New bass

Last month I met my client in Oslo to show him the bass prototype (you can read about that project here). As he was testing the bass, several design flaws became apparent, and we agreed that I would make modifications to the template to address them.

The first thing was the weight balance problem I already was aware of; I had to place the strap button further towards the 12th fret. The other thing was that the upper bout -where the right arm rests- was too high, so that the right hand position playing against the bridge, was a bit awkward.

When I was ready to start drawing again, I understood that it would be much easier to start from scratch than to modify what I already had. The process wasn't easy though, I spent literally days going back to the drawing board and making small changes here and there until I had something I was satisfied with, and that looked balanced and functional. Making such an instrument, where things are not where they're supposed to, is not an easy task...

At last the new blueprint was ready, and I sent it to my client for feedback. 

 This time the strap button is placed at the 14th fret

This time the strap button is placed at the 14th fret

The original plan was to build another prototype in spruce, but I was now much more confident that the design would work, and wanted my client to have a real bass he could use while he decided on materials and looks. I already knew what kind of pickups to use -a J+P setup where the P-pickup was reversed to follow the flow of the body shape- so I decided to make one extra bass and try new stuff.

In the meantime, I had been mailing with respected luthier Harry Fleischman, and he had suggested to prolonge the upper bout even further, to place the strap button closer to the ideal position, and also to accentuate the forward leaning shape of the body. I went to work on a new template with this in mind.

 The new template. you can see how the shape elongates past the line from the original drawing

The new template. you can see how the shape elongates past the line from the original drawing

Next up was the body. I had already planned a centerpiece in ash and wenge strips, for the wings I considered using mahogany, but went finally for ash with a top in palo escrito rosewood. This time, I carved the arm rest to the ash wing itself, before gluing and routing, and then glued the rosewood on top of it. Here are the three blocks ready to be glued:

The neck was the one I already had, which had been carved to fit the former, shorter, body. To accommodate to this, I was unable to elongate the upper bout as I wanted to, and had to place the strap button where it originally was. After routing the body block, I saw that the lower bout was just too bulky, and modified the template one more time for a more subtle shape.

I ordered new pickups and sat with my PC to draw the pickup and electronic cavities for my new templates.

Last week I routed and sanded the body, carved the neck to its final shape, and started applying the finish. Today I put everything together, soldered all pots and pickups and gave the bass a first try. The pickups are one Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound J-bass and one Seymour Duncan Hot P-bass, with two volumes and one tone.

At just under 4200g, the bass is not "light", but it isn't heavy either. There are no balance issues though, and next time I may not use ash for the wings, to reduce overall weight a bit. So far so good!

I'll have to make the electronics cover and a new template for it, and will take the bass to Oslo in the coming weeks for prime time. Here are some more pictures, please leave your coments at the bottom of the page and give me your thumbs up!