone once it is set.
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closeup-controls.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:48 pm

Closeups of the headstock. I prophylactically put a #6 x 1 1/2" screw on each side of the first string tuner, because if it falls, that's where it will break.

headstock-front.jpg

headstock-side.jpg

headstock-back.jpg
.

The bass weighs a little under 7#. Gonna take it to a jam tonight and see how it feels/sounds
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Jim Bonnell » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:16 pm

I love that set of plans too. Nice job on an interesting build from stuff you have laying around. Hope you report back after the jam.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Art Davila » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:51 am

Now thats cool. you really have a unique take on a 5 string
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:17 pm

I played it last night - good news and bad news. The bass plays/sounds fine, but I'm going to need a new amp/speaker to get down to 31Hz without it sounding like a muffled rattle.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:22 pm

A guitar player I jam with said his teen daughter thought this bass looked cool, so wanted me to build him one to learn to play bass on. He wanted a 4 string, and I finally got around to building it. Made from Douglas fir lumber, and extra generic stuff lying around (which explains the tuner arrangement and ultra thin maple fret board) - total cost $65 including strings. This one's a bolt on, as I didn't have a long enough clear piece of wood for a neck through.

ricks-bass-top.jpg


ricks-bass-back.jpg


ricks-bass-controls.jpg



Side by side.

both-top.jpg
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Bob Francis » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:06 pm

More nice work Peter!
I like the paint scheme.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Beate Ritzert » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:04 am

really cool.
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Re: Beater Bass

Postby Peter Wilcox » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:36 pm

Thanks Beate and Bob - I think his daughter will like it. :)
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