I've been wanting to build a bass for a long time, but needed someone who was more into basses than I am, so that I would understand the player's needs. For some months ago I talked to a bass player I met through one of my acquaintances, and he kindly agreed to help me with feedback and suggestions to start working on a bass.
I sent him some sketches about what I was wanting to build, but it turned out he was looking for something else, so he in turn sent pictures of basses from the 60's and 70's that he liked. He mentioned that he would like the lower part of the body to extend more towards the head than the upper part. This is not what you'd typically want because a design like gets complicated, especially with regards to balance.
But it was a nice challenge, and once again, it was something I wouldn't have thought of doing if my client hadn't asked. So in late June I started doing some sketches, just to get an idea. Nothing serious came up, and we started our vacations so I put sketching on hold and continued brewing ideas in my head.
In the meantime my client decided what kind of sound he wanted: a straight-forward 21-fret rock bass with passive antiquity pickups. With those things in mind I continued thinking about ways to solve the technical problems and by August I sat down to draw and came out with new sketches.
He liked the way things were going, and I moved on to work on the full 1:1 drawing. It was a difficult process to draw such an asymmetric shape and have it still look balanced. I decided to use spruce and carbon fiber for the neck to make it stiff and light. The head had to be small and I ordered some nice tuners from Schaller. They have the vintage looks my client wanted, but are only half the weight of regular old-style tuners.
Anyhow, I really had to work on the drawing to fine tune all the details so the process took several days until I was satisfied.
My goal then was to make the neck and a trial body so he could get a feel for it, and give me feedback on different design aspects. I borrowed one of his basses to use as reference for string height and general set up. I was now ready to build the different templates for the body, the neck, the head and the neck pocket.
After this I found out that there were some problems. The lower horn didn't give enough clearance for the hand to reach the higher frets so I had to fill the neck pocket, drew a new centerline over the existing template and rout a new neck pocket. This time it worked! The other problem was that the pointy end of the horn was too sharp and was uncomfortable when playing seated. I rounded off the sharp edge and proceeded to shape the rest of the body so that it was comfortable to hold. I also drew some lines that resemble what the ash/wenge centerpiece will look like.
Today I shaped the neck and put the strings on. Next week I'll be going to Oslo prior to my trip to Uppsala, and I'll meet up with my client to fine tune the details and agree on materials and general looks.
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