long scale-short neck bass?

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.
michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Hello MIMF. I used to post regularly here many years go but stopped building instruments. Late;y I've been getting back into it

I'm working on a fretless bass and I have several design constraints that I'm trying to work around.

A: should be light
B: should NOT NOT be a neck-diver
C: should be 34 inch scale
D: Should make use of all the stuff I already have lying around
E: Should be a little different from the fenderish basses I already have

So I've always liked the Turner Model 1 design. It has that San Francisco victorian hippie vibe, but simple and unusual. I want to copy that. Turner makes a Model1 bass, but it's 32 inch scale. I'm used to 34 and would be even more out of tune on 32 than I am on 34 and on my upright bass. Plus I'll bet even at 32 inch scale that Turner bass is a neck-diver.

Image

The body will be pine, the neck will be a soft maple/mahogany laminate with a fingerboard of Ipe. Because I have the wood on hand. Hipshot tuners, side mounted on an open headstock. Wooden bridge.

What I'm thinking is take that Turner design, move the bridge back to where it usually sits on an electric bass, and then shorten the neck by @ four inches, so the scale length is 34 but I only have the equivalent of 15 "frets," a twenty inch neck rather than 24 inches. I've laid it out life size on paper, and it looks like it could be done. A slightly larger body/shorter neck means I can have the neck join the body at about the 12th "fret," and still have a scale length of 34. I don't think I'll miss the high notes--I'm not imagining this as a solo style bass, I'm hoping for woody and a little more hollow body-ish.

I have a nagging feeling I'm missing something though. Maybe the proportions will look grotesque? Any thoughts?

Jim Hepler
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:15 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Jim Hepler »

If you draw it out and like the looks of it, I'd say go for it. The only issue I can think of is, if you move the bridge back and shorten the neck keeping the same body, you might want to move the pick-up back the same amount as the bridge, otherwise you could be in for a pretty boomy or muddy sound. Your proposed adjustment will help with the neck diving situation. The other way that I know of to get around that is to have a long upper bout, which is a whole different aesthetic than you're looking at. Let us know what you do and please show us the finished product. As many a bass player has found, "There's no money above the fifth fret."

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1222
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Just off the top of my head, I'd say if you're going to join the neck at the half scale point, that means the body will have to be 17" plus another 2" to 3" to mount even a screw on bridge, and probably more for a bridge and tailpiece. So it may look strange with a body almost as long as the neck and headstock, and will probably be heavier (depending on construction) than the average bass. If you can design a bridge that screws on vertically to the end of the guitar, that could shorten the body. Good luck and keep us posted.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Bad proportions are what I'm worried about. I'm thinking the bridge will just be a piece of wood, maybe archtop style, with the strings anchored at the end of the body--I'll have to make some kind of string anchor that holds the string balls just past the end of the top. I wasn't planning to use a conventional metal bridge

The whole thing might be a disaster, we'll see. I glued up a neck black out of three pieces of 1x3 Home depot maple, with 1/8 mahogany between, because that's what I had on hand. Should be a very strong neck, but worried about weight

Here's a photoshop of what I'm thinking of, the bridge as a simple wooden saddle set back towards the end. it will have to be high enough to get enough down pressure and I'll probably make some kind of two piece dealio where I can adjust the saddle height

Image

In this crude image the proportions don't look bad to me, but it looks like a guitar, not a bass

Jim Hepler
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:15 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Jim Hepler »

It looks to fine to me too. I think you are really just shifting the whole scale (bridge to nut) about 3 or 4 inches to the left and chopping off the high end of the fingerboard. Doing that means the pickup will move that same distance further away from the bridge, making it more bassy. That might be okay, but not what I think of as a really woody sound. The other option is to move the pickup left along with everything else. Might look odd with the sound hole that far away from the fingerboard. Draw it out and see what it looks like. Sorry if I've repeated myself here. I'm not sure I was clear in my last post. I think it's a good concept, and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.
jim

David King
Posts: 2689
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by David King »

You're going to need to use very light neck wood and the lightest tuners you can find to keep that neck up. The Gotoh GB350s are your best bet though Schaller makes a very light model with a boron reinforced plastic body that you can get from Warmoth but I found that the bodies on those would warp. I'd use khaya mahogany or light Honduras mahogany if you can find it. A strip or two of wenge or purple heart down the center to reinforce it. Anything you could do to lighten the headstock starting with keeping it 9/16" thick. I'd really urge you to consider using a 32 or 33" scale for this design. That body shape is fighting your stated goals all the way so keep that in mind when you approach other aspects. I'd also be tempted to move the pickup back a few inches just to get a more useable sound that isn't all EB0 all of the time.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

David King wrote:You're going to need to use very light neck wood and the lightest tuners you can find to keep that neck up. The Gotoh GB350s are your best bet though Schaller makes a very light model with a boron reinforced plastic body that you can get from Warmoth but I found that the bodies on those would warp. I'd use khaya mahogany or light Honduras mahogany if you can find it. A strip or two of wenge or purple heart down the center to reinforce it. Anything you could do to lighten the headstock starting with keeping it 9/16" thick. I'd really urge you to consider using a 32 or 33" scale for this design. That body shape is fighting your stated goals all the way so keep that in mind when you approach other aspects. I'd also be tempted to move the pickup back a few inches just to get a more useable sound that isn't all EB0 all of the time.

Thank you for the suggestions! I'm using what I have on hand, which is a set of Hipshot 3/8 ultralights, and I'm planning an open headstock with the tuners mounted sideways, hoping it might save a bit of weight. I've already glued up a neck blank of home depot 1x3 pine, on edge, with 1/8 mahogany spacers to bring it to 2.5 inches. Boards I bought a few years ago for a project that never happened.

I do understand the body shape is a problem, and I'm hoping that having the neck 4-5 inches shorter than the usual fender neck, and meeting the body at the 12th fret position, will mitigate the neck dive while preserving the 34 scale I prefer. Also this is a thick body--I plan to keep it at two inches, so it will be relatively heavy, with minimal internal routing. But it sure looks like a neck diver.

You can see in the picture below how short the neck will be--that's the fingerboard I'll be using, and the bridge will be back by the end of the body at 34 inches. The second picture has an extremely crude sketch of the headstock
Attachments
headstock2.jpeg
layout2.jpeg

User avatar
Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1222
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that by joining the neck at the half scale (12th fret) position, and where presumably the strap button will be located, the neck will be 3" to 4" shorter, creating a shorter lever arm akin to having the strap button located on a horn at the 12th fret. Additionally, if the body has to be made longer (and heavier) to accommodate the bridge placement and scale length, this will also move the center of gravity farther from the headstock and correct any tendency for neck dive. I would not make it so thick, to make the whole instrument lighter (since that was also one of the initial criteria).

But the construction will be the proof of the pudding.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

David King
Posts: 2689
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by David King »

Michael
A single rod would help make that neck lighter granted that's a whole other kettle of fish if you're not set up for it. I've never played a Turner model 1 but I always figured it was mostly hollow. It's easy enough to hollow it out first and add weight back behind the bridge later if you think it needs it.
I was actually going to suggest an open headstock with side-mounted tuners but at that point you might want to consider a string locking tuner like the Sperzels for ease of string changing. I've known folks who've modified the hipshots to be locking tuners as well but from the top of the post which wouldn't be so practical. The one issue with side-mounted tuners is finding a case or a bag to accommodate them later.

Art Davila
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:07 am
Location: Chicago, Il U.S.A.

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Art Davila »

So if you enlarged the upper bout and cut away a bit at the lower bout you can still have the upper fret access, and better balance, Pardon my crude drawing. Also you can always do some weight relief, like Les paul type of weight relief. Also the sound hole could be an inch down and still not seem out of the norm. And if you make it oval you can lower the pickup closer to the bridge.
Attachments
turner.jpg
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Thanks Art, yes I thought about that, a lot of basses have that look now, the deep single cut and the extended upper body, like this fodera below. I'm not fond of that look but also, to be honest, I don't feel I have any skill or ability at that aspect of design--I doubt my ability to come up with a graceful and effective shape. That's why I'm copying someone else's design. Also I like the shape of the Turner.

And then also I'm not interested in a lot of upper fret access. I've been playing bass a long time and on the vast majority of gigs I never get above the 10th fret, or even the seventh fret. Playing jazz gigs on the upright I take solos up there, the occasional electric bass solo, but as mentioned for the most part there's no money above the fifth fret, as the saying goes. I have a very nice 24 fret bass already. And I've just been thinking how many of the designs problems of electric basses come from the determination to add notes that in real life you are rarely called to play? It might be I'll make this and think "Oh I really miss those high frets," but I doubt it. It's an experiment.


Image

Art Davila
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:07 am
Location: Chicago, Il U.S.A.

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Art Davila »

I myself played bass back in the eighties used to play Freebird, which definitely needed upper front access and a lot of Iron Maiden, Rush and many other progressive rock bass playing. I've since quit playing music and then started again playing as a guitarist and now I listen mostly blues. and many of the best players I've seen definitely make money playing on the upper front of the bass just saying.

but in the end this is your bass,
you need to make it the way you want it.
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Art Davila wrote:I myself played bass back in the eighties used to play Freebird, which definitely needed upper front access and a lot of Iron Maiden, Rush and many other progressive rock bass playing. I've since quit playing music and then started again playing as a guitarist and now I listen mostly blues. and many of the best players I've seen definitely make money playing on the upper front of the bass just saying.

but in the end this is your bass,
you need to make it the way you want it.

As mentioned, I have a lot of basses and if the tune requires 24 frets I'm on it. I'm not designing this as anybody's idea of the ideal or perfect bass. I'f I'm, not able to play "freebird" on it I'll take that as a definite plus! :D

Art Davila
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:07 am
Location: Chicago, Il U.S.A.

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Art Davila »

Lol so not a skinnerd fan.
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Well I went and got started. Below is the roughed out pine body and the neck with an extended fingerboard which I'll likely trim off. The neck will have an open headstock. I'm thinking about how to start shaping it to look more graceful. I'll trim away the part of the body that extends beyond the side of the neck

I think the proportions will be ok. I plan to have a "floating" bridge like on an archtop guitar, not attached to the body.
Attachments
bass2.jpeg
bass1.jpeg

Art Davila
Posts: 292
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:07 am
Location: Chicago, Il U.S.A.

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Art Davila »

What kind of tuners will you use? I imagine a slotted head would be hard to string up. Are there tuners that come in from the side like that? Or are you going to make your own?
I have a lot of experience on how "not" to do things.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

I have an unused set of hipshot ultralights I'm planning to use. They will mount just fine as is. I'm not sure how hard or easy it will be to change strings-the left and right position will be staggered, so the posts will be accessible. I might have to grind a bit off the top of the posts, but maybe not. I don't change bass strings very often, I like the sound of old strings.

User avatar
Beate Ritzert
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:20 am
Location: Germany

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by Beate Ritzert »

David King wrote:The Gotoh GB350s are your best bet though Schaller makes a very light model with a boron reinforced plastic body
Schaller recently have introduced a few full metal ultralight tuners: the M4-2000 and the M4-light. The latter is actually Schaller's lightest bass tuner.
I'd also be tempted to move the pickup back a few inches just to get a more useable sound that isn't all EB0 all of the time.
Indeed, but even that depends on the pickup. For my Gibson EB-11 (Les Paul Junior DC), Christoph Dolf from Bassculture made me a custom coil which sounds very full and yet trebly, almost bell like, in that extreme neck position. Very different from what You expect of coming from beneath an EB-0 pickup cover. The Darkstars should sound similarly.

Neck Heaviness: since You have control over the design You might consider to extend the body below the neck to fret 13/14, similarly as in single cut basses. The will not only lead to a very stiff neck but give You enough flesh to put the strap lock button to about fret position 14 where there should be mechanical balance.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

That's good to know about the schallers. I'll look for those in the future

The body meets the neck on this bass at @the 12 fret. Right now it's a little bit body heavy, so I'm feeling confident it will balance well when the tuners are installed


I have to decide about binding the body. I've never installed a binding before and this would be a doubly hard job because the top is carved--it has "belly" and elbow cuts and then matching, smaller carves at the upper bouts. I have a Gramil, but I'm not confident I can get a clean line with it. Thinking about getting the Siminoff Dremel attachment.

I'm planning to use two pickups, fender jazz bass style. I'm likely going to use two of the Lace "alumitone" jazz bass pickups. I have a guitar with alumintone pickups and I've been very impressed with them--dead quiet, but the the direct sound of single coils. Very wide ranging, with lots more bass and treble.

michael o'malley
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: long scale-short neck bass?

Post by michael o'malley »

Got the neck basically carved--it's very highly figured which a little mineral spirits shows nicely. Normally I find this look a little gaudy, and I didn't expect the figure to be this bold. To match it. I think I'll have to do something a little more fancy with the body, so I'm thinking binding and a sunburst finish. Neither of which I've ever done before

You can see in the picks that the top is "carved" in the style of Turner's Model 1, with four "easements" on each face. I ordered some plastic binding hoping I can heat it and pre bend it into shape. That's assuming I can cut the binding channel, which I've never tried before. I ordered a Siminoff dremel attachment and when it comes I'll practice on scrap. A lot.
Attachments
body1.jpeg
neck1.jpeg

Post Reply

Return to “Solid-Body and Chambered or Semi-Solid Electric Guitars and Bass Guitars”