My Top Secret Project: Pt. 4 – Getting Started

February 10th, 2015 Permalink

Made a little progress today. Basically, I rough cut my shapes. I going to hit them with the edge trimmer later this week. This is going to be my neck pocket template and will probably serve as the template to make my pickup routes. I need to make one more body template to hollow out […]

Made a little progress today. Basically, I rough cut my shapes. I going to hit them with the edge trimmer later this week.

This is going to be my neck pocket template and will probably serve as the template to make my pickup routes. I need to make one more body template to hollow out the body, but I’m out of MDF. I’m going to have to buy another sheet tomorrow. Fortunately, MDF is cheap and easy to cut.

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My Top Secret Project: Pt. 3 – Planning

February 4th, 2015 Permalink

I printed out a full scale drawing on a bunch of 8.5″x11″ paper. Everything looked pretty good to me, except, I had to make a few minor adjustments around the neck pocket area. Also, because of the extended fretboard, I had to move the neck pickup back about a 3/16″. I’m hoping that the placement […]

I printed out a full scale drawing on a bunch of 8.5″x11″ paper. Everything looked pretty good to me, except, I had to make a few minor adjustments around the neck pocket area. Also, because of the extended fretboard, I had to move the neck pickup back about a 3/16″. I’m hoping that the placement of the neck pickup won’t be super crucial.

I have a few things on my desk to finish up today, but hopefully I’ll have some time to print out another round and glue the paper to a sheet of MDF.

Here’s a picture of my printouts. Please excuse the horrible cell-phone-in-low-light image.

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My Top Secret Project: Pt 2 – The Compromise

February 2nd, 2015 Permalink

In every project, there are compromises made to in order to make the original vision more feasible, more practical, more economical or in some cases, better. In this case, I had three designs to work from, my favorite being the first, closely followed by the second. The first concept had a pair of Rickebacker pickups, […]

In every project, there are compromises made to in order to make the original vision more feasible, more practical, more economical or in some cases, better. In this case, I had three designs to work from, my favorite being the first, closely followed by the second. The first concept had a pair of Rickebacker pickups, but there were two problems with these that would have made things a little difficult. #1 was that the string spacing on the Rick was considerably narrower than that of the Fender Bass and the neck and bridge were going to be spec’d for a Precision bass. #2 was that the Rick Pickups were priced at over $100 apiece, and for a first time project, I felt that spending more than $200 on electronics was going to be a bit much.

 

The second concept had three Danelectro pickups. I liked the Dano pickups mainly because they look really cool and they fit within the general vibe of the instrument. But, I really wanted a set of humbuckers on this bass. After a few online discussions with some members of a bass building forum, I found that it would be possible to buy 4 single coil lipstick pickups and wire them as two pairs of humbuckers. Guitar Fetish sells a set of 3 single coils, bridge, middle and neck with the bridge wired in reverse polarity, conveniently designed to make a humbucker when two adjacent single coils are selected on the guitar. I bought one neck pickup, one bridge, and two middle pickups to make up my two pairs of humbuckers. And, at about $25 apiece, these pickups were half the cost of the Ricks.

 

So in the end, my compromise made the bass more affordable, gave me the humbuckers I wanted and gave me the coolness of the Danelectro. Plus, with help of a six-position rotary switch, I would have the added bonus of having access to the individual coils, giving me that twangy Danelectro tone as well as the fat humbucker vibe!

 

And Voila! I dubbed this bass El Cometa (The Comet).

 

My Top Secret Project: Part 1 – Conceptualization

January 30th, 2015 Permalink

I’ve been contemplating building a bass for a while now. I have sought advice from some local luthiers and friends. I’ve bought a couple books on the subject and have been lurking around reading lots of build threads. Now, the time is drawing near. Among the many different builds I have been thinking about, I’ve […]

I’ve been contemplating building a bass for a while now. I have sought advice from some local luthiers and friends. I’ve bought a couple books on the subject and have been lurking around reading lots of build threads. Now, the time is drawing near.

Among the many different builds I have been thinking about, I’ve dreamt about a Danelectro style semi-hollow body. Plywood and masonite are super-cheap, so to me, this seems like a good, economical start. I’ve found a few Dano-style tele build threads on a couple other forums, so I have some reference. A luthier friend of mine sold me a Warmoth P-spec neck the other day for $50. He pulled it off of his first build and wanted to get rid of it. I can’t remember if he said it was wenge or bubinga. I need to emphasize here that exotic tone woods never have been and never will be my style, but this is a pretty awesome neck for $50. I know for some here on TB, the idea of joining an exotic neck to a plywood/masonite body could be considered an unholy union, but keep in mind that I’m hoping that none of my friends notice that my groovy new retro bass will have this super-fancy neck!

In any case, I produced a sketch based around the shape of Gibson/Epiphone bass and added some different cutaways. I have a Jack Casady, so it makes for easy reference and theoretically, the new bass will fit in a JC case! The treble side cutaway was tough – with the extended fretboard, I kept getting a pointy horn, but I managed to keep it under control.

I’ve laid out three pickup configurations, and although the 3 Dano lipstick vibe (fig. 2) would be the most economical and the most “correct” for a masonite-top bass, I’m leaning towards the Rick humbucker vibe (fig. 1). We’ll see; the string spacing might be a little weird. The fat single-coil vibe of fig. 3 also appeals to me.

Because the steel-reenforced neck is pretty much a boat anchor, I’m thinking a BadAss bridge may be in order, hence the enormous bridge in the sketch. It’s a 34″ scale neck, so I am a little concerned about excessive neck dive. Ultralight tuners may be in order as well.

Any questions or comments are welcome. Hopefully, I will be going out this weekend to buy me a cheap router and some MDF to cut out some templates. Pictures of the neck are below.

Reeds at the Sespe – Santa Clara River Confluence • Fillmore, CA 2013

November 19th, 2013 Permalink

Reeds at the Sespe – Santa Clara River Confluence • Fillmore, CA 2013   The Sespe and the Santa Clara Rivers meet just outside of Fillmore, CA. The sandy bottom is home to a lot of tall reeds and other plant life. Shot just before sunset.

Reeds at the Sespe - Santa Clara River Confluence • Fillmore, CA 2013
Reeds at the Sespe - Santa Clara River Confluence • Fillmore, CA 2013

 

The Sespe and the Santa Clara Rivers meet just outside of Fillmore, CA. The sandy bottom is home to a lot of tall reeds and other plant life. Shot just before sunset.

Fall Treeline • Fillmore, CA 2013

November 11th, 2013 Permalink

Fall • Fillmore, CA 2013 Reeds and bare trees by the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. Fall skies and Fall colors right before sunset.

Fall • Fillmore, CA 2013
Fall • Fillmore, CA 2013

Reeds and bare trees by the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. Fall skies and Fall colors right before sunset.

Dry Riverbed and Cat Tails • Fillmore, CA 2013

October 22nd, 2013 Permalink

Dry Creekbed and Cat Tails • Fillmore, CA 2013 Cat tails on the Sespe River in Fillmore. Being late in early Autumn, the riverbed is completely dry and the foliage is brown. Shot just after sunset, and texture for artistic effect.

Dry Creekbed and Cat Tails • Fillmore, CA 2013
Dry Creekbed and Cat Tails • Fillmore, CA 2013

Cat tails on the Sespe River in Fillmore. Being late in early Autumn, the riverbed is completely dry and the foliage is brown. Shot just after sunset, and texture for artistic effect.

Yuccas by the Sespe River

October 10th, 2013 Permalink

Yuccas by the Riverbed • Fillmore, CA 2013 A pair of dried yuccas by the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. Sometime after sunset, the dry riverbed is in the background. Has a groovy textured effect applied to the image.

Yuccas by the Riverbed • Fillmore, CA 2013
Yuccas by the Riverbed • Fillmore, CA 2013

A pair of dried yuccas by the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. Sometime after sunset, the dry riverbed is in the background. Has a groovy textured effect applied to the image.

Sycamores by the Sespe

October 9th, 2013 Permalink

Sycamores by the Sespe By the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. A copse of sycamores stands beside a small footpath on the riverbank.

Sycamores by the Sespe
Sycamores by the Sespe

By the Sespe River in Fillmore, CA. A copse of sycamores stands beside a small footpath on the riverbank.

Manzanita and Yucca • Fillmore, CA 2013

October 5th, 2013 Permalink

Manzanita and Yucca • Fillmore, CA 2013   Here’s a nice little image from the Sespe. I like the contrast between the two plants, and I like the way the color of the sky came out an ominous gray. I shot the original image shortly after sunset, and the sky was a sort of bluish […]

Manzanita and Yucca • Fillmore, CA 2013
Manzanita and Yucca • Fillmore, CA 2013

 

Here’s a nice little image from the Sespe. I like the contrast between the two plants, and I like the way the color of the sky came out an ominous gray. I shot the original image shortly after sunset, and the sky was a sort of bluish gray to begin with. I stumble upon an area along the river bank where there seemed to be a lot of really old husks of cars strewn about. Perhaps it was a place where people dumped their trash a long time ago.

Pretty exciting – I’ve cranked out 3 of these images in the last couple of weeks.