KR Build #6 - Neck Through 4 string Bass

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by KR250, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Doing another build for a friend, this time a 4 string neck through bass. Quite a few new things for me on this one, so will be fun and going to try really hard not to mess anything up. The goal for the bass is to be super unique in wood options, design, and electronics versatile enough to "play anything".

    Comments and critique welcome!

    Details:
    Style: 4 string neck through
    Scale: 35"
    Thickness: 1.5" (might start thicker to see the balance first, then plane it down if ok)
    Bridge: Kahler Tremolo
    Tuners: Sperzel locking
    Pickups: Nordstrand Fat Stacks
    Electronics: Audere Pro Z pre-amp - 5 knob (I think) plus adding coil splitting switches
    Body: Multi layered - Purpleheart/Wenge/Maple
    Top: Claro Walnut
    Neck: 5 piece, Purpleheart/Wenge (accents)
    Fret board: Pale Moon Ebony
    Inlays: luminlay side dots
    Head Stock: Probably leave the laminate showing through
    Nut: Black Tusq XL
    Frets: 24 stainless 51/100
    Truss Rod: Spoke wheel at neck pocket (still trying to source something other than the SM Hotrod)
    Finish: epoxy/satin poly - smooth finish

    The design is completely new and highly inspired by Carl Thompson with a few twists. Still making a few tweaks, but it has been approved for construction. The Sketchup is still a bit crude for electronics placement, drawing that out on the actual print out with my cavity templates for final placement. Headstock will also be rounded a bit more than pictured.
    [​IMG]

    Glued the top:
    [​IMG]

    Spent a day re-setting up my band saw and calibrating it correctly (cuts much cleaner and straighter now). Then did some test cuts on scrap before the neck pieces. also bought a decent hand plane to clean them up and in the process of doing that now. Wenge first.
    [​IMG]

    Cut the Purpleheart, then a quick mockup with the fretboard. Now back to planing, then gluing. I bought some polyurethane glue to use for oily woods this round.
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Kyle Jordan

    Kyle Jordan Ace of Knaves

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    The Wenge is gorgeous. And you're really cranking these out!

    You need to start taking orders soon man. I needs me a Karl Sandoval/Randy Rhoads Polka Dot V body to throw a baritone neck on. Can't really find a V body I'm after from a reputable vendor. The Warmoth Switchback looks to be the fallback plan for now.
     
  3. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks, I need to crank out a lot more before I try to charge anything. Doing the "friend" builds is great though, I get the experience and don't have to pay the cost of materials :p I really need to get a good table saw/jointer before I do another neck through.

    Going to do a multiscale V for myself soon, mainly since I already have the angled Hipshot bridge, otherwise it would be straight 27" with Evertune. It'll be my next prototype design, which I'm trying to work out about 3 total that I can perfect so I can template everything and work faster.

    Bad cell phone pic of two laminates glued up with the Titebond Poly Glue. Interesting stuff, I really like working with it so far. Moisture activated so spread it all out evenly on one piece of wood, quick light misting of water, then clamp it. Four hour cure time. I've got 4 pieces now glued (not pictured). Getting them flat has been very time consuming.
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Kyle Jordan

    Kyle Jordan Ace of Knaves

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    Really looking forward to when you get that fan fret V going. If I could go full custom right now, a 27" scale, Evertune equipped V is exactly what I'd be looking for. Doing the 28.625" scale with a conversion neck it looks like for now.
     
  5. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Finally back at it again. Moved into a new house with bigger dedicated work space, but need to build new tables, better lights, etc. Also going to re-vamp the design a little bit.

    Neck blank is together, not perfect, but have a jointer now and that helped clean it up.
    [​IMG]

    Slotted the fret board also:
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    very cool build. i love my purpleheart/wenge neck. probably the best feeling neck i've done so far.
     
  7. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    I haven't worked with either wood before, but have had a few splinters that were less than fun. I cut off a small sliver of the purple heart and it went super purple over a few days, really cool! Each time I sand or cut the thicker parts it loses the color though, and the goal is to try and make it as purple as possible before I seal it. Also, being my first neck-through, definitely a learning curve. Before I got the jointer I swore I'd never do it again. Man, that's almost the best tool I've purchased yet (Delta 6" bench jointer). Trying to plan out the neck angle to the bridge including routing for the top, but going to cut the head stock angle in first to see if this neck blank is worthy first.

    All my shop time being taken up with selling my old house, ugh. This one is target for early 2018. Can't wait because I have about 3-4 builds I want to get on after this and the new shop space has so much potential.
     
  8. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    Out of curiosity, why are you cutting in a neck angle? Couldn't you just recess the bridge to the proper height for the action and keep everything flat?
     
  9. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    I usually wait a day or two before I finish purpleheart so it gets its color back
     
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  10. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Good question. I haven't needed to do much or any angling on my set neck or bolt on designs yet, so it's just a matter of getting bridge height (.6" for this one) matched to the string spacing off the fret board for this one. I don't think I'll need to do much if any, but will measure up and find out before I get much further. Also including pickup height, routing, etc.
     
  11. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Getting back to this one, have been slowly working on it a bit at a time. Just starting to hit some milestones and hoping to get it together this spring. Neck is getting closer to completion. Still need facet and carve the profile on the back side. Cut in the angle needed for the bridge to sit right with the strings. Will see how well I did, but mockups indicate it's in the right place for the bridge height and location.

    Neck depth is close, still rough near the heel until I join everything together.
    [​IMG]

    Angle cut in, the top will butt up against the notch there. Haven't had to do an angle before, but the bass bridge and string action indicated that I needed to do it. Just made a router sled and went slow. The negative of this is that the end part of the body gets quite thin. Since I'm adding a top to it I'll still hit 1.5" body thickness total, but anything more wouldn't work. Love to hear how others approach this.
    [​IMG]

    Revised the body shape, finessing the top horn a bit still. It's quite different than anything I would have done for myself, so both challenging and cool. Kahler tremolo bridge and Norstrand Fat Stacks mocked up.
    [​IMG]

    Headstock glued on and rough cut. I also finally got a proper length spoke wheel truss rod for bass length. Waited quite a while for it but very happy.
    [​IMG]
    Starting the body laminates, rough cuts, the final pieces will be purple heart on the ends.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. BigViolin

    BigViolin Rosewood Boarded Contributor

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    Oh man, this is gonna be cool.

    Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. Grand Rabbit

    Grand Rabbit SS.org Regular

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    How do you plan on implementing that angle on the body wing laminates? Will you cut them before gluing them on, or glue them on square and then put it all back in the router sled?

    Also, how did you determine that there needed to be an angle based on the bridge? Were there instructions for that specific bridge or could you tell based on the saddle height?
     
  14. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    I figured the angle was needed bassed (pun intended) on the calculated string height over fret board/frets/action height in relation to the body top, and then needed height at the bridge which left a delta. From that (assuming I got it correct) I figured I needed another .25" of height at the bridge location. To implement, I sandwiched a couple of 1x2 pine boards at that angle with clamps and measured the difference in height at the bridge until I got the desired extra height. Ended up being roughly 2 degrees. The instructions on the bridge simply stated around .6 - .65" of height required. Quite a bit more than a fixed guitar bridge so that was my first clue.

    For the body wings I'm going to glue them on to match the angle I cut out, then figure out if I angle the back side to match (router sled) so both sides are parallel with each other. With a quick mock up, can hardly notice the angle of the horns in relation to the neck so that's good. Still need to glue the final outer layer for the wings, then I'm going to shave off a slim section to use for the cavity cover so it matches before attaching to the neck.

    If I totally miscalculated the angle, then I'll either recess the bridge or add a spacer plate. TBH, this part of the process has been the biggest challenge and not realizing how much depth I lose on the back end of the neck in the process. Luckily the specs were 1.5" total body thickness, and currently will be right on that mark.
     
  15. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Chipping away at this thing some more. Had a cold but sunny day so able to let some light in. Neck is partially profiled, finished cutting the neck angle to the body, worked on the volute, and finished gluing/planing the wings (not attached to body).

    Volute and neck profiling in progress. The dark lines are where I haven't finished sanding yet.
    [​IMG]
    Wings are glued together, but mocked to body to make sure thickness matches first. Body shape penciled in.
    [​IMG]

    Comparison of top and fretboard with body woods. Can see where I cut out bits for the head stock on the body. Haven't cut this to fit yet, but there is enough material to make it all work.
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. BlackMastodon

    BlackMastodon \m/ (゚Д゚) \m/ Contributor

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    Digging the skull/face in that burl top.
     
  17. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Glued the body together, cut shape on the bandsaw, and used spindle sander for pretty close to finaly shaping. The side cutouts aren't quite yet done, nor is the neck profile. Going to finish the shaping, route out the wiring channels, then glue on the top and fretboard. Will do the side dots on the fret board before gluing on though, since I don't have much other option.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. crackout

    crackout SS.org Regular

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    Very nice body shape!
     
  19. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Rough cut of the top, and notched for the ferret board area. Rough mock up to confirm hardware placement before I glue on the top and match the body contours. Neck feels really really good so far, just a bit more work on the heel but fret access is spectacular. And yes, this is a bass with a tremolo :p
    [​IMG]
     
  20. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Some progress today in the pics below.

    I think my plan is to do final depth slotting on the ferret board before gluing on so the saw doesn't hit the body. Then another few passes with the radius sanding beam to ensure the radius and level is good, then glue it on and fret it. I've got good access for fret files to reach except maybe one spot. I measured the distances for the pickups and the router can get to the neck position without hitting anything.

    Top routed and first sanding pass (ferret board just resting).
    IMG_20180329_124141.jpg

    Center line is good!
    IMG_20180329_135547.jpg

    Installing Luminlay, used the same jig for drilling.
    IMG_20180329_145642.jpg

    Need to carve out the edges of the top anyway, but particularly here since the top is just slightly taller than the neck base.
    IMG_20180329_151000.jpg

    Instant gratification:
    IMG_20180329_155230.jpg
     
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