One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

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Daryl Kosinski
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One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Daryl Kosinski »

I'm thinking about building a electric bass, Jazz bass style. I have a cherry plank 2 inches thick, 9 foot long, 13 inches wide, air dried for 10 years. What would be the pro's and con's of this as opposed to a bolt on neck. Maybe a through the body. Thoughts?

David King
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by David King »

The pros would be that you wouldn't have to mess with a neck joint and bolt-on silliness. You would have bragging rights to a cool bass and the fact that you achieved something that is very challenging to most luthiers.
The cons would be that the bass will be very heavy unless you figure out a way to hollow out the body.
You will need a substantial amount of space to work on something this unwieldy.
You will either need a giant bandsaw or be willing to flip the board over as you cut it out (or do it with a handheld sabersaw).
You will need to either use a very thick fingerboard or a thick veneer laminate under the fingerboard or plane away a lot of wood from the top of the body to get the "proper" distance between the strings and the body face (1/2").
You will have a lot of drop material which you might be able to use for something else.

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Randolph Rhett
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Randolph Rhett »

I hope you don't mean to take 13 inch board and whittle a neck and body as one piece. That would almost be a criminal waste of wood. Ripping a 3" wide board for a neck-through bass would be fine out of cherry. For stability sake be sure the board you use has little runout, parallel grain lines, and oriented vertically.

Daryl Kosinski
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Daryl Kosinski »

Randolph
That is exactly what I plan to do. Rest assured very little wood goes to waste in my shop. My "scrap" is my first go to for any piece of wood. I mainly do cabinet work and furniture repair/restoration.

David and Randolph
I have the equipment to do all the machining. I cut down and milled the tree myself with the help of my brothers mill some 10 years ago. The plank I cut just for this purpose is just off the center of the tree. The log was as straight as any log could be. The 13 X 13 cant was jacked up and centered on the mill, Air dried at the bottom of the stack for a year then dead stacked at the bottom of some 50 other boards. there is little or no twist, cup, bow or run out. Planeing the top is not an issue I could put the plank back on the mill and skim off the 1/2 inch up to the neck. ( the mill is all manual the band saw is pushed by hand down the log ).

I also plan on making the truss rod of cold rolled steel, would drill rod be worth the extra cost?

Cherry has a way of showing its hidden defects (character) when you least expect it. My fear is a major defect showing up at the neck to body area or the neck to head stock area. Has anyone done a MRI on a piece of wood? (joking).

David King
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by David King »

Daryl,
It seems like you have the a handle on the scope of the project. I would focus on the neck shaft first, cut the outline of the neck and trim the back of the neck to within 1/8" of the final dimensions. Let the thing sit for a few months to see where it moves. Plane the fingerboard gluing face flat and then proceed with cutting out and shaping the headstock and body. You don't want to do a whole bunch of work only to find out that the neck has some irremediable defect.
Make sure that the tree's pith is nowhere near the neck. Some cherry logs will have very weak layers between the rings and will easily delaminate there. If the rings are dark, thick and porous you may have trouble.

Daryl Kosinski
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Daryl Kosinski »

Good advice. I was thinking 1/2 inch over size. The plank that was through the center of the tree is now a grandfather clock.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Mark Swanson »

David's advice is always spot on. But, I have to ask, why do it? You won't gain anything by making it one piece. You are making it so much harder, and with no gain and plenty of risk. Make a good glue-in neck, or a neck through the body...that's my suggestion.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

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Barry Daniels
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Barry Daniels »

As advised, building either a glued neck joint or a bolt on joint would be easier, cheaper and better than a one-piece guitar.

Note to forum: We should come up with a term or acronym for when new builders want to try something like this, where a misunderstanding of the difficulty of certain guitar building steps steers them into trying something ill advised. Sort of like how new acoustic builders often try to circumvent the step of bending sides by carving an acoustic body out of a solid block of wood.
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David King
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by David King »

Jens Ritter did it so everyone has a right try it once.

In light of the 400th anniversary perhaps we can simply call them Quixotic guitars

Daryl Kosinski
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Daryl Kosinski »

I'm not new to building. Now that I'm retired and have the time and material. I wanted a challenge and have a bass like no other. I also am a little concerned taking my 65 jazz bass out in public.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Mark Swanson »

Ok, but still why do it? If you wanted to do it because it is hard (JFK on going to the Moon) or if you simply liked that look then I understand but if you think you will gain something from it, I don't think you will. Tests have been done that show no gain from any different well-done neck joint, they all perform the same.
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Randy Roberts
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Re: One piece Cherry Bass, Jazz Bass style

Post by Randy Roberts »

David,

I agree we need a term, and I love the one you suggest. Perhaps have a separate thread in the FAQ section, with the definition, and where examples of this could be described.

Then we could just say "You're doing a DQ" and point them to the thread...

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