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Four string fretless

Please put your pickup/wiring discussions in the Electronics section; and put discussions about repair issues, including "disappearing" errors in new instruments, in the Repairs section.

Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:11 am

Hi everyone,

Recently I've started my first build and I enjoy watching others build a lot so I thought I'd also post my progress here! I've wanted to build a violin or a classical guitar for a long time but as I had to quit playing I found it of little use. Roughly a year ago I picked up the bass and thankfully I'm playing again, so finally I have an excuse for building too! I 'redecorated' our spare room and made a nice workbench from an old IKEA desk and some cheap pine. So far I've been able to do everything on these couple square metres, I just hope our book collection will survive the immense amount of dust ;)

Specs, as far as I have them; a neck-through single cut construction, hard rock maple and walnut neck, ebony fingerboard, flamed/curly walnut top and mahogany body, Aero Stingray pickup, Schaller bridge and Gotoh tuners, Aguilar OBP1.

Some pictures of the workbench and planning phase:

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And starting off with... the pickup cover ;)

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Next up working on the neck. Sawing and gluing, roughly sanding flush.

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I'm having issues with this top as it has a strong will of its own, it bends and cups like crazy. I tried a number of things but nothing really worked well.

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The first curls, at last :)

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So here it all went terribly wrong with the top, it bent so violently I couldn't get it clamped up properly so I pulled it all apart again.

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Working on the body, trying to cover up some nasty router tearouts...

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Profiling the fingerboard

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Rough carving in the body, with the angle grinder

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Thinning the headstock, very professionally

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Neck carving - I really enjoy this. Tips on how to get everything as straight and even as possible however are much appreciated!

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Well, so far so good! Hope you like it so far. I'm open to criticism though :)
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:50 pm

The peg head looks overly large and thick. Is that the finished thickness? Will your tuners be long enough?
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby David King » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:01 pm

Barry,
I think the head cap veneer got thinned right after glueing.
I love the use of the router planer jig for so many operations.
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:14 pm

Thanks!! The headstok is now about 16 mm thick, would that still be too much? I think the tuner shafts will be long enough, I'd like to countersink them just a little bit as well.
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:32 pm

16 mm is close. That is just over 5/8 inch. You should measure your tuners to see how thick the headstock should be.
You may have to go to 15 mm.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:49 am

Right, to measure is to know :) To be honest I have no idea of 'standard' headstock thicknesses, nor of how far the posts should protrude - is there a rule of thumb? I did measure the tuners when I made the blueprints, and if I did it correctly I could use them with a thickness between 11 and 18 mm (recessing the flange of the bushing). I think I'll just try it out in plywood!
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:56 am

Recessing the bushing is not a good idea. You want the post to protrude as much as possible. Not as little as possible.
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby David King » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:10 pm

Normal bass headstock thickness is between 12.5 and 14.5 mm approximately.
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:19 am

I brought the headstock thickness down to 14 and it even looks a lot better! Thanks everyone :)
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Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Wout Moerman » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:21 am

Hartstikke mooi!

What is that green vice you are using? Looks very versatile.
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:15 am

Dankjewel! It's a multipurpose vice or patternmaker's vice. I love it and I don't know what I'd do without it ;)

Been busy for two half days this weekend and made some pretty good progress. I thinned the headstock further as you suggested and drilled the holes for the tuners. Test-fitted the tuners too, and the nut (which is too short) and the truss rod cover plate. Then to a part I was fearing: making a channel in the body. I used the router to mark the outlines, then carved most material away with a chisel. I left a gap between the upper horn and the side of the neck as I'm afraid it will deform from expansion when I'm gluing. Here it is fitted, starting to feel very real now! I finished the fingerboard to satin with steelwool, after polishing it too very glossy and decided I didn't like it much. Fitted the side dots and misaligned one, hmmm. Making the control cavity was incredibly easy after so many challenging routing tasks. And made a grain matching cover, I like it :)

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Time to clean ;)
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If you have any tips & tricks for gluing the neck to the body, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for watching :)
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby David King » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:32 pm

Aliphatic (yellow) glue will be very slick at first and even if the neck is a tight fit you'll be able to slide it into place. If it isn't a tight fit then the aliphatic with leave a visible glue line unless you can clamp the body sides tight to the neck. I think I would be tempted to use hot hide glue but you would need to warm up the parts ahead of time to 30-40º C. The hide glue will also be slick at first but it will shrink as it dries and pull the joint together with modest clamping pressure leaving very little glue line. Any yellow glue residue in the grain will show up under the finish which won't be a problem with the hide glue.
Make sure you have a very good dry fit in all dimensions before you start glueing.

I would never try to do this kind of construction in a production setting. I've only done a similar neck to body joint once but it that case the neck and the slot were tapered so I could slide the joint together and tighten it at the same time. Normally I would glue the body wings onto the neck and then glue the joined top down as a unit.
David King
 
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:44 am

Thanks very much for your elaborate answer! It was most useful, last night I bit the bullet and glued the neck and body together. The fit of the straight channel is tight but I purposely left a very small gap for expansion around the fingerboard in the top. I may have to fill it up later but I just didn't dare to take any risks (this walnut has given me sleepless nights). There are two main reasons for this approach, one is that the top wood warped and cupped like crazy and I could not get it in a position that I could route the neck shape in, so I decided I should glue it to the body wood first. Two is that I have a really tiny workspace and I wanted to do as much work as possible on the pieces separately as I could handle them much easier. A lot of this is inexperience though ;)
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:00 am

I finished the channel and squared the neck at the body section again and glued the pieces together! Then I started carving, and learned that I should have left a bit more wood at the back of the neck. I'm happy though with how it turned out and how it feels. Drilled holes for the knobs, for the jack, some extra (bit sloppy) routing on the back and the pickup insert. Still needs some cleaning up but it's almost done :)

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The bass now has its own place in the livingroom where I can keep an eye on it!

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Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:23 pm

Small update! I drilled wiring holes, which was a lot easier than expected. PU wire channel came out in the perfect spot in the cavity. For the ground wire I dug a small hole with my dremel tool to have some starting point for the drill bit. I only found my biggest drill bit rigid enough, the smaller ones really flexed too much, so the bridge wire channel is a bit too big for my liking. I did a lot of fine sanding, drilled holes for the straplocks (dunlop flush type). I also painted the cavities with copper paint - got a feeling it won't be enough but it's a nice experiment.

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So far so good! Now in the planning mode for finishing. I sanded fine to 320 and would like to use nitrocellulose aerosols for the rest. I ordered a shelving unit that I plan to modify and cover with plastic sheet so I can work on my balcony if the weather allows it any time soon... What do you think? :)
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:04 am

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Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Alexander Higgins » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:37 pm

Hey Frederiek,
Nice to see you posting on MIMF as well as TB, nice people and good advice over here too. Bass looks fantastic!

Alex Higgins, AKA Gilmourisgod
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:36 am

Thanks Alex! Reminds me I have to update here :)

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Almost done!
Frederiek de Vette
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:04 am

Re: Four string fretless

Postby Bob Francis » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:42 pm

What a great looking bass.
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Re: Four string fretless

Postby Frederiek de Vette » Tue May 09, 2017 7:53 am

And so it starts!

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Frederiek de Vette
 
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